Israeli ties impair US security clearance
US discriminating against US citizens with Israeli ties
Nathan Guttman - The Jerusalem Post - May 18, 2006
US citizens who have ties to Israel or an Israeli-American dual
citizenship encounter difficulties in obtaining security clearance
from the Pentagon and are dealt with in a manner similar to that of
Americans who have ties with hostile nations.
A new study published last month examines the decisions concerning
clearance requests by Americans with ties to Israel and finds that in
many cases the applicants are questioned on the issue of dual
loyalty. The government, in at least three cases, cited the Larry
Franklin case, in which a Pentagon analyst allegedly gave classified
information to two former staffers of the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as a case that supports the claim that
individuals with ties to Israel cannot be trusted with security
The study was first reported in the New York Sun this week.
Sheldon I. Cohen, a Virginia-based lawyer who conducted the study
said that he found that ties with Israel are treated more severely
then those with other countries which are known to be allies of
"My impression," he told The Jerusalem Post, "is that the government
views Israel in a tougher way than other non-hostile countries, such
as Sweden, Britain or France, and in a way which is similar to that
of hostile countries like China."
Attorney David Schoen of Atlanta, who is now representing a
Lockheed-Martin employee who lost his clearance due to ties with
Israel, said he believes that Americans with Israeli citizenship are
singled out by the Pentagon on issues of security clearance.
Schoen's client, a 53-year-old engineer who holds both US and Israeli
citizenship and whose mother and sister live in Israel, was informed
that his clearance was revoked due to "foreign preferences," since he
holds an Israeli passport, and "foreign vulnerability," because he
has relatives in Israel. When Schoen asked the government
representative to see a list of countries in which having family
members would create a "foreign vulnerability," he was told there is
no such list.
The judge in the case refused to enter as evidence the Franklin-AIPAC
indictment and a decision is expected next month. Meanwhile, the
employee was fired by Lockheed-Martin.
According to the study, since 1996, the year in which the Defense
Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA), which adjudicates security
clearance issues, began making its decisions public, there were 47
cases involving Israel and 29 of them were denied clearance.
In the cases brought to the appeals board, the government argued that
ties of the applicant with Israel, either by dual citizenship,
holding an Israeli passport or having close family members in Israel,
should serve as a disqualifying factor due to "foreign preference" or
The government attorneys raised, when the cases came to discussion,
several references that would portray Israel as a country trying to
obtain American secrets, among them the Jonathan Pollard case, a
five-year-old report that puts Israel in a list of countries that
conduct industrial espionage in the US and lately also the
The protocols of DOHA reveal that Americans with dual Israeli
citizenship are frequently asked questions regarding their loyalties
to the US and Israel. "The appeal board used the hypothetical
situation of an applicant being asked to disclose classified
information, not for the purpose of harming the United States, but to
either increase the security of Israel so his family in Israel could
live in peace and safety, or to reduce threats to the lives of
Israeli military personnel, which might include the applicant's
sister and brother," the report reads.
In one case, an applicant who was born in Israel and later became a
US citizen was asked hypothetically if he would take up arms against
Israel if the US would require him to do so. He said he could not
conceive of such a situation and could not see himself taking up arms
against Israel. The appeals board denied his request for clearance
based on "foreign preference."
Cohen said that from his experience, Israel is the only country that
these hypothetical questions are asked about. "It's a dirty question.
It's a catch-22 situation - whatever you answer will be the wrong
answer," he said.
Pentagon sources who are aware of the issue confirmed that ties with
Israel are seen as a problem when requesting security clearance and
that even elderly family members living in Israel are seen at times
as a reason to revoke or deny clearance.
In a recent community meeting at a Washington synagogue, Baruch
Weiss, an attorney representing Keith Weissman, one of the AIPAC
defendants, noted that the case is now being used to deny clearances
from people who have ties with Israel and said this is one of the
aspects of the case that should alarm the Jewish community.