During World War Two, the Germans wanted to get their hands on an intelligence source who was exposing the secrets of the Wehrmacht to the Allies.
With time it became clear that this source was simply a bright Jew living in Switzerland who was collecting his information from open sources. For instance, he ready in a newspaper of the christening of a 130-foot-deep pier in a Polish port city. Later he read of a cocktail party in that city that was attended by a German admiral. The Jew put one and one together and realized that a whole fleet of ships including submarines was to be based at that port: there was no reason to deepen a port that much unless submarines were to be based there, and if a German admiral was visiting the city, then there was going to be a fleet to suit his rank.
* * *
Israel has become the paradise of Arab intelligence analysts. They need only wander around Israeli Internet sites and snatch up whatever intelligence information there is hiding in plain sight that has gone up since the previous day.
One day I went over to Meir Dagan and showed him a list of pilots, with their places of residence and pictures of their homes.
“Meir,” he asked, “where did you get this?”
“It’s all from newspapers and open sources,” I answered. “I correlated the data. For example, a certain web site published that a new squadron commander had been appointed whose father, a kibbutznik, runs a quarry and is a former Palmach fighter. So it wasn’t hard to find the name of the commander, his place of residence, his wife’s workplace, and even a picture of their home.”
“What are you going to do with it?” asked the future Mossad chief.
“Publish it in a newspaper and show that the censor is failing at his job.”
“Have you fallen on your head? Even if the censor failed and the information is out, you have to go ahead and spoon-feed it to the enemy?”
Bragging over Assassinations
Something new happened in Israel over the past month. Some of the most important, most sensitive national secrets were exposed in three episodes of Uvda on Channel 2. If we weren’t familiar with the political culture in Israel, we would think that this had been a sophisticated maneuver on the part of the government: political adversaries and commanders harboring ill will toward each other were planted on a popular television show to tell all, with the actual aim of using the revealed information to deter the enemy.
If only this were the truth. The reality is sadder.
The only sophisticated maneuver here was the one used by Uvda host Ilana Dayan and her writers: “You’ve been accused of ….. What do you say to that?” It worked marvelously. The elite commanders and government ministers on the show exposed themselves practically down to their underwear, whether for purposes of self-aggrandizement or in order to defend themselves.
One of the three programs was devoted to the Iranian problem, while two were dedicated to an operational plan of the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit to assassinate Saddam Hussein, which was discontinued when a missile accidentally was fired from Tze’elim Base. The program detailed the planning of the operation, the identities of the combat soldiers to participate and the commanders who were involved, the decision-making processes, and the training exercises. For instance, it was reported that the assassination was to be executed by two teams: a marking team, dressed as locals, aiming a hidden laser beam at the target, and a second team, in Iraqi army uniforms, waiting a safe distance away with an advanced missile ready to fly at the target.
The commander of the operation told how it was to unfold and bragged of assassinations he had performed in Arab countries in the past. He explained the methods to viewers—including viewers in neighboring countries—right down to how to reach the killing ground and how to get away.
That commander is currently living abroad. What will stop the Islamic sleeper cells in his area and in nearby countries from getting to him? I found his whereabouts online after searching for just a few minutes.
The programs about Iran, for their part, exposed secret government protocols documenting disagreements among top Israeli decision-makers on the topic. In the meantime, Ehud Olmert took advantage of the air time he was given to bolster his public image by disclosing publicly for the first time that he and his administration were behind the attack on a Syrian nuclear facility in 2007.
An Assignment for the State Comptroller
Now we arrive at the big questions. Granted, Ilana Dayan has an interest in exposing state secrets in order to boost her ratings. But why are security officers and politicians playing her game of exchanging exposure in the media for exposure of classified information?
The same goes for former Chief-of-Staff Dan Halutz, who used used an interview when he was abroad to say that the only way to stop the Iranian nuclear project is with a nuclear bomb, and that he hopes the prime minister won’t choose to go that way? Why does a chief of staff have to hand out secret information about what the Israel Air Force can or cannot do?
And finally, where is the censor? The cases described here as well as others in recent months in which secret information was exposed show that the military censor has stopped functioning.
This was equally evident while Hamas was bombing Israel a few weeks ago, when broadcasters got smart with the censor and only hinted at where bombs had fallen. “We can tell you that the missiles fired toward Tel Aviv did not fall on the ground this time.” Thanks, said the terrorists in Gaza—next time we’ll aim a bit further right and make sure our missiles won’t fall in the sea.
The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the state comptroller should perform a thorough investigation of the censor’s performance. In the meantime, she should be sent home. There’s no point in paying her a salary.
Originally published in Makor Rishon, December 7th 2012. Translated from Hebrew by David B. Greenberg.
About the Author: Lt.-Col. (ret.) Meir Indor is CEO of Almagor Terror Victims Association. In his extended career of public service, he has worked as a journalist, founded the Libi Fund, Sar-El, Habaita, among many other initiatives, and continues to lend his support to other pressing causes of the day.
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