The mudslinging nature of Israeli election season has also caught the attention of the press in the United States, and on Monday conservative online news site National Review published an article challenging claims by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
Vindictive Former Mossad head Meir Dagan speaking against Netanyahu since his position as ‘spy chief’ wasn’t extended – Photo: Roni Shutzer
The article’s author, Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst who worked with the House Intelligence Committee, wrote that Dagan’s “criticism of Netanyahu’s speech is a case of a former government official politicizing national security and is not reflective of the views of Israeli intelligence.”
Since retiring from the Mossad, Dagan has been a vociferous critic of Netanyahu’s policies, claiming that an Israeli military strike was “the last thing we need” and would not set Iran’s nuclear program back “for very long.”
This past Saturday, Dagan was the keynote speaker at a political rally titled “Israel Wants Change,” which brought some 35,000 people to Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. During his speech Dagan leveled harsh criticism at Netanyahu, saying, “We need to act rationally, not by declaring war on the U.S.”
Prior to Netanyahu’s address to Congress on March 3, Dagan told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that the prime minister “has caused the most strategic damage when it comes to the Iranian issue.”
In April 2012, Dagan told “60 Minutes” that he viewed the Iranian regime as “rational.”
Fleitz, however, claims that “Mossad analysts and Dagan sang an entirely different tune during briefings to a congressional delegation to Israel in October 2010” (in which Fleitz says he participated).
“At the time, they told us the threat from the Iranian nuclear program was very dire and that Iran had enough enriched uranium to produce several nuclear bombs within a few months. This was a conclusion many American experts had also reached and one that tracked with my understanding of Iran’s nuclear program as a staff member with the House Intelligence Committee. Dagan led the briefing and was in full agreement with his analysts. He said nothing about Iran being several years away from a nuclear bomb or the Iranian mullahs being rational actors.”
According to Fleitz, “While Dagan may harbor serious reservations about the wisdom of Israel’s attacking Iran, his criticism of Netanyahu’s statements about the Iranian nuclear program don’t hold up.
“The prime minister’s assessment of the Iranian threat is one shared by many U.S. think tanks. … Netanyahu’s speech was also consistent with the views of a growing bipartisan majority in Congress.”
Meanwhile, Fleitz concluded, “Dagan’s criticism of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress proves that former Israeli government officials sometimes play politics with national security just as their American counterparts do. While this won’t stop Obama officials from citing Dagan to discredit Netanyahu, it will hopefully lead some in the news media to mention Dagan’s track record of politicizing the issue when reporting on this story.”
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=24079