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The Latest Intelligence Failure. And the Next One

July 30th, 2014 - 6:32 pm

ML:  “I’ve heard anecdotes about Israelis in the south, next to Gaza, who heard digging, grinding and scraping at night.  They reported it, of course, but in at least some cases the authorities decided they were disturbed, and provided psychiatric care…”

JJA:  “Heh.  Not the best way to do intelligence.  You’ve got to take reports seriously unless there is a strong reason to dismiss them.  If the stories are true, the intel people were sloppy and lazy, which again is normal enough, albeit deplorable.  But it seems to me that this discussion should lead elsewhere.”

ML:  “Fine with me.  Lead on.”

JJA:  “It should lead us to ask ourselves about the limits of our knowledge.  What can we know and what can’t we know?  So:  the Israelis, as you said, were in an enviable position for spying on Gaza.  It was right next door.  The Israelis had controlled the place for many years.  They knew many many people on the ground.  They had drones, satellites, sigint monitoring a la NSA.  And they were surprised when they attacked.”

ML:  “So you’re saying that if Israel, with top-notch intelligence services, and very favorable conditions…”

JJA:  “Precisely.  If THEY couldn’t get reasonably complete coverage THERE, then how can anyone in his right mind believe that we have, or can have, reasonably complete coverage of Iran?”

ML:  “Good question.  A lot of the Iranian nuclear project is inside…”

JJA:  “Tunnels!  You think the Gazans are unique?  You think that ‘dark city beneath the one we see’ that the Israelis are talking about is limited to Gaza?  No way.  The Iranians have surely done the same.”

ML:  “Yeah, years ago I was told that there was a clandestine city beneath Parchin, for example.”

JJA:  “And Parchin just happens to be one of those military sites that the Iranians have made off-limits to the inspectors.  You can be sure that there are others, probably inside some mountains or the like.  The point is that we cannot reasonably expect to know enough about Iranian activities, whether nuclear or conventional or terror training, to be confident they are actually carrying out their promises.  We can’t check it…”

ML:  “So the intelligence lesson of Gaza is?”

JJA:  “Don’t ever believe you know everything that’s going on.  Even small gaps in our understanding can be fatal to our people.”

ML:  “Is there any way to put ourselves in a stronger position regarding Iran?”

JJA:  “Yes, but it’s costly and painful.  The Israelis in Gaza only learned the full story of the tunnels when they fully engaged.  It took the lives of Israeli soldiers to learn what they learned…are we…”

At which point there was a veritable static storm, and he was gone.

(Artwork created using an image from Shutterstock.com.)

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Top Rated Comments   
Be careful Mr Ledeen. The Paulistinians will be calling you a neocon war monger with truth talking like this. But I suppose you're used to that.

At any rate, great points. Thanks for your efforts to keep the focus where it should be in this war.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
ML:  “Is there any way to put ourselves in a stronger position regarding Iran?”

socabill: "Nuke them from orbit. It's the *only* way to be sure."
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well the answer is clear, the NSA needs to monitor even more phone calls, emails, blog comments and credit card statements of Americans. And then pass all that on to Israel. That should fix the problem.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (39)
All Comments   (39)
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The intelligence failure should not be blamed only on the Intelligence Community, the senior government officials also should be blamed on a part of this failure, because sometimes they ignore many of dangerous warnings. All Intelligence information is very important and necessary that serve the country's security, including flawed and suspect whether gathered by human agents or technical intel. Yet, is better to rely on technical intel rather than human intel, especially in the field of military intelligence and its operations.
In the technical field, I believe that the United States and Israel have more tech capability to do that than any other nation.

However, the main reason behind the failure of that agency in general is (when human intel fails we see its employees surprisingly provide information which often are "highly confidential to media") while the Soviet human intel for instance had greater success because the restricted freedom of the press and all other things did not allow embarrassing disclosures to the public.

"ML: “Is there any way to put ourselves in a stronger position regarding Iran?”

I think the best way to counter external threats is must rely on your FORCE not on your intelligence, on a very strong army and good close allies, not to focus enough on the intelligence community.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
i am not expert on Israeli public diplomacy, but it seems they are doing the best they could...now that some reporters are getting out of Gaza we may learn more "true facts." but it's tough to combat several networks and the NYT. And a lot of European media. And J. Stewart.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Michael, no doubt there are a lot of journalists, pundits, diplomats and academics in the west who sponsored by tyrannical regimes, make good livings by their lies to their people. Today their responsibility lies only in the sale of scandals, lies and the trumped-up charges!!!
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
The only way to stop Iran is by regime change. If we had anybody but Obama in the White House, maybe tough sanctions would destroy the Iranian economy. Maybe even the Iranian people can get fed up with poverty and despair, and revolt. But if we have to wait until 2016 then, there will be a nuclear Iran and the world is going to go to war in spite of Obama's reluctance to defend America. If he can't see that events are already out of his hands all over the world, then he is a bigger fool than he appears to be.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
isn't it strange how people use words to describe concepts that in no way, shape or form describe those involved? like in court, where the crookedest lawyer type is called honorable? or that 'justice' can be found w/o the 'precepts of law', as defined by our forefathers? heck, today's so called 'legal professionals' can't even follow the instructions (constitution, Bill of Rights, etc.). then we have a word like 'intelligence'. somehow people call what crazy or incompetent people in government screw up, 'intelligence'.

go figure.

our forefathers had far more intelligence than those who lead us today. from what one can read from history, they were rightly called 'honorable', and could actually visualize at how 'justice' was accomplished. doesn't this also help explain how words like 'transparency' get misused. 'I pledge to have the most transparent administration in history', but he didn't. just the opposite.

sorry, but isn't this the source of many of our problems? that we no longer look at a word (or phrase) as a proper reflection of the meaning originally designated.

for instance, 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman'. but it turns out he really did, but we somehow he changed the meaning of the word.

dad: did you have sexual relations w/ that boy?
daughter: well, according to our 'honorable' president, no dad, I didn't.

'that don't make no kinda sense' to me.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
One can seldom predict the sequence of moves in a chess game, either (Fool's Mate excepted.)

The other side has agency too and will try to surprise you. No, we have little idea of exactly what the mullahs are up to.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Being pretty certain that Israeli intelligence trumps US intelligence every time, we are clearly in trouble with Iran. But, the US is hoping that John Kerry can straighten things out with his usual wit and profound articulation of...oh forget it.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Michael, the failure of intelligence is ongoing.

Obama/Kerry/Hagel/Jarrett/Malley are aligned with Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas/Iran

They can't openly admit this because the 70+% American Jewish vote, money and vocal support would crater.

"Liberals" join conservatives on one issue. Israel.

Leftists and Ron Paul/Buchanan do not.

Hiding the alliance with terrorist groups and the seething animosity toward Israel is the shell game of this cabal and their palace guard media. Caroline Glick gets this. The guys at Powerline get this.

The suburban "liberal" does not. THAT is the intelligence failure that keeps America and Israel in mortal danger.

"Liberals" have been Pavlovian/Skinner trained to recoil at being unified friends with conservatives on the matter of Israel. They would rather chew off an arm than link hands with "the right".

Win that battle and all the other enemies of America and Israel shrivel and die.


gatestoneinstitute.org/4557/john-kerry-hamas
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
I hope the Israelis are checking their northern border with Lebanon for Hezbollah tunnels.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
for sure. in 2006 they had to go into Hezbollah tunnels...
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
I recall the rumors about Libya's tunnels (built by Gaddafi) in the late 90s. There was a pro-Gaddafi "journalist" who was published in a number of papers who would accuse those who reported on the tunnels as being unhinged crazies (furious ad hominem attacks). Then after Gaddafi's murder, guess what they found? An enormous tunnel network
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is good to know that James Jesus is well, and tending his roses as of old.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
i wouldn't use the word "well," but he's certainly lively. doubt his beloved orchids surround him, but that would be nice.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
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