The Cable

Israeli Settlers' Spokesman: We'll Never Leave

As the first direct talks in three years between Israelis and Palestinians get underway in Jerusalem on Wednesday, hardliners on both sides are ramping up their opposition to re-engagement. For the maximalists, many of the proposals under consideration represent a form of betrayal. For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who have both taken steps to re-launch the peace talks, the hardliners represent a major headache.

To many Israeli settlers, Abbas is an unworthy negotiating partner and any forfeiture of land to the Palestinians is unacceptable. "As far as we're concerned, the Israeli government does not have a mandate to force us out of our homes," David Ha'ivri, a director at the Shomron Liaison Office, a group that advocates for Jewish West Bank settlers, told The Cable. "So if the Netanyahu government does decide to pull out, we're saying to the Israeli government: ‘Sorry, you don't have a mandate to force us out.'"

To Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, the peace talks will only serve to benefit the Israelis. "We renew our rejection of these futile talks, and consider them purely a means for the occupation (Israel) to look good to the international community," senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar told reporters on Monday. "We call on the Palestinian people to unite in confronting the crime that is the peace talks."

Across the Middle East, there's skepticism that the negotiations will accomplish much -- and concern that if and when talks collapse, the results could be disastrous.

"My concern is what happens when the negotiations reach a dead end," Dani Dayan, the Yesha Council's chief foreign envoy, told The Cable. "There are two options: They can implode causing no collateral damage or they could explode causing a lot of debris and violence as what happened in the year 2000," a reference to the Second Intifada, which followed the collapse of peace talks led by the Clinton administration.

Wednesday's talks, of course, will differ from face-to-face negotiations conducted by Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the past. Absent from the talks will be Netanyahu, Abbas, President Barack Obama, and Secretary of State John Kerry. The protocol this time around starts with a meeting between the two appointed negotiators and neither having the power to cut a deal. It brings together Israeli negotiators Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli Foreign Minister, and Isaac Molcho, a prime ministerial aide, and Palestinian negotiators Saeb Erekat, a longtime negotiator, and Muhammed Shtayyeh, a Fatah official. The American envoys for the meeting include Martin Indyk and his deputy Frank Lowenstein.

The State Department has made clear that the negotiations will be draped in secrecy as to ensure trust between the two sides. But while that may help the negotiating process, it leaves the hardliners on both sides to toss bombs at the leaders working for peace. "Secretary Kerry convinced the Israelis to release the prisoners which is a stain on American democracy," said Dayan. "A terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist."

"It's not helpful coming in as a superpower and declaring a deadline," added Ha'ivri. "Things take time in the Middle East. The culture here is different. The people here are different."

The Cable

Exclusive: After Multiple Denials, CIA Admits to Snooping on Noam Chomsky

For years, the Central Intelligence Agency denied it had a secret file on MIT professor and famed dissident Noam Chomsky. But a new government disclosure obtained by The Cable reveals for the first time that the agency did in fact gather records on the anti-war iconoclast during his heyday in the 1970s.

The disclosure also reveals that Chomsky's entire CIA file was scrubbed from Langley's archives, raising questions as to when the file was destroyed and under what authority.

The breakthrough in the search for Chomsky's CIA file comes in the form of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For years, FOIA requests to the CIA garnered the same denial: "We did not locate any records responsive to your request." The denials were never entirely credible, given Chomsky's brazen anti-war activism in the 60s and 70s -- and the CIA's well-documented track record of domestic espionage in the Vietnam era. But the CIA kept denying, and many took the agency at its word.

Now, a public records request by Chomsky biographer Fredric Maxwell reveals a memo between the CIA and the FBI that confirms the existence of a CIA file on Chomsky.

Dated June 8, 1970, the memo discusses Chomsky's anti-war activities and asks the FBI for more information about an upcoming trip by anti-war activists to North Vietnam. The memo's author, a CIA official, says the trip has the "ENDORSEMENT OF NOAM CHOMSKY" and requests "ANY INFORMATION" about the people associated with the trip.

After receiving the document, The Cable sent it to Athan Theoharis, a professor emeritus at Marquette University and an expert on FBI-CIA cooperation and information-gathering.

"The June 1970 CIA communication confirms that the CIA created a file on Chomsky," said Theoharis. "That file, at a minimum, contained a copy of their communication to the FBI and the report on Chomsky that the FBI prepared in response to this request."

The evidence also substantiates the fact that Chomsky's file was tampered with, says Theoharis. "The CIA's response to the FOIA requests that it has no file on Chomsky confirms that its Chomsky file was destroyed at an unknown time," he said.

It's worth noting that the destruction of records is a legally treacherous activity. Under the Federal Records Act of 1950, all federal agencies are required to obtain advance approval from the national Archives for any proposed record disposition plans. The Archives is tasked with preserving records with "historical value."

"Clearly, the CIA's file, or files, on Chomsky fall within these provisions," said Theoharis.

It's unclear if the agency complied with protocols in the deletion of Chomsky's file. The CIA declined to comment for this story.

What does Chomsky think? When The Cable presented him with evidence of his CIA file, the famous linguist responded with his trademark cynicism.

"Some day it will be realized that systems of power typically try to extend their power in any way they can think of," he said. When asked if he was more disturbed by intelligence overreach today (given the latest NSA leaks) or intelligence overreach in the 70s, he dismissed the question as an apples-to-oranges comparison.

"What was frightening in the ‘60s into early ‘70s was not so much spying as the domestic terror operations, COINTELPRO," he said, referring to the FBI's program to discredit and infiltrate domestic political organizations. "And also the lack of interest when they were exposed."

Regardless,, the destruction of Chomsky's CIA file raises an even more disturbing question: Who else's file has evaporated from Langley's archives? What other chapters of CIA history will go untold?

"It is important to learn when the CIA decided to destroy the Chomsky file and why they decided that it should be destroyed,'" said Theoharis. "Undeniably, Chomsky's was not the sole CIA file destroyed. How many other files were destroyed?"

1170848-001 - 2013-04-11 - FBI - CIA response

CIA-FBI Referred Doc