Fay (7 June 2011)
"Serious Alarm Bells"
Hi John and Doves,
This is NOT good:-
Is the US Deliberately Harming Israeli Covert Ops in Iran? - By Caroline B. Glick – www.CarolineGlick.com
One of the dirty secrets about Western trade with enemy states like
Iran is that the Western companies trading with them may also wittingly
or unwittingly serve as espionage assets for their home country or for
other Western countries.
Consider the Stuxnet computer virus which reportedly caused great harm
to at least one and perhaps multiple nuclear installations in Iran. The
virus penetrated the Iranian systems through Siemens industrial control
systems. In recent years, Siemens was subject to widespread criticism
from US policy makers for its massive trade with Iran. And this
criticism was justified. But it is important to admit that if Siemens
hadn't been trading with Iran, whoever developed the Stuxnet virus
would have had to find another, probably less accessible platform to
penetrate Iran's computer systems.
The Stuxnet story shows the problematic flipside of trade embargos
against rogue states like Iran. The less access you have to enemy
markets, the less ability you have to gather information about enemy
targets and the less capacity you have to sabotage enemy targets. The
more access you have, the more capacity you can build to infiltrate,
gather information and sabotage enemy targets.
The boycott drive against states like Iran uses a legalistic framework
to deal with complex military challenges. And since the nail doesn't
exactly fit the hole, it stands to reason that the damage sanctions can
do to military or intelligence operations may in certain circumstances
outweigh the benefit they bring to diplomatic operations.
Since last week's announcement by the State Department that it was
sanctioning the Israeli firm Ofer Brothers' Shipping for reportedly
violating US law by trading with Iran, there has been a deluge of news
reports alleging that the Ofer Brother's ships were used by the Mossad
and perhaps the IDF to infiltrate and infiltrate agents into and out of
There are number of troubling aspects to the story. First, it strikes
me as odd that the announcement about the sanctions was made by the
State Department. If I am not mistaken, these decisions and
announcements are usually made by the Treasury Department. Why would
the State Department have taken the unusual step of announcing the
sanctions and take the step against an Israeli shipping company?
Second, it strikes me as odd that former Mossad chief Meir Dagan felt
compelled to issue an impassioned defense of the Ofer Brothers Shipping
Company. Dagan is in the midst of an unprecedented, arguably illegal
and certainly unseemly campaign to delegitimize Prime Minister Binyamin
Netayahu. It seems strage that in the midst of this offensive Dagan
would divert his attention to the Ofer Brothers Shipping woes. He must
have been deeply shocked by the US move to do so.
(And yes, eventually I will probably address Dagan's unacceptable abuse
of his position to weaken Israel's political leadership and limit its
policy options against Iran.)
The third reason this is so shocking is that the timing of the
announcement cannot be viewed as coincidental. The rare State
Department announcement came just after Netanyahu wiped the floor with
Obama in the Congress and as the Republicans are wisely using Obama's
hatred of Israel and his love for anti-American political forces in the
region as a campaign issue for 2012. It is hard not to reach the
conclusion that the announcement was deliberately released at this
juncture to weaken US public support for Israel.
If my hunch is right, and the Obama administration decided to use the
sanctions as a means to humiliate Israel, then this represents a
stunning blow to the US's credibility as an ally. It is impossible to
believe that if the Ofer Brothers subsidiary ships were used for
intelligence operations in Iran that the US did not know about it. So
if the ships were used by Israeli security agencies then the US knew
that exposing the Israeli identity of the ships would make it
impossible for Israel to continue using them. And if this is the case,
then the US also knew that by exposing the information, it was liable
to leave Israeli agents currently in Iran stranded there.
Since Obama came into office, both he and his advisors and Israeli
politicians and security service commanders have repeatedly mentioned
that intelligence and military cooperation between the two countries
has grown steadily. If my sense of what happened with the Ofer Brothers
Shipping firm is even partially correct, then Israel should immediately
reconsider its willingness to maintain that cooperation. If Obama may
use information shared in joint intelligence meetings to harm Israel
for political purposes or, for that matter for any purpose, then Israel
can no longer share information with the US.