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US sees Israel, tight Mideast ally, as spy threat.


WASHINGTON (AP) — The CIA station chief opened the locked box containing the sensitive equipment he used from his home in Tel Aviv, Israel, to communicate with CIA headquarters in Virginia, only to find that someone had tampered with it. He sent word to his superiors about the break-in.

The incident, described by three former senior U.S. intelligence officials, might have been dismissed as just another cloak-and-dagger incident in the world of international espionage, except that the same thing had happened to the previous station chief in Israel.

It was a not-so-subtle reminder that, even in a country friendly to the United States, the CIA was itself being watched.

In a separate episode, according to another two former U.S. officials, a CIA officer in Israel came home to find the food in the refrigerator had been rearranged. In all the cases, the U.S. government believes Israel’s security services were responsible.

The CIA considers Israel its No. 1 counterintelligence threat in the agency’s Near East Division, the group that oversees spying across the Middle East, according to current and former officials.

In 2006, a former Defense Department analyst was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for giving classified information to an Israeli diplomat and two pro-Israel lobbyists. The espionage incidents have done little to slow the billions of dollars in money and weapons from the United States to Israel.

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