Skip to comments.FBI probes DOD office (Feith was fired from NSC in 1983 for passing classified info to Israel)
Posted on 08/28/2004 9:58:46 PM PDT by Destro
FBI probes DOD office
By Richard Sale
UPI Intelligence Correspondent
The FBI has intensified its investigation of senior members of what was formerly known as the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans on suspicion that one of them passed highly classified U.S. military information to the government of Israel, according to federal law enforcement officials.
In some cases, colleagues, former associates and members of other government agencies have been interviewed as many as four times by teams of FBI agents, FBI officials told United Press International.
Two of the people interviewed are Bill Luti, former chief of OSP, and Harold Rhode of the Near East/South Asia office, according to participants in the investigation.
The OSP, an intelligence unit, was set up by the No. 3 man in the Pentagon, Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, according to retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who was a staffer in the office from June 2002 through March 2003.
Luti, a former Navy captain, switched to the Pentagon from Vice President Richard Cheney's staff, according to a congressional investigative memo.
According to other congressional memos, Luti was made deputy undersecretary and reported directly to Feith.
Luti also presided over the NESA office that worked closely with OSP "with sometimes an interchangeable staff," according to one congressional memo described the OSP "as a loose group of acolytes and hired hands" for Cheney, and (Cheney's chief of staff) I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Feith -- all "performing a mixture of intelligence, planning and other unspecified operational duties in support of preordained policy."
According to Kwiatkowski, Luti was a "name-dropper, who often referred to deadlines and assignments coming from 'Scooter.'"
Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col Chris Conway, told UPI that neither Luti nor Rhode had been interviewed or polygraphed by the FBI nor had their bosses alerted them that they were the subjects of an investigation.
A federal law enforcement official was not surprised. He said, "Any target of an investigation is the last person we would talk to. The fact that subjects haven't been approached is part of normal investigative procedure."
Rhode, another prominent official of the NESA office, also works for the Office of Net Assessment, Pentagon officials said.
According to one federal law enforcement official, Rhode and Luti and other OSP officials have been frequently mentioned in FBI interviews, "chiefly the nature and extent of his contacts with Israel," according to federal law enforcement officials.
A Pentagon spokesman said Rhode has been working for Net Assessment "for the last 10 years."
A former very senior CIA official told United Press International that Rhode recently had his security clearances lifted.
In an e-mail to UPI, Rhode denied this. "I have never had my security clearances revoked or canceled."
At least three former CIA officials told UPI that in 1998 Rhode had his clearances suspended, based on allegations he had given classified information to Israel.
In the same e-mail, Rhode denied this as well, adding: "Nor have I been informed that I am under any type of investigation."
Two former senior U.S. intelligence officials also stated that Rhode is on administrative leave.
However, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Conway said answering the question about whether or not Rhode is on administrative leave would violate the privacy act and therefore had no comment.
The NESA/OSP office was located on the fourth floor of the Pentagon, D ring, 7th corridor, according to Kwiatkowski, the former staffer.
According to one former senior U.S. intelligence official who maintained excellent contacts with serving U.S. intelligence officials in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, "Rhode practically lived out of (Ahmad) Chalabi's office."
This same source quoted the intelligence official with the CPA as saying, "Rhode was observed by CIA operatives as being constantly on his cell phone to Israel," and that the information that the intelligence officials overheard him passing to Israel was "mind-boggling," this source said.
It dealt with U.S. plans, military deployments, political projects, discussion of Iraq assets, and a host of other sensitive topics, the former senior U.S. intelligence official said.
Other members of OSP are also under scrutiny, but federal law enforcement officials declined to confirm additional names furnished them by UPI. Pentagon spokesman Conway said, "We have no knowledge of any probe of particular OSP members."
Rhode is a close member of an inner circle of senior Bush officials who in the past have had skirmishes with the FBI over allegations that they provided classified information to Israel, several serving and former U.S. intelligence officials said.
FBI spokesman, Bill Carter said, "It has been our long-standing policy not to comment on matters of this type or to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation."
A great many examples of this was substantiated by Stephen Green, a highly respected author of two books on U.S.-Israeli relations, who, in a February article in Counterpunch, noted that the Pentagon finally downgraded Ledeen's security clearances from Top Secret-SCI to Secret in the mid-1980s, after an earlier boss, Noel Koch, the Principal Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, had urged the FBI to begin a probe of Ledeen, then a consultant on terrorism, for passing classified materials to a foreign country, believed to be Israel. (Green notes that Ledeen "was carried in Agency files as an agent of influence of a foreign government: Israel," a fact he confirmed for UPI in an interview.
Former agency officials said they knew this to be accurate.
In 2001, Ledeen was hired by Feith to work on contract for the Office of Special Plans, which involved the handling of sensitive materials, Green said, a fact confirmed last week to UPI by congressional investigators.
Yet according to Green, in March 1983, Feith, then a Middle East analyst on the National Security Council, was fired by Judge William Clark, who had replaced Richard Allen as national security adviser, because Feith "had been the object of an inquiry into whether he had provided classified material to an official of the Israeli Embassy in Washington" and that the FBI "had opened an inquiry."
Former Counterterrorism Chief Vince Cannistraro confirmed that Feith was fired from the NSC for leaking classified data to Israel.
In 1982, Feith went to work for Pentagon official Richard Perle, according to Green and confirmed by U.S. intelligence sources.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who an administration official described as having played a "large role in getting Feith" his current job, was working for the Arms Control and Disarmament agency in 1978 and was the subject of an investigation that alleged he had provided "a classified document on the proposed sale of U.S. weapons to an Arab government to an Israeli government official" via "an AIPAC intermediary," according to Green. The probe was eventually dropped.
In 1981, Wolfowitz, who was working as head of the State Department Policy Planning Staff, hired Ledeen as a Special Advisor, Green said.
copyright 2004 united press international
This looks like a CIA power play against its opponents in the Bush Administration with the FBI playing coconspirator.
I agree. They're scared of intelligence reorganization.
this whole thing stinks of anti-semitism.
Might be nice if the article explained who Ledeen was before this paragraph.
I don't see how that charge can be applied in this case - at least not yet, sorry.