Just days after Israeli officials denied a report of "unrivaled" Israeli espionage in the United States, a new report has surfaced detailing a US cover-up of Israel spying on then-Vice President Al Gore in 1998.
The report in Newsweek claimed that Secret Service agents caught an Israeli "agent" in an air duct who was in the process of bugging the vice president's hotel room.
"The Secret Service had secured [Gore’s] room in advance and they all left except for one agent, who decided to take a long, slow time on the pot,” Newsweek quoted a senior former US intelligence operative as saying. "So the room was all quiet and he hears a noise in the vent. And he sees the vent clips being moved from the inside. And then he sees a guy starting to exit the vent into the room. He kind of coughed and the guy went back into the vents.”
Newsweek alleged that the incident “'crossed the line' of acceptable behavior between friendly intelligence services," and that "it was quickly hushed up by US officials" because of America's commitment to Israel.
According to the report, US intelligence officials and congressional sources claim that Israel has been caught carrying out aggressive espionage operations against American targets for decades, but that they are rarely punished.
On Wednesday, senior Israeli cabinet officials dismissed claims made by Newsweek earlier in the week that "Israel’s espionage activities in America are unrivaled and unseemly."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman denied the accusations, saying that "there is nothing at all to that type of report. Israel is very careful, and does not participate in anything even similar to spying” in the US.
These claims, Liberman continued, were the “inventions of some people in the US who are interested in harming Israeli-US relations.
Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz also unequivocally denied the reports, saying that after the Jonathan Pollard affair some 30 years ago, Israel stopped all spying operations in the US.
“As intelligence minister, I say unequivocally and clearly that these accusations have no basis at all,” Steinitz said. “Israel does not spy in the US, does not enlist spies in the US, and does not do intelligence gathering in the US.”