By Ronan Farrow
The New Yorker (5/6/18)
n June, 2017, Ann Norris, a former State Department official, received an e-mail containing an unusual proposal. Norris is married to Ben Rhodes, a former foreign-policy adviser to President Barack Obama and a prominent advocate of the Iran nuclear deal. In the e-mail, a woman who introduced herself as Eva Novak and claimed to work for a London-based film company called Shell Productions asked Norris to consult on a movie that she described as “ ‘All the President’s Men’ meets ‘The West Wing’ ”: it would follow the personal lives of “government officials in the positions that determine war and Peace” during times of geopolitical crisis, including “nuclear negotiations with a hostile nation.” Recalling the exchange, Ann Norris said that she found Eva Novak’s request “bizarre,” and that she “never responded.”
“This just eviscerates any norm of how governments should operate or treat their predecessors and their families. It crosses a dangerous line.”
The e-mail appears to be part of an undercover campaign by an Israeli private-intelligence firm to discredit Obama officials who had been leading proponents of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The campaign was first reported, on Saturday, by the British newspaper the Observer. However, sources familiar with the effort and pages of documents obtained by The New Yorker reveal that there is more to understand. Two of those sources told me on Sunday that the operation was carried out by Black Cube—a firm that was also employed by Harvey Weinstein and that offers its clients access to operatives from “Israel’s élite military and governmental intelligence units,” including the Mossad.
A month before Norris received her e-mail, Rebecca Kahl, a former program officer at the National Democratic Institute and the wife of the former Obama Administration foreign-policy adviser Colin Kahl, had also received a puzzling e-mail. …