NEW YORK (Nov. 19)
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has called for tighter federal restrictions “to protect the public interest from the activities of former high-ranking U.S. government officials who peddle their influence to the Arabs as foreign policy lobbyists, agents, attorneys, propagandists and as middlemen for multi-million dollar business deals.”
In a comprehensive report, “The Arab ‘Lobby’ in the U.S.: Friends and Agents, “ADL named former Assistant Secretary of Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Frederick G. Dutton; former Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright; former Defense Secretary Clark Clifford; former Treasury Secretary John B. Connally; former Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst; former Budget Director Bert Lance; former Vice President Spiro Agnew; former Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Willis C. Armstrong; former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Monetary Affairs Gerald Parsky, and , among others, former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operatives once stationed in the Middle East and now collaborating with the Arabs.
The report, issued last Friday in conjunction with ADL’s four-day national commission meeting here is the first in a series being prepared by the agency on various aspects of what it calls “the Middle East connection” to understand the extent and impact of Arab influence in the U.S.”
RAISES SEVERAL ISSUES
According to Arnold Forster, ADL’s general counsel, the Arabs are insinuating themselves into U.S. government, political and business circles with the help or former top U.S. government officials. He said that while foreign governments have the right to hire the services of American citizens, such hiring of former government officials “raises serious questions about the independence of American foreign policymaking in the Middle East, and the integrity of the American political process.”
As an example, Forster cited the Washington struggle last spring over the sale of F-15 military jets to Saudi Arabia. He said a secret Saudi memorandum to its American lobbyists in that fight advised them to stress the “economic advantages of the Saudi-American relationship” and that “contacts with Congress people should be done by high-level personalities.”
In line with their own advice, Forster declared, the Saudis hired Dutton, now a Washington attorney, as their “main man” among “a startling array” of registered agents. He noted that Dutton, who served in the Kennedy and Johnson years and has top-level contacts in the Democratic Party, spearheaded the Saudi lobbying effort on the F-15s.
Forster said that Dutton now briefs the Saudi ambassador and other Saudi officials several times a week on Washington developments and has introduced the Saudi envoy to leading members of Congress. “Dutton was recommended to the Saudi Arabians,” Forster pointed out, by Fulbright, “who is himself a member of a Washington law firm that represents both the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates.”
GAPS AND WEAKNESSES CITED
The ADL report acknowledges the new “Ethics in Government Act of 1978,” enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Carter on Oct. 26, but says the section on conflicts of interest does not go for enough, in view of the record of activity by former U.S. officials on behalf of Arab governments and private Arab clients. The law, which becomes effective July 1, 1979, imposes certain prohibitions and restrictions, including time bars, on some activities by former officers or employees of Executive Branch departments and independent agencies of the U.S. government.
The ADL cited the following as “gaps and weaknesses” which should be remedied:
The law does not apply to former members of the Senate and the House, to their administrative aides and staff, or to other former employees of the Legislative Branch, such as counsel and staff members of Congressional committees and subcommittees; the law’s provisions of one and two-year waiting periods, aimed at preventing conflicts of interest, before former officials of U.S. departments and agencies may work for foreign principals or governments is too short to protect the public interest adequately; in the case of former officials of the CIA, U.S. intelligence, security and defense agencies, the law should impose even longer waiting periods than for the others.