Back Door to the PLO:
More Light on Shepherdstown, Pollard, and the US-Israel Special Relationship
IMRA Special Release - January 8, 2000
IMRA's Weekly Commentary (01/06/00) explains how Jonathan Pollard's continued incarceration calls into question the reliability of the two leaders - Clinton and Barak, the true nature of the U.S.-Israel "special
relationship", and as a consequence - the entire process at Shepherdstown.
The following article,
"BACK DOOR TO THE PLO", is a historical snapshot
which sheds even more light on the true nature of the U.S.-Israel
"special relationship" and sets the stage for the Pollard affair. It
originally appeared in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner in August, 1982,
and is reproduced below as it was reprinted in the October 1990 issue of
The Caucus Current.
IMRA's comments follow the article.
Caucus Current Editor's Prefacing Note:
Anyone who has followed the Pollard case knows that former Secretary of
State Caspar Weinberger displayed unusual, virulence in his condemnation
of Pollard and in his desire (and, in fact, action) to see Pollard
punished to a significantly greater degree than any other American in
history accused of spying on a friendly nation. What was Weinberger's
motive? Whose interests was he protecting? The following article and
subsequent excerpts from other articles suggests Weinberger's
implication in the Pollard affair.
BACK DOOR TO THE PLO
The Los Angeles Herald Examiner, August 2, 1982
by Stephan B. Zatuchni and Daniel B. Drooz
Israel has discovered that, for the Reagan administration, support of an
allied democracy is not nearly so important as business. Senior
officials in the Department of Defense and State, the Cabinet, the
intelligence community and both Houses of Congress revealed a continuing
effort by the Defense Department under Caspar Weinberger to appease Arab
interests. These acts seem to have included violations of U.S. law and threatening the use of
force against Israel...
According to Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) "Caspar Weinberger has reversed
American policy in the Middle East." Authoritative government officials
have accused Weinberger's Defense Department of illegally training Arab
pilots, direct communication with the Palestine Liberation Organization,
allowing the offensive use of U.S. weapons by the PLO, establishing a
new military command, misleading the American public on the nature of the
Soviet threat in the Middle East, usurping the powers of the Secretary
of State, damaging American intelligence collection abilities --
including the threat of "limited military action."
Caspar Weinberger did not reverse U.S. policy by himself. In January
1981, when he became secretary of defense, there was already an
anti-Israel bias within the Joint Chiefs of staff (JCS). Former
Chairman of the JCS, George S. Brown, for example, publicly condemned
the influence of Jews years before Weinberger assumed office. But
Weinberger brought a pro-Arab disposition to the department. He was a
vice-president, director and legal counsel of the Bechtel Group, which
has multibillion dollar ties to Saudi Arabia and numbers among its
alumni two Reagan cabinet members, one deputy secretary and the special
ambassador to the Middle East.
"The Bechtel Group has refused to do any business with Israel or Israeli
companies worldwide since 1973," said Daniel Halprin, economic officer
of the Israeli Embassy. Halprin added, "Israeli firms have approached
Bechtel, particularly in Africa, in order to solicit joint projects.
Bechtel rebutted all the offers." A suit was brought against Bechtel by
the Justice Department charging Bechtel with complying with the Arab boycott of
Israel in violation of the U.S. law. The alleged violations all occurred during the tenure of
George Shultz and Caspar Weinberger at the Bechtel Group.
A senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff said
"Weinberger believes that what's good for Bechtel is good for the U.S.
A lot of people in the Department of Defense (DOD) look at Israel as a
pain in the ass. They never think of standing up for U.S. rights in the
Arab world. This is a very dominant way of thinking at JCS and DOD.
They think Israel will get the U.S. in trouble and hurt business."
Weinberger has justified his attitude to several parties in the name of
American economic interests, Saudi Arabia is currently spending $36
billion on military hardware and construction, and as much as $64
billion on other imports. The Arab world may have as much as $300
billion invested in the U.S. and the West. Exact Arab holdings in the
U.S. are classified. A congressional source acknowledged, "Military sales are just part of the
business relationship (between Saudi Arabia and the U.S.)." They seem
the most important part."
Sources at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill said military sales are so
vital that the Defense Department, has been 'bought' by the Saudi
Arabians. A ranking Pentagon official [said] "Weinberger is opposed to
putting strings on sales to the Arabs. He'll give them what they want.
We appease Israel, by saying that the Arabs can't use sophisticated
equipment. Weinberger said in private, '[They] can't fly
top-of-the-line aircraft anyway.'"
"Saudi Arabia is exploiting Caspar Weinberger's free hand.
a technician who worked on the project, Saudi Arabia provided and
installed radios in Iraqi aircraft to monitor classified transmissions
from the U.S. AWACS based in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. intelligence
community knew of this but there was testimony before Congress that it
was a technical impossibility.
Another example is provided in a document captured by Israeli forces in
Lebanon. The document is the minutes of a top-level PLO meeting which
Yassir Arafat attended. It is entitled 'Protocol of the Sixth Meeting
of the Military Council,' dated July 25, l98l. That document states,
"The Saudi Arabian ambassador reported that King Khalid is pursuing the
U.S. to oppose the conquering of Lebanon by Israel. in addition, he
made it clear that we (the PLO) are committed to observe the the
cease-fire to the U.N. and the security committee, but not to Philip
Habib.' If we had known about this then, would we have approved the
A senior intelligence officer also noted further violations of U.S. law
by Saudi Arabia.
Jordanians, Iraqis, and Syrians wearing Saudi Arabian
uniforms have trained to be pilots at Tinker Air Force Base and other
locations in the U.S." Civilian pilots from countries included on the
"Terrorism List" maintained by the State Department have also been
trained in violation of U.S. law. The intelligence officer explained
that the U.S. instructors cannot tell the difference between Arabic
accents. This violation was confirmed by a Senate staff member. Such
training is supposed to benefit the U.S. An official in the office of
the secretary of defense said, "Oil is basic. We want to protect
(Persian) Gulf oil. That's our motivating factor."
A senate staff investigator said, "The DOD thinks everything that goes
to Saudi Arabia is for eventual American use. If we ever have to go in,
everything will be in place.It's going to be billions and billions of
dollars financed by the Saudis. They are paying for the aircraft,
supplies, communications network and expendables... the whole ball of
wax for the Rapid Deployment Forces. The DOD is up to its neck in
this. They were prepared to do this in secret, without Congress,
without the State Department, without anybody else being involved. If
you add on Weinberger and his predilection to support Saudi Arabia to
the extent that it's in Bechtel's interest, it's even more serious. "
Weinberger had also demonstrated his support for the Arabs in other
ways. Senior defense officials were on an official tour of the Middle
East, including Israel, set up months in advance by the Defense
Department. Secretary of Defense Weinberger personally intervened and
canceled the tour. A senior pentagon official said, "Mr. Weinberger
decided he was going
to Saudi Arabia. He certainly had no regard for Israel, and no
information for them either. Weinberger didn't want senior officers to
appear in Israel while he was talking to Saudi Arabia and Jordan. He
summarily canceled their tours. Canceling those visits seriously
damaged our relations with Israel. The Israelis know who ordered the
Soon after these cancellations, government analysts began predicting an
Israeli invasion of Lebanon. A study paper written by
International-Security Affairs, an organization within the office of the
secretary of defense. This paper "contained negative incentives which
told Israel to get out of Lebanon or else." However, the study paper -
was "unblessed." This was due to two faulty predictions by the Defense
Intelligence Agency. Although the DIA forecasts
were premature, there was no doubt that Israel would invade. The Defense
Department refined its tactics.
In February 1982, the office of the secretary of defense originated the
"Interagency Contingency Operation Plan," The plan designated three
levels of response to the anticipated Israeli invasion of Lebanon:
Phase One: called for the application of continuing,
pressure on Israel to withdraw.
Phase Two: introduced
Phase Three: allowed for
limited military action.
Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982. President Reagan was then in
Europe with former Secretary of State Alexander Haig. This led to what
knowledgeable officials within the office of the secretary of defense
called a "discontinuity." He explained there was no opportunity for the
secretary of defense to personally present his plans to the president.
The Defense Department tried to circumvent Alexander Haig and the State
Department. The official reason, as explained by a Pentagon source,
was, "There are no positive opportunities created by the Israeli
invasion of Lebanon."
It was then leaked that Israel rejected a PLO offer to lay down its arms
and withdraw from Lebanon if Israel pulled back six miles from Beirut.
According to an authoritative Israeli diplomatic source, the offer was
never conveyed to Jerusalem. Israel did not hear of the offer and its
"rejection" until It was publicized by the American media.
Secretary of Defense Weinberger opened his own channel of communication
to the PLO, An authoritative source on the staff of the Senate Armed
Services Committee said, "There's a three-party line direct from
Weinberger through the Saudis to the PLO. The Saudis were
telling the PLO to hang on, the U.S. will pressure the Israelis to stop.
Haig was trying to arrange a cease-fire through Philip Habib, his
special ambassador there. At the same time, Weinberger was undercutting
him by opening his own channels of communication. This was normal."
In the midst of this, during June, Prime Minster Begin visited the
White House where additional American pressure was applied. Begin was
told that Jordan would be allowed to purchase F-16s; and additional Hawk
surface-to-air missiles. Israel had protested the sale when it was first
proposed by Caspar Weinberger while he was in Jordan. Israel ignored the
Phase Two was initiated. The U.S. leaked that the Soviet Black Sea Fleet
was steaming to line up with the Soviet Mediterranean Squadron, and that
Soviet paratroopers were on alert in the Ukraine. These attempts to
intimidate Israel failed.
Turkey announced that the "Black Sea Fleet" consisted of five supply
ships long-scheduled to pass through the Dardanelles. The paratroop
deployment turned out to be previously announced military maneuvers.
Phase Two continued. 0n June 30,1982 at 2 a.m., Prime Minister Begin
received a letter from President Reagan. "Today I received a message from President Brezhnev
which expressed serious concern that a most serious situation has been
created which contains the possibility of broader hostilities," Prime
Minister Begin publicly read this and other excerpts from the letter,
which were published by the American press.
The letter was astounding because it directly conflicted with the
oft-stated Reagan policy to limit Soviet influence. The Israelis were
aware that, as a senior Pentagon official said, " The Soviet Union is
the least likely threat to the Middle East." Nevertheless, the Soviet
threat is precisely the reason used by the Defense Department to justify
massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia." Israel, which has a copy of the
Interagency Contingency Options Plan, began wondering about Phase Three.
Its curiosity was fueled in part by the realization that there were to
be no U.S. sanctions against Saudi Arabia for its offensive use of U.S.
weapons. When Israel overran PLO supply dumps in Lebanon, it found
U.S.-manufactured weapons. One of several crates bore the clear legend:
"1005-00-073-9421, W/E1 Each, DAAF03-71 c-0003". The Kansas City Times
reported that U.S. -manufactured munitions had also been found in the
possession of the PLO. One such crate was identified as originating from
the army ammunition plant, in Lake City Missouri.
These shipments were not accidental. The PLO document cited above
declared, "Saudi Arabia promised to fulfill all our requests for the
supply of arms and ammunition," U.S. law specifically precludes such
trans-shipments without the express consent of the U.S. government.
Apparently, the offensive use of U.S. weapons is at issue only when
Israel is using them.
The Phase Three of the Interagency Contingency Options Plan called for
"limited military action" by the U.S. against Israel. A senior Israeli
diplomat said, "We were expecting a relatively minor action which would
serve as the basis for stringent measures against Israel." A House
staff member explained that even an Insignificant military confrontation
between Israel and the U.S. would result in a drastic reversal of
American public support for Israel.
This recent near-confrontation between Israeli forces and an American
helicopter was, according to a senior Israeli diplomat, the beginning of
Phase Three. The helicopter took off from the U.S.S. Forrestal. It was
unmarked and had a strong resemblance to helicopters sold by the French
to the Syrians. No flight plan was filed with the Israeli control
center established expressly for the authorization of flights into the active
war zone. Previous and subsequent flights did and do file flight
plans. An Israeli gunboat tracked the helicopter, which did not answer
routine requests for identification.
Israel then ordered two jets to make a close visual inspection. They
made two passes. When the helicopter landed in Lebanon, Israeli troops
took the unprecedented action of searching the six personnel on board.
The U.S. filed a diplomatic protest.
If Israel would have opened fire on the unidentified aircraft, there
would have been a public furor. A total arms embargo was the least
"punishment" expected by the Israelis for an action precipitated by the
U.S. solely to provoke them.
The existence of the Interagency Contingency Options Plan was reported
without title by Middle East Policy and Survey (MEPS). MEPS wrote, "One
administration insider declared, "This is the most anti-Israel document
ever produced by the U.S. government."
The Israeli response to these repeated provocations has been subdued.
In the past, the U.S. gained vast amounts of vital data on Soviet
weapons systems from Israel. No more.
"The Israelis have done something to improve their anti-tank projectiles
that we don't know about and are desperate to learn," said a senior
intelligence officer. "They can crack Soviet armor," he continued.
"Most of our anti-tank weapons can't. The Israelis have also developed
a new anti-armor' weapons system, similar to our Assault Breaker. But,
we're encountering serious technical difficulties. The Israelis also
obtained Soviet T-72 main battle tanks, which the U.S. is most anxious
Equally important, the Israelis managed to break the back of Soviet air
defenses in Syria. This included the capture of SAM8s and enough of the
most sophisticated Soviet electronic apparatus to fill an entire room.
The Israelis will not share this and similar information with the
Defense Department under Caspar Weinberger. An Israeli diplomat said,
"We are afraid that if Weinberger gets the information, so will the
Caspar Weinberger has consistently opposed and antagonized Israel. His
actions are largely responsible for the severe erosion of both U.S. ties
with Israel and the decrease in American popular support for Israel. To
be sure, most sources said that Weinberger's conduct is essentially
nothing more than than mercenary instinct. After all, Saudi Arabia does
"earn" over $100 billion year, almost as much as Exxon.
It seems that
the accumulation of wealth has replaced justice as the guiding principle
of U.S. foreign policy.
Secretary of Defense Weinberger was unavailable for comment despite
numerous telephone calls.
IMRA has learned that weeks before the commencement of "Operation Peace
for Galilee", Jonathan Pollard was assigned to one of the U.S. Intelligence teams
supporting Weinberger's - "Interagency Contingency Operations Plan"
Given the highly compartmentalized nature of his work, Pollard was
initially unaware of the Plan's intended, political objective. This
changed, however, when, a near-fatal confrontation occurred over Lebanon
(as described in the article above) between some Israeli fighters and a
U.S. carrier-based helicopter which had been deliberately flown into the
middle of a war zone.
Curious as to why Weinberger had authorized such a dangerous flight,
Pollard managed to obtain a copy of the entire ICOP, which he later said
looked like a blueprint for an undeclared war against Israel.
Pollard's alarming assessment of the document, though, was based on more
than what he had just learned. Indeed, about a year earlier Pollard had
witnessed firsthand how Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, then Deputy Director of
the CIA, had instituted an unannounced intelligence embargo against
Israel in retaliation for her having attacked the Iraqi nuclear reactor
As far as Pollard was concerned, then, Inman and Weinberger were
maneuvering the Jewish state into a position where she'd either be blind to
potentially devastating Arab threats to her existence, or involved in
yet another Liberty-type incident with the U.S.
It was at that point that Pollard apparently felt he had to act. In
spite of his best efforts to get the flow of vital security information
to Israel restored through legal channels, all Pollard saw was an
ongoing betrayal of the U.S.-Israel alliance by Weinberger and Inman,
which nobody in official Washington seemed in the least concerned
Fifteen years later, Jonathan Pollard continues to languish in an
American prison, serving the longest, harshest sentence of any person
in the U.S. ever convicted of passing classified information to an
ally. The unending intransigence towards and inequitable treatment of
Israel's agent - Jonathan Pollard - as well as Israel's unwillingness or
inability to do anything about it, speaks volumes about the true nature
of the U.S.-Israel "special relationship."
The continuing lack of resolution in the Pollard case must be seen for
what it is: a red flag for Israel cautioning against increased
dependence on America for vital security information - something that
makes the entire process at Shepherdstown moot from the start.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director
IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)