The Sins of Liam Fox
The “privatization” of British foreign policy
At the center of the scandal that led to Fox’s ouster is his “best man,” and “very good friend” Adam Werritty, a 33-year-old man-about-town who went around handing out business cards informing recipients that the bearer was an “adviser” to Fox, although he held no such official title. In reality, however, Werritty was (and is) far closer to Fox than any of his official advisors: they met, apparently, when Werritty was a mere teenager in the Young Conservative organization, and have been virtually inseparable ever since. So inseparable that young Werrity met Fox at dozens of locations throughout the world, from Dubai to Israel, when the defense minister was on official business: they traveled together, as if they were a married couple (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The problem for the former defense minister is that the tab for Werrity’s high-flying lifestyle (luxury hotels, expensive meals, drinks all ‘round) was picked up by a group of businessmen, lobbyists, and others with a keen interest in influencing the MoD.
The influence of lobbyists is hardly an unknown danger to the integrity of democratic institutions, but in this case there is also a national security angle, one which made it imperative that Fox step down. As the Daily Mail reports:
“A web of overt and covert backers, some with close links to Israel, are revealed in the bank records of Pargav Ltd, a company that did little else than fork out more than £150,000 in a year to pay for Mr Werritty’s first-class flights, hotels and nights out at New York strip clubs.
“Backers include tycoon Poju Zabludowicz, chairman of the pro-Israel lobby group Britain Israeli Communication Research Centre (BICOM), and millionaire Michael Lewis, BICOM’s former deputy chairman.”
In addition, Werritty’s company, Pargav, received donations of “nearly £13,000 anonymously in cash deposits.” In the course of his longstanding impersonation of an important “adviser” to Fox, Werritty had access to all sorts of classified information, including details of sophisticated weapons and other systems utilized by MoD, and there is concern that this may have been compromised. The Daily Mail has the scoop:
“Adam Werritty used his relationship with Liam Fox to obtain highly sensitive, technical details of a military communications system used by Coalition special forces in Afghanistan.
“Dubai-based venture capitalist Harvey Boulter said last night he only disclosed the information about the system because Mr Werritty had told him he was an official Ministry of Defence adviser. Mr Boulter said: ‘I assumed he must have been security-vetted.’”
Boulter is a venture capitalist and chief executive of the Porton Group, which specializes in funding companies developing new applications of technologies discovered in government labs. The meeting between Werritty and Boulter was set up by Lee Petar, who heads up a lobbying firm known as Tetra Strategy. Petar is Bicom’s former director of communications.
“’I am speaking hypothetically,’ Mr Boulter said, ‘but the Israelis are known to be good at reverse engineering other people’s technology. What would we do if an Israeli firm started pirating our technology or selling it to our enemies?’”
Complain to Bicom? Ask Werritty for a refund? Cry? All these are options, with only the last one a real possibility.
With this much money, and this much access to national security secrets, in the mix, talk that Werritty has been – consciously or otherwise – acting as an agent for Israeli intelligence is more than mere speculation. Two top officials of Bicom, the Britain Israeli Communication Research Center, contributed to the Werritty slush fund: Bicom’s chairman, the billionaire Poju Zabludowicz, and Michael Lewis, CEO of fashion retailer Foschini, formerly Bicom’s deputy chairman. A third donor is Mick “the miner” Davis, founder of Xstrata, a close friend of Zabludowicz and Lewis, and also a fervent pro-Israel advocate.
Also listed as donors to the various companies and front groups set up by Werritty to finance his world-spanning trips and luxury lifestyle: the G3 (Good Governance Group), with extensive interests in Sri Lanka, where the diplomatic duo traveled often, and Jon Moulton, a British venture capitalist “keen to establish strong ties to Washington,” as the London Times puts it.
Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan – and someone with excellent contacts inside the Foreign Office – wrote:
“My source told me that what really was worrying senior officials in the MOD, FCO and Cabinet Office was the possibility that Fox could be being used as a ‘useful idiot’ by Mossad, Israel’s far-reaching and extremely effective intelligence service.
“Key funding sources for Werritty were from the Israeli lobby and a rather obscure commercial intelligence agency. Might Mossad be pulling Werritty’s strings, with or without his knowledge?
“On Friday, two senior Fleet Street journalists also reported hearing similar concerns from other Whitehall officials about possible Israeli intelligence service involvement with Fox and Werritty.”
To top it off, apparently Werritty made several trips to Iran and environs, where he met with various opposition activists and discussed plans for “regime change.” Although the official British policy toward Iran is pursuit of a diplomatic solution to its problems with the West, there are indications Werrity and Fox were conducting their own “freelance” foreign policy, centered on effecting “regime change,” in collusion with Israeli officials. The Israelis considered Werritty to be an official adviser to Fox, as well as an “Iran expert,” which accounts for Werritty’s presence at two sessions of the famed Herzliya conference, where Israel’s national security officials congregate to discuss how best to pursue Israel’s interests. Unfortunately for Fox, and Werritty, the job of a British minister of defense is to pursue Britain’s interests first and foremost.
What it boils down to is this: a private “company” that handled a lush slush fund for the benefit of the defense minister’s boyfriend, who traveled around the world handing out his business cards and advertising his services as fixer for whatever business or foreign interests wanted a piece of the action. That’s how British policy has been made ever since the Conservative-led coalition government came to power.
This isn’t just about money, however. The strong pro-Israel/interventionist theme of Werritty’s jet-setting antics illustrates – once again – how the Jewish state and its supporters inveigle themselves into every possible crevice, taking the opportunity to extract what benefit they can from the foibles and fortunes of both friends and foes. The technique – setting up parallel institutions existing alongside official government agencies – was successfully applied in the United States during the run up to the invasion of Iraq. You’ll recall that the “Office of Special Plans,” and other ad hoc groups set up inside the national security bureaucracy, did an end run around the CIA and the mainstream intelligence community, and packed the pipeline with biased and – as it turned out – utterly false “intelligence,” effectively lying us into war. As Julian Borger reported in the Guardian at the time:
“The OSP was an open and largely unfiltered conduit to the White House not only for the Iraqi opposition. It also forged close ties to a parallel, ad hoc intelligence operation inside Ariel Sharon’s office in Israel specifically to bypass Mossad and provide the Bush administration with more alarmist reports on Saddam’s Iraq than Mossad was prepared to authorize. ‘None of the Israelis who came were cleared into the Pentagon through normal channels,” said one source familiar with the visits. Instead, they were waved in on Mr Feith’s authority without having to fill in the usual forms.
“The exchange of information continued a long-standing relationship Mr [Douglas] Feith [then director of policy at the Pentagon] and other Washington neo-conservatives had with Israel’s Likud party.”
In America and Britain, the pattern is a familiar one: Israel’s partisans use every means available to penetrate government agencies [.pdf], extract information, and utilize their allies inside the system to Israel’s advantage. This involves not only activities that might be characterized as espionage, but also creating a parallel policy-making apparatus that operates in the dark, handing out large sums to its sock puppets, and running agents of influence at the highest levels of government.
Fox resigned his seat, in his words, because he “blurred the line” between his public and personal responsibilities, but another line has been blurred, if not nearly erased, and that is the one between advocacy on behalf of Israel and undermining Britain’s national security. The lesson for America could not be clearer. The Israel lobby in America is similarly aggressive in pursuing Israeli interests over and above those of their own country, as demonstrated – to cite one recent example – by the case of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, two top AIPAC officials accused of espionage against the United States.
Israel is our friend, we are often told: our “best friend,” as some would have it. Yet friends don’t act the way Israel and its more fervent supporters do when it comes to breaching the security of alleged “allies” such as Britain and the US. The same forces that set up Werritty’s covert operation are hard at work, here in America, extending their tentacles as far as they can reach. It’s time to sever those tentacles and make Israel’s agents in this country do what every other foreign lobbyist is required to do by law, and that is register under the requirements of the Foreign Agent Registration Act. AIPAC, the premier organization of the Israel lobby, has gotten around this by a series of legal maneuvers, and – let’s face it – on account of having friends in high place. As the Werritty scandal shows, this situation has to end.
The sins of Liam Fox are his
own concern: rumors of his homosexuality have been rife ever since a
“young man” was found to have stayed overnight at Fox’s flat the
night it was burgled. Fox’s wife has “gone to ground,” as the
British tabloids put it, and hasn’t been seen in weeks, the poor dear.
When the rumors arose, Fox and his friends rightly said that his private
life is none of anyone’s business as long as he’s doing a good job.
Fox’s problem, however, is that his sins – if sins they be – were
also committed against the nation he was pledged to serve.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
We haven’t heard much about the Fox-Werritty scandal in the US media, and I wonder why that is. Actually, I don’t wonder, because I know: the story involves two subjects which are absolutely forbidden in the “mainstream” media. Any story reflecting negatively on Israel, and especially drawing attention that country’s covert activities, is likely to wind up on the back pages, if it makes it into the headlines at all. Secondly, the personal relationship between Fox and his compromised boy toy is politically protected, and it’s politically incorrect to subject it to criticism of any sort – or even to point out how it led to Fox’s undoing.
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