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Special Reports Last Updated: Apr 9th, 2009 - 00:31:25

Dennis Ross sidelined at State over his foreign agent status with Israel

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Apr 9, 2009, 00:17

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(WMR) -- Former pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) director Dennis Ross, named by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as her special envoy for Iran, has been sidelined at the State Department by Clinton�s special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, according to informed sources at the State Department.

In fact, Ross was purposely kept out of the loop on the recent landmark meeting between Holbrooke and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Akhundzadeh in The Hague at a conference on Afghanistan. WMR was told that Holbrooke effectively snatched the Iran portfolio from Ross and that while Ross has an office on the seventh floor of the State Department, he has little responsibility over America�s new opening to Iran.

Ross served as director of Policy Planning for the State Department under President George H. W. Bush and special Middle East envoy under President Bill Clinton. Ross earned the enmity of Palestinian peace negotiators as a result of his unabashedly pro-Israeli views. Ross hosted Vice President Dick Cheney at the October 2007 WINEP �Weinberg Founders Conference� where Cheney delivered a blistering attack on Iran. There have been recent reports that Cheney ensured that a �stay behind� network of neoconservatives loyal to Cheney remained in key positions in the Obama administration. Given Ross� previous role as a key player in the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), he appears to fit the bill as one of the stay behind players, albeit now without portfolio.

Ross� problems within the Obama administration began when it was discovered that he failed to register as a foreign agent for the government of Israel in his capacity as the chairman of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI) in Jerusalem. Unlike the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and WINEP, the JPPPI is run by the Jewish Agency, which is an organ of the Israeli government.

In January of this year, the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) issued a press release on Ross and the JPPPI and its predecessor Israeli government-funded operations in the United States. IRmep stated: �In the 1960s the Senate Foreign Relations Committee uncovered a network of stealth Jewish Agency �conduits� financing grassroots Israel lobby start up groups through the American Zionist Council (AZC). During 1963 hearings the Senate revealed the equivalent of $35 million went toward U.S. lobbying, including $38,000 to American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) founder Isaiah Kenen between 1960-1961.�

In November 1962, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy required the AZC to register as a foreign agent pursuant to the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The AZC shut down and transferred its lobbying activities to AIPAC.

Ross never registered as a foreign agent under FARA after becoming chairman of the Jewish Agency-funded JPPPI in 2002. Ross� failure to declare himself as an agent of the Israeli government contributed, in part, to Clinton�s decision to remove his Iran portfolio.

Another pro-Israel loyalist, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt Dan Kurtzer, was expected to be named by Secretary of State Clinton as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. However, that did not pan out and Kurtzer was named as the commissioner of the new Israel Baseball League. The assistant secretary position is being filled by Jeffrey Feltman in an acting capacity. Feltman, a former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, is also a pro-Israel loyalist.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright � 2008

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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