Israeli Intelligence Blasted By Knesset

Israeli Intelligence Blasted by the Knesset over Iraq Failure

A subcommittee of the Israeli Parliament has issued a report sharply critical of Israeli intelligence failures concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It notes that Mossad thought Iraq’s programs and stockpiles were a threat, which they were not, and yet seemed unaware of how much progress Libya had made on nukes.

The fact is that Israeli intelligence failures in Iraq contributed to drawing the United States into the war (pace the Knesset report). Undersecretary of Defense for Planning Douglas Feith, a representative of the American branch of the Likud Party, met repeatedly with Israeli generals at the Pentagon (who were not properly signed in, contrary to post-9/11 regulations), and they gave him fodder for his pre-determined insistence on ginning up a war against Iraq, reinforcing what was being said by liars like Ahmad Chalabi. They were conveying Israeli intelligence to a key American policy maker, and it was wrong.

Of course, being wrong is one thing. Deliberately being wrong is another. Although the subcommittee report refuses to consider the possibility, it seems clear that there were conspiracies within the intelligence and military services of the UK, Israel and the US intended to draw the US into war against Iraq. One sees reports in the British press of a “Rockingham Group” in the UK ministry of defense pushing for war, and of British intelligence planting anti-Iraq stories in the US press.

The report very oddly maintains that Mossad did not believe Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear program, unlike the US. This allegation is flat wrong, so wrong that one suspects it must be disinformation. See the citations in my discussion last October.

It seems likely to me that there was a similar clique of conspirators inside Mossad and Israeli military intelligence. Likewise, we know that PM Ariel Sharon had organized an office analogous to Feith’s Office of Special Plans, to cherry pick Iraq intelligence so as to paint the situation as much worse than it was.

The Mossad cultivates an air of competence and invincibility in the Western press, but it often has screwed up royally and has been involved in lots of hare-brained operations (encouraging Hamas in the 1970s to offset the PLO, e.g.)

The next time a US policy maker is told that something is known for sure because Israeli intelligence is sure of it, I hope to God she or he takes it all with a grain of salt. Israelis are cut off from the rest of the Middle East in most important ways. Most of them don’t understand it, and most of them don’t like it. They don’t have really good sources for the important things. And, their intelligence estimates are often self-interested, used to promote policy rather than as a basis for it.

Not only is the Iraq debacle proof of all this (they thought Iraqis were going to pump oil to Haifa for them and would exercise a moderating influence on Hizbullah!), but their approach to the Palestinians has been such a huge failure because they are simply incompetent in dealing with other Middle Easterners. Brute force, extortion, and bribery are not a policy, they are the last refuge of a mafioso.