Quelle Surprise! By Richard Sale


Part One 

It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the information given to President Trump by Israel and passed to the Russians was something the Russians already knew about. 

I cite this story below.

Soviet spies infiltrate Mossad, sources say


"By RICHARD SALE   |   Dec. 14, 1987


WASHINGTON — Soviet infiltration of Israel's spy agency, Mossad, is the most serious blow to Israeli intelligence since the 1970s and U.S. intelligence also was breached as a result, U.S. intelligence sources reveal.

Mossad has been penetrated by 'highly placed' Soviet moles and a full-scale internal counterintelligence investigation is under way, the intelligence sources said.

A Justice Department source said U.S. counterintelligence agents became aware of the Israeli-Soviet espionage pipeline when data stolen by Jonathan Jay Pollard, a U.S. Navy analyst convicted of spying for Israel, was 'traced to the Eastern bloc.'

Intelligence sources said data reaching the Soviets via this route included sensitive U.S. weapons technology and strategic information about the defense forces of Turkey, Pakistan and moderate Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia.

U.S. intelligence analysts said the Pollard data was traded to the Soviets in return for promises to increase emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel.

One analyst said Israel's 'right-wing' Jews are involved with spying for the Soviets and called it 'ironic,' noting that left-wing elements were responsible for similar scandals in the past.

A senior U.S. official said morale in Mossad 'had plummeted' but refused to comment on whether the breach had damaged U.S.-Israeli intelligence ties.

In Jerusalem, an Israeli government spokesman denied knowledge of the security breach.

'I know nothing about all that,' said Avi Pazner, spokesman for the prime minister's office. 'It seems to be utter fantasy.'

A State Department spokesman also declined comment. But an administration official said the Soviet penetration of Mossad was discussed at meetings of CIA, FBI and other U.S. counterintelligence specialists about the Pollard case.

'One of the guys was commenting that if Pollard had stolen stuff, at least it was going to a U.S. ally, but a CIA guy spoke up and said that if Mossad was involved it meant that copies of everything were going to (the KGB's) Moscow center,' the source said.

Pollard began serving a life sentence early this year in what U.S. officials have called one of the worst intelligence disasters in U.S. history, according to a senior administration official.

Asked to describe the Israeli-Soviet spies, an administration intelligence source said: 'They are highly placed agents in the top echelon of Mossad.' The source also said the infiltration has occurred at 'very significant levels.'

Israel has launched a full-scale investigation into the Soviet infiltration, disguising it as 'a probe into financial corruption' of some Mossad agents, an administration source said.

The source emphasized that 'counterintelligence investigations always begin with the painstaking study of financial vouchers,' inquiries aimed at determining whether an agent has received large, unexplained payments or lived an unusually high lifestyle. Another source said most double agents 'are caught by the careful study of documents.'

Israel apparently was first used as a base for Soviet agents in the early 1960s, when Professor Kurt Sitte, a nuclear physicist at the Institute of Technology at Haifa, was exposed as a Soviet agent.

Sitte, a specialist in cosmic radiation working with the U.S. Air Force, was convicted in 1961.

A subsequent case was uncovered the following year. Dr. Israel Beer, a former aide to the chief of staff of the Israeli army, was arrested after he became liaison officer on intelligence to then Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion.

Aided by a tip from the British Secret Service, MI5, Beer was arrested on charges he passed data to the Soviets.

In the 1970s, more trouble came from left-wing Sabras, or native-born Israelis who had ideological sympathies with the Soviet Union. One case involved a former Israeli paratrooper who spied for Soviet-backed Syria.

U.S. intelligence analysts said the latest penetration by Soviet agents occurred in the early 1980s under the administration of Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.

The sources said they were aware of 'reports' of meetings between Israeli and Soviet officials on Cyprus, a well-known base for Soviet espionage operations against Israel.

Administration officials confirmed that the island nation's capital, Nicosia, is an important KGB base and a meeting place for Soviet agents operating in Middle Eastern countries such as Israel.

A U.S. intelligence analyst said he was not surprised that the Soviets had placed agents in the Sharon government because Sharon 'surrounded himself with people who were extraordinarily vulnerable to penetration.'

He declined to elaborate.

The Mossad was founded in 1937 in England to handle large-scale and then illegal emigration of Jews from Europe to Palestine, then under British control.

By 1942, a secret agent training site was set up at Mikveh, Israel, a cultural school outside of Tel Aviv. Courses included cryptography, map-reading, lock-picking and other intelligence skills.

After Israel was created in 1948, counterintelligence was handled by the Shin Beth, the Israeli equivalent of the FBI.

Israeli government sources say Mossad has about 2,000 employees of which 500 are officers. A CIA report, found during the 1979 U.S. embassy takeover in Tehran, said, 'Israel's intelligence and security services are among the best in the world.'




A few days after the UPI story, I returned from lunch and found a phone message from Sy Hersh on my desk. When I called him, he said something like, “Thanks. Your scoop wasn’t exactly good for my book.” Sy and I met for lunch and became friends.

It appeared that he was about to publish his book, “The Samson Option.” He had done a through investigation of Israel’s nuclear weapons and its intelligence agencies.

According to Sy, in 1977, when Begin became Prime Minister, he started worked diligently to develop new ties with the Soviet Union in an effort to balance or offset Israel’s customary dependence on U.S. intelligence. Another senior Israeli official, Yitzhak Shamir, had always been fascinated by ":strong" regimes. He saw the United States as “very soft, bourgeois, materialistic and effete.” For Shamir, relaying the stolen data of the American traitor Jonathan Pollard to the Russians was a way to demonstrate that Israel was a much more dependable and more important collaborator in the Middle East than the U.S. and the “fickle” Arabs.

At that time, Israel’s F-4 had targets in Egypt and Syria, the Israelis were receiving indecipherable messages from Soviet operators inside Israel.

Reading Sy’s book, I thought it a work of real distinction, but Sy told me the American public ignored it. “Nobody gave a shit,” he told me frequently."



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22 Responses to Quelle Surprise! By Richard Sale

  1. jonst says:

    First Richard, Shamir was, as he usually was, right about spotting weakness. What would he say today? As to the penetration of Mossad, well, yeah. Sure. Why not….they penetrated the entire *Demographic* of Israel. So why not various institutions?

  2. mauisurfer says:

    was the information (that trump gave russia) from israel? or was it from jordan?

  3. doug says:

    Anyone paying attention would know that Israel has pretty close ties to Russia during the rise of the Russian oligarchs. They are still close. Israel and Russia have a visa waiver program. The US and Israel does not.

  4. ToivoS says:

    The Jonathan Pollard case revealed another aspect of those Soviet “spies” who had penetrated the Israeli government. The Israelis traded US secrets stolen by Pollard to the Soviets in exchange for Russian Jews. The “spies” in these negotiations were almost certainly officials of the Israeli government.
    Here is a follow up story to the Israeli Boris Krasny who apparently “spied” for the Soviets written by Richard Silverstein:

  5. MRW says:

    This is just one small report from Richard Sale’s magnificent oeuvre. In my view, Richard Sale was the greatest all-time intelligence reporter of the 20th C. Period. Non-pareil. Bar none.
    And I’ve been reading him since pre-internet days (UPI starting in the 80s, etc, hell, I kept a 3” Smead legal ‘pocket’ of his clips in my apt in Manhattan; I wanted to appear brilliant at cocktail and dinner parties). It wasn’t just his “scoop” ability, as Sy Hersh opined, it was his ability to glean from important sources the critical bits—on goddam deadline, no less—and then see through the obfuscation and filigree to put the bits into a universal perspective that future historians will rely upon as the insight of a unique man with the razor-sharp perspective and unflagging values few of his colleagues would ever attain; moreover, few ever knew they needed to. In addition to knowing how to write himself out a paper bag.
    It is a testament to this site that Richard Sale is a regular. And, it tells me heaps about the quality of mind of the Colonel that this is his buddy.
    Believe me when I say we have reporting royalty gracing us with his appearance here.

  6. turcopolier says:

    Why are you still here? Is this an ageist thing? You expect me to forget? it does not really matter where the US got the information. None of these countries has a significant intelligence capability, including the Israelis. At least 80% of the intelligence Israel has is given to them by the US. they have nowhere else to go. We are the only show in town except for the boutique items that that they and the others specialize in. pl

  7. jonst says:

    Just curious, why would that matter anyway?

  8. mauisurfer says:

    It is comforting to think that Israel has such limited intelligence capability as you describe. How then did
    100 kilograms (or was it 345 kg?)of bomb-grade uranium get from NUMEC in Apollo, Pennsylvania to Israel from 1959 to 1977?

  9. turcopolier says:

    If you are going to try to be snide about the intelligence business you need to learn a few basics about it. “Intelligence” is about information. Illegally obtaining uranium is about “covert action.” The latter thing has nothing to do with information. It has to do with the employment of a Fifth Column that is willing to help you steal uranium and which is trusted as citizens of the country from which the uranium is being stolen. Transferring intelligence information to Israel is a major activity of the US IC. It takes place daily on a large scale. I was head of US/Israeli intelligence liaison between DoD and the IDF General Staff for seven long years. Generally, we give them the crown jewels and they give us trash. They also deliberately lie about the relationship to their partisans in the US. On several occasions members of Congress confronted me with items of information which they said the Israelis had given them and asked why I did not know that since the Israelis knew it. In fact we had passed this information TO te Israelis. pl

  10. LeaNder says:

    MRW, I haven’t quite managed to wrap my head around your brave new American monetary universe, admittedly, but this sounds like a déjà vu or read for that matter.
    In any case, appreciated. 😉

  11. Richard Sale says:

    From the beginning of its founding as a state, Israel was the recipient of vast amounts of U.S. aid – military aircraft radar systems, electronic warfare systems, armor, etc. The U.S. played a major part in the development of Israel’s nukes.
    I think the Pollard case shook up U.S officials because Israel had always assured us that Israel’s interests were identical to America’s. No sane person believed this, but if you heard it often enough you came to think it true, at least in part.
    The Pollard case startled U.S. spooks because they realized with anguish that Israel had its own asset in the U.S. who was spying for them. I was a good friend of Caspar Weinberger and when I spoke to him about Pollard, he almost foamed at the mouth, his rage was that profound. It soon became clear that Israel recognized no other judge of its behavior but itself, and it obeyed no law except its own interests. It pursued them with grim ferocity, like America. You had to be strong to conquer, but it helped if you were moderate in your victory. In other words, ambition founded the plan of conquest, but after it was executed, moderation helped to soothe the losers. The Israel Palestinian wars proved the fallacy of that. At least in theory. Israel was addicted to conquest. It though it the crowing the achievement of your exertions, but it had to be limited because the abuse of force would destroy the advantages it brought. Alexander the Great thought that petty thieves should be put to death while altars were erected to honor great ones. Most countries including America are examples of this.
    A great French thinker once warned you did not pillage, plunder, force, trouble, despoil, vex, oppress ruin and destroy either the people or area after a conquest, advice that most nations ignore.
    Richard Sale

  12. jonst says:

    Well, I don’t know where to start my reply, other than to thank for both your essay, and your gracious reply. But here goes..
    I guess, growing up in NYC, and other parts of the metropolitan area, gave me a fast and certain lesson re who and what the Jews were putting first, namely, the survival of the Jewish people, as personified by the Jewish State. All you had to do was walk the streets of NYC, or Newark, or Elizabeth, hang out in bakeries, and delis, not the New School, and listen, to know which way the wind was blowing. There was visceral rage, in the wake of WWII, and a ruthless determination to avoid the mistakes of the past. How ANY American official could not see–feel– this is beyond me. No matter how many times they heard the opposite. And frankly, I am unaware of a time Israel has ever acted in a significant strategic manner as an Ally of ours. Shlomo Ben Ami, in his excellent book, Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli–Arab Tragedy makes a clear connection between the 1967 victory, and the rise of a particular zealous, fundamental, religious ferocity and sense of certainty that came to dominate (Begin) in the mid 70s. Surely some one as professed to be as wise as Cap the Knife had to know this. And know of its implications. I think people in DC did not know things because it was in their interests NOT to know. See Sen Percy…
    The Israelis, as you know better than I, are not big on “great French Thinkers’, at times, AKA, Enlightenment Thinkers. They are big on tribal dynamics. They will take defense in depth (all things relative, of course) over moderation.

  13. mauisurfer says:

    Shortly before he died in February 2004, Adm. Moorer strongly appealed for the truth to be brought out and pointed directly at what he saw as the main obstacle: “I’ve never seen a President … stand up to Israel. … If the American people understood what a grip these people have on our government, they would rise up in arms.”
    Echoing Moorer, former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck, who served many years in the Middle East, condemned Washington’s attitude toward Israel as “obsequious, unctuous subservience … at the cost of the lives and morale of our own service members and their families.”

  14. different clue says:

    I think Admiral Moorer said that well before 2004. I remember reading that quote in Congressman Paul Findlay’s book They Dare To Speak Out, which was published in 1983.

  15. Imagine says:

    –Israel purportedly has a direct uncombed feed of everything the NSA gathers.
    Russia probably has moles left over in Israeli intelligence.
    Therefore, Russia may be getting at least a partial feed of everything the NSA grabs.
    (This presumably involves proprietary business conversations, plus unencrypted gov’t ones.) Universal surveillance is unethical, violates the Fourth Amendment, and is detrimental to the spirit and health of America.
    –Mossad spies, the “Dancing Israelis”, were seen filming the 9/11 attacks and celebrating. The FBI caught them, but was told to quietly deport them and let them go. No satisfactory explanation of either event has ever been offered.

  16. LeaNder says:

    And frankly, I am unaware of a time Israel has ever acted in a significant strategic manner as an Ally of ours. Shlomo Ben Ami, in his excellent book, Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli–Arab Tragedy
    there are a numerous authors that deserve attention, jonst. Avi Shlaim, of course. My “friend” Norman Finkelstein, and surely more recently to name just a few: Shira Robinson
    If you spent too much time on the inner academic struggles and the venom, you surely need distance to the topic. At least, I did.

  17. Richard Sale says:

    It was an arranged theft approved by the highest circles of the U.S.government. An intelligence source of mine who had been a tour of the underground nuclear facilities at Dimon was told that by Israeli officials.
    Richard Sale

  18. turcopolier says:

    Richard sale
    And he believed the Israelis? pl

  19. mauisurfer says:

    i think he said it in 1993
    he died in 2004

  20. Thomas says:

    “Therefore, Russia may be getting at least a partial feed of everything the NSA grabs.”
    And they can use that information to compare it with all the goodies gathered via an ill-disciplined lazy federal official’s bathroom server.

  21. mauisurfer says:

    new book by Philip Nelson titled: Remember the Liberty: Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas
    sorry for confusions about dates, don’t know when Moorer said it without looking it up
    but he died in 2004

  22. turcopolier says:

    I am one of those who read the NSA generated voice intercepts acquired during the Liberty attack. Look in the SST archives. pl

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