2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the infamous “Anti-Defamation League (ADL) files controversy” in which the ADL was discovered infiltrating, spying on and otherwise violating the privacy rights of a large number of anti-Apartheid, civil-rights and peace groups through the unlawful acquisition of private data from corrupt local law enforcement officials. The single best retrospective is from long-time Middle East analyst and broadcaster Jeffrey Blankfort, who was also among those targeted by the ADL (see, “The Strange History of the Anti Defamation League: ADL Spies“). Many Americans were outraged in 1993 after reading mainstream press accounts of a vast national ADL spy network with organelles passing information not only to Israel’s Mossad but also Apartheid South African intelligence services—possibly resulting in the mysterious death of Chris Hani and the rushed deportation/detention of many Palestinians. Declassified FBI files newly reveal not only the flood of constituent letters pouring into Congress and the FBI’s unfulfilled assurances that justice would be served, but the ADL’s use of proven tactics that the Israel lobby has deployed since the 1940’s to skirt accountability for major criminal violations. The FBI files, originally scheduled for declassification in 2038, were suddenly released to IRmep under the Freedom of Information Act on November 20, 2013 and may now be browsed and downloaded from the Israel Lobby Archive. It is a timely release since one of Israel’s most harmful spies, Arnon Milchan, is openly boasting about his criminal exploits and Americans may soon demand not only that unsuccessful old law enforcement tactics be retired but new strategies be fielded to punish Israel lobby wrongdoers and end their long stint of immunity.
A March 16, 1993 memo launched the ADL espionage investigation from the FBI’s Los Angeles office. The FBI discovered “unidentified individuals at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in possession of [Federal] Bureau [of Investigation] classified information” along with “confidential police reports and files belonging to the San Francisco Police Department” after the ADL’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices were raided and searched under warrant. Until that time, Israel was interested in preserving close economic and military ties (including nuclear weapons sales pitches) to Apartheid South Africa. The ADL, in constant contact with the Israeli consulate which frequently tasked it for help, was eager to pitch in. The FBI discovered one of its own files possessed by ADL’s Los Angeles division was “a summary of activities relating to the African National Congress (ANC).” The FBI immediately noticed the ADL—which had invested decades securing a forced relationship with the FBI by lobbying top elected officials—was suddenly “uncooperative” and stalling for time. By month’s end, Israel’s “heavy guns” had been drawn to snuff out the fledgling investigation.