Israel’s Fifth Column in Washington

Justin Raimondo is taking the day off. His column will return Wednesday.

In the 1950s, when the cold war was at its height, a series of spectacular espionage scandals – involving top-level spies for the Soviet Union, our former WWII ally – roiled American politics and defined the political culture for decades to come, giving us such additions to the American political lexicon as “McCarthyism” and “fellow traveler.” In the new millennium, a similar drama is being reenacted, with another U.S. ally, Israel, in the role of friend-turned-adversary. The story of how and why Lawrence A. Franklin, who works as an Iran specialist under Pentagon policy director Douglas Feith, betrayed his country, and funneled American secrets to Israel, parallels the tragic saga of pro-Soviet American moles, who played a similar role in the administration of Franklin Roosevelt and into the Truman era. Larry Franklin is an Alger Hiss for our times. Law enforcement clearly believe him to be a key witness to crimes that could lead them to a spy nest in the top echelons of the U.S. government – one that surpasses anything the KGB ever dreamed of.

In late August, when CBS News broke the story of an Israeli spy in the Pentagon who was observed by U.S. law enforcement handing over sensitive documents to an Israeli official, Israel’s American amen corner passed it off as a minor kerfuffle. Oh, they said, it was nothing, really: just a draft presidential directive on U.S. policy toward Iran, and, besides, didn’t the U.S.-Israeli “special relationship” merit this casual exchange of not-so-secret “secrets”? That this attempted hand-off of sensitive documents occurred in the presence of two officials of AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, was neither here nor there, as far as the Amen-ers were concerned: it was just a little lunch between friends, happens all the time, the whole thing was “a massive exaggeration” that was going to blow over soon enough, so move along, nothing to see here …

On December 1, however, the FBI struck again, raiding AIPAC headquarters in Washington, D.C., in an early morning sweep, and staying until 4 p.m., serving subpoenas on four top AIPAC officials and hauling away boxes full of evidence.

This really got the Amen Corner riled up, and they darkly muttered that it was all part of a Vast Anti-Semitic Conspiracy in the FBI: the chief investigator was “known” to hold a grudge against persons of the Jewish faith, and the whole thing was a “pogrom” aimed at Jews in government. While next to nothing about the second FBI raid was reported in the American media, except for a few perfunctory articles describing what happened in general terms, the Israeli media was in quite a lather. Maariv reported on “a growing suspicion” that an anti-Jewish conspiracy was operating at full throttle inside the Justice Department, and the Jerusalem Post weighed in with an “exclusive” report on how Franklin had been “set up” by the FBI. According to the Post:

“FBI agents used a courier, Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin, to draw two senior AIPAC officials who already knew him into accepting what he described to them as “classified” information, reliable government and other sources intimately familiar with the investigation have told the Post. One of the AIPAC pair then told diplomats at the Israeli Embassy in Washington about the “classified” information, which claimed Iranians were monitoring and planning to kidnap and kill Israelis operating in the Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, the Post has been told. It is unclear whether the ‘classified’ information was real or bogus.”

Lured into “a ticking-bomb situation,” avers the Post, AIPAC officials Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, were entrapped by the FBI, which was recording their espionage in very the act of enabling it. FBI agents supposedly used the officials’ concern for Jewish lives to trick them into committing treason.

This “trick or treason” defense is interesting on a number of levels, not the least of which is the confirmation that Israeli agents are indeed active in northern Iraq, i.e. Kurdistan, as reported by Seymour Hersh. What are they doing there – and is their presence sanctioned by “Prime Minister” Iyad Allawi, who is now running for office in Iraq’s first semi-free election on a nationalist ticket that decries “foreign influence”? He says a victory for the Shi’ite list will open the door to invasion and de facto annexation by Iran, but hasn’t Israel already been allowed to slip in by the back door in Kurdistan – with his apparent compliance? In view of the Jersusalem Post‘s tacit admission, I believe Mr. Allawi has some ‘splaining to do….

On another level, the Post‘s lashing out at U.S. law enforcement agencies as vicious monsters, probably motivated by anti-Semitism, luring innocent Israelis and their American cohorts into compromising positions, is in itself interesting. After all, is this how one talks about the authorities of “a cherished ally,” as one Israeli government statement referred to America in the wake of the scandal? In the same piece in which UPI’s Richard Sale cites the Israeli statement, he reveals a number of interesting facts that add greatly to our knowledge of Israel’s secret war against America.

We already know that the investigation into AIPAC and Israeli espionage against the U.S. had been going on for at least two years prior to the FBI stumbling on Franklin’s treachery. This larger investigation seemed to come out of mid-air: no previous reporting had been done on it, except for the “Israeli art students” story, broken by Carl Cameron, pursued by Christopher Ketcham in Salon, and a few others, as well as myself [See my short book, The Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection], and then dropped into the journalistic ether.

The Franklin affair, however, has revived the suspicion that Israel regards us as something other than a “deeply cherished ally,” and Sale’s reporting underscores the adversarial reality behind the “special relationship.” He cites “a former federal law enforcement official” who told him

“During the Cold War, Israeli penetration of U.S. operations was second only to the Soviet Union. Few people realize that the Israeli Counterintelligence Desk at the Bureau was second in size only to the CI Soviet desk.”

And as the Cold War began to wind down, the pace of Israeli covert actions directed at the United States began to escalate:

“One current FBI consultant said Rosen’s name had first been given to the FBI in 1986, along with 70 possible incidents of Israeli espionage against the United States. No action was taken against him, this source said.”

The rot had set in, and the moles burrowed deeper:

“A former very senior CIA counterintelligence official told UPI that in 1998-99, the CIA discovered an Israeli couple, who were subcontracted to a U.S. phone company, were working for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service. ‘They did incredible damage – they got incredibly sensitive data, including key words identifying individuals or projects,’ this source said, adding he himself gave the case to the FBI.”

To understand what this “very senior” spook is talking about, you have to follow this link and watch the Fox News report detailing Israel’s hi-tech infiltration of U.S. communications, including wiretapping and top-secret internal security systems.

We report, you decide.

The Sale piece also buttresses a case I have long made in this space, which is that Israel’s secret army in the U.S. had established beachheads in New York and New Jersey:

“In 2001, the FBI discovered new, ‘massive’ Israeli spying operations in the East Coast, including New York and New Jersey, said one former senior U.S. government official. The FBI began intensive surveillance on certain Israeli diplomats and other suspects and was videotaping Naor Gilon, chief of political affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, who was having lunch at a Washington hotel with two lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby group. Federal law enforcement officials said they were floored when Franklin came up to their table and sat down.”

The New Jersey connection recalls the infamous incident involving the “dancing Israelis,” arrested on 9/11 when seen leaping and dancing for joy in a park overlooking the Hudson River as the World Trade Center burned. The five detainees were Israeli citizens who worked for a New Jersey moving company, Urban Moving Systems, and were held for months while being repeatedly interrogated as to their knowledge of the events surrounding 9/11. The owner, Dominick Suter, fled to Israel after the feds raided his business, and The Forward speculated that the company was a thinly-disguised Mossad front.

From the Israeli “art students,” who made such a nuisance of themselves at U.S. government buildings in the months prior to 9/11, to the counter-intelligence operation launched by the U.S. that eventually caught Franklin and the AIPAC crowd red-handed, is a straight-line narrative, one long continuous story of unremitting struggle between the U.S. and Israel – on American soil.

In his Fox News four-part series exposing Israel’s secret underground in the U.S., Carl Cameron reported that FBI and other officials claimed any attempt to investigate and expose undue Israeli access to highly sensitive information amounted to “career suicide,” implying that highly-placed moles in policymaking positions effectively covered up the covert activities of their cohorts – much as Alger Hiss and other KGB agents protected their associates and stole nuclear and other secrets from the U.S. and shipped them off to Moscow. In both cases, the motives are the same: ideology, not money, motivates the most effective fifth columnists and spies.

With the threat of Communist spies somewhat abated by the death of Communism as a viable ideology, a fresh (if not equally dangerous) threat has arisen to take its place, one that employs the same Leninist technique of boring from within – and mobilizes the ample talents and resources of an indigenous fifth column ideologically committed to the Cause.

The Venona transcripts and the Kremlin archives have revealed that Joe McCarthy certainly underestimated the degree to which the Commies had penetrated the top echelons of the U.S. government. Harry Hopkins, FDR’s closest advisor, a KGB agent? Not even the red-baiters of old would have dared suggest it.

The same success at embedding highly-placed agents may have been achieved by the Israelis, or else how have they been able to keep their operation intact and running, for all these years? Without cooperation from high-ups, and in view of the suspicions raised by other officials in law enforcement, Israel’s spy nest would have been broken up long ago. That the feds are aiming high is rendered obvious by this tidbit from Sale:

“The FBI was also interested in finding out if Franklin was involved or could name any Pentagon colleagues who were involved in passing to Israel certain data about National Security Agency intercepts, these sources said.”

He can only be referring to the FBI’s recent interest in the matter of how Ahmed Chalabi got access to the intelligence that the U.S. had cracked the Iranian code, and was reading Iranian internal communications – a betrayal that led to the Bush administration breaking with Chalabi, and ordering a series of raids on the offices of his Iraqi National Congress. Because those are the only NSA intercepts that seem to have been mislaid recently.

It wasn’t Larry Franklin who had access to those highly sensitive NSA intercepts: that is way beyond his pay grade. It had to be someone much higher up in the chain of command – and the question now becomes how far up the ladder of power have the traitors in our midst managed to climb? Do the tentacles of this treasonous cabal reach into the White House?

For a while, it looked as if Franklin might be leading law enforcement to the source of the cancer eating away at the inner councils of this administration, but Franklin did a turnabout, secured the services of a noted defense attorney who specializes in these sorts of cases, Plato Cacheris, and stopped talking. Now his former friends in the Amen Corner are turning on him, saying he “entrapped” his former buddies, and allowed himself to be used in what is portrayed in most of the Israeli press as an anti-Semitic witch-hunt.

It is, for sure, nothing of the sort. Instead, it is a matter of life and death, involving the national security of the United States and its people, an entirely legitimate and necessary investigation into how a foreign country has manipulated us, covertly and overtly, on the policymaking level, all the while stealing us blind.

Isn’t it funny how the same people who jump at the chance to tar antiwar public figures as “anti-American” traitors and a “fifth column,” as Andrew Sullivan infamously put it, have nothing to say about the AIPAC spy scandal? Those few neocons who have deigned to notice two raids in as many months on AIPAC headquarters have done nothing but apologize for and otherwise excuse and cover-up what is apparently a massive spy operation launched by Israel against the United States. The best our super- “patriotic” neocons can do is echo the complaints in the Israeli media that the whole thing is a “set-up” engineered by those notorious anti-Semites in the U.S. Justice Department.

Who’s “anti-American” now?

Fox News, which basically broke the story, has dropped it, never following up or even mentioning it again. Rush Limbaugh, the great American patriot, has never breathed a word about it. National Review and the Weekly Standard have nothing to say on the subject, and Charles Krauthammer must have had another stuttering attack.

The axis of treason, as I called it in a previous column, is not limited to Israeli spies in high places: these spies also had friends in even higher places, key policymakers whose influence was decisive in taking us to war in Iraq. When they weren’t bending American policy in the Middle East to Israel’s benefit, they were leaking U.S. secrets to AIPAC “cutouts,” who then passed on sensitive data to Israel. (I would note that Sale reports the FBI’s interest is in finding out if Israel gained access to those intercepts, who then passed them off to Chalabi – not that the neocons in the Pentagon passed them straight to the INC.)

Most shameful is the spectacle of the apologists, such as the mealy-mouthed Joel Mowbray, whose apologia for Israeli spying appeared on the website run by ex-Commie-turned-neocon David Horowitz. These guys are covering up for traitors and spies: you can’t get much more un-American and actively anti-American than that. Yet these are the very same nutballs who brand me, and the entire antiwar movement, as a “fifth column.”


Speaking of Horowitz and his frothy-mouthed legions, the latest jeremiad launched in my direction from that crowd features the absolute worst and obviously doctored photo of me on the Internet, where they bizarrely seem to have erased my teeth: it’s bad Photo

shop and even worse writing by none other than Lawrence Auster, the racialist theoretician and prolific writer who has carved a niche out for himself as a critic of The American Conservative, Pat Buchanan, and myself from the racialist “right.” His big beef with us, it seems, is that we defended Wen Ho Lee, a man who has been cleared of all charges, and opined that there just might be a racial aspect to his long ordeal: that is “bending to multiculturalism,” says this advocate of the view that blacks are incapable of “objective” thought, except under the close tutelage of their white masters.

Is it fair to cite Auster’s views on this matter, which has nothing to do with what he takes me and to task for? Yes, because his latest screed is every bit as anecdotal as his “proof” that whites are mentally superior to blacks: if you read this essay posted on Frontpage you can see the same total subjectivity at work, busily thinking up completely irrelevant connections and constructing a rather awkward and disconnected narrative from them. Yes, he once liked us – when he agreed with us about the Kosovo war – and he even gave us money (Gee, thanks!). And then we supposedly went off the deep end by questioning the cold war. Hey, but by that time the cold war was well over, anyway, not that this matters to Auster. In any case, by some process of long-distance psychoanalysis and palm-reading, he somehow discerns that our lack of enthusiasm for the neocons’ “benevolent world hegemony” is based on “anger.”

Anger, you see, is a bad thing. We must all be calm, and even serene, as our old republic slips away, and a corrupt empire – riven by foreign influences, and other termites – takes its place. No thanks, Mr. Auster. I’ll take anger over resignation every time.

It is interesting – in the same way that the study of icky-looking insects can be interesting to academics and other professionals – how the evil Horowitz has used the racialist Right as a kind of battering ram against myself, Pat Buchanan, and TAC. Last time around, it was that James P. Lubinskas character, a former editor of American Renaissance, a white supremacist journal, who first pronounced the “death” of the Buchanan movement and paleoconservatism in Frontpage a few years ago: the Lubinskas piece, “The End of Paleoconservatism,” has been taken off Horowitz’s site, but on the internet your crimes live forever. Now Horowitz hauls out this Auster nutjob, whose sheets are cut from the same cloth, to author a two-part indictment of the crimes of the antiwar Right.

Oh boy, I can hardly wait for Part II, but is it asking too much to insist on a more accurate picture of me – god, I haven’t worn those glasses in years! Nor do I have red teeth (yuck!). Hey, guys, you can say what you want about me, but that blurry photo was real slander. I’m way waaaaaay cuter than that.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].