“Dagan Could Not Have Set Foot in Washington Again”

On January 14 Haaretz reported: “The senior Israeli government official said that if there were any truth to the claims … Meir Dagan, the head of the Mossad at the time of the alleged operation, would have been declared a persona non grata in the U.S. and that ‘Dagan’s foot would not have walked again in Washington’.”

To what report about which operation is the official reacting? That revealed by the former co-director of Conflicts Forum and author of Talking to Terrorists (Basic Books, 2010) in an already much-discussed article in Foreign Policy titled False Flag.

Buried deep in the archives of America’s intelligence services are a series of memos, written during the last years of President George W. Bush’s administration, that describe how Israeli Mossad officers. … posed as CIA officers in recruiting Jundallah operatives.

Brazen, right?

“It’s amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with,” [an] intelligence officer said. “Their recruitment activities were nearly in the open. They apparently didn’t give a damn what we thought.”

Here’s what happened when

… information about the false-flag operation was reported up the U.S. intelligence chain of command. … to the White House, according to the currently serving U.S. intelligence officer. The officer said that Bush “went absolutely ballistic” when briefed on its contents.

Bear in mind that it took a lot to make the Israel-friendly ex-president angry at Israel. But exactly what were the nature of the “threats posed by foreign intelligence services”? Perry explains.

“The report sparked White House concerns that Israel’s program was putting Americans at risk,” [an] intelligence officer told me. “There’s no question that the U.S. has cooperated with Israel in intelligence-gathering operations against the Iranians, but this was different. No matter what anyone thinks, we’re not in the business of assassinating Iranian officials or killing Iranian civilians.”

Another former intelligence officer told Perry:

…”After all, it’s hard to engage with a foreign government if they’re convinced you’re killing their people. Once you start doing that, they feel they can do the same.” … It also … invited attacks in kind on U.S. personnel. … But the United States did nothing — a result that the officer attributed to “political and bureaucratic inertia.”

Not only that, but, as former government officials Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett write at Race for Iran:

Perry’s sources say that, since the United States learned about this Israeli false flag operation, neither the Bush Administration nor the Obama Administration has done anything to convey its displeasure to Israel. … That the Obama Administration is now trying to distance itself from some aspects of. … America’s dangerous dance with Jundallah and, more broadly, anti-Iranian covert action. … by fobbing it off on Israel (to be sure, anything but an innocent party), does not extricate it from its past decisions or current actions. … Washington’s handling of Jundallah’s designation as a foreign terrorist organization remains highly suspicious. Mark’s sources, as well as our own contacts, in the U.S. government, indicate that U.S. intelligence has had sufficient information on Jundallah to warrant its designation as a foreign terrorist organization for years. … Washington only designated Jundallah in November 2010, months after Iran had captured and executed its leader.

Meanwhile, at Empty Wheel, Marcy Wheeler reminds us that flags wave in different directions, according to which way the political winds blow.

Israelis and Americans have long hidden behind each other when working with Iranians, going back at least to the Iran-Contra ops that Dick Cheney had a fondness for. Hiding behind Israelis lets American officials pretend we’re not doing the taboo things we’re doing. Hiding behind Americans lets Iranian partners working with Israelis pretend they aren’t working with the Zionist enemy. That false flag business works in many different directions, after all.

At +972 Mag, Dimi Reider asked Mark Perry himself about the Haaretz piece: “A ‘senior Israeli official’ called your report ‘complete nonsense.’ … Haaretz writer Amir Oren also described you as a ‘declared supporter of the Arab cause.’ Your response?”

I would not expect the Israeli government to confirm my report. … Then too, people should realize that this is not the first false flag operation that Israel has conducted. … My understanding is that a journalist in Israel has supposed that … I am “a known supporter of the Arab cause.” … And what exactly is the Arab “cause?” To be friends with the US? To build stable and democratic societies? To educate their children and be at peace with their neighbors. If that is the “cause” then yes, I am for it.

At Moon of Alabama, Bernhard had a question about the timing of the report.

Why is this whitewash of the CIA coming out right now, just two days after the assassination of another Iranian engineer? Why is there no mention at all of … the U.S. military Joint Special Operations Command forces who are, according to Sy Hersh, operating in Iran? What is their relation to the Israelis?

As did Reider at +972: “Quite a few readers have questioned the coincidence of the story running just days after yet another assassination of an Iranian scientist. Is it a coincidence?”

I know there is a great deal of skepticism about the timing of the story. … And in truth, I did not decide to actually publish the story until the Friday before its appearance. … I thought two weeks ago that, after eighteen months of work, the story was in jeopardy of being released by another publication.

Perry notes that “as with all alliances”

… there is a commitment on the part of the administration to make certain that … a common purpose outweighs all disagreements. Frankly, if the Pollard incident didn’t end the U.S.-Israel relationship, then this won’t.

That’s also true of an Israeli air attack on the U.S.S. Liberty in the early days of the 1967 Arab-Israel war that left 34 American seamen dead (apparently because the ship had intercepted transmissions revealing that Israel’s claims that its air assault on three Arab nations was in retaliation for an attack by Egypt was untrue). We’ll give Perry the last word at +972.

My personal view is, and my advice to Israel, is — if you want to be welcome in America, don’t try to pull this kind of crap.