Panel Chairman Chuck Grassley may ultimately conclude that the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) has failed and that unregistered Russian foreign agents are taking over America. If so, he will be half right, but not the first such senator to express concern. Grassley should consider what happened after a more extensive Senate FARA inquiry was launched 55 years ago.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman JW Fulbright became convinced that unregistered Israeli foreign agents were a serious matter in 1961. A classified staff report worried that:
“In recent years there has been an increasing number of incidents involving attempts by foreign governments, or their agents, to influence the conduct of American foreign policy by techniques outside normal diplomatic channels….there have been occasions when representatives of other governments have been privately accused of engaging in covert activities within the United States and elsewhere, for the purpose of influencing United States Policy (the Lavon Affair).”
The Lavon Affair referred to Israeli false-flag terror attacks on US facilities in Egypt, in the interest of preventing the handover of the Suez Canal to Egyptian control. The Israeli spies were caught and prosecuted by Egypt, while the disclosure of the attacks created a diplomatic crisis.
During the course of the 1960s Senate and Justice Department investigations, it was revealed that Israel was funneling millions of dollars to unregistered foreign agents in America to lobby for foreign aid to Israel, set up think tanks, engage in Madison Avenue public relations, fund lobbying newsletters, and establish an umbrella organization called the American Zionist Council (AZC).
Within the AZC was an unincorporated unit that lobbied congress called the “American Israel Public Affairs Committee.”
On November 21, 1962, the Department of Justice ordered the AZC to begin registering as an Israeli foreign agent. This touched off an intense battle between the Justice Department and the AZC which outlasted both JFK and RFK. The bloodied and bruised Justice Department hid away its files on the affair until they were finally declassified and released in 2008.
The effort to register Israel’s foreign agents clearly failed.
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