Since news leaked of an FBI investigation into a Pentagon Iran analyst accused by anonymous sources of spying for Israel, a new conspiracy has gained traction. It is being suggested that a web of treason goes to the highest levels of the Pentagon where Jewish government employees are acting on behalf not of America but the Jewish state.
The facts of the actual spy probe, murky at best, are hardly germane to the arguments of those who concluded long ago that the Iraq war was the work of a deceptive cabal of policy intellectuals who persuaded the president to remove Saddam Hussein from power in order to advance the security interests of Israel.
Never mind that the FBI has yet to arrest or indict anyone for any crime. Also forget that the press learned of the matter the same day that Attorney General Ashcroft assigned a United States attorney to review a case that anonymous FBI officials have told assorted reporters was strong enough that arrests were imminent. The entire affair for a few is evidence of a wider conspiracy.
Writing for tompaine.com, Robert Dreyfuss warns his readers of "an axis of spies," comprising the American Enterprise Institute, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and the Israeli embassy. He concludes, "If the FBI weren't so busy trying to catch nonexistent Al Qaeda suspects, they might consider devoting a few more resources to tracking down this expanding Israeli nest of spies."
On NBC's "Meet the Press," one-time presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan ominously spoke of a faction of "Pollardites" in the Pentagon, suggesting that those reporting to Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith were akin to the Israeli spy.
Taking the cake for outrageous libel is University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole. On his Web log he writes of "pro-Likud intellectuals" using the Pentagon as "Israel's Gurkha regiment, fighting elective wars on behalf of Tel Aviv." He adds that these were wars "the Likud coalition thought it would be nice to see fought so as to increase Israel's ability to annex land and act aggressively, especially if someone else's boys did the dying."
Make no mistake, Professor Cole and Messrs. Dreyfuss and Buchanan are accusing Paul Wolfowitz, Mr. Feith, John Bolton and their aides of dual loyalty. Mr. Cole writes that the recent anonymous leaks against Pentagon Iran analyst Larry Franklin "reveal the contours of a rightwing conspiracy of warmongering and aggression, an orgy of destruction, for the benefit of the Likud Party, of Silvio Berlusconi's business in the Middle East, and of the Neoconservative Right in the United States. It isn't about spying. It is about conspiring to conscript the US government on behalf of a foreign power or powers."
Where were these critics during the Clinton years? When President Clinton's national security adviser, Samuel Berger, said at the end of his term that one day America may well have to take out Saddam because the international sanctions against him were broken, was he also advancing Israel's agenda? After all Mr. Berger is Jewish. And if the agendas of Messrs. Feith and Sharon are so closely linked, how come the Israelis failed to lift a finger to help Pentagon favorite Ahmad Chalabi when he was in exile and proposed a plan to launch an insurgency?
The Rosetta stone of the alleged neocon conspiracy is a document authored by Mr. Feith and an aide to Vice President Cheney, David Wurmser, that called for a "clean break" from prior strategies that sought a comprehensive peace with Arab governments. Written for Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, the document supports the destabilization of Syria's government and calls for regime change in Iraq.
What the anti-Israel writers will not tell you about the clean break memo is that it also called for Israel to forgo economic aid from America in pursuit of a more mature relationship. Nor will these writers mention that Mr. Netanyahu rejected many parts of the propos al that called for closing institutions of the Palestinian Authority, which the memo's authors wanted because they reckoned Yasser Arafat was negotiating with Israel in bad faith.
Only a few years ago, Mr. Cole's blather might be consigned to that corner of the Internet reserved for tinfoil-capped witnesses of alien landings and the self-appointed investigators of the British royal family's drug cartels. But it is a sign of the times that Mr. Cole is appearing as a commentator on National Public Radio and has been quoted in the Washington Post and has spoken before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Indeed, Mr. Cole is running for the presidency of the Middle East Studies Association. No wonder Mr. Ashcroft has moved to ensure some rigor from the United States attorneys handling the Franklin case.