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One of the very interesting aspects of the Office of Special Plans, not mentioned in the mainstream press very much, is the composition of its core staff -- most of the key people assembled at working staff levels were Jews with far-right views. The few who weren't were from closely-allied groups, like right wing Lebanese Christians. To borrow Bill Clinton's phrase describing his cabinet -- it didn't exactly "look like America." Now I'm certainly not saying that all (or even many) American Jews who work in government have dual loyalty issues -- most clearly have an undivided loyalty first and foremost to the United States. But some of the people Feith brought in had unusually strong ties to Israel, including one official who had emigrated as a young adult hoping to be an Israeli diplomat.

David Schenker -- brought in shortly after 9/11 from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which is closely affiliated with AIPAC.

David Wurmser -- brought in from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), he was one of the authors of the Clean Break paper, which was an advice piece for Binyamin Netanyahu on how to move past the Oslo peace process, retain the West Bank permanently, and undermine the governments of Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Note the wording about "Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights, especially in their territorial dimension, 'peace for peace,' is a solid basis for the future. " No Palestinian state. The "remaking" of the Middle East will allow Israel to "transcend" its enemies, rather than have to make territorial concessions. Get into Iraq --> undermine Syria and Iran --> this changes the strategic environment to allow Israel to keep the West Bank. Wurmser, along with Michael Maloof, was part of the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, which was the unit Feith set up to try to backfill an al-Qaeda/Saddam connection and feed that story into the White House. He's also the husband of Meyrav Wurmser, who runs the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an organization which translates selectively from the Arabic language press in order to paint the Arab world in a bad light and discount the idea of negotiating with the Palestinians, along with Col. Yigal Carmon, formerly with Israeli military intelligence.

Michael Rubin -- also went to OSP from AEI, and after later doing a stint working under Paul Bremer in Baghdad, he's now back at AEI, writing about how awful a job Paul Bremer did there, from a neocon perspective. Rubin also is sort of the designated attack dog for the AEI crowd -- writing a lot in the National Review Online about the supposed "antisemitism" of anyone who dares to criticize them.

Michael Maloof -- he's actually not a political appointee, but a career civil servant -- of Lebanese Christian background. His work before was on technology transfer, not the Middle East or intelligence analysis. Maloof lost his security clearances after a gun registered to him was found in the luggage of Imad el-Hage, a Lebanese arms dealer with ties to Gen. Michel Aoun. Maloof is close to the far-right falangist ideological current in Lebanon which seeks to destabilize Syria.

Michael Makovsky -- most of the information above has appeared elsewhere in the blogosphere, but I have dug up some new (actually, too old to have been found) information on Makovsky. Michael Makovsky was a recent Ph.D. in history brought in to work on Iraqi oil issues (no previous oil experience! -- in such an oil industry heavy administration -- but the war wasn't about oil -- and Republicans with close ties to Big Oil tend not to be Jewish). In 1989, after working as a staffer for Sen. John Danforth, he had emigrated to Israel, according to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (too old to have a web link, but it's available on Lexis/Nexis, where I found it). He said he wanted to serve as an Israeli diplomat, after serving in the Israeli Army, though he said he didn't intend to renounce his American citizenship. (It's definitely the same Michael Makovsky, since the article refers to his older brother David Makovsky, who is now a senior fellow at WINEP.) I can't find any reference to him having served as an Israeli diplomat, so that probably never came through for him, but it does make you wonder if the security clearance people were aware of this article when they did his background check. There a USA Today article from 1995 about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin which quotes a Michael Makovsky who was a resident of a West Bank settlement and a friend of Yigal Amir, the assassin, though I'm not 100% sure it's the same person, since the ages cited in the two articles don't mesh -- but the only other Michael Makovsky I've found is a Czech soccer player, so I think it's likely him. I don't mean to imply that he supported the assassination, since his comments in the article don't say that -- if it was the same person -- but it does suggest that he was associating with a very ideological "radical right" crowd during his years there. I've also run across web links (since taken down) which linked Makovsky to the right-wing "Betar" organization while he was living in the UK as a student. Betar is a 'revisionist Zionist' territorial maximalist group founded by (drum roll please) Dalck Feith, the father of Douglas Feith, which has youth/campus organizations in the US and UK. One does wonder how Feith or his underlings must have had to browbeat the security clearance people into not asking about Makovsky's very apparent foreign loyaly questions.

Anyway, my point here is that Feith and company built the office which was to plan and "make the sales pitch" for the war around people with very strong ties to Israel, and it certainly didn't "look like America." It wasn't even a very representative sample of American Jews or the pro-Israel community. It was ideologues committed to Israel retaining the West Bank, and a strategic reordering of the region which would make that possible.

I don't think the folks with the yellow ribbons on their pickup trucks out in Red America realize that.

Several of these people also have "lawyered up" in the face of the FBI probe of AIPAC and Larry Franklin, which suggests that they see themselves in possible legal jeopardy.

Now honestly, if most Americans had been aware of what I've just stated above about the background of the people (at mid-level staff levels) who were putting together the plans for war against Iraq -- don't you think people would have questioned their motivations a bit more?  We need to keep this in mind as we head toward war with Iran.  Some of these people are still working in the Bush administration, and Michael Rubin was reportedly the author of the Iran policy paper that Larry Franklin leaked to AIPAC -- probably to facilitate AIPAC's orchestration of political pressure to bring about the desired policy outcome.

Crossposted (in part, with some additions) from my (new and therefore obscure) blog, The Gorilla in the Room, (i.e. the one you're not supposed to talk about).

Originally posted to gorillaintheroom on Sat Mar 12, 2005 at 01:34 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Please consider recommending (4.00)
    Part of the reason I'm looking into this is historical -- how did we get into Iraq?  But part also is to try to influence the policy debate on Iran.

    A big part of the value of the blogosphere, IMHO, is that it can act to beat the MSM over the head with a story until they finally decide to cover it, i.e. Gannongate.  If the blogosphere starts researching the background, connections, and motivations of the neocons involved in "selling" the war in Iraq, maybe we can help "out" the real agenda behind the coming war with Iran.

  •  YEAH! (none)
    After 9/11, Wolfowitz, Feith and his subordinate, Harold Rhode, recruited David Wurmser as a contractor from the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute to set up what became known internally as the "Wurmser-Maloof" project. F. Michael Maloof, neocon fellow traveler and former aide to Richard Perle, and Wurmser created a hidden intelligence unit, the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, under Feith at the Pentagon. The purpose of the group was to end-run the CIA and create the rationale for invading Iraq. The parallel operations model was previously followed by Oliver North at the National Security Council and Elliott Abrams at State in their ill-fated Iran-Contra strategy. It should have come as no surprise that another neocon think-tank insider, Abram Shulsky, an Abrams colleague from their days as staffers to Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, would end up heading up what became the Office of Special Plans, the secret intelligence unit at the Pentagon under Feith. The weapons of mass destruction disinformation that was fed to the president and to the American public came directly from Shulsky's shop.

    snip

    Wurmser, Perle and Feith were the principal authors of the 1996 100-day policy plan for incoming Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. None ever registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act for this work.

    snip

    Control at State would remove the last obstacle to the plan Perle, Wurmser and Feith laid long before 9/11. The neocons telegraphed their intentions clearly in President Bush's GOP convention acceptance speech in New York, in which the neocon hand was palpable in the ambitious agenda to remake the Middle East.

    snip

    The neocons, working in tandem with a similar staff in the office of Prime Minister Sharon of Israel, have a three-part agenda for the first part of Bush's second term: first, oust Yasser Arafat; second, overthrow the secular Baathist al-Assad dictatorship in Syria; and, third, eliminate, one way or another, Iran's nuclear facilities.

    LINK

  •  A lot of this is in plain sight (none)
    The problem is that the MSM won't cover it, and most government officials and politicians won't talk about it, for fear that the neocons will fire back with charges of antisemitism.

    That's where I think the blogosphere can be useful, doing the research for them, and shoving the story in their face, and not letting up on them.  The main reasons the neocons and AIPAC are so powerful is the taboo against talking about them, and their real agenda.

  •  Recommended (none)
    Both Feith and Wolfowitz are PNAC, aren't they?

    I'd be happy to do some Google research for you (you can contact me on my profile). Unfortunately I don't have LexisNexis or anything like that.

  •  fool me once... (none)
    on 10th march, nyt had the following:

    NYT: Bush Administration Advises Israel to Be Quiet on Lebanese Politics
    By STEVEN ERLANGER
    Eran Lehrman, a former Israeli intelligence officer who directs the Israel
    office of the American Jewish Committee, said that the Israeli elite is
    traditionally divided along the same lines as Washington: the
    stability-seekers versus those who seek profound change........
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/10/international/middleeast/10cnd-israel.html?ex=1111122000&en=e6 5624cc0d5d58a5&ei=5070

    afghanistan, iraq, the gulf....now syria, iran, lebanon?  and i haven't even included the occupied palestinians!

    the people of the west, as opposed to the oil and money elites, need to ask:

    is our bottomless appetite for fossil fuels worth the blowback from people in the middle east who are all too well aware of the symbiotic relationship between the west and israel? and i don't mean just the US and israel.

    it's very useful to all the western powers to have a hyper-patriotic american public, willing to put it's mostly- minority military on the front line in order to maintain an outdated, unsustainable fossil fuel economy. refuse to be the west's bully boy and you will be truly the land of the brave and the free...

  •  Deep Throat Returns (none)
    Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski was assigned to work in the OSP under Doug Feith & Abe Shulski in the run up to the war.  Most of the poop they put out was to distribute talking points to the rest of the pentagon.

      She had an allergic reaction to the whole deal & started researching neoconservatism, the people, etc (like you say, it's all in plain sight) & then submitted stuff to David Hackworth at his Soldiers for Truth site.  He ran her writings under the pseudonym "Deep Throat Returns"

    You should read all of it & you still can here:

    http://www.hackworth.com/dt_archive.html

    The "dual loyalties" thing was something that impressed & troubled her deeply.  For example, she writes about Israeli officers being admitted to Feith's office without having to sign in, stuff like that.  

    Eventually she resigned & continued writing, now under her real name.  She was on TV a couple times & got labled as a "radical lefty," even though she's really some kind of libertarian.  Also posts at Lew Rockwell.com.

    If you really want to get into this stuff, she's your girl, she was there, she saw it all.
    She's not Sean Hannitys' idea of a "Great American," she's a real one.  With "cojones", too

    Blessed be the Muckrakers.

    •  Thanks -- I did (none)
      Actually, Karen Kwiatkowski's article in Salon, "The New Pentagon Papers," was my original source for a lot of the names I researched.  Some of these people are in the government's "plum book" -- the list of political appointees -- but her article also helped my identify some more of them.  Later, I did a bunch of additional research on them, and found additional information.

      It is really remarkable how homogeneous the Office of Special Plans was.

      One thing that gives me hope about heading off the "sales pitch" they're ginning up for war with Iran is that so many military and intelligence people are angry about what happened last time -- and are motivated to get the inside story out before the disaster this time around.  They're talking to Sy Hersh.  Hopefully some of them will start blogging as well.

  •  It has been stunning how (none)
    important these policymakers were in getting the Iraq initiative launched.  It amazes me their influence within the Bush administration, because I never saw these ties in the father's admin (George H.W.).  The Baker group was oriented much, much differently.

    It's a concern how the country would actually handle understanding this more widely, such as you've laid out.

    There is more divisiveness now by religious segment, and between very passionate believers and more casual ones, than I've seen here in my lifetime. That pot has been stirred since Bush came to power. And people are stirring it every week.  I am concerned less about so-called anti-semitism against this clique, Wolfowitz, Feith, etc. than about broader antisemitism stirred from latency against Jews who are prominent in society.

    What do you think about that, guerillaintheroom, and others? Truth should be known and come out; the motives should have been presented honestly from the start? But how do you think the fractious tensions in our country will react?

    •  Need to distinguish (none)
      I think when we make this argement, we need to be careful to say that we are talking about a relatively small groups of people, whose views are not typical of the majority of the American Jewish community.
      •  especially important (none)
        given the likelihood of the right going off on an antisemitic backlash against the (overwhelmingly liberal) jewish population in the not-so-distant future out of anger with the inevitable failure of the neocons' meglomaniacal plans for global domination and permanent revolution. it could get ugly, and it would be a tragedy if our attempts to raise awareness of these warmongers' plans ended up inadvertantly feeding the flames of bigotry and getting innocent people hurt.

        tricky business. the truth must out, but framing is critical.

      •  Wow, gorilla in the room, (none)
        I just saw your blog and its purpose line "shattering the taboo on Discussion of Israel's "'Agents of Influence.'"

        You should go about this differently.

        First, 1 of your most important points is how these folks come from the most hard-right of Israel's policy advocates. Before your diary, I was not aware of just how far over to the right (the Israeli right, that is) they were.  That is an interesting point, and one that I think the media would eventually, gradually, pick up on and yes, write about.

        It's interesting because a large spectrum of opinion in that country (and among Jews in America) is less hawkish, more compromising than these folks, and wants to create a peaceable solution for both sides, the Palestinians and the Jews. So the neocons represent a segment, not a middle ground, of Israeli policy thinkers.

        Your emphasis, and wording, of agents of influence is disappointing.  In a big way. It plays into the attacks against this religious group as being a cabal that's running things everywhere: the money, the banks, the government. In fact, Bush's Cabinet is the first in the longest time to not have one member who is Jewish. Instead, the most visible influence of Jews in government has been in the unfortunate area of foreign adventurism.

        So you should retrace your steps and think where you want your observations to lead to. Because if you watch the conservative whipping boys on tv, they already sneer when they mention "power elites" and any Democratic fundraiser who is Jewish, like Streisand or Soros. Their use of the word elite is code.

        I have never seen meaner representations of Christmas season than this year, when every media outlet whipped up hysteria about "Christmas under attack," supposedly. A season of peace and celebration became a season of divisiveness and accusation. A mean season I wasn't expecting.

        So the world is turning inside out already in this county, and it's being pulled this way by right-wing media and in pushes for religious prominence "in the public square."

        I don't know how you're planning to add this to the mix now. The kindling is starting to smolder now. So think it through. Look at what you plan to accomplish. There is widespread knowledge already that there's a vocal influential group of neocons, Wolfowitz, Perle et al. with sway with Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush.

        Last, you should think hard about using your name instead of anonymity. Especially if your name is fairly common. Or use an initial instead or full first name. Omit any reference to your location or region or specifics of background. I imagine you will survive any notoriety you might create.

  •  Christian Zionists support Neo-Cons (none)
    You say, "I don't think the folks with the yellow ribbons on their pickup trucks out in Red America realize that."  Unfortunately, the facts may not bother some of these folks if they are Christian Zionists.  Support for Christian Zionism has been growing in the Christian Right over the past few decades.  They support the movement for a Greater Israel, along with the reconstruction of the temple (for which the Al Aqsa Mosque would have to be razed), as preparatory steps for the second coming of Christ.  The groundwork for their support of the neo-cons' plans has been laid not only by the Christian Millennialist teachings of their pastors, but by the guest lectures at their churches by far-right Israelis and their American counterparts.

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