Presentation by Phil Giraldi at the Council for National Interest Press Briefing, “Questioning Military Aid to Israel”
“The Israeli government is actively engaged in military and industrial espionage in the United States.” That was the conclusion of a Pentagon administrative judge in 2006. One very good reason why Israel should not receive billions of dollars in military assistance annually is its espionage against the United States. Israel, a Socialist country where government and business work hand in hand, has obtained significant advantage by systematically stealing American technology with both military and civilian applications.
US-developed technology is then reverse engineered and used by the Israelis to support their own exports with considerably reduced research and development costs, giving them a huge advantage against foreign competitors. Sometimes, when the technology is military in nature and winds up in the hands of a US adversary, the consequences can be serious. Israel has sold advanced weapons systems to China that incorporated technology developed by American companies—including the Python-3 air-to-air missile and the Delilah cruise missile. There is evidence that Tel Aviv has also stolen Patriot missile avionics to incorporate into its own Arrow system and that it used US technology obtained in its Lavi fighter development program—which was funded by the US taxpayer to the tune of $1.5 billion—to help the Bejing government develop their own J-10 fighter.
The reality of Israeli spying is indisputable. Israel always features prominently in the annual FBI report called “Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage.” The 2005 report, for example, states:
“Israel has an active program to gather proprietary information within the United States. These collection activities are primarily directed at obtaining information on military systems and advanced computing applications that can be used in Israel’s sizable armaments industry.”
It adds that Israel recruits spies, uses electronic methods, and carries out computer intrusion to gain the information. The 2005 report concluded that the thefts eroded US military advantage, enabling foreign powers to obtain expensive technologies that had taken years to develop.
A 1996 Defense Investigative Service report noted that Israel has great success stealing technology by exploiting the numerous co-production projects that it has with the Pentagon. “Placing Israeli nationals in key industries … is a technique utilized with great success.” A General Accounting Office (GAO) examination of espionage directed against American defense and security industries, also undertaken in 1996, described how Israeli citizens residing in the US had stolen sensitive technology to manufacture artillery gun tubes, obtained classified plans for a reconnaissance system, and passed sensitive aerospace designs to unauthorized users.
An Israeli company was caught monitoring a Department of Defense telecommunications system to obtain classified information, while other Israeli entities targeted avionics, missile telemetry, aircraft communications, software systems, and advanced materials and coatings used in missile re-entry. The GAO concluded that Israel “conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally.”
In June 2006, a Pentagon administrative judge overruled an appeal by an Israeli who had been denied a security clearance, stating, “The Israeli government is actively engaged in military and industrial espionage in the United States. An Israeli citizen working in the US who has access to proprietary information is likely to be a target of such espionage.” More recently, FBI counter intelligence officer John Cole has reported how many cases of Israeli espionage are dropped under orders from the Justice Department. He provides a “conservative estimate” of 125 worthwhile investigations into Israeli espionage involving both American citizens and Israelis that were stopped due to political pressure from above.
Two stories that have been reported in the Israeli media but are strangely absent from the news on this side of the Atlantic demonstrate exactly what is going on and what is at stake. The first report confirms Tel Aviv’s efforts to obtain US technology are ongoing. Stewart David Nozette, a US government scientist who was arrested in an October 2009 FBI sting operation after offering to spy for Israel, has been waiting in jail to go to trial on espionage charges. New documents in the case were presented in the Federal court in Washington last year.
The documents confirm that Nozette was a paid consultant for Israeli Aerospace Industries and it is believed that he passed to them classified material in return for an estimated $225,000 in “consulting” fees. Examination of his computer by the FBI revealed that he was planning a “penetration of NASA” the US space agency and that he was also trying to crack into other scientists’ computers to obtain additional classified material. Other documents demonstrate that he was cooperating with two Israeli scientists who were administrators with Israeli Aerospace Industries, Yossi Weiss and Yossi Fishman. Nozette made several trips to Israel without reporting them, which he was required to do because of his high security clearance. The FBI reportedly also has incriminating letters and other documents that were obtained from his computer.
The second story relates to the pending sale of twenty F-35 fighter planes to Israel. The F-35 is one of the most advanced fighter planes in the world. The $130 million planes would be purchased with US military assistance money, which means they would effectively be a gift from the US taxpayer. But Israel is balking at the sale reportedly because it wants to install some of its own local content in the aircraft. The Pentagon has already made some concessions but is disinclined to grant approval for all the changes because to do so would require giving the Israelis full access to the plane’s advanced avionics and computer systems. Israel also wants to independently maintain the aircraft, which would also require access to all systems.
It would be nice to think that the Pentagon wants to keep the maintenance in American hands to preserve jobs during these tough economic times, but the Defense Department has never cared about US workers before when the issue is Israel. The real reason for the standoff is that Lockheed-Martin and the Pentagon both know that Israel will steal whatever it can if it gains access. It would then use the technology to market its own products at a price below that of US defense contractors. The result would be a triple whammy for Uncle Sam: the expensive planes are given to Israel free, the technology is then stolen, and future sales vanish as our Israeli friends market their knock down versions of weapons systems reliant on the stolen technology.
I agree with Congressman Ron Paul when he says “We cannot afford to have ‘business as usual’ when we are bankrupt.” The US-Israel military aid entanglement—what we give, sell, and especially what is stolen—is unaffordable and unjustifiable.
June 8, 2011
The Council for the National Interest Foundation (CNIF) is an independent non-profit organization that provides information and analysis on the Middle East, its relationship to the United States, and about policy formation regarding this region. Its primary focus is on Israel-Palestine.
Council for the National Interest (CNI) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that advocates for Middle East policies that serve the national interest; that represent the highest values of our founders and our citizens; and that work to sustain a nation of honor, decency, security, and prosperity.