Amir Oren published today a story based on a senior Mossad official who flatly denies the truth of Mark Perry‘s false flag report in yesterday’s Foreign Policy. The Mossad source (likely either Tamir Pardo or someone very close to him) called Perry’s report “absolute nonsense.” The source continued by claiming that if the story was true then Meir Dagan, who was responsible for the operation as the agency chief at the time, would’ve been declared persona non grata and warned not to step foot in the U.S. I always enjoy non-denial denials like this because they usually make a claim that goes like this: if story A were true, then B would’ve had to have happened. When there is no reason whatsoever that A would follow B at all.
In fact, in Perry’s story the CIA sources make clear there was a furious debate within the administration about how to respond to the Mossad duplicity and the Cheney pro-Israel forces wore down those who were critical of Israel’s operation. So no action was taken. In that case, administration officials had to decide how important this event was in the greater scheme of U.S.-Israel relations. Around this time (2007), Israel was lobbying intensively for permission to attack Iran and Bush was giving Israel the red light. No doubt, Bush decided it was more important to get Israel to stand down from this plan than it was to take Meir Dagan to the woodshed. In other words, we had bigger fish to fry with the Israelis than this false flag deal.
But what especially irks me about Oren’s report is that he adds a dig against Perry’s credibility that is gratuitous and deeply insulting. Interestingly, the insult is only in the Hebrew version (wonder why hmm?) and not the English. Dimi Reider, in his 972 report notes that Oren calls Perry, an “avowed supporter of the Arab cause.” His Wikipedia article notes that Perry was an “unofficial” advisor to the PLO until 2004. How does this fact impeach his reporting on the false flag story? Because he had some informal involvement with the PLO ending eight years ago, that means he has it in for the Mossad on this story? C’mon. That’s bush league stuff. But unfortunately, this is what Israeli intelligence people and their willing collaborators in the media stoop to. And I say this as someone who’s admired all of Oren’s previous reporting.
Actually, there is nothing in Perry’s story that would give you the impression he was a pro-Arab partisan (and by the way Mossad source and Mr. Oren, Iranians aren’t Arab, but that’s beside the point). It is a very carefully reported story that contains no animus whatsoever against Israel, nor any gratuitous partisan statements on Iran’s behalf.
As Perry notes in his interview with Reider, he researched the story for 18 months, had six major CIA sources at least two of which still are on active duty. He also gave both the CIA and Israel an opportunity to respond formally before he published. Neither chose to do so. So who’s right? My money is on Perry.
Another phenomenon I’ve noticed at work here is that most U.S. officials, if they have to speak to the media about a story, will try not to lie outright. They will dance around the issue and make qualified denials. But usually you can decipher what they’re truly denying and what they’re implicitly confirming. With Israeli officials it is quite different. On a subject like Iran, where they wish the Iranians to know what they’ve done and don’t feel they’ll suffer for it, they concede their involvement by bragging–though they do it implicitly, rather than explicitly. So Ehud Barak said about the Iran missile base explosion: May there be many more. They said something similar about Mahmoud al-Mabouh’s assassination.
When they are involved in something which, if known to the public, might do some harm to their interest, they clam up and refuse to say anything. This was the case with the Dirar Abusisi kidnapping. In this case, Israeli intelligence was duped by Hamas into believing the engineer knew Gilad Shalit’s whereabouts. So it kidnapped him and found out it was left holding an empty bag. For this reason, it has adopted a virtual Wall of Silence around the actual kidnapping (though it has falsely accused him of being a rocket engineer and other tall tales).
But when Israeli involvement in an incident could do grave harm to Israel’s military and security interests, then it flat-out lies and doesn’t give a crap who cares or who finds out. Lying in these cases seems to be SOP. This is what happened in the Eilat terror case when Ehud Barak, Bibi Netanyahu and the IDF spokesflacks offered flat-out lies in claiming the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees were behind the operation (in fact, Sinai Islamists were having no known connection to Gaza at all).
This seems to be the MO behind the current story in which the Mossad upper echelon is lying about its Jundallah operation. In fact, Meir Dagan himself told Nicholas Burns in a leaked Wikileaks cable, that Israel was recruiting Iranian dissidents for sabotage operations. But he never spoke nor was asked about the false flag operation. That’s the only part we didn’t have explicit confirmation about (until now).
This article appeared at Tikun Olam