Saturday, September 25, 2010

Israeli Spies Target Pa.

ISRAELI SPIES TARGET PA.

 

By Michael Collins Piper

It’s a scandal (or it should be) of national—even international—proportions. But in Pennsylvania, where the news first reverberated, few understand the bigger ramifications: The ongoing furor has— just barely—kicked open the door of a hitherto secret house of horrors in which a whole host of spooks are lurking.

Exposed was yet another instance of Israeli spying on American soil. Adding insult to injury is the fact— revealed in Pennsylvania—that American tax dollars are being channeled to Israeli intelligence operations to spy on American citizens engaged in lawful political activity.

To understand the controversy, it is critical to recognize that in the wake of 9-11, “homeland security” became a booming racket—not just in the sense of a growing government bureaucracy. In fact, an amazing number of privately owned companies blossomed, operating in the sphere of American military, intelligence and law enforcement, contracting out services to U.S. government agencies and institutions at all levels.

An overwhelming majority of such firms are either 1) Israeli owned; 2) owned by U.S. subsidiaries of Israeli companies; or 3) owned by Americans tied to Israel and the Jewish lobby in America.

It was discovered that one such Israeli-owned company was spying on law-abiding citizens, paid to do so by the Pennsylvania state government—that is, the taxpayers .

Here’s the story:

In 2009, the Pennsylvania state Office of Homeland Security—under Gov. Ed Rendell—awarded a no-bid contract to a private company, the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR). Its job was to monitor activities of a wide-ranging assortment of public-issue oriented organizations.

ITRR passed the fruits of its intelligence activities on to the state homeland security office that, in turn, distributed the information to a variety of law enforcement agencies, public officials and what is being described as others in “the private sector.”

Calling itself “the preeminent Israeli-American security firm providing training, intelligence and education to clients across the globe,” ITRR has offices in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Jerusalem. Corporate directors are Aaron Richman, a former Israeli police captain, and Michael Perelman, a former police commander in York, Pa.

By its own admission, ITRR focuses on monitoring those it calls “extremists” with a bent toward “religious, anarchist, anti-government, and anti-globalization” points of view—in short, virtually anyone with a point of view that could (potentially) run contrary to the outlook of the Jewish lobby in America and to the interests of Israel. And be assured that opponents of the “new world order” and foes of the banking establishment are on “the list.”

The Israeli point of view, outlined in historic religious teachings, is that anyone with any opinion or ideas is a possible danger: They might someday be an enemy.



ITRR’s alerts, distributed at taxpayer expense, cast political dissidents in Pennsylvania as potential terrorists, enemies of public order and threats to freedom. Those in Pennsylvania targeted by ITRR included attendees at a tea party march in Harrisburg, supporters of an anti-illegal immigration rally in Hazleton, critics of nuclear power, animal rights defenders, gay activists and a group protesting natural gas drilling. In other words, both “conservative” and “liberal” are subject to scrutiny.

The controversy surrounding ITRR began when the state’s homeland security director, James Powers, sent out an email “alert”—based on ITRR’s spy data—stating support for the natural gas industry and calling its critics “those groups fomenting dissent.”

Apparently, by accident, Powers’s bulletin was sent to Virginia Cody, among those protesting natural gas drilling (and thus subject to ITRR spying). Cody was disturbed to learn she and her colleagues had been targeted. In the wake of her discovery, independent media and political groups forced the mass media in Pennsylvania to take notice.

This proved embarrassing for Rendell. A Jewish Democrat known to jump ship politically when it comes to the issue of Israel—covertly backing pro-Israel Republicans over Democrats perceived unfriendly to Israel—Rendell moved into damage-control mode. He ordered ITRR’s contract canceled and made a bombastic public apology, shocked—he said—such a thing could happen.

In fact, the ITRR affair is the tip of the iceberg, one of myriad Israeli operations on U.S. soil subsidized by American taxpayers in many states, not to mention the federal level.

While some officials are raising questions about the ITRR matter, what none is asking is: Why, in the first place, was a group tied to a controversial foreign nation,  central to some of the most difficult issues affecting U.S. foreign policy, even considered eligible for such a sensitive area as monitoring matters relating to America’s homeland security?

One activist spied upon by ITRR said his group was inclined to avoid discussing the Israeli connection. “It’s kind of controversial to comment on, you know, what with the Holocaust. I mean, I would rather not. The Jewish people have been through a lot.”

The presence in the Pennsylvania capital of the Patriot News—the big daily newspaper—helps protect Israeli interests in the matter: The Patriot News is owned by the national media empire of the Newhouse family—once the richest Jewish family in America— whose ties to Jewish lobby groups such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and to the Jewish crime syndicate (with which the ADL is intertwined) extend back more than half a century.

What those who have expressed outrage about the ITRR affair fail to note (perhaps out of concern of being targeted) is that ITRR’s activities mirror those of the ADL which—in a similar scandal that erupted in San Francisco in 1993—was found to be monitoring the activities of various groups.

While many thought the ADL spied only on the Ku Klux Klan, American Nazis, Arab-Americans and critics of Israel, it turned out the ADL’s chief operative, Roy Bullock, also compiled reports on environmentalists, gay rights groups and even civil rights organizations, including the NAACP.

It has since been confirmed—by a former ADL official and by Freedom of Information Act filings—that the ADL also spied on the late Martin Luther King Jr. and his friend and colleague, comic Dick Gregory. The ADL turned its spy data over to the FBI. So while it is frequently heard “the FBI spied on Martin Luther King,” the truth is much of the FBI’s data was actually accumulated by the ADL. 

A journalist specializing in media critique, Michael Collins Piper is the author of The High Priests of War, The New Jerusalem, Dirty Secrets, The Judas Goats, The Golem, Target Traficant and My First Days in the White House All are available from AFP.

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(Issue # 40, October 4, 2010)

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