The Associated Press on March 5th recycled a hoax story (U.S. Deports Israelis Amid Warnings of Espionage Activities) charging that a massive Israeli spy ring has been operating in America, and that “authorities have arrested and deported dozens of young Israelis since early last year who represented themselves as art students in efforts to gain access to sensitive federal office buildings ...” An even more fanciful version of this story, involving, besides art students, alleged Israeli telephone tapping and compromise of the 9/11 investigation, was reported in December on Fox News by Carl Cameron.
All these stories are bogus – Cameron’s was refuted in earlier CAMERA Updates (Fox News Recycles Bogus anti-Israel Story and Fox News’s Carl Cameron Recycles More Rubbish) and in a Newsmax article (When in Doubt, Blame Israel).
Now, in a brief but damning exposé, the Washington Post has revealed that the Drug Enforcement Administration report that had been cited as proof of Israeli student spying is, in fact, no report at all. According to the Post, it is instead an unofficial draft by a disgruntled DEA official: “allegations ... of a massive U.S. probe of Israeli spies appear to have been circulated by a single employee of the Drug Enforcement Administration who is angry that his theories have not gained currency ... [and who] appears to be leaking a memo that he himself wrote.”
Affirming that “a wide array of U.S. officials yesterday dismissed reports that the U.S. government had broken up an Israeli espionage ring ...”, the Post quoted Justice Department official Susan Dryden, who characterized the allegations as “an urban myth that has been circulating for months...” and Immigration official Russell Bergeron, who characterized the arrests of young Israelis as “routine, normal cases ... I have no knowledge of any espionage-related issues with these people.”
Despite the definitive discrediting of these Israeli spying allegations, one can be certain that the bogus stories will continue to circulate on the internet and to be cited by anti-Israel propagandists.
The full Washington Post article is reprinted below:
Reports of Israeli Spy Ring Dismissed
By John Mintz and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, March 6, 2002; Page A06
A wide array of U.S. officials yesterday dismissed reports that the U.S. government had broken up an Israeli espionage ring that consisted of young Israelis attempting to penetrate U.S. agencies by selling artwork in federal buildings.
"This seems to be an urban myth that has been circulating for months," said Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden. "The department has no information at this time to substantiate these widespread reports about Israeli art students involved in espionage."
Several officials said the allegations – first reported by a French online publication and later by other news organizations – of a massive U.S. probe of Israeli spies appear to have been circulated by a single employee of the Drug Enforcement Administration who is angry that his theories have not gained currency.
This week, the Paris-based "Intelligence Online" service quoted from what it said was a 61-page report by a federal task force, led by the DEA, which said that 120 Israelis posing as art students had been deported as part of an espionage crackdown and that the spy scandal had been hushed up.
But two law enforcement officials said the disgruntled DEA agent, who disagreed with the conclusion of FBI and CIA intelligence experts that no spying was taking place, appears to be leaking a memo that he himself wrote.
Immigration and Naturalization Service spokesman Russell Bergeron said several dozen Israelis in their twenties were arrested and deported in the first nine months of 2001 for being employed without proper INS work papers. A law enforcement official said some were investigated for possible fraud charges.
"These were routine, normal cases," Bergeron said. "I have no knowledge of any espionage-related issues with these people."
DEA spokesman Thomas Hinojosa said that multiple reports of suspicious activity on the part of young Israelis had come into the agency's Washington headquarters from agents in the field. The reports were summarized in a draft memo last year, but Hinojosa said he did not have a copy and could not vouch for the accuracy of media reports describing its contents.