FBI Leak Reveals US Spying on Israeli Embassy in DC
But that's pretty much par for the course, say intelligence experts
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2011 8:09 AM CDT
Israel and the US may be bestest buddies, but they still spy on each other.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite/file)

(Newser) – When FBI translator Shamai Leibowitz pleaded guilty last year to divulging classified information, the nature of that info was kept secret even from the judge. Now we know why: Leibowitz was passing on transcripts of US wiretaps on the Israeli embassy in DC, the blogger he leaked them to tells the New York Times. That blogger, Richard Silverstein, says he burned the documents once Leibowitz came under investigation, but recalled that they detailed Israeli plans to influence members of Congress and the American public.

In court, Leibowitz said the transcripts contained “things which I considered were violation of the law,” though Silverstein doesn’t think anything strayed outside of normal lobbying. He says Leibowitz was appalled by the attempts to lean on Congress and worried Israel would launch a disastrous military strike on Iran, and hoped the leak would prevent it. The leak was likely considered so sensitive because it involved the US spying on an ally, though intelligence experts say such eavesdropping is an open secret. In one transcript, the Israelis commented that someone could be listening.