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Saturday, March 12, 2005

"Outing" the Neocons: The Office of Special Plans

One of the very interesting aspects of the Office of Special Plans, not mentioned in the mainstream press very much, is the composition of its core staff -- most of the key people assembled at working staff levels were Jews with far-right views. The few who weren't were from closely-allied groups, like right wing Lebanese Christians. To borrow Bill Clinton's phrase describing his cabinet -- it didn't exactly "look like America." Now I'm certainly not saying that all (or even many) American Jews who work in government have dual loyalty issues -- most clearly have an undivided loyalty first and foremost to the United States. But some of the people Feith brought in had unusually strong ties to Israel, including one official who had emigrated as a young adult hoping to be an Israeli diplomat.

David Schenker -- brought in shortly after 9/11 from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which is closely affiliated with AIPAC.

David Wurmser -- brought in from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), he was one of the authors of the Clean Break paper, which was an advice piece for Binyamin Netanyahu on how to move past the Oslo peace process, retain the West Bank permanently, and undermine the governments of Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Note the wording about "Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights, especially in their territorial dimension, 'peace for peace,' is a solid basis for the future. " No Palestinian state. The "remaking" of the Middle East will allow Israel to "transcend" its enemies, rather than have to make territorial concessions. Get into Iraq --> undermine Syria and Iran --> this changes the strategic environment to allow Israel to keep the West Bank. Wurmser, along with Michael Maloof, was part of the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, which was the unit Feith set up to try to backfill an al-Qaeda/Saddam connection and feed that story into the White House. He's also the husband of Meyrav Wurmser, who runs the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an organization which translates selectively from the Arabic language press in order to paint the Arab world in a bad light and discount the idea of negotiating with the Palestinians, along with Col. Yigal Carmon, formerly with Israeli military intelligence.

Michael Rubin -- also went to OSP from AEI, and after later doing a stint working under Paul Bremer in Baghdad, he's now back at AEI, writing about how awful a job Paul Bremer did there, from a neocon perspective. Rubin also is sort of the designated attack dog for the AEI crowd -- writing a lot in the National Review Online about the supposed "antisemitism" of anyone who dares to criticize them.

Michael Maloof -- he's actually not a political appointee, but a career civil servant -- of Lebanese Christian background. His work before was on technology transfer, not the Middle East or intelligence analysis. Maloof lost his security clearances after a gun registered to him was found in the luggage of Imad el-Hage, a Lebanese arms dealer with ties to Gen. Michel Aoun. Maloof is close to the far-right falangist ideological current in Lebanon which seeks to destabilize Syria.

Michael Makovsky -- most of the information above has appeared elsewhere in the blogosphere, but I have dug up some new (actually, too old to have been found) information on Makovsky. Michael Makovsky was a recent Ph.D. in history brought in to work on Iraqi oil issues (no previous oil experience! -- in such an oil industry heavy administration -- but the war wasn't about oil -- and Republicans with close ties to Big Oil tend not to be Jewish). In 1989, after working as a staffer for Sen. John Danforth, he had emigrated to Israel, according to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (too old to have a web link, but it's available on Lexis/Nexis, where I found it). He said he wanted to serve as an Israeli diplomat, after serving in the Israeli Army, though he said he didn't intend to renounce his American citizenship. (It's definitely the same Michael Makovsky, since the article refers to his older brother David Makovsky, who is now a senior fellow at WINEP.) I can't find any reference to him having served as an Israeli diplomat, so that probably never came through for him, but it does make you wonder if the security clearance people were aware of this article when they did his background check. There a USA Today article from 1995 about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin which quotes a Michael Makovsky who was a resident of a West Bank settlement and a friend of Yigal Amir, the assassin, though I'm not 100% sure it's the same person, since the ages cited in the two articles don't mesh -- but the only other Michael Makovsky I've found is a Czech soccer player, so I think it's likely him. I don't mean to imply that he supported the assassination, since his comments in the article don't say that -- if it was the same person -- but it does suggest that he was associating with a very ideological "radical right" crowd during his years there. I've also run across web links (since taken down) which linked Makovsky to the right-wing "Betar" organization while he was living in the UK as a student. Betar is a 'revisionist Zionist' territorial maximalist group founded by (drum roll please) Dalck Feith, the father of Douglas Feith, which has youth/campus organizations in the US and UK. One does wonder how Feith or his underlings must have had to browbeat the security clearance people into not asking about Makovsky's very apparent foreign loyaly questions.

Anyway, my point here is that Feith and company built the office which was to plan and "make the sales pitch" for the war around people with very strong ties to Israel, and it certainly didn't "look like America." It wasn't even a very representative sample of American Jews or the pro-Israel community. It was ideologues committed to Israel retaining the West Bank, and a strategic reordering of the region which would make that possible.

I don't think the folks with the yellow ribbons on their pickup trucks out in Red America realize that.

Several of these people also have "lawyered up" in the face of the FBI probe of AIPAC and Larry Franklin, which suggests that they see themselves in possible legal jeopardy.

Now honestly, if most Americans had been aware of what I've just stated above about the background of the people (at mid-level staff levels) who were putting together the plans for war against Iraq -- don't you think people would have questioned their motivations a bit more? We need to keep this in mind as we head toward war with Iran. Some of these people are still working in the Bush administration, and Michael Rubin was reportedly the author of the Iran policy paper that Larry Franklin leaked to AIPAC -- probably to facilitate AIPAC's orchestration of political pressure to bring about the desired policy outcome.

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