The Art of Espionage.
March 22, 2002 12:40 PM   Subscribe

The Art of Espionage. The ongoing tale of the massive spy ring that the U.S. media won't talk about. "The basis of the spy allegations is a 60-page document -- a compilation of field reports by Drug Enforcement Administration agents and other U.S. law enforcement officials."
posted by euphorb (21 comments total)
oh, well. maybe after we get around to looking into that USS Liberty sinking in 1967 we'll try getting to the bottom of this one.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 1:12 PM on March 22, 2002

This had been going on for a while now. Nobody seems too worried (because they are idiots).
posted by Settle at 1:27 PM on March 22, 2002

Accidents happen, get over the Liberty already. *sarcasm*

Gotta trust the Israelis, if they're spying, it's probably for good cause. Don't worry. Send more money.
posted by Mondo at 1:32 PM on March 22, 2002

Maybe the Foreign Aid should include a "please don't spy on us" clause. Seriously though - aren't the US and Israel close enough allies that they shouldn't need to spy to get info. I would think they'd just need to ask for it.
posted by Stuart_R at 1:35 PM on March 22, 2002

very interesting link
posted by keithl at 1:45 PM on March 22, 2002

Stuart_R: As if allies don't spy on each other? I've long held the assumption that countries become allies so they can better spy on each other.

Israel is a huge player on the international intrigue scene. Your biggest clue? - everybody's favorite deus ex machina, the Mossad.

posted by rocketman at 2:08 PM on March 22, 2002

You're right. I probably would have thought differently about it if I'd just finished a Bond movie instead of a busy day at work. :-)
posted by Stuart_R at 2:15 PM on March 22, 2002

That's the can-do spirit I like to see.
posted by rocketman at 2:21 PM on March 22, 2002

There is an enormous collection of links regarding this at whatreallyhappened, if you are interested. This guy is *very* devoted to getting this particular story out there.

There are many wacky links to be found there as well, including one to my favorite nut-job conspiracy theory about 9/11: the planes were robotically controlled by the U.S. government.
posted by astrogirl at 2:43 PM on March 22, 2002

Wow. My favorite 9/11 conspiracy to date was the one linked at the head of this thread. Namely, that the Mossad masterminded the whole thing to draw the US into armed conflict with the Muslim world, thus giving Sharon a free ride to slaughter Palestinians.

But I've got a new one now. Thanks, astrogirl.
posted by rocketman at 2:49 PM on March 22, 2002

Uh this discussion is getting off topic. And btw, we're the U.S.: allies don't spy on eachother...WE spy on whoever we want (right?). Do you like being spied on? Remember the china spy plane incident? Want chinese spy planes over the country? No?

Aren't you even a little bit upset that people knew that this was going on and that the spies were using methods so blatant that our government must have let them get away with it?

The first part of this story a few weeks ago was reported in the Washinton post, along with a bunch of other sources. Fox news was pressured to remove the piece that they did. If you're the sort of person that only wants to hear about stuff when it really hits the fan, I can understand that. But just for the record, it is going to hit the fan sometime soon.
posted by Settle at 3:17 PM on March 22, 2002

Israel's Unauthorized Retransfer of U.S. Technology Exposed is an older story but interesting, in that why would we allow them to keep doing this unless we approve, same with the spying story: we knew and did nothing, therefore we approve.
posted by Mack Twain at 3:31 PM on March 22, 2002

Allies spy on each other all the time, the key is when you get caught making the story disappear (which is often in both paties' best interests). Usually ally spying is a matter of business, but in this case it probably has more to do with foreign policy.

But when these cases do come out, you can be sure that at least some elements in the intelligence community want them to come out. It is an old story that the intelligence community knows that Israel has collected information well beyond what they would like, often political power to get is swept under the rug. It's also often whispered that it's 'career suicide' to track that particular brand of spying down. It's one of the reasons that when a really big case such as Jon Pollard breaks that the intelligence community spends so much effort to make sure he stays behind bars.
posted by cell divide at 3:32 PM on March 22, 2002

!. I am pro-Israel in most things (I have problems with some things they do), but the "evidence" seems hardly much at all, if anything. Hard to believe that a batch of "spies" were all let go and sent home--after all, a real Israeli spy--Pollard--languishes in prison for many years to come.
2. Doesn't it seem odd to anyone that it is the DEA that is central in all of this? Why? cause Israeli mobs are big in this country with ectasy shipments.
3. And, yes, Israel spies on friends in much the same manner that US spies on friends.
4. Tough to believe that Ashcroft, Bush et al would have a cover up; and speakaing of cover ups, this things has been on so many sites and places that it is anything but a buried secret.
5. conclusion: no case that is being made ina convincing manner at this point. And the document given is vauge at bes and came from...? a govt source? Wouldnpt' this be breaking into top secret files?
posted by Postroad at 3:36 PM on March 22, 2002

The original reporting back last fall that was pulled from the FOX news website is available here: part1, part2, part3; still more; and a FOX interview transcript with its own reporter on Brit Hume. I have little more problem with this than I would with (say) British spies, although some of the described actions were ... provocative and bizarre. Some of this reads far too much into disparate items, such as the eavesdropping charges. And there's more than a hint in some of this of seething below-the-surface anti-Semitism (disguised, of course, as polite anti-Zionism).

And what's that old adage? "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."
posted by dhartung at 3:40 PM on March 22, 2002

it might be handy to have spy-allies to violate your own citizens rights.

permission for a wiretap? invasion of privacy? searching without a warrant? all done by someone who is sort of above the law. Slap their wrist, send them home. Most likely they don't want to blow up your capital. They feed you bits of information because you give them lots of money in miliarty aid.

sort of makes sense i think.

[and never trust an art student]
posted by th3ph17 at 3:43 PM on March 22, 2002

I don't imagine that the Israelis are helping the US here. More that they've realised that they can do apparently outrageous things to the Americans and get away with it. Although the destruction of the Liberty showed considerable amorality (or perhaps just a sound utilitarian instinct and a lack of respect for international law), it also seems intensely daring. To kill dozens of servicemen of your closest ally, confident that you won't be called to account, is pretty astounding - not admirable, but astounding. In a certain sense it's hard (as an outsider) to shed a tear when Israel is mean to the US (not to say that I'm not sorry for the American soldiers and civilians who suffer for the imperatives of realpolitik). After all, it's the US that is largely responsible for the monstrous aspects of Israeli arrogance; and Israel is also somewhat more justifed than the US in carrying on an entirely self-interested foreign policy, since, even now, Israeli national survival is more at stake than that of the US.

Obviously, American citizens should think that something is wrong here, that the US government shouldn't let this kind of thing go on. But then they should demand that their government adopt a different line with Israel: not become anti-Israel, but intervene and say "this far and no further". Mark out a point at which the US will defend Israel absolutely, try to guarantee Israeli security, but make it clear that Israel cannot go beyond that point without forfeiting American support. Otherwise the US will be left tolerating an Israel that acts without any restraint.
Sorry for the long post.
posted by Gaz at 4:11 PM on March 22, 2002

Anything that follows the formula

"... {insert conspiracy statement here} ... that the U.S. media won't talk about ..."

is always good for a laugh.

Slightly larger point looming over discussions of whether allies should or should not spy on each other is this: Why? In other words, so what if they do? Say the Israeli's have access to state secrets ... are you afraid they will invade the US?
posted by MidasMulligan at 4:43 PM on March 22, 2002

Right. Creative Loafing isn't part of the American media, is it? Nor is the New York Post (via Or the Washington Post and the Associated Press? I'm with the Opinion Journal, for once: “The best evidence that there's nothing to this spy story, though, is that Justin Raimondo, who runs the crackpot Web site, has seized upon it as proof of "Israel's 9/11 connection.” To which I'd add other crackpot sites such as Vanguard News, which operates under the slogans “No Jews. Just Right” and “Uncensored News for Whites.”
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:15 PM on March 22, 2002

Of course, Midas, the point is that you want to be able to know, independently, whether your friend might not be your friend come dawn; or whether your friend is even now merely pretending. Even within the range of "will military aid be continued, increased, or reduced" it's useful to have a sense of things. Israel is in a dicier situation than most allies, being as that their very existence, given present circumstances, depends primarily on the continued goodwill of the United States. With this level of dependency, even a slight shift in US policy could have very serious effects on their future one way or the other. Now, given that they have independent knowledge to a reasonable degree of accuracy of a coming shift in US policy, they could deliberately and badly screw us, if they deemed it absolutely necessary -- as they alleged to have done with the Liberty. (I would more easily believe those conspiracy theories if I didn't know how common military blunders are. This month in Afghanistan an American Apache helicopter came within a meter or so of shooting up some concealed Canadian snipers.) Consider also the British espionage which brought them independent nuclear capability -- secrets stolen mostly from the US. This wasn't exactly a betrayal, as they're not a direct threat then or now to the US, but it did introduce interesting wrinkles: the US wouldn't give that away, but by taking the initiative and taking it, the British demonstrated a level of independence and self-sufficiency that made them the European backbone of NATO and today our strongest ally against al Qaeda.

Anyway, being friendly doesn't preclude spying, and as indicated, may even mean that spying is critically important. As long as it stays within certain boundaries of the 'gentlemen's game' it's going to be tolerated.

In any event, US foreign policy continues to be dominated by Morgenthau-derived Realism, which means that it isn't necessarily affected by how nice or mean our allies or not-so-friendlies are, rather by utilitarian national interests held in common. Israel can, and does, get away with more, not just because it's recognized that it needs to do more, but because at below a certain level they just won't affect the basic equations that lead to strong American support for Israel. That's partly the pro-Israel domestic lobby in the US, but it's also partly Israel being the one full constitutional democracy in the region, a strong trading partner, and the need for a trustworthy American pal in the region. Sure, they may spy on us, but they probably won't screw us in a jiffy the way the Saudis would.
posted by dhartung at 7:38 PM on March 22, 2002

Israel is in a dicier situation than most allies, being as that their very existence, given present circumstances, depends primarily on the continued goodwill of the United States

While this may have been true from 48-73, do you really think it's the case now? US Aid to Israeli is a drop in the bucket of a fairly prosperous country, and Israel has proven time and time again that they can defend themselves from anything thrown at them. Furthermore the threats faced since '73 have not been grave enough to imperil the state, which is healthy and strong.

I think it still benefits both parties to remain allies, however I don't think Israel's existence depends on US goodwill.
posted by chaz at 10:00 PM on March 22, 2002

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