Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Update: San Francisco Spy Ring "The Tip of the Iceberg"

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Update: San Francisco Spy Ring "The Tip of the Iceberg"

Article excerpt

Update: San Francisco Spy Ring "The Tip of the Iceberg"

Some four months after it began to unravel, the true extent of the private intelligence network linking former San Francisco police inspector Tom Gerard, art dealer and paid informant Roy Bullock and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith is becoming clearer. The case involves intelligence files kept on tens of thousands of individuals and organizations and questions about exactly how the information in those files was obtained. Material in the files was culled from confidential police records not only in the San Francisco Bay Area but from law enforcement agencies across the country, prompting allegations of a covert nationwide intelligence-gathering system run by the ADL in conjunction with individual police officials.

The San Francisco operation collapsed as a result of a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into the activities of Tom Gerard and his associates. The former police inspector compiled secret intelligence files on both Arab Americans and individuals and organizations involved in anti-apartheid activities, and allegedly peddled the information to the Israeli and South African governments for more than $20,000. Some of Gerard's private files were later discovered in a sweep of the San Francisco and Los Angeles offices of the Anti-Defamation League.

Gerard, who was employed in the early 1980s by the CIA in Central America and who worked part-time as a security official for Philippine Airlines, fled to a remote island in the Philippines after being questioned by the FBI last November. He later resigned in a letter to the San Francisco Police Department and, despite his covert activities, was awarded his pension by the city. It is unlikely that Gerard will be brought to trial since there is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and the Philippines.

One of Gerard's associates was Roy Bullock, a 58-year-old undercover informant who compiled information on Arab Americans, Irish Americans, supporters of the African National Congress, the National Lawyers Guild, the Nation of Islam, white supremacist groups and a variety of left-wing organizations on the West Coast.

Bullock was a member of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee's San Francisco chapter in the mid-1980s and collected information on ADC's members and activities. He allegedly funneled information to representatives of the ADL and the South African government. Bullock worked closely with Tom Gerard while the latter was involved in police intelligence, and when the San Francisco Police Department cut back on its intelligence-gathering operations Gerard helped arrange for Bullock to work as a paid informant for the FBI. It was the bureau's discovery in 1991 that Bullock was also an agent of the South African government that first prompted the present investigation.

The San Francisco operation collapsed as the result of an FBI probe. Some files were discovered in a sweep of ADL West Coast offices.

The third leg of the intelligence triangle was the Anti-Defamation League, and in particular its California offices. The ADL admits it maintains files on white supremacist, neo-Nazi and other organizations and individuals it considers anti-Semitic, uses a network of paid informants to gather intelligence and routinely exchanges information with police departments around the country. The executive director of the ADL's Central Pacific Region, Richard Hirschaut, denies widespread reports that the San Francisco police found confidential police files on Arab Americans in a sweep of the organization's San Francisco and Los Angeles offices, including some of the same files that Tom Gerard allegedly sold to Israeli agents. Hirschaut told the Northern California Jewish Bulletin that allegations the ADL spies on Arab Americans and collaborates with Israeli intelligence were "phantasmagoria."

The San Francisco district attorney's office, which is conducting an investigation into the ADL's intelligence activities, believes the network extends beyond the Bay Area, however, and that a number of police officers around the nation have been illegally channeling information to the Anti- Defamation League. …

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