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.