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Washington - New Documents Reveal Deep Ties Of Accused American Possible Spy With Israeli Firm

Published on: January 21, 2010 07:30 AM
By:  Haaretz
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Dr. Stewart David NozetteWashington - New documents presented in federal court in Washington, D.C. reveal deep ties (more than was known) between Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Dr. Stewart David Nozette, an American astronomer accused of spying for Israel.

The media here covered his arrest on October 19, 2009 and then interest waned, though the American media are still monitoring the case.

Two attorneys in the counterespionage unit of the U.S. Department’s of Justice National Security division, Deborah Curtis and Heather Schmidt, presented documents found on the scientist’s computer. One document, titled “Proposed Operations for 2005-2006,” referred to the need to carry out “a penetration of NASA,” the U.S. space agency.

Another document, according to the prosecution, shows Nozette attempted to obtain highly confidential material by using his high-level security clearance and infiltrating other people’s computers.

Other documents mention the names of Yossi Weiss and Yossi Fishman. Weiss is a former project manager and today the deputy CEO of IAI and head of the company’s missile and space division. Fishman was the IAI’s representative in the U.S. and is today the CEO of ODF Optronics.

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Fishman told Haaretz he knew Nozette the way he knew other Americans employed by the IAI at the time as consultants. “We did not engage in any kind of spying activity or information gathering, perish the thought. The relationship was business as usual.”

The IAI is not mentioned specifically by name in the documents. It is referred to as a foreign company or as a space company owned by the Israeli government.” Background talks with administration officials indicate the references are indeed to IAI.

Unreported visits

The indictment and the documents indicate that Nozette was employed for nine years as an IAI consultant. Versions vary as to how much he was paid, from $170,000 to $225,000. His direct superior was Israel Aircraft Industries International, a U.S.-registered company.

The FBI searched Nozette’s home and computer and found additional proof of his connection to Israel. He visited here several times, but did not report this - as is required by his high security clearance. The FBI confiscated letters he wrote to Israelis, reports he forwarded to the IAI, a map of Israel, photos of assorted places in Israel, a Hebrew-language catalog of archaeological artifacts and other items.

Nozette, 52, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, was arrested after FBI surveillance that included wiretapping and undercover photography. The operation followed the former astronomer’s interrogation on suspicion of tax evasion and defrauding the U.S. government. Nozette worked out plea bargain with the Justice Department; he admitted to fraud and accepted a sentence of up to three years in jail, plus a fine of $265,000. His jail term would have started in November, but he was arrested on the new and more serious charge of espionage.

Nozette, who was born in Chicago, has Jewish parents but there is no evidence he ever went to synagogue or Jewish community centers. His neighbors said he was “a Zionist” but without evidence attesting to this. From a young age, his interest was science. He studied at the University of Arizona and earned a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Immediately, in 1983, he went to work for U.S. agencies, including NASA, the Pentagon and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory near San Francisco, which focuses on nuclear weapons. By virtue of these positions, he enjoyed a very high security clearance. One of the important studies he participated in found water at the Moon’s southern pole. Nozette subsequently left government work and set up a private company as a consultant to firms in India and the IAI. The latter continues to refuse, vehemently, to address this embarrassing episode, which apparently has not done damage to the company.

Nozette was not the only person employed by the company as a consultant. Over the years, the IAI as well as other Israeli defense-related industries operating in the U.S., such as Elbit and Rafael, hired as consultants dozens of Americans, mainly retired former army officers and senior officials.

Today as well, the IAI and its subsidiaries in the U.S. continue to do business there and to cultivate ties. It is rather clear to them, and this is indeed fairly routine business practice, that to obtain contracts and win grants from the U.S. administration, doors must be opened. For that, people with connections are needed to open those doors. This was one of Nozette’s assignments. Against this backdrop he apparently tried (among other things) to help the “penetration” of NASA. IAI, which produces space missile launchers, satellites and other space technologies, hoped to win contracts and development grants and enter joint ventures.

While he was being investigated for fraud, Nozette told a friend he would be willing to work for the Mossad. This information, along with the fact that he was a consultant to the IAI, led the FBI to suspect Nozette of being a Mossad agent, or at least psychologically ready to be one. So a sting operation was set up. An FBI agent pretending to be a Mossad agent met with Nozette and asked him for information. Nozette reportedly agreed, supplied information and received $11,000. These contacts were documented.

The indictment does not mention Israel nor has the administration made any complaints. Nevertheless Israel since its establishment systematically conducted spying missions on U.S. soil - for around a quarter of a century. Primarily, it was nuclear and technological-military spying.

The Jonathan Pollard case brought an end to all spying activities; there is a clear directive from prime ministers, defense ministers, Military Intelligence chiefs and the Mossad on this matter. But the U.S. media and the administration officials have a hard time believing Israel on this subject, and the Nozette case does not contribute to clearing the atmosphere of suspicion regarding future intentions.



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Read Comments (7)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 21, 2010 at 10:17 AM esq Says:

I hope there are dozens if not hundereds of these guys. Imagine if the FBI invested all this energy and conducted a "sting" operation on our enemies instead. It is not like Israel would ever use weapons against the US. By helping Israel the uS helps itself, and when they stop giving into the anti-semites that like to go after Jews and start going after ur real enemies I'll be happier paying my tax bill.

2

 Jan 21, 2010 at 12:03 PM moshe Says:

Reply to #1  
esq Says:

I hope there are dozens if not hundereds of these guys. Imagine if the FBI invested all this energy and conducted a "sting" operation on our enemies instead. It is not like Israel would ever use weapons against the US. By helping Israel the uS helps itself, and when they stop giving into the anti-semites that like to go after Jews and start going after ur real enemies I'll be happier paying my tax bill.

my heart is with you but the law is the law.

3

 Jan 21, 2010 at 01:16 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #2  
moshe Says:

my heart is with you but the law is the law.

Sting operations is rotten which should be out”law”ed. If every woman would set up a sting operation to test their husbands, then most men would fail. Didn't Yalsa tell her husband Reb Meir that "she is different", and in order to prove that the chaza"l are correct Reb Meir set up a sting operation in which she failed.

That they set up a sting operation means that they couldn’t find any proof. All, this story tells us is that this guy was openly very pro Israel, so someone reported it to those dying to find “that” Israeli spy. So if Israel won’t engage anymore in such type of activity then no problem, they’ll create a “spy” through a shtink operation.

The article says that he “told a friend he would be willing to work for the Mossad”. Why in the world would he tell a friend this? Wouldn’t he be afraid to tell anyone, lest he be caught? They say that they found proof that he was an Israeli spy because he had a map of Israel (real proof!), photos of places in Israel (incontrovertible proof!), and a catalog of archaeological artifacts which really proves that he is a spy, because who else would be interested in archaeological artifacts if not a spy? Right?

Give me a break.

4

 Jan 21, 2010 at 02:29 PM dovy Says:

accused, possible spy? why don't people accused of drug dealing or money improprieties get the benefit of the doubt like this "possible" spy? This guy is an accused traitor and is much worse than maddoff or even dwek. he should rot in jail.

5

 Jan 21, 2010 at 02:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
dovy Says:

accused, possible spy? why don't people accused of drug dealing or money improprieties get the benefit of the doubt like this "possible" spy? This guy is an accused traitor and is much worse than maddoff or even dwek. he should rot in jail.

Who has hurt anyone? He or Maddoff and Dwek? Do you know what a "traitor" is?

6

 Jan 22, 2010 at 09:49 AM David Says:

Reply to #1  
esq Says:

I hope there are dozens if not hundereds of these guys. Imagine if the FBI invested all this energy and conducted a "sting" operation on our enemies instead. It is not like Israel would ever use weapons against the US. By helping Israel the uS helps itself, and when they stop giving into the anti-semites that like to go after Jews and start going after ur real enemies I'll be happier paying my tax bill.

"Imagine if the FBI invested all this energy and conducted a "sting" operation on our enemies instead."
Excuse me, but catching people who try to steal our secrets and sell them to others is very much part of the FBI's job description. And, God forbid there should be "hundereds" (sic) of Jews who betray the country that has given us freedom, security, equality and opportunity. Israel is NOT entitled to simply take what it wishes from the US (any more than the US is entitled to take things from Israel, or I am entitled to come and steal books out of your bedroom).

7

 Jan 22, 2010 at 01:42 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
David Says:

"Imagine if the FBI invested all this energy and conducted a "sting" operation on our enemies instead."
Excuse me, but catching people who try to steal our secrets and sell them to others is very much part of the FBI's job description. And, God forbid there should be "hundereds" (sic) of Jews who betray the country that has given us freedom, security, equality and opportunity. Israel is NOT entitled to simply take what it wishes from the US (any more than the US is entitled to take things from Israel, or I am entitled to come and steal books out of your bedroom).

Agreed that Israel is not entitled to steal America's secrets; but this story stinks from head to toe.

8

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