During confidential briefings in recent weeks, senior US intelligence officials have said that Israel’s spying operations in the US “go far beyond that of other close American allies, such as Germany, France, the UK and Japan,” Newsweek magazine reported on Tuesday.
Tel Aviv’s efforts to “steal US secrets under the cover of trade missions and joint defense technology contracts have crossed red lines,” said the report.
The assessments were given in confidential briefings to a number of congressional committees discussing a law that would lower visa restrictions on Israeli citizens wanting to come to the US.
The US visa waiver program would exempt Israeli nationals from having to produce a tourist visa, permitting them to stay in the US for a period of up to 90 days.
According to a congressional staffer familiar with a briefing last January, the testimony was “very sobering…alarming…even terrifying.” Another staffer called it “damaging.”
“No other country close to the United States continues to cross the line on espionage like the Israelis do,” said a former congressional staffer who attended another classified briefing in 2013.
“I don’t think anyone was surprised by these revelations,” the former aide said. “But when you step back and hear…that there are no other countries taking advantage of our security relationship the way the Israelis are for espionage purposes, it is quite shocking. I mean, it shouldn’t be lost on anyone that after all the hand-wringing over [Jonathan] Pollard, it’s still going on.”
Senior US intelligence officials have reportedly told Congress that Israeli’s spying operations are going too far and called the extent of the espionage activities shocking, far exceeding similar activities by any other close allies.