Tapping into the news at the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC
Shamai Leibowitz, an FBI Hebrew translator with top-secret clearance, was arrested in May 2010 for revealing restricted information consisting of five reports classified “secret”. The FBI was tapping into all the telephone lines and cell phone numbers associated with diplomats and intelligence officers working out of the Israeli Embassy in Washington and the United Nations in New York.
The Israelis practiced good communications security when they were on their phones speaking English, but they were reportedly extremely reckless when speaking Hebrew because they believed that they could not be understood. The FBI compiled a thick dossier on Israeli diplomats and spies and was able to establish linkages to a number of other targets of interest. Analyzing the Hebrew recordings, Leibowitz identified a number of hidden relationships with U.S. government officials and the media, as well as advocacy groups like AIPAC and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
What the FBI uncovered was a massive and highly focused campaign referred to by the Israelis as “perception management,” but which the CIA would refer to as a covert action. Much of the activity was illegal or incompatible with the role of foreign diplomats in the United States.
The focus was on Iran, with Israeli officials intent on preparing the American public for war against the mullahs. They were spreading disinformation on Iran’s nuclear program, promoting international sanctions, and trying to obtain Washington’s support for an ultimatum on the nuclear program as a final diplomatic gesture that would be turned down by Iran, leading to war with the U.S. playing the lead role.
The Israeli Embassy’s activities consisted of drafting articles and editorials that were placed with an accommodating media, paying journalists to write pieces making the same points, and working closely with groups like WINEP and AIPAC to present policymakers with a coordinated list of arguments for war.
Leibowitz’s concern was that the illegal activity would not be prosecuted by the Justice Department and this proved correct. No Israeli or American named in the extensive FBI investigative dossier has been in any way punished.
[Excerpt of article by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer]