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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

Why the CIA Director is Wrong: Islamism Scarier than Al Qaeda

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

It’s time, a dozen years after September 11 and following Islamist coups in the Gaza Strip; Islamist electoral revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Turkey; and a probable Islamist victory during the next year in Syria–to rethink completely our view of Al Qaeda.

First, Al Qaeda wasn’t involved in any of these events or in several more big developments we could list. Second, Al Qaeda hasn’t disappeared, contrary to the Obama Administration’s claims. And third, the American homeland is now demonstrably well-protected from terrorist attacks so consequently while success on this front remains important it need not be the top U.S. strategic priority.

So let me propose a new way of looking at things:

Aside from being a problem of counter-terrorism—that is, of law enforcement—Al Qaeda is no longer important. It certainly isn’t strategically important nor is it important for the biggest and most essential U.S. national interests. That doesn’t mean Al Qaeda should be ignored. Yet combating it is relatively manageable.

This alternative view is especially significant at a moment when the new CIA director is the father—and the president, secretary of state, and secretary of defense the avid fans—of a theory that places Al Qaeda at the center of the world stage. Basically their theory goes like this:

Al Qaeda is terribly evil and a threat to America. It must be fought. But all Islamism—except for Al Qaeda—can be moderated and won over by a sympathetic U.S. policy. The Islamists are the best people to handle and defeat Al Qaeda and by giving the people what they want–Islam running the society–their desire to commit terrorism or attack America will subside. After all, if the United States shows itself to be Islamism’s best friend, why should Islamists be angry at it? This strategy began with Obama’s Cairo speech which was a profoundly pro-Islamist statement, and that’s why he invited Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders to sit in the front row.

In other words, put your enemies in power and they are no longer your enemies. Moreover, once Islamists get into power they will get entangled in party politics, paving roads, running schools, and doing all the other things that governments do. They will lose their radicalism and certainly stop using violence.

Now there’s a lot to say against this theory. It either hasn’t worked historically on other radical ideologies—Nazism, fascism, Communism—or at least only after a very long time in power (including millions of victims) often mixed in with military debacles. It can be said to have worked with radical Arab nationalism but only after 50 years and multiple military defeats. This was also the precise theory that underpinned the 1990s’ Oslo peace process and assumptions about Yasir Arafat settling down to become a great and practical statesman. And that didn’t work either.

Moreover, it ignores the fundamental extremism, anti-Americanism, antisemitism, anti-Christian, and anti-women tenets of Islamist philosophy, which are rooted in reasonable (but not the only possible) interpretations of Islam. And it also leaves out the power gained once radicals take over institutions. Sure they’ll be running the schools but that doesn’t mean they will become entangled in planning curricula so much as to persuade people they should grow up to be radical Islamists and jihad warriors.

Finally, all Islamists want Islamist rule and the application of Sharia as the law. Some will talk and do nothing; others will talk and organize; others will use violence, and among those who organize there are those who can seize state power—in Muslim majority countries—and those that will fail. The Muslim Brotherhood is brilliant tactically; Al Qaeda has only one note in its orchestra, endless struggle and terrorism rather than political maneuvering and building a mass base.

Usually, as you can see, when I talk about this issue I stress the non-Al Qaeda side of the equation. But it’s time to reanalyze Al Qaeda also.

The importance of Al Qaeda in the history of Islamism is actually more marginal than it might seem from the massive study and headlines it generated. Al Qaeda had three innovations of importance:

First, that the movement be international, fighting simultaneously on all fronts. While the Muslim Brotherhood had been an international group it had a limited number of branches, only four of real significance. However, this only succeeded because Al Qaeda’s organization—especially after the U.S. destruction of the center in Afghanistan and long before Osama bin Ladin’s assassination—was so loose. Basically, local groups could simply affiliate with Al Qaeda without being its actual creation. Being active everywhere and not concentrating one’s forces is a formula for survival but also a recipe for ultimate defeat.

Obama’s CIA Pick and His Romance with Islam

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

One of the first things Barack Obama did after taking the oath of office (which he actually did on Sunday, January 20, as prescribed by the Constitution) was to submit a list of candidates for cabinet-level posts. One of these was Secretary of Defense, and his nominee was Chuck Hagel. I’ve had a lot to say about Hagel’s views about issues related to Israel, all bad.

But this post isn’t about Hagel. It is about another cabinet-level appointment, that of John O. Brennan, Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser (actually “Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Assistant to the President”) as head of the CIA.

What do we know about Brennan? He held several important posts in the CIA, including station chief in Saudi Arabia from 1996-99. His academic background includes the study of Arabic and Arab culture; he received a B.A. in political science from Fordham University, including a year abroad at the American University in Cairo, and an M.A. in Government specializing in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. He speaks Arabic ‘fluently.’

Now there is nothing wrong with having this kind of background. After all, insofar as the threat of terrorism is a major concern, and the fact that almost all terrorism today emanates from the Arab and Muslim world, the CIA director can’t know too much about it.

But on the other hand, there is the phenomenon of the ‘Arabist’ — the Westerner who studies Arabic and is so taken by the culture that he adopts the Arab worldview and politics. T. E. Lawrence is probably the most well-known, but contemporary examples abound (for example, the academic Juan Cole).

If you  believe that the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism is related to specific grievances held by ‘extremists’ who are exploiting the essentially peaceful religion of Islam for their purposes, then possibly having a CIA director who is an Arabist is not a problem.

But on the other hand, if you believe that we are experiencing the beginnings of a true civilizational conflict between Islam and the West, then it could be a big problem indeed.

So is Brennan an Arabist in this sense? I’m not sure.

In February 2010, Brennan spoke to Muslim students at NYU in a meeting ‘facilitated’ by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). His talk can be found in these four video clips: hereherehere, and here.

In the first one, he says that Islam is “a faith of peace and tolerance and great diversity,” something which I suspect the Coptic Christians of Egypt would dispute. He can be heard speaking in somewhat rusty Arabic. He describes meeting Muslim students from various countries including “Palestine,” and refers to “al-Quds, Jerusalem” — where, he says, the three faiths for whom the city is holy show that they can coexist despite tensions. (But he fails to note that this has only been the case since the city has been under Jewish control!)

Later, he discusses at length the problem of prejudice against Muslims in America and the need to protect their rights, but he does not mention the very real lack of rights experienced by non-male or non-Muslim populations in Muslim-controlled lands.

He praises the Saudi monarchy for the stewardship of the holy cities of Islam and the haj, but does not talk about the brutal, medieval darkness of that kingdom where slavery flourishes and petty thieves have their hands cut off.

He praises ISNA and other Muslim organizations for working to protect the rights of Muslims, but does not mention their involvement in fund-raising for Hamas or other terrorist groups, or their connection to the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, he criticizes the U.S. government for interfering with the obligation for Muslims to practice zakat — charity.

Brennan is 100 percent on board with the Obama policy that our enemies consist only of “al-Qaeda and its extremist allies,” organizations that have distorted the peaceful nature of Islam. In fact, he opposes the use of the word ‘jihadists’ to refer to Islamic terrorists, because:

They are not jihadists, for jihad is a holy struggle, an effort to purify, for a legitimate purpose. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing holy or pure or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.

As I argued in response to similar remarks in 2009 — Brennan misunderstands the nature of our enemy:

Doubtless Osama bin Laden believes that his jihad against the U.S. is a “holy struggle for a moral goal.” But Brennan’s definition leaves out the historical meaning of ‘jihad’ as an expansionist, offensive struggle against non-Muslims, an aspect which is still very much part of the concept in the minds of many present-day Muslims (for an exhaustive and persuasive analysis of this topic, see Daniel Pipes: “Jihad and the Professors“)…

… jihad in this sense was highly important in the past and has been reemphasized by modern Islamist thinkers like al-Banna and Qutb.

Brennan clings to the idea that we can somehow undercut the spread of violent Islamist ideology by employing economic development and education to fight the “ignorance” that allows al-Qaeda to recruit:

I think Brennan underestimates the pull of the militant Islamist ideology itself, especially in Arab cultures. After all, the leadership of radical groups like al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizballah, etc. are all well-educated, and in the case of bin Laden, quite wealthy. It can be argued that in some cases — like the Palestinian Arabs, who have probably been the recipient of more Western ‘development’ aid than any other similar group — there are religious/cultural pathologies that work against political stability and economic development, as well as making the culture fertile ground for radical ideologies.

So when Brennan suggests that we need to attack these ‘conditions’ as well as fight ‘extremists’, he misses two points:

  1. The ‘extremists’ are not just a small group of crazies, but part of a significant faction of fundamentalist Muslims who — while they may not themselves engage in violent jihad — accept the ideology of militant Islamism which promotes it. As long as this is the case, there will always be a supply of ones whoare violent.
  2. Unless the cultural and religious issues that make it hard for societies to develop in what we Westerners see as a positive direction (democracy, economic development, fair allocation of resources, etc.) can be counteracted, Western attempts to ameliorate poverty, lack of education and political repression will be seen as so much cultural imperialism.

Since 2010, militant Islamism has made great advances in the Middle East, and it is becoming harder and harder for those like Brennan to claim that it is a distortion of the peace and beauty that is “mainstream” Islam. Has he changed his thinking?

We may find out. Unlike the position he holds today, his new job requires Senate confirmation.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Declassified: Pollard’s Handlers Wanted Arab and Soviet, Not US Information

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

When Naval Investigative Service analyst Jonathan Pollard spied for Israel in 1984 and 1985, his Israeli handlers asked primarily for nuclear, military and technical information on the Arab states, Pakistan, and the Soviet Union – not on the United States – according to the newly-declassified CIA 1987 damage assessment of the Pollard case, published Friday by the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

According to the GWU National Security Archive, the damage assessment (PDF) includes new details on the specific subjects and documents sought by Pollard’s Israeli handlers, such as Syrian drones and central communications, Egyptian missile programs, and Soviet air defenses. The Israelis specifically asked for a signals intelligence manual that they needed to listen in on Soviet advisers in Syria. The document describes how Pollard’s handler, Joseph Yagur, told him to ignore a request, from Yagur’s boss, for U.S. “dirt” on senior Israeli officials and told Pollard that gathering such information would terminate the operation.

Under the heading “What the Israelis Did Not Ask For,” the assessment remarks that they “never expressed interest in US military activities, plans, capabilities, or equipment.”

Jonathan Pollard's I.D. Photograph

Jonathan Pollard’s I.D. Photograph.                                                       Photo: U.S. Naval intelligence

The assessment also notes that Pollard volunteered delivery of three daily intelligence summaries that had not been requested by his handlers, but which proved useful to them, and ultimately handed over roughly 1,500 such messages from the Middle East and North Africa Summary (MENAS), the Mediterranean Littoral Intelligence Summary (MELOS), and the Indian Ocean Littoral Intelligence Summary, in addition to the more than 800 compromised documents on other subjects that Pollard delivered to the Israelis in suitcases.

The damage assessment (PDF) also features a detailed 21-page chronology of Pollard’s personal life and professional career, including his work for the Israelis, highlighting more than a dozen examples of unusual behavior by Pollard that the CIA suggests should have, in retrospect, alerted his supervisors that he was a security risk. Prominent on the list were false statements by Pollard during a 1980 assignment with Task Force 168, the naval intelligence element responsible for HUMINT collection. Pollard is now serving a life sentence in prison for espionage.

The CIA denied release of most of the Pollard damage assessment in 2006, claiming for example that pages 18 through 165 were classified in their entirety and not a line of those pages could be released. The Archive appealed the CIA’s decision to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, established by President Clinton in 1995 and continued by Presidents Bush and Obama. The ISCAP showed its value yet again as a check on systemic overclassification by ordering release of scores of pages from the Pollard damage assessment that were previously withheld by CIA, and published today for the first time.

According to Jeffrey T. Richelson, writing for the GWU Archive, until his arrest, Pollard delivered approximately 800 documents, many of which were classified top secret or codeword. In addition, he stole an estimated 1,500 current intelligence summary messages.

The documents provided information on PLO headquarters in Tunisia; specific capabilities of Tunisian and Libyan air defense systems; Iraqi and Syrian chemical warfare productions capabilities (including detailed satellite imagery); Soviet arms shipments to Syria and other Arab states; naval forces, port facilities, and lines of communication of various Middle Eastern and North African countries; the MiG-29 fighter; and Pakistan’s nuclear program. Also included was a U.S. assessment of Israeli military capabilities.

Pollard’s disclosures were alarming to U.S. officials for several reasons, some of which were noted in their official declarations (Document 6, Document 8). One, despite the fact that both the U.S. and Israeli considered each other legitimate intelligence targets, was Israel’s willingness to run a human penetration operation directed at the U.S. government. Another, was the damage to the intelligence sharing arrangement with Israel – since its acquisition of material from Pollard weakened the U.S. position vis-a-vis intelligence exchanges with Israel.

In addition, there was no guarantee that such documents, revealing both sources and methods as well as assessments, would not find their way to the Soviet Union via a Soviet penetration of the Israeli intelligence or defense community – as had happened with a number of other allies. Further, since Israel was a target of U.S. intelligence collection – particularly technical collection – operations, the documents could be used by Israeli counterintelligence and security organizations to help Israel neutralize or degrade U.S. collection operations.

Parshat Vayeishev

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Most people remember where they were when they heard the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed and justice delivered. Many books have already been written about the ten-year search for him, the decision to launch the mission and the actual attack on his compound in Abbottabad. While every aspect of this story is fascinating, I would like to focus on one specific area: Why were the Navy SEALs chosen to execute the mission? When the mission was being planned it was hardly a done deal that the SEALs would be selected as opposed to the CIA’s own paramilitary unit.[1]

At a meeting at the CIA in early 2011 Admiral William McRaven, the commander of JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command), suggested that one of the military’s special operations forces be used. His suggestion was SEAL Team Six[2], based on their availability. His reasoning for using one of his teams as opposed to a CIA team was as follows: The compound was located 150 miles inside Pakistan. The least of the problems would be the actual storming of the compound. The key challenge was that the attacking force would have to fulfill its mission and extract itself without starting a shooting war with the Pakistani army. This made the mission overly complex and, the more complex a mission, the more things there are that could go wrong. The SEALs, McRaven argued, had perfected these tactics through trial and error, and at the cost of many lives. They knew what they were doing. They had the experience.

McRaven told CIA officials that history has taught that on missions like this, something always goes wrong – no matter how much planning there is. What they needed were men who could think under pressure and adapt to whatever situation materialized. McRaven was persuasive and SEAL team Six got the job.

The commander handpicked the SEALs who would go on the mission. “It was a Dream Team: men who, in the thousands of raids he had overseen, had shown they did not rattle, had shown they could handle themselves coolly and intelligently not just when things went according to plan, but when things went wrong. Those situations required quickly assessing the significance of the error or malfunction or whatever unexpected event had occurred, and then making the necessary adjustments to complete the mission. The core talent required was the ability to adapt, to think for yourself and make smart decisions” (The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden by Mark Bowden, 2012, p. 192-93).

The ability to adapt is necessary for all successful leaders. Either things don’t go as planned or unexpected opportunities present themselves. While the leader’s vision and overall goal should remain constant, his plans and tactics must be flexible. This requires conditioning and preparation. In this week’s parsha we meet the ultimate adaptable leader—Yosef. Every step of Yosef’s kidnapping and sale to the Midyanim and then to the Yishmaelim was guided by Hashem, and inspired Yosef to adapt in every situation in a manner that would place him on the trajectory to become viceroy in Egypt. The Ketav Sofer points out that Yosef, despite being a charismatic and success-generating individual, managed to act plain and unassuming while in the company of the Yishmaelim. Had he been his normal self, they never would have sold him in Egypt; they would have opted to keep him for themselves. Had that happened Yosef would have remained a permanent prisoner of a nomadic tribe with no hope of becoming a player in world affairs. Yosef thus adapted to the situation by subduing his natural personality.

Upon being sold to Potifar the Kli Yakar (39:3,5) explains that Yosef demonstrated his organizational and managerial skills and earned three promotions within the household operation. Seeing his success Potifar assigned Yosef to his personal staff with the independence necessary to do his job. He then placed him in charge of the entire household staff. Finally, he appointed him as manager of all his operations, including all of his outside concerns.

After Yosef was falsely accused of misconduct, he was sentenced to the royal prison. Yet even there, amid the terrible conditions of a prison, Yosef adapted and managed to impress his superiors, inspire confidence and attain the position of prison manager. The Or Chaim Hakadosh (39:22) suggests, based on the wording of the pasuk, that Yosef, despite being the senior prisoner, did not take advantage of his position and co-opt for himself special privileges. Instead, he worked with the other prisoners sharing in their discomfort. By setting such a high personal example Yosef endeared himself in the eyes of all others.

Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Semantics Or Something Deeper?

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks in Libya, UN Ambassador Susan Rice may have deliberately misled the public when she went on multiple television shows and called the facility that had been targeted a “consulate.”

The difference between branding the Benghazi facility a “mission” or a “consulate” may be crucial in determining what was really going on in the building.

As this column was first to report, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi actually served as a meeting place to coordinate aid for the rebel-led insurgencies in the Middle East, according to Middle Eastern security officials.

Many rebel fighters are openly members of terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda.

A good deal of media attention and political criticism has been focused on Rice’s other statements immediately after the Benghazi attacks, primarily her blaming of an obscure YouTube film vilifying Muhammad for what she claimed were popular protests that took place outside the U.S. mission.

In defending itself, however, against new claims that the White House may have scrubbed the CIA’s initial intelligence assessment on the Benghazi attacks of references to al Qaeda, Obama administration officials may have unintentionally implicated themselves in another, until now unnoticed scandal.

Over the weekend, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes contended that the White House made only small, factual edits to the CIA’s intelligence assessment, referring to one edit in particular.

“We were provided with points by the intelligence community that represented their assessment,” Rhodes said aboard Air Force One en route to Asia. “The only edit made by the White House was the factual edit about how to refer to the facility.”

Rhodes said the White House and State Department changed a reference in the CIA report from “consulate” to “diplomatic facility.”

Further, Politico reported that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was adamant that the White House only changed the reference to the Benghazi facility.

“There was only one thing that was changed … and that was, the word ‘consulate’ was changed to ‘mission,’ ” Feinstein said. “That’s the only change that anyone in the White House made, and I have checked this out.”

If the White House intentionally changed the reference to the Benghazi facility from “consulate” to “mission,” why did Rice repeatedly refer to the facility as a “consulate” when she engaged in a media blitz in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attacks?

In a September 16 interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Rice twice labeled the facility a “consulate.” In a subsequent interview on CBS’s “This Morning,” she again referred to the facility as a “consulate.”

Islamic Jihad Warns Fears Mossad
Facebook Infiltration

The Gazan-based Islamic Jihad terror group is apparently concerned Israeli intelligence agents disguised as good looking girls on Facebook are attempting to infiltrate Palestinian computers.

During intense fighting in Gaza that reportedly has most jihadist leaders in hiding, members of the Islamic Jihad’s so-called military wing, the Al Quds Brigades, found time today to post a lengthy article on their official website warning Palestinian Facebook users of potential Israeli intelligence hackers.

Islamic Jihad has taken responsibility for firing hundreds of rockets from the Gaza Strip aimed at nearby Jewish population centers. It also claimed credit for firing at least one Fajr-5 long range missile toward Tel Aviv.

“How do you know if Mossad became your friend on Facebook,” is the title of the piece, posted at Saraya.ps, Islamic Jihad’s main website. In Arabic, Saraya al-Quds means the Al Quds Brigades.

“Do you feel proud because your Facebook account boasts 5,000 friends? Well, here are ten steps to expose whether intelligence agents transplanted themselves inside your friends list,” reads the article.

The piece warns of friend invites from Facebook users who are unknown, “especially from a beautiful girl.”

Iran And Hizbullah Attempt
To Resupply Hamas

Iran and Hizbullah are furiously trying to resupply Hamas in the Gaza Strip with long range missiles to fire into Israel, according to Israeli defense sources.

Informed Middle Eastern security officials further told this column that advisers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Units are in the Gaza Strip helping to oversee the firing of long range rockets by jihadist groups there.

The information comes as Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, denied Israeli claims that his country was supplying rockets to Gazan groups, according to a report posted on Iran’s Al Alam’s television website.

Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Slip Of The Tongue For Broadwell?

Did Paula Broadwell, the alleged mistress of ex-CIA Director David Petraeus, reveal a secret CIA detention center in Benghazi during a public speech she gave last month?

Broadwell, a former counterterror operative, co-authored a bestselling biography of Petraeus. She discussed the book during a keynote speech on Oct. 26 at a University of Denver alumni symposium. The speech is available in full on YouTube. During a question and answer session, Broadwell was asked about the September 11 attacks against the U.S. mission in Benghazi. She stated:

“Now I don’t know if a lot of you heard this, but the CIA annex had actually had taken a couple of Libya militia members prisoner. And they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back. So that’s still being vetted.”

The existence of a U.S. prison or CIA detention center in Benghazi would be a new development in the debate surrounding the attacks there. The information does not appear to have been publicly known prior to her comments.

An extensive KleinOnline search of news media coverage of the Benghazi attacks could find no mention of prisoners being held at the CIA annex.

A CIA spokesperson denied Broadwell’s claim of a prison at the Libyan annex. However, Fox News is quoting multiple intelligence sources claiming that prisoners were indeed held at the Benghazi annex.

What The Media Is Ignoring…

The speculation surrounding the sudden resignation of the CIA chief, General David Petraeus, is focusing in large part on his role in an alleged cover up of the attacks against the U.S. mission in Benghazi this past September.

Perhaps being overlooked is the CIA’s possible role in purportedly using the Benghazi mission to coordinate U.S. aid to opposition insurgent groups acting in Syria amid information that those same insurgents consist in significant part of jihadists, including groups openly acting under the al Qaeda umbrella.

That Benghazi compound is repeatedly referred by the news media to as a “consulate.” However, as this column recently reported, the building was not a consulate and at no point functioned as one, according to informed Middle East security officials. Instead, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi served as a meeting place to coordinate aid for the rebel-led insurgencies in the Middle East, the security officials said.

Among the tasks performed inside the building was collaborating with Arab countries on the recruitment of fighters – including jihadists – to target Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. In September, KleinOnline broke the story that Ambassador Christopher Stevens played a central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Assad’s regime in Syria, according to Egyptian security officials.

Stevens served as a key contact with the Saudis to coordinate the recruitment by Saudi Arabia of Islamic fighters from North Africa and Libya. The jihadists were sent to Syria via Turkey to attack Assad’s forces, said the security officials.

The officials said Stevens also worked with the Saudis to send names of potential jihadi recruits to U.S. security organizations for review. Names found to be directly involved in previous attacks against the U.S., including in Iraq and Afghanistan, were ultimately not recruited by the Saudis to fight in Syria.

Hamas’s Obama Ardor Cools

In 2008, Hamas was so hopeful about a future Obama administration that the group’s chief political adviser, Ahmed Yousef, famously endorsed then-candidate Barack Obama for office, calling the politician a “great man” with a “vision to change America.”

Upon Obama’s re-election, however, the Islamist group’s expectations of the U.S. president seem to have diminished. During a radio interview, Mahmoud Al-Zahar, Hamas’s senior leader in Gaza, explained he was “not too much optimistic” about what the future holds with Obama in the White House.

Stated Zahar: “We are respecting the will of the American people but we are not too much optimistic about his positive interference to stop the Israeli aggression against the Palestinians and to stop the expansion of the settlements.”

Zahar made these comments on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on New York’s WABC Radio.

He continued: “Obama in his first term supplied the Israelis with the most sophisticated material more than any other leader. We have a big suspicion about his direct interference in order to help the Palestinian issue and to change his attitude concerning the reconciliation and the confiscation of our land.”

The Petraeus Conundrum

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

There are some fascinating questions that come to mind regarding the current controversy concerning Gen. David Petraeus, and in the coming weeks and months many of the blanks will doubtless be filled in. To be sure, the personal dimension to the story will continue to draw much attention – infidelity and personal failure in high places will always have a certain allure. But there are some serious public issues involved that we hope will be pursued.

It’s obvious that news of this sort would dominate the media once it surfaced. Surely it would have sucked much of the air out of the story of the president’s efforts to rally the nation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. It would also have drawn attention away from the president’s newly charged economic appeal to the middle class that had given him some late momentum in his electoral battle with Gov. Romney.

Yet it appears that the news about Gen. Petraeus was circulating long before the resignation, which occurred after the election. Thus, the FBI investigation that led to Gen. Petraeus’s stepping down began in May and continued until late summer, at which point Attorney General Eric Holder supposedly was notified. Yet it is claimed that it was only on November 6– Election Day – that the Justice Department informed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper of the investigation; that on November 7the White House was notified; and that the president was first told on November 8.

Maybe. But it certainly seems inconceivable that an investigation of this sort involving the head of the Central Intelligence Agency – including possible criminal liability for compromising classified national security information – would not have been brought to the attention of the president or his senior staff early on. So the issue of whether there was an effort by public officials to suppress the Petraeus story in order to enhance the president’s reelection prospects is squarely before us.

Perhaps more important, Gen. Petraeus appears to be the intelligence source cited by the president and his senior staff as the basis for their refusal, for more than two weeks, to characterize the Benghazi attack as a terrorist act despite evidence that it was indeed a well-planned operation of an Al Qaeda affiliate. Not a few critics noted that to have acknowledged that fact would have been inconsistent with the administration’s position that Al Qaeda and similar outfits had been routed by U.S. military action.

In any event, soon after the Benghazi attack, Gen. Petraeus testified before a congressional committee that the attack was a spontaneous reaction on the part of Muslims angered by an anti-Muhamamad video. Further, Gen. Petraeus was scheduled to testify at two congressional hearings, beginning November 15,on both the failure to anticipate and properly respond to the attack as well as the decision to identify it as something other than a terrorist attack.

With the Petraeus resignation, acting CIA director Michael Morell is now scheduled to testify on behalf of the CIA. Gen. Petraeus has indicated that he will not testify, and as a civilian he will have an easier time avoiding that prospect despite the intentions of some in Congress to demand that he appear.

Was the general’s resignation part of an effort to keep him from having to testify? One need not subscribe to all the conspiracy theories now swirling around these developments. Generally, they are not helpful. But there certainly are questions that need to be looked into.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-petraeus-conundrum/2012/11/14/

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