Politico’s Josh Gerstein and Laura Rozen report that experts are wondering how a security clearance was ever granted to Shamai Leibowitz, who recently pled guilty to leaking classified documents he obtained during a stint as a Hebrew translator for the FBI:
But Leibowitz, 39, seems an unlikely candidate for a top U.S. security clearance. After news of the charges against him broke, it took reporters only minutes to track down news articles reporting that he was fired from a legal clerkship in Israel and was publicly chastised by a court there for leaking a judge’s private comments.
Experts were also puzzled that someone with a long history of public activism on polarizing issues would wind up working for U.S. law enforcement in a classified environment and be granted access to sensitive information.
A quick Google search reveals Leibowitz’s public life as an activist and also the frequent controversy that his views incited. Born into a famous family of Israeli Torah scholars and intellectuals, Leibowitz was a Yeshiva student whose experience as a tank commander in the Israeli military during the second intifada horrified him. After that, he wrote and advocated frequently in articles, blogs and public appearances for Israeli soldiers to refuse to serve in the West Bank and Gaza, and at one time supported U.S. divestment from Israel, a view that he later changed.
“I think whoever was doing the vetting on him didn’t do their job,” Cohen said. “This guy sounds like just a real loose cannon."
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