By Emanuel A. Winston
Middle East Analyst & Commentator
The hijackings of four planes that attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon might have been picked up by Israel's HUMINT (Human Intelligence) through the Mossad but that talent was killed off by the Bush/Baker Administration. September 13, 1993, Israel's then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and now Foreign Minister Shimon Peres moved into Oslo with a push by the Bush/Baker State Department.
Part of the deal was for Israel to turn over her intelligence gathering capability to Yassir Arafat's 9 Secret Intelligence Services. The more Israel gave up to Arafat, the more that her intel system collapsed. At one time, Israel had deeply penetrated the terrorist organizations under Yassir Arafat's Fatah. We gave up many of these assets to make conciliatory gestures to Arafat and the Arab oil nations at the directives of the U.S. State Department.
Israel let the CIA come in to train Arafat's Secret Services during the Bill Clinton years.
Israel gave Arafat's terror/policemen weapons - not light weapons as stipulated in the Oslo Accords, but also heavy weapons. Today, the Palestinian Authority's Police, permitted at 4,000 by Oslo - now are estimated as 60-80,000. Israel's government submitted an official list of the Palestinian arsenal includes anti-aircraft missiles and cannons. Other illegal weapons held by the Palestinian Police, militia and 9 secret services include: machine guns; rocket-propelled grenades; anti-tank missiles; shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, cannons and machine guns - and more. The greatest weapon, however, was Israel's gift of her on-ground HUMINT.
Israel could have discovered the WTC/Pentagon attack plans through their prior deep cover intelligence in the terrorist organizations. They could have warned us - as they often did before - to save such people as former King Hussein of Jordan and some Saudi princes. But, Americans like George Bush, Sr. and James Baker were more interested in weakening Israel in deference to the oil nations. But, in the end, these were oil men first, last and always.
Today's catastrophes could have been exposed but, we Americans, or at least a prior Administration (Bush and Baker) helped diminish this opportunity. If the Rabin/Peres government had not followed the American diktats to dismantle their Humint in 1993, it is highly possible that the Mossad would have picked up a clue on the World Trade Center/Pentagon suicide bombing plans. As they had in the past, the Mossad would have turned over their information to their counterparts in the CIA. King Hussein of Jordan was saved this way, as were Saudi princes.
But, Bush and Baker and the State Department were so anxious to please the oil sheiks that they pushed hard for Israel to cut back on their intelligence gathering. They carry much of the blame. I recall an incident when Secretary James Baker went to visit President of Syria, Hafez al Assad. It was reported that, in order to make his credibility firm, Baker dropped some highly secret information provided to America by Israeli intelligence. Shortly after that Assad used the information to roll up an Israeli deep penetration operation. These 3 or 4 Israeli agents were tortured and killed. Baker denied supplying the information that exposed the Israeli agents. We just heard a FOX NEWS interview with Congressman speaking about bringing back our ground intelligence - Humint. And on CNN Wolf Blitzer questioned Ambassador Brimmer, a former CIA operative: Ambassador Brimmer: 'How can you prevent case agents from engaging Terrorists or spies.' Wolf: 'Does it make any sense not to try to penetrate.' Ambassador Brimmer: 'Going to have to engage with unsavory characters.' Wolf: 'If running unsavory characters, paying them in your operations, what will Congress say?' Brimmer, CIA: 'That's probably what led to [restrictive] guidelines being imposed in 1995. Find out who did it. Retaliation against people who did it & any governments who were involved with who did. Tens of thousands of people injured & killed.' Wolf: 'Won't retaliation lead to 'cycle of violence;'. Brimmer: 'Can't fall into Hamlet syndrome when you say it won't work, therefore, do nothing. How many of our allies will stand with us?'
Tonight, September 11th James Baker is decrying the lack of Humint and urging that the American Intelligence Services re-instate our intelligence ability. If the Mossad retained her full 'Humint' capability they might have been able to warn us. We shot ourselves in the foot when we Americans deliberately compromised Israel's intelligence capability.
Before and during the Gulf War Israel provided the only on-ground intelligence for what was happening in Iraq. A commanding general was fired at the behest of Bush and Baker for thanking Israel on live TV for her invaluable assistance as an intelligence umbrella. Israel's intelligence actually protected the American and Allies' mobilization for 6 months. And then, President Bush, Sr. and James Baker refused to let Israel defend herself against Saddam Hussein's 39 SCUDs dropped on Israel's civilians. Bush and Baker would not give Israel's Air Force the IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) codes that would let them fly in and take out the SCUD launchers. Perhaps if Israel had been permitted to do so, that last Iraqi SCUD would not have hit the American Marines from Pennsylvania in their barracks, killing approximately 28.
The talk shows are full of restoring our intelligence and retaliation against the terrorists, but the officials being interviewed have almost all been culpable in reducing Israel's intelligence gathering ability. No country is more able to find these despicable perpetrators than Israel is. Israel has been under a terrorist siege for a full year. No country has been a more steadfast ally than Israel...even voting with the United States in the U.N. more often than any other country.
Congresswoman Dianne Feinstein says: "America cannot be a Paper Tiger. Work with our NATO allies, Russia, China, and the moderate Arab countries like Egypt and Jordan." No mention of Israel. We killed the goose that laid the golden intelligence eggs. What are we going to do about it?
Emanuel A. Winston is a research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.