We’d KILL a guy for passing intel to Israel?


omehow I just caught up with this news, and I’ve got to ask, We’re talking about killing a guy for passing intel to the Israelis?

That’s what the NYT reported this morning:

On Wednesday, one day after Mr. Kadish, 84, was charged with slipping secret military documents to the Israeli government during the 1980s, they were trying to square the gruff, kindly man they knew as so honorable as never to cheat at cards with a criminal suspect who could face the death penalty if convicted.

You’re kidding, right?

I mean, look at the sweet old guy (above): So this is James Bond all of a sudden? Or perhaps I should say, Kim Philby (whom we didn’t kill, by the way, even though he was working for the real bad guys)?

For one thing, what secrets do we think we could possibly have that the Mossad didn’t know already?

Second, we’re talking the Israelis here, people! Don’t we tell them stuff anyway? And don’t they tell us stuff? I mean, am I expected to believe that George W. Bush and the boys figured out the whole North Korea-Syria nuke thing all by their lonesome?

Sure, there are certain lines one doesn’t cross (unless invited to) even with your best friends, but come on — this would be like whacking a guy for passing info to the Brits (speaking of Mr. Philby).

And when’s the last time we did that? Major André? Speaking of which — and I hope this isn’t going to get me into a lot of trouble — I recently crossed paths with Major André. Really.

You know that column I had Sunday about my conversation with the Pennsylvania waitress? ImmediatelyAndre
after that conversation, I walked up the street and ran into the historical marker at right (which tells you which diner, if you’re really, really good at central PA geography).

In fact, I took the picture on my phone — and then promptly forgot about it, until I happened to read about Mr. Kadish, and got to thinking about executing spies, and the Israelis, and the British, which led to Major André, which led to "Hey, I think I shot a picture of that."

And now that I think further about it, it occurs to me that the compact device I used to capture that image would probably have been described as a "spy camera" back in the early ’80s, which is when Mr. Kadish was allegedly letting an Israeli "diplomat" take pictures in his basement of stuff he brought home from work. Makes ya think, huh?

Danger is my middle name.

17 thoughts on “We’d KILL a guy for passing intel to Israel?

  1. Lee Muller

    If someone is stealing military or industrial secrets from us, they can’t really plead that it isn’t a crime because they are our friend.

  2. Brad Warthen

    Lee is the scary guy in the interrogation room when you first bring the old guy in and sweat him…
    And of course, I should hasten to add before some reasonable person does, I know we’re not serious about the death penalty here. This guy’s allegedly part of the Pollard ring, and he’s doing life. Obviously, the capital-crime bit would be used as coercion to get the guy to cop and spill what he knows.
    But ask yourself — that’s gonna really scare an 84-year-old man?
    Anyway, the point of my post is just how tough in general are we expected to be in these cases? I find myself wondering how inside-out such cases are. Does a guy like this pass stuff that we WANTED them to have, but wanted plausible deniability? Who knows, maybe he’s not even “witting” — maybe we let him THINK he’s spying. And do you prosecute a guy like this, long after he’s in a position to hurt you, because it becomes necessary to cover tracks and make it LOOK like he was spying against our will? In an intel-trading environment such as that between us and Israel, how much faking goes on? Is this a feint inside a feint, or even more complicated?
    Of course, we’ll never know.

  3. Mike Cakora

    If we want to pass something to an ally, we do so only with executive approval. No freelancing is allowed per the law. Not even members of Congress may disclose classified information without the permission of the President who has total classification authority. Several solons have crossed or come quite close to crossing the border on that, but no prosecutions have been made lately. Rockefeller and Durbin are lucky.
    When folks are granted a security clearance after the background investigation and adjudication, they are clearly advised of their rights and obligations regarding the information with which they are entrusted. Jonathan Pollard is but one example of a guy who decided to take matters into his own hands. He’s paying the price for so doing.
    Under US law folks with security clearances have the means — the right and obligation — to expose criminal acts. They have the right to challenge classification abuses within the system. They do not have the right to decide on their own what should be disclosed to the public or to another entity.

  4. Mike Cakora

    So what’s the harm in disclosing classified information? As I wrote some time ago, the individual disclosing the information may not realize the impact at the time.
    For example, on 9/16/1971 Jack Anderson wrote in The Washington Post that US intelligence was successfully intercepting telephone conversations from limousines used by members of the Soviet Politburo in Moscow. British historian Christopher Andrew says that this US collection program producing highly sensitive information ended abruptly after Anderson’s revelations. Moreover, the Soviets began jamming — bombarding the US embassy in Moscow with microwave radiation — damaging the health of personnel working in the building. So the disclosure lost the intelligence source and put the health and welfare of our diplomats at risk.
    And don’t forget about the disclosure that we were listening to Osama’s satellite phone; he stopped using it.
    Finally, there are some things we don’t want our allies to know. We may have broken a code or may have a source within their government that we want to keep secret. These are executive decisions, not something that folks may decide on their own. It’s incumbent on all involved to adhere to the laws regarding disclosure of classified information. Otherwise we have no system to protect the information that protects the nation. This ain’t a political issue, it’s one of survival.

  5. Lee Muller

    You are trying to reason with people who see nothing wrong with Obama being surrounded by terrorists and communists, nothing wrong with Hillary’s top staff being “former” Communist Party members, no problem with Bill Clinton going to Moscow as a guest war protestor for the Soviets, no problem with John Kerry’s anti-war group receiving $2,000,000 in unreported cash from the KGB.

  6. George

    Doing it for Israel makes it right? Tell that to the survivors of the USS Liberty! Since when do Americans have to die for a hostile foreign power? Where do your loyalties lie, Mike? Do you salute the Israeli flag before you salute Old Glory?
    If you love Israel more than you love the US, move there!

  7. Robert Cook

    Kim Philby was an Englishman and his activities took place on English soil so I don’t quite see why you are surprised the United States did not execute him as he was never under our jurisdiction. The point is that whatever the traitor’s intention (or whomever the recipient of the information) he had an obligation and duty not to disclose our nation’s secrets and he violated that trust. If the death penalty is the stated penalty for that act, then so be it.

  8. Mike R.

    George, you need to take a deep breath and re-read what Mike Cakora wrote. Since you seem to have missed it, he was supporting the decision to prosecute the spy.
    Perhaps you intended to ask those questions of Brad and simply slipped and wrote “Mike” instead. It’s Brad who seems unable to grasp the fact that a crime against us all was committed and just how potentially significant that crime was.

  9. Brad Warthen

    Actually, Philby (who was indeed British, as my post made amply clear) performed a lot of his treasonous activities right here in the good old USA. And I used him as an example because everybody’s heard of him, and because American notions of laws and rights and crime and punishment are much the same as the British (such anomalies as the Official Secrets Act notwithstanding)

    Philby was an Atlantic Man. He was the British intelligence liaison to Washington at the time of the birth of the CIA. His career is enmeshed with the beginnings of our intel establishment. One of the things that enabled him to survive for so long was his ability to fool our most storied spycatcher, James Jesus Angleton.

    But if you want pure, 100 percent American traitors, there are Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen. We didn’t whack them, either — and they were true slimeballs.

    Another reason for citing Philby, I’ll confess, is because MI6 traitors are just more interesting. The Brits engage the imagination better, thanks to all that wonderful spy fiction from that side of the pond — Le Carre, Greene, Deighton

    Philby was, after all, the inspiration for Bill Haydon

  10. John P. Baker

    Passing classified information on to a foreign power, whether so-called “friendly” or not, is treason.
    If Mr. Kadish is guilty of what he has been accused of doing, he should pay the price. His age should not be a consideration.
    Add to that the fact that Israel is “friendly” to the United States only in so far as the American taxpayer, to the tune of billions of dollars per year, keeps its government in power.
    Jonathan Pollard was and is a traitor about whom Israel constantly harps, seeking his release, so that they can welcome him as a hero. The only form in which any Israeli should every see Jonathan Pollard again is as a corpse.

  11. Mike R.

    The “old guy,” as you so soft-heartedly describe him, doesn’t deserve a cup of coffee nor anyone’s sympathy, Brad.
    There was a saying about the motives of spies and sources at one time: “All men are MICE.” That is, spies are motivated by Money, Ideology, Coercion, or Excitement. In Mr. Kadish’s case, it seems that his ideological views about Israel were his motive. That is, he believes the state of Israel is more deserving of his loyalty than the United States.
    If such is the case, then he will probably go down without any remorse (except at being caught) or voluntary offerings of information. All the “good cops” in the world will never get the truth from him.
    His Israeli handlers probably have nothing but contempt for him as well. Afterall, they’re probably real Israeli patriots, and Mr. Kadish is nothing but a foreign traitor. Such is the ultimate fate of most spies. They get no honor or respect from either side, nor do they deserve either.

  12. Mike Cakora

    George —
    Methinks you misread something. I’ve no idea what you’re writing about.
    Brad –
    I’ll give him a cup of coffee, but it looks like Kadish and Pollard shared a handler. It’s not yet clear how the FBI latched onto Kadish, why they started wiretaps on him. I wonder if any more Israeli agents are under surveillance.

  13. Brad Warthen

    Yes, I gather that he was part of the Pollard network. And I would certainly hope that we had a line on the rest of it before we scooped him up from the Old Folks Home. If not, that’s rotten tradecraft on our part.

  14. Dum Spiro Spero

    Serving in the military I had the opportunity to show a group of Saudis some of the military vehicles and equipment that I worked on. Of course, before the briefing, I was specifically informed that I should not mention any information that was considered SECRET – even though we had provided the Saudis with the same equipment years before. A few months later, in a state of complete boredom, I happened to search for the same equipment on wikipedia, and to my surprise it had all the information on the website that I believed to be SECRET.
    At West Point I was told by one of my law professors that the government likes to label things SECRET even if the information is readily available. Oddly enough, it was one of the most infamous American traitors, Benedict Arnold, who handed over the plans to West Point to the British (Major Andre, mentioned above).
    If something is SECRET then it should remain that way for national security purposes, even if the information is being shared with our allies. By the way, the Israelis had the same type of equipment that I was using as well, and they probably could have operated it using wikipedia alone.
    Lastly, my sincerest apologies Brad, but DANGER is MY middle name.

  15. Mike Cakora

    Information may be downgraded in classification as time passes. More typically, information is classified in the context of a specific application or because some variables are modified. Among the data Kadish allegedly handed over to the Israelis was information specific to the F-15 the Saudi’s had purchased. Differences in performance and/or equipment may have been classified for any number of reasons, but the Israelis had a vital interest in discovering anything they could about any differences in an aircraft they might face in combat. (But that’s no excuse for any US citizen to disclose classified information.)
    A classification guide for a project or topic lists the guidelines for classifying information associated with it. It will state that XX information is unclassified, YY information is SECRET as is TT information, but when TT and YY are combined the information is TOP SECRET. Such guides are necessary so that folks can comply with laws intended to prevent over-classifying and misclassifying information.
    Intelligence information — that’s what Pollard passed on — is intended to stay within intelligence channels and is so marked with special caveats or code words because the information itself indicates how or whence it was obtained. Our targets know full well that we’re trying to collect intelligence on them; they’d like to know what we’re collecting and how well we’re doing at it. So even a couple of bits of information leaked out can do a lot of damage as the disclosure that we could intercept bin Laden’s phone calls shows.
    Nuclear weapons info has its own set of classification schemes too.

  16. Thanos6

    What I hate is the government’s tendency to keep information classified way beyond the time when it could harm the government if revealed. Some things about World War II are still kept classified. WORLD WAR II! What in the name of God for?


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