REPUBLISHED IN MEMORY OF DANIEL SCHORR, WHO DIED THIS WEEK AT THE AGE OF 93
Oct. 21, 1976
(Interview followed Schorr’s revelation of confidential CIA files to the US Congress)
I entered the Rabbi’s study at the Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood, PA to
find a relaxed, suntanned and pensive man, awaiting his lecture at the forum.
Daniel Schorr’s calm and gentle manner that evening sharply contrasted the
aggressive, vindictive Daniel Schorr I had seen on Mike Wallace’s 60 Minutes.
Hesitantly, I asked if he would give a freelance journalist a few minutes to
interview him before the lecture.
“Most certainly,” he responded.
I then explained to Mr. Schorr that I heard and followed his affair in the
Israeli press, where he was well liked. He smiled brightly.
“It is good that I am well thought of in one corner of the world,” said Schorr.
“You know I’ve just made plans to be at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem for
three to six months next year. At this point in my life, its time that I spend
some time in Israel.”
Schorr asked for details of the reports received in Israel about his case. Once
more, he showed “nachas”, at the on-going front-page coverage and the editorial
support that he had received in Israel.
The Rabbi entered his study to greet Schorr, only to receive Schorr’s response,
“You’ll excuse me but the press comes first.”
Q: Mr. Schorr, I would like to get your reaction to several issues of
controversy in Israeli Foreign Affairs. As you know, CIA manipulations of
diplomatic intrigues have received prominent attention in Israel. How do you
react to one Israeli theory that Nixon’s 1970 Rogers Cease Fire Plan, imposed on
Israel and providing no supervision to guard against Egyptian missiles and troop
movements in the canal zone, was actually a CIA-State Department ploy designed
to help bring on an Egyptian attack, with Nixon coming out, as he did, looking
like Israel’s savior (in the eyes of the IDF) and the “peace-maker” (to the
endorsement of the Arab world)?
A: I don’t think that Rogers was nearly so calculating. Rogers was no Kissinger.
If Kissinger had had his fingers in it, I would have believed anything.
Q: Mr. Schorr, another theory in Israel has it that the United States has a
long-term interest in the continuing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and
Gaza, in order for the United States to maintain a military and intelligence
presence in the Middle East.
A: I think that’s the way many Israelis would like to see it, and that’s
indicative of a problem that many Israelis have in dealing with the United
States and the making of foreign policy here. Israeli interests are in no way
identical with the interests of the CIA or State Department. If Kissinger found
a way to make a deal for all the territories, and the Unites States would look
all the better for it, he would do so.
Q: Mr. Schorr, you’ve been reporting for some time on questionable CIA
involvement in other countries, has the CIA involved itself in the manipulation
of Israeli internal politics?
A: Not that I know of, I would say not. Of course it hasn’t been forgotten that
Rabin made a horrible error (when he intervened in the election with Nixon) the
implications of which will be heard for a long time to come.
Q: Would you like to elaborate on those implications?
A: Yes, you see many democrats haven’t forgiven Rabin’s open intervention. While
Jimmy Carter has nothing against Rabin, he wasn’t in the system in 1972.
Democrats in a Carter administration would not be apt to forget Mr. Rabin’s
antagonism in 1972. There are some bad feelings left over from that.
Q: In the now-famous Pike Report on the CIA, which you passed on to the Village
Voice, there were some portions which dealt with Israel and the CIA’s activities
in the period which led up to the Yom Kippur War.
A: The Pike Report certainly did touch on that, as it gave insight into CIA
operations in the Middle East. It seems that up to and including the day of Yom
Kippur in 1973, the CIA was not able to predict a war in the mid-east, nor would
the CIA acknowledge that it had sensory devices to detect troop movements there.
A conclusion of the Pike Report is that the CIA is weak in the Middle East.
Q: Why so weak? Why so bad on the Middle East?
A: An intelligence operation is no better than the objectivity of those
analyzing the data. This is what we know about the inner workings of the CIA,
which has a Middle East desk and an Israel desk as a separate operation. The man
operating the Israel desk, Mr. Engleton, recently removed, had enough integrity
and feeling for Israel to keep Israel operations independent of the Middle East
desk, which always has a firm belief in the good intentions of Arab states. The
CIA has had such a man as Kermit Roosevelt, alternating as CIA agent and oil
representative, roaming about the Middle East for some years.
Q: How and why was Mr. Engleton removed from the CIA?
A: Engleton’s firing was leaked at a time when many CIA agents were being purged
for domestic surveillance. What had happened here was a case of Engleton
questioning a Kissinger policy order to Colby, about to visit Israel, asking
that Colby take the Old City of Jerusalem off his itinerary. Engleton questioned
dropping the Old City from the trip, after the Israelis had already placed it on
the agenda… word got out of Engleton’s objections and he had to be removed.
In Daniel Schorr’s prepared statement that evening, he gave some insight into
his Jewishness, stating that in the six months Schorr had been struggling for
his professional skin, he felt his guts as a committed Jew. Somehow, Schorr
began to see a joining together of the anti-Israel and anti-civil liberties
“It is within Israel’s interest to demand an open accounting of the CIA’s
agenda’s and interests in the Middle East if it does not want to get caught up
in the irrational kid games of the CIA.” These have left a “heritage of mistrust
in the Middle East,” with clients that it has treated as “company assets” as in
the case of the abandoned Kurds in northern Iraq, who received CIA help only
until the interests of the Shah of Iran were well served and then had the
‘Persian rug’ pulled out from under them.
Daniel Schorr evaded audience questions concerning the CIA’s agendas and
possible intentions regarding America’s future military commitment in the Middle
East. He also could not say what the CIA’s interest would be in a possible
imposed settlement in the year to come.
Schorr appeared to be frustrated in not being able to deal with these last
issues saying that he has not been actively reporting and checking up these
issues for six months. Hopefully, someone is.
Daniel Schorr repeated his warning. “It is within Israel’s interest to demand an