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EXCLUSIVE: Israel’s national security aide barred from U.S.

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EXCLUSIVE:

Uzi Arad, who is expected to serve as national security adviser in the next Israeli government, has been barred from entering the United States for nearly two years on the grounds that he is an intelligence risk.

Mr. Arad, a former member and director of intelligence for the Mossad, Israel's spy service, is mentioned in the indictment of Lawrence Franklin, a former Pentagon analyst who pleaded guilty in 2005 to providing classified information about Iran in a conversation with two employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Beyond Mr. Arad's status, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to face difficulties abroad because of his choice, announced Monday, of Avigdor Lieberman to serve as foreign minister in a narrow new rightist government. Mr. Lieberman, head of the Israel Is Our Home party, has advocated requiring Israel's 1.46 million Arabs to take a loyalty test or risk expulsion.

The choice of Mr. Arad for national security adviser has been reported in the Israeli press and was confirmed by sources close to Mr. Netanyahu, who has been tasked with forming the next government.

Mr. Arad acknowledged to The Washington Times that he has not been able to obtain a visa to come to the United States but said the Israeli government is trying to change that.

"The director general of the Israel Foreign Ministry did tell his American counterparts that there has been no cause to deny me a visa," Mr. Arad told The Times.

Israeli and U.S. officials said Mr. Arad has been denied a U.S. visa since June 2007 under section 212 3(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This gives consular officers and the Justice Department authority to bar people who may seek "to violate any law of the United States relating to espionage or sabotage" from entering the country.

Mr. Arad was a member of the Mossad spy service from 1975 to 1997. After retiring, he became Mr. Netanyahu's foreign policy adviser. While in the Mossad, Mr. Arad worked mainly on analysis, but he also served as a liaison for intelligence operations with allied services such as the CIA.

In the past 21 months, prominent Israelis and Americans have quietly but unsuccessfully pressed U.S. officials to grant Mr. Arad a visa.

"Overtures were made, and, by and large, there was not a satisfactory answer," said Herb London, president of the Hudson Institute, where Mr. Arad worked from 1972 to 1975 after obtaining a doctorate from Princeton University.

"He has invited luminaries from around the world to talk about foreign policy at the annual Herzliya conference," Mr. London said. "There are people from the left and the right who recognize that he has extraordinary insight into the foreign policy issues of our time."

In a June 18, 2007, letter to U.S. officials, the president of the Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya, Uriel Reichman, wrote, "I very much hope that such visa will indeed be granted as expeditiously as possible since professor Arad's travels to the United States are essential for his work at the Interdisciplinary Center."

One mystery about Mr. Arad's difficulties in obtaining a visa is that Mr. Franklin did not plead guilty to spying.

Indeed, the U.S. attorney handling the case against Mr. Franklin and two former AIPAC employees, Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, charged all three men with mishandling national defense information, a count listed in the U.S. code under the Espionage Act but less serious than being an agent of a foreign power. Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman are fighting the charges, which are controversial because they are the first private citizens to be accused of leaking classified information.

The indictment against Mr. Franklin makes two references to "a person previously associated with an intelligence agency of [foreign official's] country." Two former U.S. officials and a former Israeli official have confirmed that Mr. Arad is the "person."

The passage refers to a meeting between Mr. Franklin and Mr. Arad on Feb. 20, 2004, at the Pentagon cafeteria and an earlier recommendation by an Israeli diplomat that Mr. Franklin meet with Mr. Arad.

In his letter, Mr. Reichman referenced the section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that deals with espionage issues, saying, "it being absolutely certain to me and to all who know him, that none of the causes specified ... apply to him."

A Washington immigration lawyer, Glen Wasserstein, said Mr. Arad was being barred under the section of law that "allows the government to deny entry to those foreign nationals it deems as spies or saboteurs, and those who help or assist in such spying or sabotage."

Mr. Wasserstein said the president or attorney general could waive the restriction on the visa.

Buck Revell, a former associate director of the FBI who oversaw counterintelligence investigations at the bureau, added that as national security adviser, Mr. Arad would not be in a position to engage in espionage or intelligence activities.

Nonetheless, Mr. Revell said, the suspicion surrounding Mr. Arad could hamper U.S.-Israel relations.

"The [Israeli] national security council chairman has access to all of Israel's intelligence and all the intelligence we share with them, normally," Mr. Revell said. "Whether or not our agencies would restrict any type of intelligence from going to him would be very problematic. That is something they will have to deal with."

A senior official of the incoming Netanyahu administration, who spoke on the condition that he not be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, told The Times that he expects Mr. Arad to be able to travel to the United States for official business.

"This is an issue that the new government of Israel trusts can be resolved," the official said.

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