July 28, 2012
by The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The CIA station chief opened the locked box containing sensitive equipment he used from his home in Tel Aviv, Israel, to communicate with CIA headquarters in Virginia, only to find that someone had tampered with it. He sent word to his superiors about the break-in.
The incident, described by three former senior U.S. intelligence officials, might have been dismissed as just another cloak-and-dagger incident in the world of international espionage, except that the same thing had happened to the previous station chief in Israel.
It was a not-so-subtle reminder that, even in a country friendly to the United States, the CIA was being watched.
In a separate episode, according to another two former U.S. officials, a CIA officer in Israel came home to find the food in the refrigerator had been rearranged. In all the cases, the U.S. government thinks Israel’s security services were responsible.
Such meddling underscores what is widely known but rarely discussed outside intelligence circles: Despite inarguable ties between the U.S. and its closest ally in the Middle East, U.S. national security officials consider Israel to be, at times, a frustrating ally and a genuine counterintelligence threat.
In addition to what the former U.S. officials described as intrusions in homes in the past decade, Israel has been implicated in U.S. criminal espionage cases and disciplinary proceedings against CIA officers and blamed in the presumed death of an important spy in Syria for the CIA during the administration of President George W. Bush.
The CIA considers Israel its No. 1 counterintelligence threat in the agency’s Near East Division, the group that oversees spying across the Middle East, according to current and former officials. Counterintelligence is the art of protecting national secrets from spies.
Israel employs highly sophisticated, professional spy services that rival American agencies in technical capability and recruiting human sources. Unlike Iran or Syria, for example, Israel as a steadfast U.S. ally enjoys access to the highest levels of the U.S. government in military and intelligence circles.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk publicly about the sensitive intelligence and diplomatic issues between the two countries.
Although the alliance is central to the U.S. approach in the Middle East, there is room for intense disagreement, especially in the diplomatic turmoil over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“It’s a complicated relationship,” said Joseph Wippl, a former senior CIA clandestine officer and head of the agency’s office of congressional affairs. “They have their interests. We have our interests. For the U.S., it’s a balancing act.”
An Israeli spokesman in Washington, Lior Weintraub, said his country has close ties with the U.S. A text message Saturday from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the report “false.” The CIA declined comment.
The Department of Homeland Security is an Israeli corporation headquartered in Virginia, and they’re using Operation Talpiot to get the job done: ISRAEL – THE GREATEST SPY MACHINE OF ALL TIME