(Jerusalem) - The entire intelligence community, including Israel's secret service as well as remnants of the KGB in Moscow are astounded at the elementary blunder made by the Washington Post's recent front page report about a Mossad mole called Mega operating in the heart of U.S. security.
In a bid to save face Janet Reno, U.S. Attorney General, announced that the FBI is investigating information about Mega. She has not been put clearly in the picture, for if she knew that the entire story is a scam that went wrong, she would not have added the prestige of her name to give the tale a stamp of authenticity.
The heart of the Washington Post's story is that the NSA (the U.S. National Security Agency) intercepted a conversation between two Israeli intelligence officers. Their discussion concerned a request made by the Israeli Ambassador in Washington, Eliahu Ben-Elissar, for a copy of a letter written by Warren Christopher, former Secretary of State, to PLO Chief Yasser Arafat concerning the Hebron agreement earlier this year, between the Palestinians and Israel.
The response was a curt: "This is not something we can use Mega for."
The deduction made by The Washington Post was that there was a mole inside the CIA feeding Israel secrets. Its editors deduced that Mega is a sinister spy with access to the highest level of America's secrets. Clearly he seemed to be a traitor in the tradition of Aldrich Ames, a high ranking CIA mole who betrayed his country's secrets to the KGB.
It was this revelation which immediately raised the deepest suspicion of every major western intelligence service. A now-retired senior French security chief explained why: "The NSA is the most secretive of all the U.S. web of security bodies. We have never known them to ever leak anything nor ever even admit what sort of work they do. Its intercepts are the most highly classified of the intelligence community. Their specialty is to use their vast resources and sophisticated high-technology techniques, to employ their finely honed sources and methods capacity. In plain English, "to give them the power to discover the intelligence capacity of every country on earth.."
The weakness of The Washington Post's story lies in its declaration that the NSA has cracked Israel's communication links. European intelligence operatives regard the Mossad's system as one of the most secure developed anywhere.
Because of this admission, Jerusalem will know that someone in their own security services has turned traitor and sold information to the United States. Every one of America's allies will in all probabilities suspect the the same thing has happened to them if indeed the NSA did come clean over this item of information...
Said the French specialist: "We always suspected that this was indeed what NSA was up to. Now we have the proof. Almost certainly the NSA has logged in its massive computers every item of information sent and received by the security services on the globe including those of Russia, China, North Korea, etc. How extraordinary that in a thoughtless moment they released information about their most jealously guarded secret. To create this vast network must have cost them billions of dollars, never mind millions. To do so meant bribing hundreds if not thousands of men and women working in every intelligence service anywhere."
Israeli suspicions are growing daily about the Washington paper's claim of some sort of leak being fed to them. "Israel has no need to seek assistance about the contents of messages to Arafat in Gaza. It has its own sources there and does not need to drag in its ambassador in the U.S." say insiders in Jerusalem.
The dead giveaway about the lack of authenticity of the story about "Mole Mega" is the fact that every junior intelligence officer anywhere knows full well that with its allies, the U.S. set up two international organizations in the 1970's. One was named Megawatt. Its purpose was to share information involving political activities of just about everyone of consequence in the Western world. The second called Kilowatt, concerns gathering and sharing information about terrorists, hijackers, etc. The object was to try then to evolve counter-terrorist measures to cope with their planned activities.
As the Jerusalem Post put it, if indeed such a conversation as reported took place, the Israelis were simply engaged in a routine professional consultation about how to handle a simple problem and asking if the international sharing network should be consulted. He was told, "NO." The Israeli ambassador has meanwhile totally denied ever making such inquiries.
It is clear, say Israeli experts, that the Americans of the Washington paper mistranslated the word Mega, if indeed the conversation ever took place. Adding his angry voice at the efforts of both the paper and American intelligence services, Dani Naveh, Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet secretary said: "We know the facts. When the truth becomes clear I believe everyone will understand how false and ludicrous the story is."
In any event, Netanyahu has let it be known that last January during the talks about Hebron, he already knew the contents of the Christopher letter within two weeks of it being sent to Arafat.
"The whole escapade is a botched job by individuals in the U.S. administration who have been hostile to Israel from the day the country became a state in 1948," commented a veteran Israeli diplomat. "It's a botched job from beginning to end."
(Uri Dan and Dennis Eisenberg are frequent contributors to the Jerusalem Post and New York Post.)