Here is what we know about Ben-Ami Kadish, today accused of espionage for the government of Israel:
1.According to the criminal complaint, he worked as a mechanical engineer at the Army’s Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey from 1963 to 1990 and had a “Secret” security clearance for the whole of his tenure.
2.Lance A. Ashworth, a special agent with the FBI, is prepared to testify that in March 20, 2008, Mr. Kadish admitted that he allowed “CC-1,” an unnamed, uncharged co-conspirator, to make photocopies of classified documents that he brought to his home, including a document relating to nuclear weaponry, and documents relating to a modified version of the F-15 fighter jet that the United States had sold to “another foreign country” and a document concerning the Patriot missile air defense system. According to GlobalSecurity.org, three countries have purchased the F-15: Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. It’s fair to infer that Mr. Kadish provided information concerning the Saudis’ F-15 purchase.
3.”CC-1″ is not named in the complaint, but he is identified as an Israeli citizen who was employed by Israeli Aerospace Industries, an Israeli defense contractor, in the 1970s, and who was the Consul for Science Affairs at Israel’s New York consulate general from 1980 to 1985. The complaint alleges that CC-1 left the United States in 1985 and has not returned. The complaint alleges that Jonathan Pollard, the infamous Israeli spy, had passed classified information to CC-1, among others. On the basis of these hints, press reports have identified CC-1 as Yosef Yagur, one of Pollard’s handlers.
4.Special Agent Ashworth is also prepared to testify that at a second meeting in March 2008, Mr. Kadish denied having spoken recently with CC-1. However, the government charges that this was a lie, and the complaint quotes a telephone conversation between Mr. Kadish and CC-1, in which CC-1 instructs Mr. Kadish to tell the FBI that he “didn’t remember anything.” Presumably, the government has a recording of the telephone call.
5.The Israeli Foreign Ministry has denied any knowledge of the case. It seems unlikely that the Israelis will maintain this position, as they did for years in the Pollard case, especially given Kadish’s confession.
6.Assuming Special Agent Ashworth is telling the truth about Mr. Kadish’s confession, there does not seem to be much question as to guilt. There may be peripheral legal questions-can the government avoid the statute of limitations applicable to the underlying crime by charging a continuing conspiracy, as it has done? Was Mr. Kadish’s questioning custodial, and if so, is there a Miranda issue? Did the government have a FISA warrant authorizing interception of the telephone call with CC-1? But one must assume that in a case with such political significance, the government will not have made a glaring procedural error.
7.This case is likely to set back efforts to persuade the President to pardon Jonathan Pollard or to commute his life sentence. While Pollard’s guilt is not in doubt, there are legitimate questions about the fairness of his sentence. On the other hand, Pollard has been woefully ill-advised. His supporters, led by his wife Esther, have paid lip service to the notion that Pollard ought to feel remorse for his crime (his website has a remorse page), while continuing to argue that he was justified in providing the information to Israel because America wrongly withheld it from Israel and because he had an obligation as a Jew to save the Jewish state from what he perceived to be the dangers it faced if he withheld the information. Pollard also continues to press for clemency while refusing to petition for clemency–hardly a compelling position.
8.The case is also likely to force American Jews once again to confront accusations of dual loyalty, particularly in light of the ongoing Espionage Act prosecution against two AIPAC staffers accused of passing information to an Israeli official. If the allegations in the complaint are true, an Israeli agent conspired to obstruct justice in 2008, decades after Israel’s public decision, in the aftermath of the Pollard case, to abandon covert intelligence efforts aimed at the United States.
I find the Kadish case troubling, because if the allegations are true (particularly the allegations of obstruction of justice in 2008), it shows a shocking Israeli arrogance towards American Jewry, which, after all, provides massive financial support to Israel and also helps ensure continued American support of Israel. The Israeli attitude seems to me to be that American Jews’ concerns about the perception of dual loyalties is merely a symptom of what the Israelis might call the “galut,” or “exile,” mentality-the notion is that Jews living in the Diaspora have an unhealthy obsession with the degree to which the larger Gentile society accepts and trusts them, which Jews can escape only in the Jewish state. This is orthodox Zionism but a slap in the face of American Jews. Moreover, it’s difficult to see how Israeli espionage directed against America can be in Israel’s national interest, given the importance to Israel of continued American military and diplomatic support.