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CIA Conspiracy Theorist

Michael Scheuer knows where America's real covert intelligence threat comes from--Israel.

11:00 PM, Feb 15, 2005 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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MICHAEL SCHEUER has uncovered "the most successful covert action program in the history of man." Or, at least that's what he told an audience at Council on Foreign Relations in New York City on February 3. The CIA's former bin Laden-hunter-turned-public-persona is the widely cited author of a scathing critique of the Bush administration's war on terror, Imperial Hubris. Since his resignation from "the Agency" in November 2004, he has become best known for his view that the West is really losing the war on terror. Perhaps he should also be known for his work uncovering conspiracies.

According to Scheuer, the tiny nation of Israel is not a valuable ally in the Middle East, but instead the author of a vast conspiracy to hijack the direction of American foreign policy. Scheuer explained to the CFR crowd that Israel dictates the course of its relationship with the United States. He explained, "we can no longer afford to be seen as the dog that's led by the tail." Scheuer further warned, "I don't think we can afford to be led around, or at least appear to be led around by them."

How does a nation of roughly 6 million people control the foreign policy of the world's lone superpower? According to Scheuer, Israel accomplishes this feat through a variety of clandestine activities. When asked by a member of the CFR audience to clarify what he meant, Scheuer explained:

Well, the clandestine aspect is that, clearly, the ability to influence the Congress--that's a clandestine activity, a covert activity. You know to some extent, the idea that the Holocaust Museum here in our country is another great ability to somehow make people feel guilty about being the people who did the most to try to end the Holocaust. I find--I just find the whole debate in the United States unbearably restricted with the inability to factually discuss what goes on between our two countries.

Thus, according to Scheuer, the United States Congress is the target of Israel's covert influence and the Holocaust Museum, instead of simply honoring the victims of one of the worst calamities in human history, exists to make Americans "feel guilty." His first accusation is a serious one, but it is also a matter of evidence. As a 22-year veteran of the CIA, Scheuer is in a unique position to offer insight into the espionage tradecraft. If he has evidence that Israel has covertly targeted the U.S. Congress, then he should present it.

His second claim, however, mimics the type of anti-Semitic propaganda that emanates from state-controlled media monopolies in the Middle East every day. Arab propagandists often accuse "the Jews" of winning "world sympathy by playing on the Holocaust and Nazi atrocities." This is a recurring motif, for example, in Saudi state-owned newspapers. It appears that, in Scheuer's view, Israel uses the Holocaust Museum as a way to curry favor by making people feel sorry for world Jewry.

Scheuer's appearance at CFR was not the first time he has denounced the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Indeed, he told the CFR crowd that "I wrote in my book that I congratulate them [Israel]" on the success of their covert endeavors.

In Imperial Hubris, Scheuer endorsed the view that widespread Muslim hatred of America is an outcome of American policies that are perceived as anti-Islamic and not the result of Muslim hatred of western ideology or culture. In advancing this argument Scheuer ignores the role that state-controlled propaganda plays in shaping popular opinion in the Middle East. He also ignores the argument that U.S. foreign policy has been, on balance, ostensibly pro-Muslim and pro-Arab.

History is replete with examples, but several will suffice: the U.S. saved Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from Israeli forces in Beirut in 1982; assisted Muslims against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan throughout the 1980s; freed the Muslim nation of Kuwait and prevented the invasion of Saudi Arabia by a supposedly secular tyrant in 1991; and intervened on behalf of Muslims in Somalia and Bosnia. (For a more complete account of U.S. foreign policy towards Muslims and Arabs, see Barry Rubin's "The Real Roots of Arab Anti-Americanism" published in the November/December 2002 issue of Foreign Affairs, a magazine published by the Council on Foreign Relations.)