Dennis Ross: Still present, but not accounted for

Dennis Ross
Dennis Ross

When Dennis Ross, the controversial peace process negotiator and Iran-war booster, left the Obama administration in November for the AIPAC-affiliated Washington Institute for Near East Policy, it seemed like just another example of the revolving, Israel-Lobby door – a well-oiled door by which Israel lobbyists come and go between inside government posts and outside pressure groups. But now it seems that Ross’s departure from the administration was less clear-cut than originally presented — and that, in his case at least, the revolving door looks more like a giant, gaping hole.

As Haaretz reports, Ross may have given up his title – Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region — but he continues to advise President Obama “on a regular basis” and even maintains his security clearance.  “Dennis still comes in and out of the White House every few days,” an American official told Haaretz. Not incidentally, he also “maintains an open channel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” In fact, just this week, Ross, who is currently in Israel speechifying at various think tanks he helped create, sat down for a hush-hush meeting with Netanyahu.

But here’s the truly disturbing part: the American official quoted by Haartez piece believes that “Ross continues to unofficially relay messages between Jerusalem and Washington, messages that bypass the State Department and even the Middle East Department in the White House National Security Council.” (Emphasis added.)

In other words, by going outside government Ross effectively became extra-government.

Now listen, I have no illusions about the separation of government and corporation or government and special interest. Just look at Newt Gingrich or, heck, the whole Bush administration, which seemed more like a convention of energy-arms-oil-and-banking industry chieftains than a group of government workers. Ditto much of the the Obama administration, sadly. The whole thing is a dirty business. But this latest Ross revelation, in which a government power-broker not merely retains but possibly gains power by leaving government, makes the standard arrangement look almost clean.

About Lizzy Ratner

Lizzy Ratner is a journalist in New York City. She is a co-editor with Adam Horowitz and Philip Weiss of The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.
Posted in Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East

{ 25 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Thanks very much Lizzy for highlighting this. Since this topic is so much in the blogospheric news of late, might American citizens reasonably want to consider the issue of Mr. Ross’s possible dual loyalty, since he bypasses the State Dept. and White House Middle East experts (and layers of checks and balances in the process)?

  2. Les says:

    Comme Ci, Comme Ça

    Published on Friday, January 27, 2012 by Common Dreams
    Postponed Joint Israel-US War Games Back On?
    . . .
    Now, Austere Challenge 12 is reportedly back on the books and U.S. military officers begin arriving in Israel next week to prepare.

    * * *

    Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper broke the story Friday in an article in Hebrew. The Israeli media network Arutz Sheva reports:

    Postponed Israel-U.S. Drill to be Held in October

    The largest-ever anti-missile military exercise with the United States, which Israel postponed a week and a half ago, will be held in October, the Ma’ariv newspaper reported.

    The report said that the decision to hold the exercise in October was reached late on Thursday night, after lengthy discussions between defense officials. [...]

    Ma’ariv also noted that in preparation for the drill, U.S. military officers will arrive in Israel next week. About 3,000 U.S. soldiers are expected to arrive in Israel to take part in the large-scale exercise, the report said, and they will be joined by about 2,000 IDF soldiers.

    * * *

    And Russia Today (RT) reports:

    US and Israel Revive Largest Joint Anti-Missile Drills

    [...] Now after a brief delay, America will send thousands of troops and its anti-missile defense systems to Israel, albeit a few months later than planned. With the exercise back in the books, it could mean that an eventual war between the US and Iran is still in the works — and now the world has a timeline to see it through.
    . . .
    link to commondreams.org

  3. thetumta says:

    The Soviet peoples called it “Deep Government” and it is the rigor here, now and probably for a long time. Dennis Ross is not an Israeli-Firster, he is an Israeli, an agent of a foreign power. If he was Turkish and wanted to kill Kurds, you wouldn’t have any doubts, would you?
    Hej!

  4. ToivoS says:

    I would imagine that Obama thinks he can use Dennis Ross to send direct communications to Netanyahu. Very dangerous game. It means that Netanyahu can use Ross (with Ross’s willing agreement) to box Obama into some corner. We all saw how Ross in collaboration with Barak used the Camp David negotiations in 2000 to turn Clinton into a “dumb wooden” puppet and manipulated Clinton into backing Barak with his claim “there is no one to talk with”. These Zionist are extremely devious and it is dangerous to deal with them in secret channels. They have proven themselves superior in playing these games with naive American politicians.

  5. Rusty Pipes says:

    A “senior administration official” told Ha’aretz reporter, Barak Ravid? There’s not much there there. Ha’aretz has a variety of reporters and they’re not all Amira Haas. Sometimes their reports even look as though they are slightly more warmed over versions of press releases from the Foreign Ministry than what one finds in the Jerusalem Post.

    A senior official in the administration told Haaretz that despite his resignation, Ross kept his security clearance, so he could still take part in White House debates and be exposed to classified information. “Dennis still comes in and out of the White House every few days,” the official said.

    A senior official in Jerusalem confirmed that Ross met Netanyahu, but added that it was a “private” meeting, held at Ross’ request.

    The American official believes that Ross continues to unofficially relay messages between Jerusalem and Washington, messages that bypass the State Department and even the Middle East Department in the White House National Security Council.

    Or maybe Ross is trying to convince folks in Jerusalem that he’s still a player and the whitehouse is reluctant to contradict his bragging during an election season (especially when they still have fundraising to do before the election and Ross is very popular with key donors).

  6. Pamela Olson says:

    *Facepalm* Once again I was too naive in being glad Ross was out. Is there any bottom to this?

    • Shingo says:

      Don’t beat yourself up over it Pamela. It would have been tempting not to hope that Ross’ departure meant some kind of setback for the lobby, but Ross was brought into the fold to placate the lobby. His departure was not accompanied by any controversy, so it was obvious it was to Israel’s advantage.

      • Walid says:

        “His departure was not accompanied by any controversy, so it was obvious it was to Israel’s advantage.”

        He’ll eventually be back in a more senior government position. In light of Ross being “Israel’s lawyer”, his appointment as adviser on Iran first to Hillary and then to Obama a few months later were absurd. His pretended departure has to be a tactical move in favour of Israel as you’re saying, or maybe in both Israel’s and Obama’s. Definitely a gimmick.

  7. eGuard says:

    Dear Mondoweiss.

    Of course the war on Iran will happen. My question is: how will that war be related to the US president election? (due Tue November 6, 2012). Will Israel trigger a war before to force the hand of Obama? Or at election day (as they did in 2008, breaking a truce, and oh remember what they did to the Gaza strip in the interbellum)? Or after, whatever elected president while he is on Hawaii?

    This is what I want to read more about. Israel does not behave solely. Israel acts & reacts to the US election.

    • Taxi says:

      There won’t be an Iran war during Obama’s residency in the WH. The zionists couldn’t even get their pal babybush to do it for them. And to ‘force’ Americans into a war during our time of strife will spell the sure end of the ‘special relationship’ – which means the end of israel.

      Zionist war drums? It’s all hubris – of the criminal kind.

      Keeping in mind that Americans don’t want to die for israel – add to that that even American zionist jewery, comfortable in their successes, don’t want to die for israel either.

      The zionist warmongering state has been checked from every angle and every corner and they know it.

      Nothing ahead for the israelis but darker days of isolation and loss of hegemony. THAT’S what all the fuss is about.

    • MLE says:

      If Obama wins, there probably won’t be a war. I don’t think he’ll drastically change any policy, but he’ll grow enough of a pair that the Pentagon and intelligence community can tell Israel, no you can’t do this.

      I think Israel knows this, so they might try to attack before the election. Maybe as the October surprise to ensure a Republican victory. If Obama doesn’t offer Israel the full support of the US, he comes off as looking weak on defense to a pretty significant segment of his base and the undecided. If he does put it all in with Israel, he loses the entire antiwar vote and a majority of the younger vote.

      I think Iran knows a second term Obama is better chance than the Republican candidate for negotiations, so they might delay any form of retaliation against Israeli aggression until after November. If Iran doesn’t retaliate against an Israeli attack, it could be the final nail in the coffin for Israel, because it shows that the US cannot keep them from going rouge and the other countries might finally wash their hands of them.

      Israel’s only hope is to attack Iran before November 2012, and attack them hard enough that Iran has to retaliate.

      • Citizen says:

        MLE:
        Re your: Israel’s only hope is to attack Iran before November 2012, and attack them hard enough that Iran has to retaliate.

        Are you channeling what Dennis Ross told Bibi? If so, I will look for some more staged and/or fomented pretexts by Mossad over this Spring and Summer.

  8. Shingo says:

    But here’s the truly disturbing part:

    Look at the bright side Lizzy, at least you can breathe easy that Ron Paul isn’t in the White House. The status quo is so much better than having an antiwar president.

    • Citizen says:

      Yes, thank god we don’t have Ron Paul sitting in the WH–much better to have our leader so cozy with bi-partisan Goldman Sachs, and so comfortable with our new policy of a very weak 4th Amendment and suspension of Due Process for anybody thought to be linked in any way imaginable, no matter how tenuous, to those on our terrorist shit list.

    • kma says:

      and Obama doesn’t have to worry about this topic in any election debates, and both parties can be openly as hawkish as they want to be.

  9. gingershot says:

    Dennis Ross – the Johnathan Pollard of Foreign Policy

    Secret meetings with Netanyahu and continued access to the White House and top security clearance – Dennis is almost certainly a point figure for Israeli manipulation of American anti-Iran policy and plans for war

    Is there anything Obama knows that Netanyahu doesn’t know, as a result of this one man and this one man alone?

    UNLIKELY…

    Who needs AIPAC, Rosen, Franklin and the others when you have Dennis Ross?

  10. Sin Nombre says:

    And now, all you Progressives, given the hysterical sensibilities that you have so assiduously and successfully advanced over the decades (a/k/a Political Correctness), consider just how insanely impossible it is to even imagine a U.S. news reporter, for instance, asking even the most obvious and simplest question such as:

    “Mr. Ross, are you the citizen of a foreign power?”

  11. Kathleen says:

    Lizzy thanks for this piece

    “Just look at Newt Gingrich or, heck, the whole Bush administration, which seemed more like a convention of energy-arms-oil- GREATER ISREAL and-banking industry chieftains than a group of government workers.”
    I refer to the go get Iraq group as the neo, theo, oil cons.

    That is deeply disspointing that Ross is still so deeply involved at the White House. Would be something to ever hear that Obama was consulting with Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett. Or Dr. Zbig. We can dream and push

  12. seanmcbride says:

    Dennis Ross has been a Likud mole inside the US government from day one, on a mission to obstruct and sabotage the Mideast peace process. He has been playing this game for decades, under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

  13. CitizenC says:

    “Now listen, I have no illusions about the separation of government and corporation or government and special interest. Just look at Newt Gingrich or, heck, the whole Bush administration… But this latest Ross revelation, in which a government power-broker not merely retains but possibly gains power by leaving government, makes the standard arrangement look almost clean.”

    Lizzy—Israel is a *foreign country*, not merely a predatory corporation.

  14. Citizen says:

    Dennis Ross does not care, but for you Americans, here’s the 3 BIG LIES you should warn your neighbor about:

    link to lewrockwell.com

  15. The traitor will not stop until you make him stop. Someone who has endangered the US by sabotaging the peace process should be arrested whenever he is sighted near a US government official.