WASHINGTON (Jun. 23)
Israeli officials here ruled out the possibility that the object of the wiretap involved in the JDL gun conspiracy trial in New York is an Israeli telephone. The Justice Department brief, as reported by the JTA yesterday, justified the wiretap on the basis of foreign policy considerations. Israeli officials say that there is no need for the American government to tap Israeli phones in that the U.S. and Israel are “all part of a family.” Said one official, “If they really think it is necessary to tap Israeli phones, let them do it. Employees of the Israeli government are loyal to the laws of the U.S. and to the Israeli government.” The official defined loyalty to Israel as complete compliance with statements by Golda Meir condemning by implication the Jewish Defense League. He maintained that no Israeli employee either officially or unofficially maintained contact with the JDL enough to fill several hundred pages of logs.
Israeli officials could not rule out the possibility that some Israeli who privately supports the JDL and is sent here under some government exchange program on a civilian but not official assignment, could be helping the JDL and be a subject of U.S. phone taps. According to sources close to the case, this is a possible explanation. They say that the judge would be more hesitant to find, as he did, that “there was a substantial probability that the tap was illegal,” if it was indeed the tap of an official Embassy phone. They say that there is some possibility that the JDL organization phone is involved, but wonder why all 13 instead of just 10 were not overhead. The Justice Department Public Information Officer John Wilson said that he could not define the usage of the term “direct surveillance” as used by the government brief except to say that the JDL conversations overheard were “on someone else’s phone, either that they called or someone who called them.” Wilson also said that the phraseology in the government brief referring to a “hostile power” and to intelligence activities is “unusual” even in wiretap cases involving the national security, and “not frequently used.” In response to a JTA question, Wilson said that he did not know of any other instances where the phrases were used.