State’s Secrets and the Swamp that Needs Draining

President Donald Trump blocked a recent State Department effort to force Israel to return $75 million in military aid, the department’s most recent attempt to erode the U.S.-Israel military alliance. State’s demand was shocking, but it shouldn’t be surprising. 

Rex Tillerson's State Department has been embroiled in a power struggle with the White House, thwarting its efforts to remove Obama holdovers - and Trump nominees from filling open staff positions. 

But long before Obama appointees clogged Trump's efforts to drain the swamp, previous administrations dealt with State Department undertow. Generally conflicts between DOS and the White House, Congress and the courts, are turf wars over who controls foreign policy.  This dynamic has plagued several administrations - and impacted U.S. relations with Israel.

Anti-Semitism has lurked in State’s corridors for decades, and under the guise of diplomacy, has used subversive or covert tactics to manipulate foreign policy. Despite pressure from his State Department, Herbert Hoover defended the concept of a Jewish state; and under Franklin D. Roosevelt, DOS-mandated immigration policy “severely limited” German Jewish immigration during the Holocaust, and visas for Jewish refugees in Vichy France, according to Rafael Medoff, founding director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. Harry S. Truman stood against his State Department by supporting Israel’s establishment in 1948—while behind his back an undersecretary threatened to “foment anti-Semitism that could destroy the fledgling Jewish government’s support base in the U.S.” unless Zionist leaders caved to his demands, Medoff said.

The State Department is still working to undermine and intimidate Israel. Recently, it hosted the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, an umbrella of American Muslim groups such as the anti-Israel, pro-BDS, American Muslims for Palestine. The meeting’s announcement on AMP’s website expressed “concern” about “Israel's denial of religious rights for Muslims and Christians.” Israel is the sole country in the Middle East that protects the rights of all religions—Muslims, Christians, Jews and Druze. USCMO secretary general Oussama Jammal remarked the group was encouraged by “the constructive dialogue at the State Department.”

The Center for Security Policy warned in 2015 that USCMO leads the Islamic Movement in the United States “in pursuit of Civilization Jihad.” Jammal, who has a track record of seeking out strategic relationships with the U.S. government on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood, is connected to Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation, a Marxist-Leninist organization “dedicated to revolution in America,” CSP said.  Another nip at Israel’s heels is the just-released State Department 2016 Country Reports on Terrorism. The report blames Israel for Palestinian terrorism against Israelis, citing the Palestinians’ “lack of hope” in the peace process. Tillerson’s report whitewashes Palestinian Authority leaders’ incitement of violence and financial support for terrorists. It also defines PA calls for terrorism and violence against Israelis as "rare,” and says the PA leadership “does not generally tolerate it.” 

In response, Rep. Peter Roskam, co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, sent a letter to Tillerson noting “harmful mischaracterizations” in the report that impair the peace process. “To effectively combat terrorism,” he wrote, the United States must “accurately characterize its root cause—the PA leadership … and clarify … Palestinian support for terrorism as the leading impediment to Israeli-Palestinian peace."

In a strike against the heart of its own republic, a senior State Department contracting officer tried to silence two security contractors disturbed by deteriorating security at the U.S. Embassy in Libya prior to the tragic 2012 attack, a recent Fox News report revealed. The officer also asked the contractors to publically agree with State that “guards should not be armed at U.S. embassies” and “they weren't required in Benghazi.” Those responsible for the lapses and cover-up in Libya are still in place, the contractors said.

The State Department has more than 300 embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions around the world. In a healthy democracy that’s not under siege, this would be an indicator of positive national influence through diplomacy. But in a government divided against itself, it’s dangerous—not only for the U.S.-Israel alliance, but also for the future of American foreign policy.

This mammoth organization endangers the democratic process by collaborating with a Deep State—reminiscent of dictatorships with democratic facades. By breaching public trust with secrecy, veiled threats and disregard of human life—including its own—it demonstrates moral compromise and disregard for the democratic process. Unless the Trump Administration can rein it this rogue department, it endangers America and puts our allies at risk. Trump must unclog and drain the swamp before another debacle—or tragedy—occurs.