Pentagon denying Israelis security clearances
New York Sun reports State Department citing AIPAC leak case as basis for denying employees with dual Israeli-American citizenship security clearances. In one case, government lawyers argued Israel was 'actively spying on United States' to justify withdrawing clearance from worker
The Pentagon is citing a leak affair involving Defense Department analyst Lawrence Franklin and two pro-Israel lobbyists Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, as a basis for stripping security clearances from government contractor employees who have dual Israeli-American citizenship or family in Israel, The New York Sun reported Wednesday.
The two former AIPAC officials and the Pentagon analyst were indicted in August 2005 on charges they conspired to pass classified information to persons not entitled to receive it, including Israeli officials and members of the press.
According to the Sun, Defense Department attorneys have used the AIPAC leak indictments in at least three cases, to justify withdrawing or denying security clearances.
The paper quoted Virginian Lawyer Sheldon Cohen who has been tracking these cases, as saying: "The only reason to possibly use it (the dual citizenship issue) is to implicate anybody with a connection to Israel, to imply they cannot be trusted. There is no other conceivable reason to bring it up."
A study conducted by Cohen on the subject of Israel-related security clearance cases, found that "an unusually large number" of cases involving foreign influence concerns seem to relate to Israel.
'Israel actively spying on US'
The Sun reported that in one case, an Israeli-born mechanical engineer who has worked as a major defense contractor and has been living in the United States for over 25 years, faced an attempt by government lawyers to revoke his security clearance because of his dual citizenship, his possession of an Israeli passport and the fact that he has relatives in Israel.
"There was some basis for McCarthyism. Here there's nothing, just this dual loyalty business," David Schoen, the employee's attorney, told the Sun. "It really strikes me as un-American."
"His wife is American. His kids are American," the lawyer said. "He has never had a problem at Lockheed (where he worked)," Schoen added.
According to the attorney, at a hearing on the case a few weeks ago, a government attorney tried to submit the leak indictment as an exhibit, arguing that it showed Israel was actively spying on America.
Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, a leader of the Jewish community in Washington, told the Sun he was disturbed by the growing number of similar incidents. "People around the country are turning to us and telling us of ongoing cases where people are stripped of their livelihoods just because they're Jewish," he said.