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FBI investigates the ADL for Espionage

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Raids conducted under search warrants of the ADL's San Francisco and Los Angeles offices in 1993 turned up not only improperly obtained police files.  The ADL's possession of classified FBI files prompted an espionage investigation into how the ADL obtained and funneled such information to Israeli officials who frequently visited and tasked the organization's "fact finders." The FBI investigation is coded "65" for "espionage" (65X-LA-153918).  Many of the following secret files, reviewed under the Freedom of Information Act on March 26, 2013 were originally scheduled for declassification on March 26, 2038.  They were publicly released on November 20, 2013.  For the first time, interested members of the public can review in detail how the ADL espionage investigation, like other warranted investigations into Israel lobby spying, slowly fizzled.

As is the norm, the investigation didn't proceed smoothly.  Even as the FBI diligently interviewed former ADL "fact finders" and unearthed links between the ADL and Israel, the FBI learned that two Israeli generals had been dispatched to lobby the Attorney General to drop the investigation. Like previous cases, letters poured into Congress from constituents outraged by press accounts of the ADL's spying activities and unlawful possession of private information on targeted groups. The investigation also uncovered an "ADL Judge" Einhorn who allegedly acted quickly on ADL demands to deport Palestinians.  FBI liaison Charles E. Mandigo assured members of congress that a bona fide investigation was under way, and that justice would be served.

The FBI's investigation soon focused in on three Los Angeles police department officials who had accessed the FBI information that was later passed to ADL regional director David Lehrer.   On September 23, 1993 newly appointed Clinton administration FBI Director Louis J. Freeh authorized the LA office head "to personally interview David Lehrer, Regional Director - ADL - Los Angeles. The interview is to be conducted according to FCIM 65-5.1 guidelines, and recorded on an FD-302 in the event this matter warrants possible prosecution."

However, like San Francisco District Attorney Arlo Smith who failed to prosecute the ADL for invasion of privacy, tax evasion; or indict Tom Gerard and Roy Bullock as unregistered agents of a foreign government, the FBI investigation was suddenly stopped in its tracks.  David Lehrer, though later fired by ADL National Director Abraham Foxman, was apparently never interviewed about the classified FBI files.  The FBI's LA field office abruptly closed the espionage investigation on March 22, 1994.  By April, the uncomfortable FBI - ADL liaison, first ordered by J Edgar Hoover and later renewed by William Webster, was back in full swing as AG Janet Reno graciously accepted ADL reports on militia groups and civil suits  the FBI internally categorized as "low value."  See report "FBI Investigated ADL for Espionage"

File File Size Excerpt/Description
1199215-0-65X-LA-153918-Section1.pdf 17 MB A 3/15/1993 memo to the FBI director reveals "unidentified individuals at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in possession of Bureau classified information" along with "confidential police reports and files belonging to the San Francisco Police Department" after ADL's Los Angeles and San Francisco offices were searched under warrant.

 An FBI special agent contacts "a former ADL employee" to find out "how the ADL came into receipt of an FBI document."  She recalls it cam from "an official friend" and should be "treated confidentially."

The classified document was also found at ADL headquarters in New York.  The ADL "fact finder" is interviewed under the pretext of an FBI investigation of WTC bombing in New York. She recommends contacting ADL Regional Director David Lehrer about the classified file.

3/22/1993 Secret FBI memo indicates ADL acquired "a summary of activities relating to the African National Congress (ANC)." FBI discovers files possessed by ADL Los Angeles "in fact an updated version of the Chicago generated summary..."

A 3/31/1993 memo reveals "two persons, described as 'Israeli Generals' are in or are about to travel to Washington, D.C....the purpose of their travel is to try to visit the Attorney General to press for an end to the FBI's investigations...The FBI's investigations of these matters are causing a great deal of interference in the U.S. activities of the Anti-Defamation League...and so Israel is seeking to intercede on the ADL's behalf.

FBI interview of ADL's "Fact Finding Librarian."

News clippings of ADL "Spy scandal."

3/26/1993 SFPD memo that an LAPD liason to the ADL attempted to find out what SFPD had seized from ADL offices.  Deportation proceedings against eight defendants, some listed in ADL files, being conducted by Judge Einhorn, who "was connected to the Anti-Defamation League."

5/26/1993 letter to congressman Charlie Wilson on behalf of constituent's concern about ADL.

6/18/1993 FBI memo to SAC LA that David Lehrer of ADL should be interviewed along with three LAPD officers who had been recipients of classified FBI report on the Nation of Islam acquired by the ADL, though it could "be to the detriment of the current task force concept as practices within this office and the terrorism squads."

FBI reviews information compiled from its own files released under FOIA into book format and  circulated by the "Liberty Lobby" including:

01/26/1993 FBI interview of Roy Bullock. 3/8/1993 interview of ADL "Fact Finder" David Gurvitz. Admits to lying to the FBI about Bullock's receipt of money from South African intelligence.

8/9//1979 letter from ADL's David Lehrer to Israeli Consul Benjamin Navon about a Palestinian traveling to  Israel.  ADL intelligence report on the Palestinian.

03/24/1989 ADL letter to Portland Police Chief offers SF ADL office as a "repository for information from your agency which can then be forwarded directly to Director-General Aviner in Jerusalem."

9/23/1993 FBI Director authorizes ASAC Edward J. Curran "to personally interview David Lehrer, Regional Director - ADL - Los Angeles. "The interview is to be conducted according to FCIM 65-5.1 guidelines, and recorded on an FD-302 in the event this matter warrants possible prosecution."

3/22/1994 Teletype to FBI Director  - FBI Los Angeles closes the investigation without interviewing David Lehrer.

1199215-0-65X-LA-153918SubA-Section1.pdf 11 MB Constituent letters to Congress asking for congressional investigations and law enforcement action on ADL spying scandal, assurances that "the FBI will actively seek prosecution of any individuals or any enterprise discovered to be involved in illegal activity in violation of Federal statutes...."  Robert Kerrey, John McCain, Richard Lugar, Hank Brown, Jil Long, Dennis DeConcini, Ernest Hollings.
1199215-0-63-HQ-1063619-Section1.pdf 3 MB The FBI's Legislative Counsel Charles E. Mandigo answers more constituent letters about prosecuting ADL and "a former San Francisco police officer and former CIA agent [Thomas Gerard]" who "sold police information on Arab Americans to agents of the Mossad."
1199215-0-63-HQ-1063619-Section2.PDF 7 MB The FBI's Legislative Counsel Charles E. Mandigo answers more constituent letters sent to Senator Arlen Specter, rep John Linden, Jim Baucus, Senator Kassebaum,  Senator Don Nickles,

On December 10, 1993 ADL's Washington Representative Jess N. Hordes and Michael Lieberman send the latest edition of "Law Enforcement Bulletin" and "ADL in the Courts: Litigation Docket 1993"  The FBI reports "While the publications contain a large amount of information regarding hate crimes, none of this information is of investigative value to the FBI....mainly gleaned from public sources regarding investigations either by the FBI or state/local authorities which have already been adjudicated.

1199215-0-63-HQ-1063619-Section3.pdf 4 MB 4/4/1994 FBI documents exposure due to FOIA lawsuits filed by journalist Scott Thompson for FBI field office files on liaisons with the ADL.  "The current release of material consists of New York Field Office files concerning an Extortion investigation, a Department of State-inquiry investigation, and an public relations/correspondence administrative file.  This material clearly documents the liaison between the New York Field Office and the New York office of the ADL, which each field office was required to establish upon the instructions of former Director J. Edgar Hoover.  This practice was continued under former Director William Webster.

1/9/1979 ADL letter asking FBI William Webster for an FBI advisor to "counsel us on security measures for our soon-to-be new home at 823 United Nations Plaza."

2/5/1979 William Webster response. "Any information which you might wish to share with us should be communicated to Deputy Assistant Director James O. Ingram at FBI headquarters...With respect to security measures for your prospective headquarters I suggest you contact Assistant Director Neil Welch at our New York Office.

5/1/1994 AG Janet Reno correspondence on ADL report on armed militias. ADL fact finding report  "Armed & Dangerous: Militias Take Aim at the Federal Government"


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