Reproduced for "fair use" from:
Ten Explosive U.S. Government Secrets about Israel
Absent greater transparency, Americans should assume the worst
by Grant F. Smith, IRmep

In 1968 Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms wrote urgently to Attorney General Ramsey Clark and
President Lyndon B. Johnson that some highly enriched uranium fueling Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor was
stolen from America.  LBJ reportedly uttered, "Don't tell anyone else, even [Secretary of State] Dean Rusk and
[Defense Secretary] Robert McNamara."  The FBI immediately launched a  deep investigation into the inexplicably
heavy losses at the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation NUMEC in Pennsylvania and the highly
suspicious activities and Israeli connections of the Americans running it.  The CIA was tasked to find out what was
going on in Israel, and compiled  thousands of documents about the incident. (PDF) Although CIA officials in a
position to know unofficially went on record claiming a diversion had occurred, for decades the CIA has thwarted
declassification and release of the LBJ memos.  On October 18, 2013 the only appeals panel with the power to
overrule the CIA—the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel ISCAP—sent notification that Americans
are not yet ready to know the contents of the memos (ISCAP decision PDF). This denial of public release of
decades-old secrets concerning U.S.-Israel relations is far from unique.  Although the Obama administration
promised  unprecedented transparency, it has emasculated the public's ability to give informed consent on a wide
range of key foreign policy issues. A review of ten particularly toxic U.S. secrets about Israel suggests
stakeholders should start assuming the worst but most logical explanation.

In 2006 former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously told reporters at an Iraq war briefing "There are
known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are
things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we
don't know."  Bush administration secrecy and Rumsfeld's pithy quotes failed to quell gradual public awareness
that the ill-fated invasion was launched on purposely fabricated pretexts.  And yet the Iraq debacle could have
been avoided if Americans had been better informed over time how government truly functions through greater
access to the fourth category left unmentioned by Rumsfeld:  "unknown knowns."  

"Unknown knowns" are the paradigm-shifting bits of information known only by a select few in  government but
kept from their fellow American citizens because they would reveal indefensible, secret policies and institution-
level corruption that favor a special interest.  By locking "unknown knowns" under heavy guard in document
archives, covering them in secrecy classification stamps and making an example out of whistleblowers who
release them without authorization, busy bureaucrats with the highest security clearances maintain a vast  and
growing trove of "unknown knowns."  Historians and watchdog organizations are continually thwarted in their
mandate to  contextualize and educate the public about relevant past events that could deeply inform the
governed—and  ultimately improve governance.  Senator Carl Schurz said, "My country right or wrong, if right, to
be kept right, and if wrong, to be set right." "Unknown knowns" obliterate the public's ability to execute the latter
two-thirds of that  sage advice.  

Even the passage of time does not guarantee "unknown knowns" ever become "known knowns."    Under current
government records preservation guidelines—particularly for information that researchers are not actively seeking
to declassify—some "unknown knowns" quietly become "unknown unknowns" as they decay, are physically
destroyed, erased or "lost." Many knowledgeable former officials take their secrets to the grave. As a product of
the  ill-gotten power and influence of the Israel lobby, the pile of "unknown knowns" about U.S.-Israel policy is
particularly large. Curious Americans who rightfully question official narratives about the U.S.-Israel "special
relationship" have often requested  "unknown knowns" under the Freedom of Information Act.  Former
government insiders who know firsthand about explosive secrets often seek their public release to alert others
using the Mandatory Declassification Review, even requesting documents by name, subject, location, author and
date.  After such "unknown knowns" (like the LBJ memos) are unsuccessfully sought for decades by multiple
researchers, well-warranted suspicions arise about the reasons behind the impermeable government wall of
refusal.  The following ten US-Israel policy "unknown knowns" suggest the Israel lobby's ongoing corrupt power is
the only possible explanation for why they are still secret.



1. Henry Morgenthau Jr's Israel policy is the stuff of legend in accounts about the birth of Israel. Some
researchers claim that FDR's former Treasury Secretary was present at the original 1945 meeting of American
Zionists with Jewish Agency executive director David Ben-Gurion to set up the massive Haganah smuggling
network to steal, illegally buy and smuggle surplus WWII arms from the U.S. to Jewish fighters in Palestine.  (report
PDF)  This was the first major broadly organized Israel lobby challenge to U.S. sovereignty.  It successfully
overrode American policy enshrined in neutrality and arms export laws.  Others claim Morgenthau was also  
instrumental in the illicit financing Israel's clandestine nuclear weapons program in direct opposition to policy set
by American presidents.  

The FBI's dusty 10,000 page file on Morgenthau, numbered 105-HQ-188123 (the  105 code signifies "foreign
counterintelligence") including intercepts to Morgenthau from Israel, could finally clear up many of these
allegations, especially when compared to current research.  Although the FBI—after a process that began in
2010—in September 2013 claims it has fully declassified the Morgenthau file, censors have blanked out nearly
every page with a paint-roller of black ink (sample PDF).  How do high officials with strong ties to Israel and its
lobby who are politically appointed to the U.S. Treasury Department flout U.S. laws with their own foreign-
coordinated foreign policy movements?  The FBI and Justice Department do not believe Americans are quite yet
ready to know.



2. Eisenhower and the Lavon Affair.  In 1954, the Israeli government launched its "Operation Susannah" false flag
terrorist attack on U.S. facilities in Egypt.  Israel's operatives were quickly arrested when bombs exploded
prematurely.  The operation's utter failure resulted in a political crisis known as the Lavon Affair.  President Dwight
D. Eisenhower, periodically swarmed by American Zionist Council lobbyists urging him to send money and arms to
Israel, must have learned some very hard lessons about U.S.-Israel relations from the incident.  Yet the
Eisenhower presidential archive—which is not subject to FOIA—has never released anything revelatory about the
administration's reaction to the attempted false flag attack.  A narrow request for such files yielded only a single
non-specific declassified opinion that the commander-in-chief believed the Israelis were "fanatics." (National
Security Council PDF) Yet the false flag operation's objective, attacking to keep U.S. troops stationed in the Suez
Canal Zone to respond to "Egyptian militants," seemed entirely rational to Israel, and possibly to some of its U.S.
supporters who struggled for years afterwards to minimize the importance of the affair.  Today Eisenhower library
archivists claim that huge quantities of Eisenhower's papers are still "unprocessed," but may hold some private
reflections or lessons learned.  



3. Israeli theft of nuclear material from NUMEC.  In 2013, the CIA continues to resist release of thousands of files
about the NUMEC diversion by referring to CIA Deputy Director for Operations John H. Stein's secret decision in
1979 (2013 FOIA denial PDF).  Stein claimed that release of even a few of CIA's closely-held files—especially if
they were compared with Science Advisor of the Interior Commission Henry Meyer's blunt allegations (PDF) to
Congressman Morris Udall in 1979 that NUMEC was an Israeli smuggling front—was impossible "because of the
need to have a coordinated Executive Branch position and our desire to protect a sensitive and valuable liaison
equity."  In plain English, that appears to mean Americans still cannot have official CIA confirmation of the uranium
theft because the U.S. president would have to drop the ongoing nonsense of "strategic ambiguity" and forego
intelligence Israel is funneling to America.

4. FBI files of Israeli (but not Russian) spies  Russia's dashing red-headed spy, Anna Chapman, was arrested in
2010 and sent packing back Russia.  Any interested American can now watch Chapman's moves in surveillance
videos and read the  FBI counterintelligence files.  Not so with most of Israel's top spies who targeted American
economic, nuclear and national defense infrastructure.  America is still crawling with Israeli spies (our "constant
companion" according to intelligence expert Jeff Stein).  The 2010 revelations of nuclear equipment smuggling
from Telogy (prohibited export smuggling PDF) in California and  Stewart Nozette's 1998-2008 Israel Aerospace
Industries-funded penetrations of classified U.S. information storehouses around Washington reveal that while
Israeli spying has never stopped, secret prosecution strategies now emphasize quietly rolling up Israeli operations
via industry regulators, fines and penalties or isolating and entrapping American spies on lesser charges but
steering around their Israeli handlers.  

Unlike its treatment of information requests about Russian spies, the FBI and Justice Department have denied
every individual FOIA request for the files of major Israeli spies.  Access to Rafael Eitan's many harmful exploits
against U.S. targets are banned from release unless Eitan personally waives his privacy rights (FOIA denial).  The
FBI claimed it can no longer find files about deceased nuclear espionage mastermind Avraham Hermoni, even
though his name appears across many previously released NUMEC files  (FOIA denial PDF).  Flooding from
Hurricane Sandy is the excuse the FBI gives for not being able to find files on spy-for-Israel Ben Ami-Kadish
(Flood FOIA denial PDF).  One might argue it is merely a series of unfortunate events that keeps Israeli spy files
out of public hands, except that the Justice Department has now issued a blanket ban on declassifying any files
about the FBI's decades-long counterintelligence tango with Israel's Mossad. (Justice Department blanket denial
PDF).

The results of the Justice Department's kid-glove approach to Israel  propagates into mandatory
counterintelligence reports to Congress.  Although Israel unambiguously ranked as a top economic and national
defense intelligence threat in past assessments of  agencies like the Office of National Counterintelligence
Executive, because criminal prosecution strategies toward Israel (through not Iran, Russia or China) have been
undermined from within, Israel has disappeared from the most  current reports.



5. Jonathan J. Pollard's most heinous crime. Israel's only American spy ever to do serious time in jail—despite the
best efforts of his many American and Israeli supporters to spring him—once confidently claimed before he was
convicted that "...it was the established policy of the Department of Justice not to prosecute U.S. citizens for
espionage activities on behalf of Israel."  Many believe it was only Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger's
classified briefing to sentencing Judge Aubry Robinson that made Pollard the near sole exception to that  curious
rule.

Some Pentagon insiders and national security reporters believe Pollard's sentence was so harsh because Israel
used stolen U.S. intelligence as "trade goods" with the Soviet Union to increase Russian émigrés to Israel.   As
Pollard's sentence draws to a close, few know exactly what Weinberger told Robinson that caused him to deliver a
life sentence.  The recent partial releases of a  CIA damage assessment and a  DIA video about Pollard shed little
light.  

In 2010, the Department of Defense disclaimed all ownership of the still-classified "Weinberger declaration"
passing the FOIA ball to the Justice Department's Criminal Division (FOIA transfer PDF).   In a novel approach,
the Executive Office of US Attorneys now claims that it cannot find its own copy but that FOIA does not require
EOUSA FOIA officers to travel two blocks to the DC District Court to retrieve a sealed copy of the memorandum
for review (FOIA denial PDF) or even ask DOD for  a copy.  The National Archives and Records Administration
Office of Government Information Services OGIS agrees that there is no "duty for agencies to retrieve records
that are not physically present in their own files." Although the 2008 case of Ben-Ami Kadish proves the Pollard
espionage ring was much larger than was publicly disclosed in the late 1980s, the FBI has also not allowed
release of its Jonathan Pollard investigation files (FOIA denial PDF) for overdue public review of how the
investigation might have—like many others—been short-circuited by the Department of Justice because it
involved Israel.

6. Wiretap of AIPAC pushing for a US war on Iran. When AIPAC executives Keith Weissman and Steven J. Rosen
dialed up Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler in 2004, they were determined to leverage purloined classified
U.S. national defense information into a story that Iran was engaged in "total war" against the US in Iraq. FBI
special agents played audio intercepts of their pitch to AIPAC's legal counsel and AIPAC promptly fired the pair to
distance itself from activities it had long supported.  Rosen and Weisman were later indicted under the Espionage
Act, although the case was later quashed under an intense Israel lobby pressure campaign shortly after President
Obama entered office.

What exactly did AIPAC's two officials tell the Washington Post in its unrelenting drive to gin up a U.S. war with
Iran?  A decade later, the U.S. Department of Justice doesn't believe the American public is entitled to hear a tape
long ago played to AIPAC's lawyer Nathan Lewin, even as AIPAC continues to agitate for more wars. (MDR denial
PDF)

7. Niger uranium forgery underwriters. Although Ike may or may not have worried much about the implications of
Operation Susannah, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee certainly did.  A secret  memo touched off years of
Senate and Justice Department investigations into Israel lobbying over fears that American operatives might
engage in other overseas clandestine provocations aimed at  duping the U.S. into ill-advised conflicts that would
benefit Israel (the short memo references the Lavon affair twice). The Iraq war proves those fears were well-
founded.

Many have long suspected that the Niger uranium forgeries, fake documents the Bush administration trumpeted to
falsely accuse Iraq of buying uranium from Africa for nuclear weapons, were chartered by American
neoconservatives in order to provide a pretext  they desperately needed for war.  Perhaps the FBI's investigation
into the matter definitively proves it.  However, despite years of requests for the 1,000 pages of that investigation,
the FBI after initially duly proceeding with a FOIA, has now suddenly clammed up. (Niger uranium denial PDF)

8. Israel lobbyists embedded in the Treasury and Justice Departments. Israel lobbying organizations have been
very effective at embedding their operatives in key positions across the Federal government, such as Stuart
Levey in the Treasury Department's economic warfare unit, or former AIPAC director Tom Dine as a contractor at
the  floundering US government-funded Arabic-language broadcaster Alhurra. It used to be possible to get a
phone directory or conduct a comprehensive audit of which key political appointees (and the people they brought
in) were running critical divisions of federal agencies by obtaining detailed Office of Personnel Management and
other public records.  Not anymore.  (FOIA response PDF) Leveraging heightened post-911 sensitivities, the US
Treasury Department now claims the same protections against disclosure formerly enjoyed only by intelligence
agency employees.

Since the 1940s, the U.S. Department of Justice has earned a reputation as a place where Israel lobby criminal
investigations go to die.  Justice is also where an AIPAC official like Neil Sher can while away a few years on pet
projects at taxpayer expense before moving on to more lucrative outside work.  DOJ  also routinely denies files
about its past official decisions not to pursue criminal cases on the basis that doing so could jeopardize privacy,
ongoing investigations, or factors underlying its coveted "prosecutorial discretion" (e.g. charging the
disenfranchised but not  powerful insiders for wrongdoing). Like Treasury, it is now almost impossible to survey
and produce an organization chart of the Israel lobby's political appointees embedded at high and mid-level
Justice Department posts or the biographies of the staff  and contractors they bring in with them.  

9. Unclassified IDA report about US charities funding the Israeli nuclear weapons program. Sensitive reports need
not be classified for the government to hang on to them indefinitely.  In 1987 the Institute for Defense Analyses
delivered an unclassified report to the Department of Defense titled "Critical Technology Issues in Israel."  The
study  implicates the Israeli Weizmann Institute for Science and Technology in nuclear weapons research, raising
deep questions about the group's U.S. tax-exempt charitable fundraising and U.S. commitment to enforce the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Department of Defense withheld the IDA report from release on the basis of
FOIA exemptions covering trade secrets and "intra-agency communications protected by the deliberative process
privilege," among others. (FOIA denial PDF)

10. Justification for NSA funneling raw intelligence on Americans to Israel. If former NSA contractor Edward
Snowden has taught Americans anything, it is that "unknown knowns" are usually even worse than many might
have first imagined.  Some careful observers knew about massive NSA surveillance, while others alerted the
public about the danger of "backdoor" U.S. intelligence flows to Israel.  But who ever suspected the NSA was
shipping wholesale raw intercepts gathered on Americans to Israel under a secret deal struck in 2009?  No
government that wholly denies such relevant information can claim legitimacy via consent of the governed.   There
can be little doubt why these ten files are kept closed: it serves the Israel lobby.  The means by which this closure
is sustained is also no secret.  The millions of dollars that line politician's pockets, promote media pundits and
quietly spirit political appointees into key gatekeeper positions maintain closed files and prevent informed public
debate.