Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Phony Terrorist Threat...And a Real One

Recently an email has been making the rounds giving the predictions of an alleged former Mossad Agent and “anti-terror expert” named Juval Aviv (above left).

It details predictions allegedly made by Mr. Aviv, claiming that a terrorist attack on America is imminent and will occur within the next few months.

The email also claims that Juval Aviv criticizes America’s airport security (MANY security experts have) alleging that pre-screened baggage could be used by terrorists to inflict mayhem in an airport.

The email is long, detailed and is written in the jargon familiar to law enforcement and anti-terror specialists.

In fact, Juval Aviv is an Israeli citizen. He has been interviewed in the U.S. media as a “terror expert” and he does run a Madison Avenue corporate-espionage firm named Interfor.

Aviv has been invited on air with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, CNN's Mary Snow and FoxNews’ Bill O'Reilly.

Unfortunately, little else about Juval Aviv checks out.

Officially, the Israeli government says that Aviv’s self-proclaimed anti-terror credentials are bogus. According to a 1990 letter from Yigal Carmon, then the Israeli prime minister's counterterrorism adviser, Aviv was never an assassin, let alone the person chosen by Golda Meir to avenge the Munich massacre. "Aviv does not work and has never worked for the Intelligence Community of the State of Israel," Carmon wrote in response to an inquiry from the U.S. government.

In fact, Carmon added, the closest that Aviv ever came to intelligence work was as a security official for an El Al office in New York. "His work in that capacity was terminated at the initiative of the employer because of unsuitability resulting from negative character traits," Carmon wrote. "During the course of his work Yuval [sic] Aviv was found to be unreliable and dishonest."

Juval Aviv has become known by many in both law enforcement and intelligence. Larry Johnson, who served in the CIA and was the State Department’s Deputy Director of Counterterrorism said quite simply, "This guy's full of shit." He added, "Yes, he has a security and corporate-intelligence firm, and he's big at playing up the Israeli mystique. If you say it with a foreign accent, you're good to go."

Senior counterterrorism officials around the world insist that Juval Aviv is no terrorism expert; instead, he's a liar who's been spreading falsehoods about himself, padding his résumé and claiming prowess as an investigator that he does not possess.

In short, Juval Aviv is an Israeli con-man, without any real anti-terror background and the email alert that’s going around in some quarters is old (2005) and without merit.

On the other hand, Marc A. Thiessen, a senior White House staffer from 2001 – 2009 has written, “President Obama has inherited a set of tools that successfully protected the country for 2,688 days -- and he cannot dismantle those tools without risking catastrophic consequences.”

Mr. Thiessen recently noted that, “During the campaign, Obama pledged to dismantle many of these policies. He follows through on those pledges at America's peril -- and his own. If Obama weakens any of the defenses Bush put in place and terrorists strike our country again, Americans will hold Obama responsible -- and the Democratic Party could find itself unelectable for a generation.”

Mr. Thiessen defended the CIA program that the Bush administration created which he noted led to the detaining and questioning of many senior leaders captured in the war on terror; “Many of these terrorists, including Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, refused to talk - until Bush authorized the CIA to use enhanced interrogation techniques. Information gained using those techniques is responsible for stopping a number of planned attacks - including plots to blow up the American consulate in Karachi, Pakistan; to fly airplanes into the towers of Canary Wharf in London; and to fly a hijacked airplane into the Library Tower in Los Angeles.”

Mr. Thiessen added, “During the campaign, Obama described the techniques used to prevent these attacks as "torture." He promised that if elected, he would "have the Army Field Manual govern interrogation techniques for all United States Government personnel and contractors." If he follows through, he will effectively kill a program that stopped al-Qaeda from launching another Sept. 11-style attack. It was easy for Obama the candidate to criticize the CIA program. But as president, what will he do when the next senior al-Qaeda leader - with actionable intelligence on plots to strike our homeland - is captured and refuses to talk? Will the president allow the CIA to question this terrorist using enhanced interrogation techniques?”

In Thiessen’s estimation, “If Obama refuses (to maintain the current anti-terror procedures) and our country is attacked, he will bear responsibility.”

Marc Thiessen is also concerned about the future of the recently re-authorized National Security Agency's program to monitor foreign terrorist communications, noting that “In the Senate, Obama voted against confirming then-NSA Director Michael Hayden to lead the CIA because, in Obama's words, Hayden was "the architect and chief defender of a program of wiretapping and collection of phone records outside of FISA oversight." In 2007, Obama voted against the Protect America Act, which temporarily authorized the NSA program. Last year, he promised to filibuster a long-term authorization but at the last minute switched his vote. He explained that he still wanted to make changes to the law, including stripping out immunity for telecommunications companies for their cooperation with the NSA - which would effectively kill the program. And he promised that "once I'm sworn in as President - my Attorney General [will] conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and...make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties."

That is why the Eric Holder (above right) nomination is critical, right now.

Should a misguided Justice Department, and Holder was a Deputy AG in perhaps the worst Justice Department in American history – the Reno Justice Department, gut the security measures that have protected American citizens in the name of “extending civil liberties to non-citizens as well,” that may wind up the single greatest act of calumny against the U.S. in its history.

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