Wednesday, July 4, 2012

FBI Files: Smyth Claimed in 2002 FBI Debrief That He Sent Nuclear Triggers to Netanyahu, Who He [Smyth] Says Worked for Milchan at the Time (Early 80's/Late 70's). Allegation The Authors Could Not Confirm One Way Or The Other:

Just released, heavily censored FBI files describe (among other things), meetings between convicted spy Richard Kelly Smyth and a young Benjamin Netanyahu (now Prime minister), who Smyth said in the 2002 FBI debrief worked for Arnon Milchan’s Heli-Trading Ltd, where the Krytrons (nuclear triggers) were sent. The files were released as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to an organization hostile to Israel which requested them:

Of course, Iran’s Press TV immediately jumped on this, predictably accusing Netanyahu of “nuclear smuggling” in his younger years. The Iranians reference Confidential: The Life Of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon Arnon Milchan.  

Important Notes:
The authors of Confidential were aware of Smyth's insistence on Netanyahu’s involvement in the nuclear triggers smuggling case and quote Smyth saying so in the book, but Milchan explained to the authors during interviews with him that Smyth is lying about that. Milchan explained that he did not even know Netanyahu until the 1990’s. That is why Confidential left the matter unresolved, and simply reported what both sides claimed. Now we know that this is what the FBI heard from Smyth as well during his 2002 debriefing. Although anything is possible, and the authors are not infallible and may have missed it, the authors tend to lean towards Milchan's version of events in this case because of what is known about Netanyahu's biographic timeline (unless of course, Netanyahu's employment at RIM Furniture in the late 70's was a cover) . It is hard to believe when he [Netanyahu] could have fit in any covert activity of the nature described in this FBI memo during any portion of his busy, public and well documented career. One must also take into consideration that Smyth had every reason to try to embarrass Milchan at that point after his arrest, and stated clearly in his memoirs that he had every intention to do so. It must also be remembered, that these FBI files merely reflect what Smyth told the FBI, and do not pass judgment on whether the information is accurate. The fact that they were found in secret files released only after a FOIA request, does not indicate any greater level of credibility beyond Smyth's word, and beyond what was already known and mentioned in the book, pages 214-216, where Smyth threatened Milchan in a letter and mentioned Netanyahu. In this case, the alluring title of "secret FBI file" does not necessarily mean instant credibility and in fact could transmit a misleading and unjustified aura of credibility. 

On the other hand, obviously, there is also an inherent interest by both Mr. Milchan and Mr. Netanyahu to deny any such past relationship or activity. It might also be noted that lying to the FBI is a federal offence, which could have entailed more jail-time for Smyth, so why would he do that? It is hard to understand what Smyth's motivation for lying would have been, and to merely embarrass Mr. Milchan does not seem motivation enough to justify the risk, but anything is possible. Furthermore, the claim that Milchan did not know Netanyahu until the 90's is not a weighty explanation because there were many people who worked for Mr. Milchan's front companies like Heli-Trading Ltd. who he [Milchan] never met... as Dvora Ben Yizchak confirmed. 

The authors opinions and analysis aside, in reality, they admit that they have no way of confirming one way or the other, who's telling the truth...thus they left the matter hanging in the book, which of course, could serve as fodder for conspiracy theorists. It will be up to enterprising investigative journalists to find the truth.   

In any event, Note that Sharon's name is misspelled, that they call Dvora Ben Ytzchak (Milchan's assistant for covert activity) "Benny Ytzchak" ... and many other details in the memo that  are flat out wrong.... which leads the authors to believe that they have a clearer grasp of the facts in this case than the FBI ever had.  

The most interesting elements to the authors of Confidential, in the recently released FBI documents, is the fact almost everyone's names were redacted except for 'Benjamin Netanyahu'. The authors find it strange that the FBI found it necessarily to redact 'Milchan', 'Smyth' and other names, but not Mr. Netanyahu's name. It was either accidentally left in, or was purposefully left in, knowing that it will become public in this context... which is telling in itself.  It is well known that Netanyahu is disliked at various American government  agencies such as the State Department, the FBI and others, this release is either an explanation for, or a consequence of, that disliking. The release was also the first time that the authors had ever head the term "Operation Pinto", which is the name apparently used by Israeli intelligence for the efforts to obtain various technologies, equipment and material for the nuclear program through the LAKAM front company "Milco". In fact, the name "Operation Pinto" is the only element in the FBI file not mentioned in Confidential.  

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