Analysis: The limits of Israeli espionage

Ronen Bergman

Ronen Bergman

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman (The Secret War with Iran) has written an editorial in Yedioth Ahronoth, in which he argues that Israel’s espionage successes in recent years have failed to bring about significant changes on the strategic level. Bergman briefly recounts the significant post-9/11 reforms in Israeli intelligence, most notably the appointment of Meir Dagan as the director of the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency. Dagan has “created a new Mossad”, argues Bergman, one that is more narrowly focused in its operations, and more collaborative with foreign intelligence agencies –notably American, Jordanian, Turkish and Indian. This shift in focus and tactics has undeniably helped Israel score some significant espionage victories, including the 2008 assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah in Beirut, Lebanon; the seizure of several ships carrying Iranian and Syrian weapons to Hezbollah; as well as the more recent assassination of Hamas military official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0276

  • CIA mum on Panetta’s trip to Israel. Politico’s Laura Rozen reports that the CIA director met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Mossad chief Meir Dagan. But nobody in Washington or Jerusalem will say precisely what was discussed. Why is it that every time Panetta flies to Israel, it has to be a covert visit?
  • CIA raises language requirements for senior staff. “Under the new policy”, said CIA director Leon Panetta, “promotions to SIS [Senior Intelligence Service] for most analysts and operations officers will be contingent on demonstrating foreign language competency. If an officer is promoted to SIS and does not meet the foreign language requirement within one year, he or she will return to their previous, lower grade”.

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Mossad deputy chief resigns amid internal strife

Meir Dagan

Meir Dagan

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
It emerged yesterday that the deputy director of the Mossad, Israel’s premier external intelligence agency, has stepped down. The official, known only as “T.”, appears to have resigned in protest over the Israeli government’s decision to extend the Mossad director’s tenure for an unprecedented eighth year. It has also emerged that  “T.” first warned the government two months ago that he would resign if the decision was made to retain Meir Dagan as Mossad director for yet another year. “T’s” resignation marks the fourth resignation of a Mossad deputy chief during Dagan’s directorship. There are rumors that Dagan refuses to leave his post until he agrees to a successor, which according to Israeli daily Ha’aretz, “will come neither from the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces nor Mossad”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0005

  • Republican Senator’s extra-marital affair endangered national security. John Ensign is a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, including its Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, giving him and his staff access to extremely sensitive national defense information. His extra-marital affair made him vulnerable to blackmail by hostile spy services or other interests eager to pry secrets from his position on sensitive national security committees, veteran counterintelligence officials say.
  • Thank goodness reformists didn’t win in Iran election, says Mossad. Israel spy chief Meir Dagan, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee on June 17 that if reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi had won the elections “Israel would have a more serious problem because it would need to explain to the world the danger of the Iranian threat”.
  • CIA still fighting full release of detainee report. According to two intelligence officials, the CIA is pushing the Obama administration to suppress passages describing in graphic detail how the agency handled its detainees, arguing that the material could damage ongoing counterterrorism operations by laying bare sensitive intelligence procedures and methods.
  • US electricity industry to scan grid for spies. The planned scan is part of a pilot initiative to see whether Chinese spies have infiltrated computer networks running the US power grid. IntelNews has been keeping an eye on revelations that foreign spies have penetrated the electronic infrastructure of America’s electrical supply grid.
  • US Supreme Court declines review of Cuban Five case. It and its supporters argue Cuban spies received a fair trial in heart of Miami Cuban-American community, but Cuban government says it will continue to campaign for their release.
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