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7 Tammuz 5768 - July 10, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly
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NEWS
An Accused Spy for Israel in the US Fights for Vindication

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

The case of an Army engineer accused over ten years ago of spying for Israel was the focus of a recent government watchdog group report and is once again being pressed by Agudath Israel of America.

The Army engineer, David Tenenbaum, was given a polygraph test in 1997 during which he says anti-Jewish epithets were shouted at him. The next day he found his computer gone and his name erased from the email system at TACOM (the Tank Automotive and Armaments Command), the military facility in Warren, Michigan where he worked. He claims he was urged to confess to the crime of espionage but did not do so and was not arrested. Two days later, he says, on Shabbos, investigators ransacked his home.

The U.S. Attorney declined to prosecute the case, stating that there was insufficient evidence to do so.

Mr. Tenenbaum has maintained throughout that he is innocent of the charge and that he may have been targeted because of his religion. Indeed, TACOM's director of research expressly stated that the investigation had been prompted by Mr. Tenenbaum's speaking Hebrew and wearing a yarmulke. He further stated that none of this would have happened had Tenenbaum not been Jewish.

At the beginning of 2000, Agudath Israel raised the issue with then-CIA Director George Tenet and, later that year, with then-U. S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen. It expressed concerns about the allegations of anti-Jewish bias in the Defense Department and pressed for clarification of the government's position on Jewish employees in general and on the case of Mr. Tenenbaum specifically.

Last month, an independent watchdog organization, the Project on Government Oversight, published new government documents relating to the Pentagon Inspector General's investigation of the handling of the Tenenbaum case.

On June 27, the Inspector General, General Claude M. Kicklighter, received a letter from Agudath Israel of America's executive vice president for government and public affairs, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel. Rabbi Zwiebel cited the "strong evidence that Mr. Tenenbaum may have in fact been the victim of religious discrimination."

He also noted a recent report in The New York Sun about the Project on Government Oversight's disclosure of the Defense Department's preliminary finding that Mr. Tenenbaum experienced religious discrimination.

Rabbi Zwiebel wrote further that if it is true that Mr. Tenenbaum was singled out for special scrutiny and adverse action because of his Orthodox Jewish identity and practice, the message that sends to all Orthodox Jews in this country is serious.

"It tells us that, despite the fact that we may be model citizens in every sense of the term, we are somehow considered second-class Americans, not to be trusted within the Department of Defense."

 

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