Accused Spy Cries Anti-Semitism

Lou emails: "Luke, It might interest you to know that at the time David Tenenbaum was accused of being a spy for Israel, he was a member of Rabbi Weil’s synagogue in the Detroit area. Rabbi Weil provided great moral support to Mr. Tenenbaum at the time, and invited the bloke to speak at Beth Jacob a few years back. Really great guy; too bad he had to go through all of that."

From the Detroit Free Press:

A Detroit-area military engineer accused in 1997 of passing secrets to the Israelis was targeted because of his Orthodox Jewish faith, the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General said in a report.

The report said David Tenenbaum, 50, of Southfield, who was suspected but never formally charged with espionage involving his job at the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) in Warren, was singled out because he is an observant Jew.

Tenenbaum’s lawyer, Mayer Morganroth of Southfield, said the bogus investigation prompted the Army to scrap Tenenbaum’s 1995 project to improve the armor on Humvees, a decision that proved fatal to American troops who were sent to Iraq and Afghanistan in woefully inadequate fighting vehicles.

Morganroth’s associate, Daniel Harold, said Tenenbaum’s persecutors "have blood on their hands."

Tenenbaum and his lawyers said the report proves that he was innocent and the victim of anti-Semitism.

It said TACOM counterintelligence officials had Tenenbaum apply for a higher security clearance as "a ruse" to launch an improper spy investigation. The report said he lost his security clearance but eventually got it back and upgraded, a result that "suggests that Mr. Tenenbaum did not improperly disclose classified material."

Morganroth said Tenenbaum was relegated to lesser duties, shunned by coworkers and stripped of his security clearance.

TACOM officials wouldn’t comment on the report. The Army and Levin are reviewing the report, staffers said.

Tenenbaum, a Detroit-born son of a Holocaust survivor, was hired by TACOM in 1984 after obtaining engineering degrees from Wayne State University and working for a defense contractor in Troy. The report said TACOM hired Tenenbaum because he speaks Hebrew, which officials viewed as an asset in working with Israel on joint projects.

Simonini and investigators for the Defense Investigative Service — now the Defense Security Service — and the 902nd Military Intelligence Group began to suspect Tenenbaum of passing secrets after coworkers complained about his behavior.

The report said Tenenbaum wore a yarmulke and adhered to strict Jewish dietary rules, prompting him to bring kosher food to work rather than joining coworkers for lunch at restaurants. Colleagues questioned why he was allowed to leave work early on Fridays to prepare for the Jewish Sabbath, the report said.

U.S. defense officials dismissed the warning in 1996.

Unable to persuade the FBI to launch a spy probe, the report said, Simonini and others had Tenenbaum’s boss request a top-secret security upgrade for Tenenbaum, which he didn’t want because he worked on unclassified projects.

Tenenbaum said the examiner lied. The examiner denied Tenenbaum’s charges, the report said, but told colleagues that he believed Tenenbaum had passed secrets to Israel because of his religious beliefs. The report doesn’t say whether Tenenbaum passed the exam. Tenenbaum said the examiner wouldn’t let him record the proceeding, the report said.

In came the FBI

But the examiner’s report prompted the FBI to launch a criminal investigation, put Tenenbaum and his family under around-the-clock surveillance and searched his home on a Saturday — the Jewish Sabbath. Because an FBI agent neglected to seal the search warrant request, the news media learned that Tenenbaum was under suspicion and swarmed his home.

"It was terrifying," Tenenbaum’s wife, Madeline, said. The OIG report said the lead FBI agent on the case, James Gugino, testified that he believed Tenenbaum’s claim that he had done nothing wrong.


About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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