The appointment of U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as interim Director of National Intelligence (DNI), a position that he will apparently hold simultaneously with the ambassadorship, has been criticized from all sides due to his inexperience, history of bad judgement and partisanship. The White House is now claiming that he will be replaced by Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe after the interim appointment is over, though sources in Washington suggest that Ratcliffe might have some problems in being approved by Congress.
But such criticism, including my own, has somewhat missed the point, which is that what we are already seeing is a purge orchestrated by Grenell of federal employees in the White House and national security apparatus who are holdovers from the Obama Administration and who are therefore considered to be unreliable. That is why Grenell will continue to be ambassador as well as DNI as it is envisioned that his wrecking ball will have completed its task within six months and he will be able to return to Berlin, in spite of the fact that he is despised in Germany and many officials there even refuse to meet with him, which characteristically doesn’t appear to bother the White House at all.
Presumably many current senior employees in the intelligence community (IC) will be given non-jobs away from the White House and replaced by new appointees who are distinguished by their loyalty to the president, not by their accomplishments or skills. That means that competence will be secondary, if not irrelevant. It should be assumed that many of the new hires will be drawn from the pool of neoconservatives that proliferated in the George W. Bush administration.
Many who believe the CIA and NSA to be evil organizations will, of course, welcome the de facto destruction of both organizations for ideological reasons. But those critics should bear in mind that there are potentially serious consequences to the possible changes. First of all, if one thinks that the illegal surveillance, regime change programs and assassination plots that have come out of the IC over the past twenty years have been a disgrace, just think for a moment how bad it could get if the security organs begin to ignore all constitutional and legal restraints after their assigned mission becomes de facto protecting the president and everything that he seeks to do.
Second, having large numbers of new employees learning on-the-job will mean that the quality of intelligence produced will go down. Again, some will object that the quality is already bad, but a careful analysis of what has gone wrong since 9/11 would suggest that the real problem has been political, that information is cherry picked or even falsified by the highly politicized IC leadership to support a certain agenda and is then spun to arrive at a particular conclusion supporting the White House. This has gone on since George W. Bush, if not before, but under Trump it is operating largely out in the open.
A third point is that the people who will be in charge of what is characteristically being described as “draining the swamp” are not necessarily acting in support of identifiable national interests. They are ideologues who are acting to create a policy decision-making process whereby the president of the United States will be empowered to do more-or-less whatever he or she chooses to do in terms of national security and foreign affairs. That continues what has been happening in any event since 2002, but it creates a very bad precedent moving forward. And it pari passu strengthens what has been one of the most disgraceful aspects of Trump foreign policy, the incessant and irresponsible pandering to Israel.
Whitney Webb of Mint Press News has explored the depth of Grenell’s engagement with Israel and with Zionist individuals and groups in the United States. There is already a very top-heavy presence of Israel advocates in a Trump administration that has already proven to be the most pro-Israel ever, even exceeding the completely suborned Bill Clinton. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both Christian Zionists head the list, but there is also presidential special advisor Jared Kushner, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and the Mormon head of the National Security Council Robert O’Brien.
The State Department is fully staffed with Jewish Americans who are ardently pro-Israel at every level that relates to Middle East policy, to include David Schenker as head of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and Nathan Sales as Counterterrorism Coordinator. Elan Carr fills the bizarre position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism and Cherrie Daniels is the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues. Morgan Ortagus is State Department spokesman.
In Congress American Jews considered to be strong supporters of Israel are prominent in Committees that deal with national security or the Middle East. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has described himself as “shomer” or “defender” of Israel in Congress. Congressman Adam Schiff, head of the House Intelligence Committee, recently featured in the attempted impeachment of Trump. Eliot Engel chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he is joined by Brad Sherman, Ted Deutch, Andy Levin and Lee Zeldin. The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, chaired by Max Rose, an Israel partisan, recently held hearings about “ confronting the rise in antisemitism and domestic terrorism.”
And then there is the president himself and his paymaster Las Vegas casino multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who have been the driving forces behind moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, endorsing Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, and dropping the description of the Israeli occupation settlements as “illegal.” It was all accomplished while closing the PLO representative offices in Washington, defunding the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and eliminating security assistance to the Palestinians. Along the way Trump’s Zionist mouthpiece Ambassador David Friedman has endorsed every Israeli atrocity and war crime, to include the mass shooting of unarmed Gazan civilian protesters.
Trump has also been promoting a “take it or leave it” peace plan that permits the Palestinians only a small bit of non-contiguous West Bank land completely surrounded by Israel with no actual sovereignty. Fifty European foreign ministers and senior officials have recently denounced the plan as little more than “apartheid.”
Webb observes that “…overlooked…are Grenell’s ties to the powerful American pro-Israel lobby and Israeli politicians alike, including organizations and individuals with a history of espionage and blackmail against the United States. Grenell is merely the latest example in a series of appointments over the past few years that have seen individuals with deep ties to the pro-Israel lobby rise to top positions in the U.S. intelligence community, including the NSA’s current director of Cybersecurity Anne Neuberger as well as the leaders of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB).”
Grenell’s consulting firm Capitol Media Partners has done work for Arthur Finkelstein and Associates, which Webb describes as “a firm of the late Republican political operative of the same name.” Finkelstein has been directly involved in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first campaign in 1996 and has since worked with far-right wing parties and politicians in Israel, to include that of the extremist Avigdor Lieberman. His political philosophy is that “the only way to win an election is by running a negative campaign.”
Shortly after becoming Ambassador to Germany, Grenell arranged a meeting with Netanyahu at Berlin Airport. Afterwards, Netanyahu told the media that Grenell is a “big fan of Israel.” For his part, Grenell has said that American support for Israel is a “biblical mandate,” adding that he has visited the country “more times than he can count.”
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has also “strongly praised” Grenell’s appointment as acting DNI. ZOA president Morton Klein issued a statement: “I am proud to say that during my long personal friendship with Ambassador Grenell, it became powerfully clear to me that Grenell is…a man who understands the importance of our country’s great alliance with Israel in promoting U.S. security interests. There has never been a better friend of a strong U.S-Israel relationship than Ambassador Grenell.”
Meanwhile over at the NSA, there is Anne Neuberger, an Israeli by birth who is married to Yehuda Neuberger, chairman of AIPAC’s executive council in Baltimore. Her job at NSA places her in charge of a division that “unifies NSA’s foreign intelligence and cyberdefense missions…to prevent and eradicate threats to national security systems and critical infrastructure.” That would include the U.S. election infrastructure.
Back at the White House, both the head and deputy of the PIAB, which promotes itself as having “immense and long-lasting impacts on the structure, management, and operations of U.S. intelligence,” have similar close ties to Israel. PIAB “exists exclusively to assist the President by providing him with an independent source of advice on the effectiveness with which the Intelligence Community is meeting the Nation’s intelligence needs, and the vigor and insight with which the community plans for the future. The Board has access to all information needed to perform its functions and has direct access to the President.”
PIAB Chairman Stephen Feinberg, the billionaire owner of Cerberus capital management, is a close friend of Jared Kushner, and has been involved in major investments in Israel as well as with Israeli partners. Cerberus owns the scandal-ridden US national security contractor DynCorp. The New York Times has claimed that Cerberus was involved in “orchestrating secretive deals that transgressed legal and ethical boundaries.” Feinberg’s capacity to oversee the ethically-challenged IC is consequently troubling. Through Dyncorp, he has also been linked to Saudi intelligence.
The PIAB’s current deputy is Samantha Ravich, who previously was an employee of the notorious pro-Israel lobby group Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a spin-off of AIPAC organized in 1984 to protect the parent organization when it was investigated for spying on Israel’s behalf against the U.S. government. Ravich also is a senior advisor to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), which works directly with Israel’s government. Per Webb, Ravich also “worked for the consulting firm of Michael Chertoff, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security whose mother worked with Israel’s Mossad.”
Webb also notes how Ravich has specifically promoted “a ‘cyber project’ to the U.S. Senate that would protect member countries from cyber threats but exclude nations that endorse or fail to condemn the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement that supports Palestinian rights and Israeli compliance with international law.”
The presence of many American Jews and Christian Zionists with close ties to Israel in the upper levels of the White House, State Department, the Intelligence Community, the Pentagon and the National Security Council is not a new phenomenon, though the numbers of such “players” has increased. It is in part a process of positioning whereby Zionists already in place bring in other Zionists and godfather them into key jobs in the bureaucracy. Note, for example, how Richard Perle brought in Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz to the Pentagon, with disastrous consequences that led to the Iraq war.
When challenged, the individuals who fill the posts in question tend to fall back on the claim that the United States and Israel have more-or-less the same security interests, which is demonstrably false. Webb notes correctly that the presence of numerous Israel-firsters in the national security apparatus means that the foxes will be guarding the hen house. Ostensibly alert to any signs of so-called “foreign interference” in the 2020 election, they will be completely blind to what Israel is up to. Noam Chomsky once observed that “First of all, if you’re interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support. Israeli intervention in US elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done…” There is little to add beyond that, but one has to wonder why the Administration, aided and abetted by congress and the media, persists in promoting and placing in sensitive positions individuals whose ultimate loyalty is to a foreign country.
Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is [email protected]