Remember when we wrote about the possibility that the Steve Weissman and Keith Rosen case was a set up by the FBI that may have had some nasty underlying motives. Of course, their case was dismissed recently in a total vindication for them. It only took several years and the destruction of their lives and careers for the truth to come out, however, and in the meantime, anti-Israel forces got a lot of traction accusing Israel of all sorts of sordid deeds in the US and US Jews who support Israel of preferential loyalty to Israel.

A telling epilogue to the Weissman/Rosen case was its conclusion when, as they were being vindicated, it was leaked that Jane Harman was “exposed” in WIRETAPS for having supposedly given promises to help AIPAC out. The Harman story received a ton of press, and was vehemently denied and objected to by Rep. Harman, a Jewish woman who was being clearly, if indirectly, falsely accused of dual loyalties. It became apparent that this was some sort of hit job and that she had done nothing improper, but once again, a Jewish person was attacked by forces in the Department of Justice or the FBI for supposedly doing something improper to advance Israel and it took a great deal of denials and the probable loss of her reputation permanently to lift the attacks of conspiracy and dual loyalty from the air.

Something similar happened again today in a new law enforcement matter. If you haven’t seen them, thousands of international headlines are screaming similar headlines to “US scientist charged with attempted spying for Israel” and “US Scientist Arrested for Allegedly Attempting to Pass Secrets to Israel.”

The story is that in a sting operation, the FBI trapped Stewart David Nozette, a NASA employee with extensive knowledge of satellites and other space technologies, by convincing him they were the Mossad and were willing to pay him for his knowledge of classified data.

Nozette, apparently a brilliant scientist with the street smarts of a goldfish, fell for it hook, line and sinker. He let them record him, permitted them to leave him money in a PO box, answered their questionnaire with some classified information and even provided computer data. He thought he was working for the Mossad, but in reality, he was working for the FBI. Why did the FBI target him? Apparently he had a conversation a couple of months earlier with a co-worker where he claimed that were he in criminal trouble, he would escape to an unnamed foreign country or Israel by providing them with classified data. Oops.

Now, the unnamed foreign country is an interesting bit of information because it appears that Nozette already had some dealings in another country where he was running a part time technology business. Nowhere in the indictment is the name of this country listed. However, Israel is listed numerous times. In what can only be described as an outrage, particularly since it has fed all the headlines around the world, the Conclusion in an affidavit provided by the agent, Leslie G. Martell, who was the key contact in the sting, states:

“Nozette knowingly and willfully attempted to communicate, deliver and transmit to a foreign government, to wit the Government of the State of Israel, and representatives, officers and agents thereof, both directly and indirectly, classified documents and information relating to the national defense of the United States…with intent and reason to believe that said documents and information would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation, namely the Government of the State of Israel…

Nozette asked for an Israeli passport at one point. Here’s how he did it:

“I would like, I don’t know if it going to cost me anything, but I have no idea how to, or effectively, bureaucratically do it. So, my parents are Jewish, right?…So I have, I theoretically have the right of return.”

Martell responds:

“Okay, to the state. Yes.”


“Right. How could I get an Israeli passport?”

The guy doesn’t refer to himself as Jewish, doesn’t know much about the right of return, doesn’t know how to get a passport (how about calling an Israeli embassy or consulate to ask, you idiot, or google it!) and is committing this crime for money and not because of loyalty or concern for Israel or because he identifies as a Jew.

Not only that, but at no point in any of this were Israel or the Mossad involved in any way. This was a pure FBI operation based on Nozette’s comments to his colleague. The official Department of Justice press release about this case states this fact:

The complaint does not allege that the government of Israel or anyone acting on its behalf committed any offense under U.S. laws in this case.

So why did the media report this story as an Israel espionage story? Because the agent’s affidavit is a public document and this document, presumably seen by his superiors and by the legal staff at the FBI, blames and names Israel. “Nozette knowingly and willfully attempted to communicate, deliver and transmit to a foreign government, to wit the Government of the State of Israel…with intent and reason to believe that said documents and information would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation, namely the Government of the State of Israel.”

Couldn’t they leave it at “foreign nation?” It could have been Zimbabwe or Sri Lanka. Why name Israel? And why say “advantage of a foreign nation?” What advantage is that? That nation wasn’t even aware of any of this and according to the affidavit and charges seems to have no involvement with Nozette. Also, why does the claim include the charge that the information would be injurious to the US and advantageous to Israel? How did a pretend FBI operation run by American agents against an American scientist who clearly has few or no ties to Israel become something advantageous to Israel? How is all of this stated openly while the other foreign country in this case, the one with which Nozette apparently had actual dealings, is listed simply as Foreign Country A? Couldn’t they name that country instead? Couldn’t they use that country’s secret service agency as their cover?

What the hell?

What the hell is wrong with this world?


A friend and former colleague of Nozette’s writes that he had no idea Nozette was Jewish. There’s a short and interesting discussion that follows.

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  • Tom,
    In the link above where it says his name (the FBI trapped Stewart David Nozette,), you will be sent to a page at CIAacademy. Scroll down to Documents and you’ll have links to the DOJ press release and the agent’s affidavit.

  • ‘Foreign Country A’ is a transparent disguise for India – Nozette worked for the ISRO on the Chandrayaan-1 moon mission. And there’s your answer. Israel provides a convenient distraction. What Nozette’s really suspected of having done was spilling classified information to the Indians – that’s where he was going with the two missing USB drives.

    Which story is more explosive: “NASA Scientist accused of trying to sell secrets to Israel,” or “Top Scientist with Nuclear Secrets Suspected of Spying for India”? The former looks like a tempest in a teapot. But set up the same sting, with the FBI agent playing the role of Indian intelligence officer, and you’ve guaranteed yourself a Pakistani headache of epic proportions. That’s the last thing the US wants right now. So mentions of India are carefully excised, and the complaint adds lots of irrelevant facts about his past relationship with Israel.

    This case is never going to see a courtroom. Nozette sold secrets to a man he thought was an agent of a foreign government. He’ll reach a plea deal, in which he’ll agree to tell the FBI exactly how much he divulged to the Indians, in exchange for their not pursuing the maximum sentence. And then main Justice will do its very best to forget this ever happened. The implications for our foreign relations in Central Asia are just too troubling to address the matter head-on.

  • Sorry, Middle, thanks for the directions.

    On the face of it, I’ll wager that if the FBI handled it more discreetly, we might have an outburst of anti-Israeli grassy knollism all over the Internet and the foreign press. It seems a bit hard to fault the Feds for transparency– contrast the indictment, etc., with what we don’t yet know about the Pollard case.

  • The unnamed country is India. Something is very fishy about this entire thing. This man Nozette was involved in assisting India in discovering water on the South Pole of the moon. He was also involved in a space program by India back over a year ago that used a device to blow a hole on the moon surface to examine the dust and remnants. Interestly a few weeks ago the United States did a similar scientific experiment. I think this man was set up because of his participation in the Indian space program (which was legal). Go to the wikipedia article on this man and follow all the links.

  • Tom, I have always felt that Pollard deserved to be punished, but his punishment is now excessive, especially when considering what Russian and Soviet spies got. It’s also incredible that to this day we still don’t know what information he divulged.

    Thanks to Paul and Observer for the India information. Interesting from many perspectives.