Monday, December 17, 2007

Agenda-driven intelligence

In these days when the Israelis are offering to ‘help’ the Americans by providing lies about Iran which are in direct contradiction to the unanimous conclusion of 16 (!) American intelligence agencies, it is worthwhile to remember that Israel has a long and undistinguished history of providing lies to the United States (Abingdon is a former American diplomat):

“Abingdon said the Israelis provided intelligence to the CIA, and defense attorney Nancy Hollander asked him if he found the Israeli information reliable. ‘No,’ he answered, and she asked why not.

‘I feel the Israelis have an agenda ... they provide selective information to try to influence US thinking,’ he said.”

General Shlomo Brom, a former senior Israeli military intelligence officer, reported to the Israeli government that Israel was a ‘full partner’ in American and British intelligence failures that described Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.  The Israelis actually had a secret unit attached directly to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s office which fed disinfo directly to Feith’s Office of Special Plans.

From Stephen J. Sniegoski’s wonderful article “The Israeli origins of Bush II's war” (I’ve removed the footnotes that are in the original):

“Intelligence writer James Bamford cut to the core of the Israeli manipulations:

To gain the support of the American government and public, a phony pretext would be used as the reason for the original invasion.

The recommendation of Feith, Perle, and Wurmser was for Israel to once again invade Lebanon with air strikes. But this time, to counter potentially hostile reactions from the American government and public, they suggested using a pretext. They would claim that the purpose of the invasion was to halt Syria's drug-money and counterfeiting infrastructure located there. They were subjects in which Israel had virtually no interest, but they were ones, they said, with which America can sympathize.

Another way to win American support for a pre-empted war against Syria, they suggested, was by drawing attention to its weapons of mass destruction program. This claim would be that Israel's war was really all about protecting Americans from drugs, counterfeit bills, and WMD — nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

Still, in the ‘Clean Break,’ neocons were advising Israeli military action. It should be emphasized that the same people — Feith, Wurmser, Perle — who advised the Israeli government on issues of national security would also advise the George W. Bush administration to pursue virtually the same policy regarding the Middle East, but employing American armed forces. As political observer William James Martin would astutely comment about ‘Clean Break’: ‘This document is remarkable for its very existence because it constitutes a policy manifesto for the Israeli government penned by members of the current U.S. government.’  Martin went on to point out that the similarity between that document's recommendation for Israel and the neocon-inspired Bush administration policy, purportedly designed for the benefit of American interests, was even more remarkable:

It is amazing how much of this program, though written for the Israeli government of Netanyahu of 1996, has already been implemented, not by the government of Israel, but by the Bush administration. The overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the two-year-old house arrest of Arafat and the attempt to cultivate a new Palestinian leadership, the complete rejection by Sharon of the land for peace agreement on the Golan Heights, with little U.S. demurral, and the bombing inside of ‘Syria proper’ with only the response from Bush, ‘Israel has a right to defend itself.’

The dramatic similarities between the ‘Clean Break’ scenario and actual Bush II administration Middle East policy are evident not only in the results but also in the sequence of events. Notably, the ‘Clean Break’ report held that removing Saddam was the key to weakening Israel's other enemies; and after removing Saddam in 2003 the United States would indeed quickly threaten Iran and Syria, and talk of restructuring the entire Middle East. Evident, too, is a similarity between actual events and the Yinon proposal of 1982, which also saw regime change in Iraq as a fundamental move in destabilizing Israel's enemies.

To reiterate the central point of this essay: the vision of ‘regime change’ in the Middle East through external, militant action originated in Israel, and its sole purpose was to advance the strategic interests of Israel. It had nothing to do with bringing ‘democracy’ to Muslims. It had nothing to do with any terrorist threat to the United States. Those latter arguments accreted to the idea of regime change as the primary military actor changed from Israel to the United States. But the Israeli government would continue to be a fundamental supporter of the regional military action, even as the ostensible justifications for action changed. The Sharon government advocated the American attacks on Iraq and has preached the necessity of strikes on Iran.

It would appear that for Ariel Sharon during the Bush II administration, the strategic benefits that would accrue to Israel from such a militant restructuring of the Middle East were the same as those that Likudniks sought in the 1980s. But unlike Begin's failed incursion into Lebanon in 1982, the Bush II effort not only relied upon the much greater power of the United States but also was wrapped in a cover of "democracy" and American national interest, effectively masking the true objective of Israeli hegemony. That helps to explain the much greater success of this intervention, which has come at no cost to Israel.

Instead, it has come at a cost to the United States. The United States has tarnished its international reputation through its militarily aggressive actions in contravention of prevailing international norms. It has also had to pay significant costs in blood and money: rather, the American people have had to pay those costs. And the United States has made itself, and the American people, a major target of international terrorism. In short, the benefits derived by the United States from its Middle East military adventure are highly questionable; but that is easily understood if one recognizes that the policy the Bush II administration has pursued did not originate as one to benefit the interests of the United States but rather to benefit those of Israel, as those interests have been perceived by the Israeli Right.”

Note the pattern.  Feith, Perle, and Wurmser advocated tricking the Americans into supporting the Israeli attack on Syria by creating faulty intelligence on a mythological Syrian WMD program (that approach hasn’t ended, as witness the recent Israeli lies over the unprovoked Israeli attack on Syria in September), then Feith and Wurmser directly implemented the same deception by manipulating the American intelligence, with the help of Israeli intelligence sources, to create a phony threat from a mythological Iraqi WMD program.  In the absence of having direct treason agents in the appropriate places in the American government, the Israelis are now having to do the deception themselves, returning to the ‘Clean Break’ model of attempting to fool the Americans by providing bogus intelligence on Iran.  In each case, the intelligence lies are intended to lead to a war that fits Israeli Empire interests, all under the guise of following American national interests in stopping WMD programs.  Three proposed wars (only one of which has occurred), three Israeli-Empire motives, three Israeli intelligence tricks, all involving mythological WMD programs in target states.