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Army strips Jewish major
of security clearance

Former Ranger, counterintelligence expert claims 'anti-Israeli' bias in military

Posted: April 24, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Jon Dougherty
© 2002

A U.S. Army Reserve counterintelligence officer with dual citizenship in the United States and Israel has had his security clearance revoked by what he believes is an "anti-Israeli" bias within the military.

Maj. Shawn Pine, in an interview with WorldNetDaily, said that his revocation was not only improper in terms of his citizenship he said others in a former unit he commanded also had dual citizenship but because the revocation also failed to meet the Army's own regulations.

Pine, a former member of the U.S. Army Rangers, commanded the 300th Military Intelligence Company [Linguist] in Austin, Texas, when his Top Secret security clearance was revoked. He told WND he had his clearance revoked last fall after he told Army officials he performed reserve military duty for the Israel Defense Force [IDF] for a short time in 1996.

Born in the U.S., his family emigrated to Israel when he was 17, where he was conscripted for military service and served in the Golani Brigade. After his discharge, he left Israel and came back to the U.S. to attend college. He chose a career in the military and served a total of nine years in the U.S. Army.

Then, in 1995, he went back to Israel for two years to attend Hebrew University, to study for his doctorate. The following year the IDF called him up for a brief period of active duty.

At the time he said he told Israeli authorities that he had renounced his Israeli citizenship and that he was currently an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. He also said he contacted the U.S. Embassy in Israel and sought advice from American officials, but they told him he was "required to obey Israeli laws."

He also said he voted in the 1996 Israeli elections, then left to return to the U.S. in 1997 on an Israeli passport, as required by Israeli law.

Upon his return to the U.S. he said he reenlisted in the active Army Reserve and assumed command of the 300th MI Company. But Pine said his trouble began last summer when a normal periodic reinvestigation for his security clearance came up and he divulged that he had done reserve time in the IDF four years earlier, patrolling the Israel-Jordan border for 30 days.

"It is not like my service and affiliation with Israel was kept a secret. I have always been very forthcoming in disclosing all of my interactions with Israel," he said.

"As with many Americans, the events of September 11 reinvigorated my sense of patriotism," he says. But instead of using his counterintelligence experience and education, "the U.S. intelligence community is mired in a paranoid abyss in which it perceived every Jew to be Jonathan Pollard."

Since then, Pine says he has been fighting an uphill battle to get his clearance reinstated. "Undoubtedly, the most tragic aspect of my situation is that precisely at a time when my country needs my nearly two decades of experience and education in counterterrorism and experience in the Middle East, I find myself embroiled in this situation," said Pine.

Army officials say the problem with Pine is not his education, but procedure; some factors make soldiers and officers "ineligible" for counterintelligence work.

Lt. Col. Stan Heath, a spokesman for the Army's personnel command, said he was familiar with Pine's case but could not provide specifics from his file. But there were indications the Army may have believed Pine's past and the fact that he still has family in Israel -- left him vulnerable to blackmail and other pressures exerted by the Jewish state.

"He has the reasons [why clearance was revoked]," Heath said. "He knows the reasons why."

Regarding concerns over suspected espionage, Heath was again non-specific.

"I'm going to give you, in writing, what you can use [in any resulting news story], and much of it deals with foreign influence and foreign preference," he said. "Just understand that there is more than that, but I can't violate his privacy."

Army cites violations

In an Army "Subject of Investigation" report supplied by Pine, military officials said his clearance was revoked for reasons of "foreign influence" and "foreign preference."

The report said Pine informed Israeli officials that he had renounced his citizenship and was still a reserve U.S. Army officer when they attempted to call him back to active duty in the IDF in 1996. But Israeli officials said they still considered him a citizen and called him up anyway.

The report also said Pine admitted voting in an Israeli election in 1996 and obtained an Israeli passport before returning to the U.S. April 6, 1997.

Army officials say regulations prohibit giving "Top Secret" security clearances to people whose "conduct may make the individual vulnerable to coercion, exploitation, or pressure by a foreign government."

Also, "the exercise of dual citizenship, possession and/or use of a foreign passport, military service or a willingness to bear arms for a foreign country," and "voting in foreign elections" all violate regulations governing the issuance of security clearances, the Army report said.

Finally, the report cited the fact that Pine still has family residing in Israel.

But the CI officer says he doesn't buy all that.

Different standards?

"In the unit I commanded, I had some of my own soldiers that were dual nationals and had foreign passports," Pine told WND. "Additionally, I worked with civilians in other organizations that worked in military intelligence fields that required a top secret clearance."

Even more egregious, he claims, "is that we routinely hire foreign nationals, as translators and interpreters, in our missions overseas and give them clearances."

"These people generally have no loyalty towards the U.S.," said Pine. "So in essence, I am being told that a foreign national with no historic loyalty to the U.S. is more trustworthy than myself."

An Aug. 6, 1999, letter from the Army's Space and Missile Defense Command in Huntsville, Ala. where Pine did two weeks of active duty before losing his clearance described his service as "exemplary."

"He has assisted this office immeasurably with his initiative and counterintelligence [CI] expertise," said the letter, signed by Lt. Col. Keith E. Ryan, assistant deputy chief of staff for intelligence. "During this period, his performance has been exemplary."

According to the letter, Pine's duties included developing "an Israeli country brief reviewing the existing political-social environment and CI threats to personnel traveling in that country."

Also, Pine "researched, identified and collated CI threat assessment documents relating to the Theater [Tactical] High Energy Laser, Theater High Altitude Air Defense [THAAD], Arrow, Sensors, and National Missile Defense Directorates," Ryan wrote.

"I would not hesitate to have him work here again," Ryan concluded, "in either a reserve or active duty capacity."

Hard and fast rules

According to documentation sent to WND by Heath, conditions that would "mitigate security concerns" about a soldier include:

  • "A determination that the immediate family member(s) (spouse, father, mother, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters), cohabitant, or associate(s) in question are not agents of a foreign power or in a position to be exploited by a foreign power in a way that could force the individual to choose between loyalty to the person(s) involved and the United States";

  • Contact with foreigners comes as a result of "official" U.S. government business;

  • Contact and correspondence "with foreign citizens" that are "casual and infrequent";

  • Prompt compliance "with existing agency requirements regarding the reporting of contacts, requests, or threats from persons or organizations" from a foreign country;

  • Foreign financial interests that are "minimal."

In a written rebuttal to Army officials following his security revocation, Pine said he proved he was loyal.

"In the few times that my job as a counterintelligence officer required that I act to protect U.S. classified information, I performed my duty in an exemplary manner," he told WND. "Thereby, notwithstanding my affiliation with Israel, I demonstrated my loyalty and preference for the U.S."

"That is the ultimate irony, that on numerous occasions the army used my experience and affiliation with Israel to help protect our nation's secrets, and then screwed me precisely because of that affiliation and experience," he said.

Pine's case comes amid earlier reports detailing personnel and training problems at the Army's counterintelligence (CI) and interrogation school at Fort Huachuca in Arizona.

Sources said the school was suffering from a chronic lack of CI and linguist instructors, and often uses what some described as "grossly unqualified" personnel as trainers.

Linguists and counterintelligence personnel are considered increasingly valuable to the military as the U.S. continues to wage its war against global terrorism.

If you'd like to sound off on this issue, please take part in the WorldNetDaily poll.

Related stories:

Army to cut funding for intelligence school?

Army school settles contractor rift

Fewer interpreters blamed on lack of funds

Army linguist stuck in postal job

Jon E. Dougherty is a staff reporter and columnist for WorldNetDaily, and author of the special report, "Election 2000: How the Military Vote Was Suppressed."

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