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WikiLeaks Reveals Bush Administration Orders to Spy on Israel

WikiLeaks has revealed a secret American cable exposing espionage efforts by the Bush White House against the State of Israel.
By Avi Yellin
First Publish: 1/24/2011, 3:11 PM / Last Update: 1/24/2011, 3:29 PM

The WikiLeaks website last week leaked a secret State Department cable  from October 31, 2008, directing United States officials to spy on Israel. The cable, dated only days before the 2008 American presidential elections, was signed by then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The recently leaked cable reveals former U.S. President George W. Bush’s foreign policy czar instructing American diplomats in Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA, to conduct a massive espionage operation against the Jewish state. The sought-for information covered all aspects of Israel’s political system, society, communications infrastructures and the Israel Defense Forces.

Regarding the IDF, US diplomats and spies were instructed to gather intelligence on planned Israeli military operations against the American-backed Palestinian Authority, Syria and Lebanon.

American agents were also asked to probe the attitudes of Israeli military commanders and to gather information on “IDF units, equipment, maintenance levels, training, morale, and operational readiness[;] IDF tactics, techniques and procedures for conducting conventional and unconventional counterinsurgency and counterterrorist operations[; and] Israeli assessment of the impact of reserve duty in the territories on IDF readiness.”

As for political leaders, Rice instructed diplomats and spies to provide detailed information about government plans, potential ways Washington can influence politicians, how politicians decide to launch military strikes, the attitudes of Israeli leaders towards the U.S. and more.

Rice also sought information about various aspects of Israeli society. She instructed diplomats and spies to gather details on everything from “Information on and motivations for any increased Israeli population emigration from Israel” to detailed information on Israeli residents of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights.

Regarding residents of the Golan, Samaria and Judea, collectively labeled by Rice as “settlers,” the cable requested information on “Divisions among various settlement groups[;] details on settlement-related budgets and subsidies[;] settlers’ relationships with the Israeli political and military establishment including their lobbying and settlement methods.”

Bush’s secretary of state expressed deep interest in all details related to Israel’s military and nonmilitary communications infrastructure. For instance, she directed American officials to gather information on “Current specifications, vulnerabilities, capabilities, and planned upgrades to national telecommunications infrastructure, networks, and technologies used by government and military authorities, intelligence and security services, and the public sector.”

Perhaps most interesting, Rice requested personal data on Israeli leaders, asking for “official and personal phone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses of principal civilian and military leaders.”

Rice's secret orders also included espionage against the American-backed PA and its rival Hamas. The cable requested "biographical, financial and biometric information on key PA and Hamas leaders and representatives, to include the young guard inside Gaza, the West Bank and outside."

It is not presently known whether or how the information gathered on Rice's orders was put to use by the U.S. or if the espionage efforts against Israel put in place by the Bush administration are still in effect under President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.