The recent inquiry into whether Douglas Feith aide Larry Franklin passed secrets to Israel has prompted the FBI to re-examine Neocon treachery that stretches back more than thirty years.
The men at the center of these investigations comprise a Who’s Who of Neocons and Bush appointees: Ledeen, Perl, Feith, and Wolfowitz:
The sources, who asked to not be identified, said the FBI has been intensively reviewing a series of past counter-intelligence probes that were started against several high-profile neo-cons but never followed up with prosecutions, due to political pressure, to the great frustration of counter-intelligence officers. Some of these past investigations involve top current officials, including Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, whose office appears to be the focus of the most recently disclosed inquiry; and Richard Perle, who resigned as Defense Policy Board (DPB) chairman last year.
[The] Pentagon office concerned with the transfer of sensitive military and dual-use technologies has been examining the acquisition, modification and sales of key hi-tech military equipment to third parties by Israel obtained from the United States, in some cases with the help of prominent neo-conservatives who were then serving in the government.
Some of that equipment has been sold by Israel—which in the last 20 years has become a top exporter of the world’s most sophisticated hi-tech information and weapons technology—or by Israeli middlemen, to Russia, China and other U.S. strategic rivals. Some of it has also found its way onto the black market, where terrorist groups obtained bootlegged copies, according to these sources.
Previously, Mr. Feith served as a Middle East analyst in the National Security Council in the administration of former President Ronald Reagan (1981-89), but was summarily removed from that position in March 1982 because he had been the object of an FBI inquiry into whether he had provided classified material to an official of the Israeli embassy in Washington, according to Mr. Green’s account.
But Mr. Perle, who was then serving as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy (ISP) which, among other responsibilities, had an important say in approving or denying licenses to export sensitive military or dual-use technology abroad, hired him as his “special counsel” and later as his deputy, where he served until 1986, when he left for his law practice with Zell, who had by then moved to Israel. Also serving under Mr. Perle during these years was Stephen Bryen, a former staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the subject of a major FBI investigation in the late 1970s for offering classified documents to an Israeli intelligence officer in the presence of AIPAC’s director, according to Mr. Green’s account, which is backed up by some 500 pages of investigation documents released under a Freedom of Information request some 15 years ago.
Although political appointees decided against prosecution, Mr. Bryen was reportedly asked to leave the committee and, until his appointment by Perle in 1981, served as head of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a group dedicated to promoting strategic ties between the United States and Israel and one in which Perle, Feith and Ledeen have long been active.
In his position as Mr. Perle’s deputy, Mr. Bryen created the Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA) which enforced regulations regarding technology transfer to foreign countries.
During his tenure, according to one source with personal knowledge of his work, “the U.S. shut down transfers to western Europe and Japan (which were depicted as too ready to sell them to Moscow) and opened up a back door to Israel”—a pattern that became embarrassingly evident after Mr. Perle left office and the current deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage, took over in 1987.
Soon, Mr. Armitage was raising serious questions about Mr. Bryen’s approval of sensitive exports to Israel without appropriate vetting by other agencies.
In 1970, one year after he was hired by Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, an FBI wiretap authorized for the Israeli Embassy picked up Mr. Perle discussing classified information with an embassy official, while Mr. Wolfowitz was investigated in 1978 for providing a classified document on the proposed sale of a U.S. weapons system to an Arab government to an Israeli official via an AIPAC staffer.
In 1992, when he was serving as undersecretary of defense for policy, Pentagon officials looking into the unauthorized export of classified technology to China found that Mr. Wolfowitz’s office was promoting Israel’s export of advanced air-to-air missiles to Beijing in violation of a written agreement with Washington on arms re-sales.
The FBI and the Pentagon are reportedly taking a new look at all of these incidents, and others to, in the words of an Aug. 29 New York Times story, “get a better understanding of the relationships among conservative officials with strong ties to Israel.”