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CIA Recruitment of Israeli as Spy Told by Durenberger

March 21, 1987|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Sen. Dave Durenberger (R-Minn.), former chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told an American Jewish audience that the CIA set the stage for the Jonathan Jay Pollard spy scandal by recruiting an Israeli army officer to spy against Israel in 1982, individuals who heard the allegation say.

During two meetings Sunday in Palm Beach, Fla., Durenberger said that then-CIA Director William J. Casey "changed the rules of the game" by authorizing a spy operation against Israel after its 1982 invasion of Lebanon, according to sources present.

The first report of Durenberger's charge was published Friday by the Jerusalem Post in an article by its Washington correspondent, Wolf Blitzer.

Military Officer Cited

Two sources in Washington said an Israeli military officer who was unhappy with the Israeli military invasion volunteered to provide limited, classified information to the U.S. government. Under a secret agreement between the United States and Israel, both governments had pledged not to recruit spies in each other's country, but have acknowledged that it would be unrealistic to prohibit unsolicited "walk-ins" who offer potentially sensitive intelligence information, the sources said.

Durenberger issued a statement Friday that did not deny Blitzer's report but said the senator's intention had been only to relay "public speculation that the United States may have had intelligence sources within the Israeli government."

The statement added that Durenberger was not trying to justify Israel's 1984 recruitment of Pollard, an American who worked for the Navy as an intelligence analyst and who was recently sentenced to life in prison for espionage.

Israel Denies Allegations

In Israel, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin denied the allegations in the Jerusalem Post. Durenberger, in his statement, said: "I will not comment on the specifics of U.S. intelligence operations overseas." CIA officials also refused to comment.

However, two participants in the Palm Beach sessions with Durenberger gave the Washington Post accounts of his remarks that were almost identical with Blitzer's article. In addition, another source, who was not in Palm Beach but who has knowledge of U.S. intelligence operations, substantiated the main points of the story allegedly told by Durenberger.

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