Jefferson Morley on the CIA and Mossad: Tradeoffs in the Formation of the US-Israel Strategic Relationship

Delivered to The Israel Lobby and American Policy 2018 conference March 2, 2018 at the National Press Club

The Israel Lobby and American Policy conference was solely sponsored by the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep). This is a rush transcript.

Delinda Hanley: We have the last panel and it’s going to be a really interesting one about American foreign policy. Jefferson Morley will speak first, and he’ll talk about the “CIA and Mossad: Tradeoffs in the Formation of the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship.”

Jefferson Morley is a veteran Washington investigative reporter and the author of The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton which is flying off the shelves of our Middle East books and more bookshelves. He’ll be signing his books at 5:00. His latest must-read book sheds new light on Angleton’s close relationship with Israeli intelligence citing such cases as the Israel’s 1967 attack on the USS Liberty and the diversion of U.S. government-owned weapons-grade uranium from Apollo, PA to Israel in the ‘60s.

A native of Minneapolis, Morley attended Yale University and worked as an editor at The New Republic, The Nation, and Spin Magazine before joining the Washington Post in 1992 where he worked for 15 years. His reporting has appeared in The New York Review of Books, Reader’s Digest, The New York Times Book Review, Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, The American Prospect, and Salon. You are going to want to buy his book after hearing his talk. Thank you. Welcome.

Jefferson Morley: Thank you, Delinda. Thank you all for coming. Thanks to Grant for inviting me. Thank you, Gideon, Noura, and Ali who I made friends with for the first time last night. Thank you for being my friends. This is my first time at this conference and everybody has made me feel very welcome. Thanks too to our live stream audience for paying attention. Please share this video on social media. You have your orders, push that thumbs up button early and often.

Since the publication last October of The Ghost, my biography of James Angleton, I’ve spoken to many people all over the country about this protean, unique, and some would say sinister character. But I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to a group this large, so thank you all for coming. If you do like this talk, I hope you will buy the book. In fact I’ve been told that it’s the iron law of this conference that if you like the book, you are obliged to purchase the book. So I’ll be signing here afterwards and you know what to do.

James Angleton’s story is a story for the ages, but it’s also a story of our time. I want to emphasize that in sketching a little bit about him personally, especially the very earliest days of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. When I started writing The Ghost in January 2015, the term the deep state was pretty much unknown publicly save to a handful of political scientists. When I finished the book two years later, in the spring of 2017, I was informed by an ABC News poll that 48 percent of Americans agreed that there is such a thing as the deep state which was defined as military or intelligence officials who secretly manipulate US policy. I realize that Angleton, who was a cold [war] warrior and a zealous defender of America’s leadership role in the postwar world, was also an avatar of this so-called deep state. I don’t mean that in a kind of conspiratorial or spooky way. I mean that in a very specific and concrete way.

Angleton embodied and shaped the CIA’s operational ethos and its internal procedures, especially in the realm of counterintelligence. His theories of Soviet penetration dominated the thinking of Western intelligence agencies, and their legacy can even be seen in the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign and allegations of collusion with Russia. I want to emphasize that I only use the term deep state as a colloquial shorthand term for the array of US national security agencies that operate under the shroud of official secrecy.

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