A report by columnist Sidney Blumenthal in Salon claims that Israel
is receiving intelligence from the US's National Security Agency.
Blumenthal claims to be in touch with "a national security official with
direct knowledge of the operation" to supply Israel with signals intelligence
from American assets to help it monitor armament transfers from Syria and Iran
to Hezbollah. He states that President Bush has approved the intelligence sharing.
Bush is being influenced by neoconservatives in his administration
led by Vice President Dick Cheney's staff and Elliot Abrams, senior director
for the Near East on the National Security Council. The group, according to
Blumenthal, seeks to start a 'four front war' by giving Israel the pretext to
strike Iran and Syria. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been briefed,
but is not a central actor in the plan.
An exceprt of the restricted-access
article is provided below.
The National Security Agency is providing signal intelligence to Israel to monitor
whether Syria and Iran are supplying new armaments to Hezbollah as it fires
hundreds of missiles into northern Israel, according to a national security
official with direct knowledge of the operation. President Bush has approved
the secret program.
Inside the administration, neoconservatives on Vice President Dick Cheney's
national security staff and Elliott Abrams, the neoconservative senior director
for the Near East on the National Security Council, are prime movers behind
sharing NSA intelligence with Israel, and they have discussed Syrian and Iranian
supply activities as a potential pretext for Israeli bombing of both countries,
the source privy to conversations about the program says. (Intelligence, including
that gathered by the NSA, has been provided to Israel in the past for various
purposes.) The neoconservatives are described as enthusiastic about the possibility
of using NSA intelligence as a lever to widen the conflict between Israel and
Hezbollah and Israel and Hamas into a four-front war.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is said to have been "briefed"
and to be "on board," but she is not a central actor in pushing the
covert neoconservative scenario. Her "briefing" appears to be an aspect
of an internal struggle to intimidate and marginalize her. Recently she has
come under fire from prominent neoconservatives who oppose her support for diplomatic
negotiations with Iran to prevent its development of nuclear weaponry.
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