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


"The Shepherdstown Talks and Jonathan Pollard"

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,


, 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.


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.

According to 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 AWACS deal?

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 cancellations."

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,

    strong U.S. pressure

    on Israel to withdraw.

  • Phase Two:


    Soviet pressure


  • 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 pressure.

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 to evaluate."

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 Arabs."

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 Comments:

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" (ICOP).

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 at OSIRAK.

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 about...

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)

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