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E-mail From Washington

From: Steve Hurst/CNN
In: Washington
Posted 5-9-97

Subject: Probe Of Possible Israeli Mole Bogs Down

The investigation into the possibility of an Israeli mole in the highest level of the U.S. government is bogged down because even the investigators are being investigated, sources tell CNN.

Sources say that attempts by counter-intelligence at the State Department to coordinate with FBI counter-intelligence have been hampered because the FBI directorate has been silenced because it is under investigation.

The sources say, however, that high-ranking security people feel that the allegations of an Israeli spy at the top of the government are less than likely to be true. Nevertheless, the sources say, selected key high officials are being investigated as a matter of routine.

For the record, the State Department refuses comment on reports in The Washington Post that the FBI has ranking U.S. officials under surveillance on suspicion that one of them is passing sensitive material to Israel.

"It is not my purview to comment on that," State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said.

The Post reported on Wednesday that the FBI was investigating after U.S. intelligence intercepted a conversation between an Israeli intelligence officer in Washington and his boss in Tel Aviv. The Washington agent allegedly told his boss that Israeli Ambassador Eliahu Ben Elissar asked the agent to use "Mega" to learn what former Secretary of State Warren Christopher had written to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat by way of guarantees surrounding the Israeli troop pullback signed at Hebron.

The Post said Mega was believed to be a high-level U.S. official and that the conversation overheard through intelligence means indicated Mega had helped in the past. The Israeli intelligence boss in Tel Aviv, however, told his Washington agent that Mega was not used for such purposes.

Israel denies all the allegations and suggests that Mega is something entirely different.

Attorney General Janet Reno, who oversees the Justice Department, confirmed on Thursday that an FBI investigation was in progress.

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