Grant F. Smith, director of IRMEP, discusses the national summit to reassess the U.S.-Israel “special relationship” in Washington on March 7; the topics and scheduled speakers (including Scott Horton); and why the individuals who commit crimes on Israel’s behalf are too big to prosecute.
Welcome back to the show, I’m Scott Horton
Pat Buchanan is coming up in half an hour, find out what he thinks about this Ukraine thing. He’s a good old fashioned cold warrior right? Well, we’ll see what he says.
First though, Grant Smith. He’s the founder and director of the Institute for Research Middle East Policy that’sÂ www.irmep.com
Welcome back to the show Grant how are you doing?
Grant Smith: Hey great Scott
Scott Horton:Â I’ll tell you all real briefly what Grant does. He sues the government. Not for money, or damages, but for documents, and he shows the hidden history of the Israel Lobby in the United States of America through official Government paperwork, primarily.
I don’t mean to sum it up too briefly but, I’ll tell you what, there is nothing likeÂ www.irmep.comÂ Â for digging through primary source material about the activities of Israelâ€™s Government in America over the last two, three, four generations. I mean it.
Grant Smith: Yeah, it’s quite a volume in fact we put a lot of effort into cataloguing and putting up historic documents that have never seen the light of day.
Whether it’s how the first lobbying organizations were confronted and attempted regulation as foreign agents, to mishaps such as uranium smuggling, nuclear technology smuggling, to trade agreements that favor one side but not the other.
It’s all there and it’s being used by more and more people to really understand how the relationship really works between the US and Israel as opposed to kind of how it’s explained in generalist sources.
Scott Horton:Â Exactly. Alright, so, before we get into all that, because I want to get into all of that, I know that a lot of that is going to be the subject of your talk at this National Summit, but what National Summit?
Grant Smith:Â Yeah so, there is a National Summit that is happening Friday at the National Press Club, in the ballroom which is an airplane hangar like space. Itâ€™s open to the public and from 8-5 there is going to be a series of experts talking about the special relationship between the United States and Israel.
It just seems the right time and this conference has been planned for quite a while now, but it seems like the right time given all the efforts that go in to lobbying to support Israel militarily and the prerogatives that the lobbying organizations here have in the United States to put forward programs and lobby Congress for the biggest aid package delivered by the United States.
It seems like the right moment to gather a large group of experts from academia, former Congress people, people from Government, people from the intelligence world, scholars, historians, and talk about the real cost benefits in a basic way so that the press and people, and interested parties can understand how it functions. And see the costs, and what happens as a result of that relationship.
You know just to of summarize some of the speakers : former Congressman Paul Findley who wrote on of the first books about the Israel Lobby, Janet McMahon who tracks political contributions, Cynthia Mckinney Congress person who was one of two African American Congress people forced out by lobbying activities, BelindaÂ Handley who follows aid to Israel to talk about how much we’re actually spending, as well as experts talking about neo-conservatives and the Iraq war, what was going on inside the pentagon, Gareth Porter, someone you interview a lot coming in to talk about the drives, the continual drives for US – Israel military actions against Iran and whether there is any substance behind that, Brigadier General James David who is going to talk about military aid and how it impacts our allies, all of these interesting panel on the special relationship and rule of law as we’ve talked about many times.
It’s my fundamental position that the lobby and the activities of the US has typically transcended law, there are no laws that are well enough enforced to actually impact its operations.
We’ll also have Mark Perry talking about what he’s seen as a National Security reporter and Spike Bowman who was a Counter Intelligence guy at the FBI who has written about Jonathan Pollard, to talk about what it all means and hopefully he’ll talk about whether Jonathan Pollard is kind of the exception to the rule which is stated by Pollard – that the US doesn’t and shouldn’t ever prosecute Israeli espionage.
So, that should be an interesting panel, but we’ve also got historic panels. Stephan Walt who wrote the Israel Lobby is coming in to talk about what’s changed since he wrote that book with John Meirsheimer; Geoffrey Wawro who is talking about his book ‘Quicksand’ and also what happened to him as a historian who wrote kind of an unpopular revision of Middle East history.
John Quigley talking about the ongoing impact of 1967 and Israelâ€™s occupation andÂ US support for it.
And so, it’s a series of panels including a final panel on intelligence in which Ray McGovern, Philip Geraldi, Michael Scheuer, Paul PillarÂ again, people that you know and interview, are going to answer a series of questions about this alliance, whether it’s truly an alliance or whether the United States is benefiting or suffering from blowback.
There is a really interesting panel, number five, who we have a star moderator for, who is going to talk about the lobby and political parties in the news media and that’s one famous radio announcer called Scott Horton so this whole thing is just, an unprecedented national gathering with hundreds and hundreds of people already signed up who are going to talk about reality as opposed to myth and legend and what normally passes for discussion on this issue in Washington.
Scott Horton:Â Right, I mean that is the most striking thing about all this. Is how unprecedented it is and guess what everybody? At the National Press Club in D.C there is going to be an honest discussion of the costs and consequences of Americas pseudo alliance with Israel, the one that everybody called you clansmen for mentioning, just before a couple of years ago.
It was completely outside of polite discussion somehow at least between New York and D.C to even talk about this kind of thing. Of course the Meirsheimer/Walt book did a lot to change that. And of course the Iraq war did a lot to change that.
Grant Smith: Right, I just think that the key driver though for a lot of people is, the Israel Lobbyâ€™s number one priority is giving the US to really completely isolate and at some point attack Iran for what we all know are entirely specious reasons.
So it’s really timely to look the infrastructure that’s behind that and really take it apart from the perspective of not a regional, not an economic or not entirely economic, but really from the standpoint of; if the United States is supposed to be pursuing its’ own interests, is this in the US interest or not?
And so the panels have been constructed around a series of questions and we’ve reached out to a lot of people to be on this panel. It’s not the broadest perspective, I mean there are certainly things they have left out but in terms of learning something about how this special relationship develops and when itâ€™s stripped of all the publicity, what it really stands for, what kind of facts on the ground here in the United States it creates its, this is it. This is what is going to do that.
Scott Horton: In the chat room they are saying, because we just finished talking with MJ Rosenberg, that right now they really are back on their heels, after these three big losses, and Obama himself is shouting them down in the State of the Union address on the Iran sanctions and kind of splits, and faction fights really between Liberals and Conservatives I guess even within the Israel lobby and that kind of thing.
So this is perfect timing, right as they’re up to their very worst activity trying to undermine our peace deal with Iran, which is what the nuclear deal ultimately is. The resolution of the biggest outstanding so called issue anyway and, right in the middle of them being weak and up to their worst, comes Grant Smith and Phil Geraldi and this National Summit to make it clear and on C-Span for everyone to see.
What are the other consequences, now that we’re looking at this with open eyes about what we’re really dealing with here? What have we been missing over the last few years, that they didn’t talk about back when you couldn’t talk about it, you know?
Grant Smith:Â Exactly. I think the interesting thing is there is not a single person who is going to be on these panels who is afraid to break what is probably the number one taboo in the news media and in politics, and that is to be frank about the fact that Israel is a nuclear weapons state – it engaged in a lot of illegal activities to become that way and itâ€™s absolutely ridiculous to talk about Iran or even the region without being very honest about the fact that they have an overwhelming strategic advantage over everybody.
Scott Horton:Â I’m talking with Grant F Smith, from the Institute for Research Middle East Policy, that’sÂ www.irmep.comÂ andÂ www.natsummit.orgÂ where his group and Phil Geraldi’s group â€“The Council for the National Interest, are putting on the National Summit to Reassess the America-Israel Special Relationship, this Friday, all day 8-5, at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Get there early and see me say hi for a minute and introduce the thing, and then later in the day I’ll be hosting a panel too.
If everything else he said isn’t enough to convince you to show up, I’m going to be there, okay, great!
Grant Smith:Â Yeah, there is the bonus! And there are also two other sponsors, one is the Washington Report On Middle East Affairs, the other is If Americans Knew, and it should be a really interesting time.
Scott Horton:Â Now wait a minute, because I wasn’t done introducing you again, even though I was kind of blabbing all over the place, but I still got to tell the people that you’re the author of: Divert. Numec, Zalman Shapiro and the Diversion of US Weapons Grade Uranium Into the Israeli Nuclear Weapons Program, available at all your fine bookstores and online.
Grant Smith:Â Well, I think it’s interesting because the core story in Divert is something that is going to come up in presentation.Â www.military.comÂ in fact, just ran a piece noting the irony that at the same time AIPAC was meeting to talk about further ways to go after Iranâ€™s non-existent nuclear weapons program you had Arnon Milchan on stage giving an Oscar award.
This is an admitted self-confessed spy who targeted the United States for nuclear technologies and on the east coast you had Benjamin Netanyahu who worked with Milchan, and Richard Kelly Smith, addressing AIPAC and talking about the dangers of proliferation.
So here you got two proliferators and the funny story is they’re going to meeting in California, be kind of like a reunion for the two, who knows maybe to rehash old times and talk about maybe new technologies they’d like to spirit out of the United States illegally.
The irony of real proliferators being able to so completely get away with that sort of activity and most Americans aren’t even aware of it. That’s a prime case study for how bad things have gotten. Unfortunately it is kind of a repeat of history, you know, the United States and Israel got off on a bad foot, back in the 40’s because the first thing that the government in waiting did was come over to the United States to put together a giant conventional arms smuggling network. So things, because nothing has ever been done and because the awareness level is so low, that sort of thing just continues, it perpetuates.
There is really almost a reflexive idea that this is an open market and that the laws really don’t apply to this relationship, and it’s hurting the United States.
Scott Horton:Â Alright now, I want to ask you about some of the history of this, because you have written a great many books, besides Divert, but as long as you mention it, can you be a bit more specific about the role of the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and this nuclear smuggling ring?
Grant Smith:Â Well, he was …
Scott Horton:Â We have covered this on the show before if people want to go back and look atÂ www.scotthorton.orgÂ by the way
Grant Smith:Â The FBI released reports from one of the front companies that was rolled up in the United States. And it turned out that when the leader of that company was pushed against the wall in 2002 after he had been extradited from Spain after he fled prosecution in the United States, he said quite clearly that Benjamin Netanyahu was the one he was meeting with in Israel in the 1970’s and 80’s to procure nuclear weapons technology. And he also was the guy who did time for that.
Milchan who was his handler who recruited him, Arnon Milchan, the Hollywood producer, and Netanyahu of course skated free. Are the two connected? They’re not the types of people the FBI and Justice Department are interested in frankly.
You see in the FBI file that the first thing they did was look at who’s who in America and discovered that Milchan was one of those people thatÂ they probably wouldn’t prevail against.
The reason this is history, and the reason why it is history repeating itself is the exact same thing happened thirty years earlier when high profile people, friends of the President, were also upset at the prospect that conventional weapons smugglers might be called to the carpet and prosecuted for shipping tons and tons of material to Israel. Basically subverting US foreign policy. So what we see here is a corruption that is so deep and so embedded and so entrenched.
Scott Horton:Â You know what though, let me ask you this, so entrenched the fact of the matter is, as Anthony Gregory says, Barack Obama is the only real trillionaire around here and the state, it’s the state, and as big as any billionaire is or foreign state, we’re talking about the USA here, that ultimately the DOJ is always the bigger foot to stomp, if I could say it that way.
They nail people not all the time, you know, I understand that the who’s who have a leg up on the rest of us legally speaking and everything, but there are times where the Justice Department will in fact nail very powerful people to the wall just to prove that they can and that they still are boss around here and that kind of thing, but you’re talking about the Israel Lobby getting away with bloody murder here, for decades with virtually no accountability, am I overstating it?
Grant Smith:Â You’re not overstating it, I mean yeah of course, they’ll make an example out of this person or that person, but what you’re seeing and the reason why that we ask for these documents and we’re still collecting these documents, because for example we still don’t have internal justice department decisions on the decision that quashed the 2005 AIPAC espionage case, we don’t have all the files on the stealing of secrets for Israeli aircraft industries right up until 2008, but what we see in the previous releases and this is always amazing, between the Attorney General and the group of lobbyists for Israelis in which the investigation comes to a complete halt and everything is wrapped up ,classified and packed away and the next answers to the press is â€˜no commentâ€™. This has forced things that are very harmful to the United States, one of the investigations that we are talking about, the counter espionage investigation about a circumstance in which an American and a South African anti-apartheid activist died in mysterious circumstances, and yet the case going after the classified documents, in that case held by the ADL which is a branch of the Israel lobby was quashed, why?
Because of due process, no, because there is again this access and this embedded corruption so its because it repeats over and over again, it’s always the same storyÂ , malicious activity, real harm, investigations launched, sometimes with press sometimes without it, investigation terminated. I mean that’s the pattern, rinse wash and repeat.
Scott Horton:Â And its not just them, I don’t mean to imply that the rule of laws always applied to the rich and powerful around here or something too naive but it is amazing to me how much they get away with .I mean even when you saw the real pushback I guess over the Iraq war politically where they clamped down on the Larry Franklin, Steven Rosen, Keith Weissman document laundering.
I mean they still let them get away with it and that was really a first, two FBI raids on AIPAC headquarters, or something like that, it was dramatic for the silence surrounding it on all sides in a way you know
Smith:Â Well, youâ€™re right that the raids were a first but in the FBI investigation of AIPAC, it was the third time, the first time being when one of the directors stole missile secrets in order to promote an Israeli plan in the region, the second was when they stole the trade secrets of 77 American co-orporations lobbying against a lop sided trade deal.
Scott Horton:Â And even that was just in the 80’s right?
Grant Smith:Â That was in the 80’s so its like every ten years you’ve got the FBI having to get its lantern jawed agents to crash into a door and look at what the documents are saying and then you know of course terminate the investigation.
Scott Horton:Â I didn’t realize that they had ever done y’know raids that it had ever gone that far before.
Grant Smith:Â No no you’re right about the raids but they have shown up before and gotten the documents so in this case you’re right, raids, hard drives seized, its apparently scary enough for them to arm a full scale defense and what you can see in a lot of the court documents when Steve Rosen later filed the defamation suit, they had a massive PR campaign ready on deck to go after the FBI at the drop of the hat if they weren’t able to get the case quashed.
So, you know again it doesnâ€™t make any sense when you look at the fact that we have an organization like AIPAC that was the lobbying division of another organization that was ordered to register as a foreign agent and be open in the fact that it was a front for Israeli government priorities of the United States.
The reason it exists is that when its mother ship was ordered to register, it simply split off six weeks later and continued the operations. We have absolutely no real accountability and no enforcement for any of these organizationsâ€™ that are trying to again get us into wars you know.
I think the biggest historical analogy hereÂ is the reason that there was an intense investigation of these groups in the 60’s leading the Foreign AgentsÂ Registration Act orders was they were right after the Senate Forward Relations CommitteeÂ studied and discussed the Lavon affair which was an attempt to get the USÂ to attack Egypt.
Well here we are decades later the same organizations are trying to get us to attack Iran and we haven’t learned anything the laws that could enforce transparency and allow Americans to see who is behind all this haven’t been enforced and we’re basically still allowing fatal foreign policies that are really a result of inaction and failed governance here at home.
Horton:Â Alright everybody, that is the great Grant Smith fromÂ www.irmep.orgÂ andÂ www.natsummit.com. The National summit this Friday at The National Press Club, thanks Grant.