Who hired Israeli operatives to spy on U.S. supporters of the Iran nuclear deal?

Who paid Black Cube to spy on Americans?
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/PBS NewsHour)

On Sunday, The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow reported that Israeli private investigation firm Black Cube, staffed with former Mossad agents, had targeted two former Obama adminisration national security staffers who vocally support the Iran nuclear deal. The Guardian had reported that the campaign was tied to President Trump's circle, but on Monday, The New York Times said it is still "unclear who hired Black Cube" to hunt for specific dirt on Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, targeting their families and journalists, though "one person with knowledge of the reports suggested that the company had been hired by a commercial client with an interest in opposing the nuclear deal."

That seems odd. "It's just not common for a corporate enterprise to think about smearing a political figure — especially an obscure one — as a tactic for getting what it wants," Kevin Drum notes at Mother Jones. "So does commercial really mean commercial, or does it merely mean 'not an elected official'? Maybe a super PAC?" On Monday's PBS NewsHour, The Guardian's Julian Borger said his understanding is that Black Cube's investigation "was commissioned by people close to Donald Trump," and his source close to Black Cube say "it was clear that when the tasking for this went out, that the ultimate customer was the Trump team, the Trump camp."

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.