- The complex and often uneasy relationship between Israel's
Mossad and the U.S. intelligence community is emerging as a prime reason
for the catastrophic failure of the CIA and FBI to act on advance warnings
of an impending attack on America.
Eight days before the September 11 attack, Egypt,s senior intelligence
chief, Omar Suleiman, informed the CIA station chief in Cairo that "credible
sources" had told him that Osama bin-Laden's network was "in
the advanced stages of executing a significant operation against an American
Prior to that, the FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley had revealed, there
was a similar warning from French intelligence.
Both warnings, Globe-Intel has established, originally came from Mossad.
The Israeli intelligence service chose to pass on its own intelligence
to Washington through its contacts in French and Egyptian intelligence
agencies because it did not believe its previous warnings on an impending
attack by the bin-Laden network had been taken seriously enough in Washington.
Part of the reason has already emerged by President Bush acknowledging
for the first time there had been a serious breakdown between the twin
pillars of the U.S. intelligence community - the FBI and CIA.
"In terms of whether or not the FBI and the CIA were communicating
properly, I think it is clear that they weren't," he has said.
Behind this admission is the long-standing suspicion that both the FBI
and CIA have about Mossad and its ongoing activities in the United States.
Ostensibly, Israel denies it has ever spied on its most powerful ally.
But the reality is otherwise. Both the FBI and CIA regard Mossad as a
clear and present danger to U.S. national security. It places the Israeli
spy agency just below the espionage totem pole that has China's Secret
Intelligence Service at its top.
A full ten months before Mossad started to sound its own warnings against
bin-Laden, senior officials in both the FBI and CIA saw them as "blowing
smoke" to divert attention from Mossad's own activities in the United
Evidence of this may well be contained in the more than 350,000 documents
that the CIA has already turned over to the hearings of the Senate and
House of Representatives intelligence committees.
These are now underway in sound-proofed rooms before 37 members of those
Already, in the atmosphere of leak and counter-leak in Washington, the
consensus is emerging on Capitol Hill that the U.S. intelligence community
had enough data to have been able to prevent the September 11 attacks.
Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the Senate intelligence committee
has spoken about "a massive intelligence failure."
A hint of the extent of that failure has come from Egypt,s President Hosni
Mubarak. He has spoken of "a secret agent who was in close contact
with the bin-Laden organisation."
Globe-Intel has been told that the "agent" was in fact the senior
Mossad source who tipped off Egypt's intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman,
that an attack on America was coming.
During last year, senior Egyptian officials have told Globe-Intel there
were five separate contacts between Suleiman and his Mossad counterpart,
Understandably, Israeli government sources in Tel Aviv have denied such
But an official close to Mubarak have confirmed that they did take place.
Mubarak's public statements on the matter - the first ranking statesman
to break cover over the building controversy of who-knew-what-and-when,
will at minimum be seen as clear indications that there were lapses in
the interpretations of both the CIA and FBI.
Coupled to the warnings that Mossad arranged to be passed through French
intelligence and which Coleen Rowley has used to lambaste her chief, FBI
director Robert Mueller, the failure to act assumes frightening proportions.
The revelations make a mockery of George Tenet,s claim that he was "proud"
of the CIA's record. Its embattled director, currently in Israel trying
to broker a doomed peace deal, has found in his absence that his own staff
are admitting to mistakes.
"Part of the problem is that the CIA and FBI are loath to share vital
information with each other, or with other government agencies because
they have this deep-seated fear of compromising their own sources,"
a senior State Department analyst told Globe-Intel.
But in the coming days the relationship between Mossad and the CIA and
FBI will become the subject of close scrutiny in the closed hearings of
the intelligence committees picking their way through the mass of documents
now in their possession.
It is beginning to emerge that intelligence relating to pre-September 11
stopped at the desk of National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice.
The question as to why the President was not fully briefed has led to others.
Had a decision been taken by Rice in consultation with Secretary of Defense
and other high-ranking members of the Bush Administration to effectively
not inform Bush of what was developing because they did not trust his limited
experience in dealing with global terrorism or a major threat of any kind?
Officially such a question is dismissed around the White House as nonsensical.
Yet it persists within the State Department - where Secretary of State
Colin Powell remains outside the charmed inner circle surrounding Bush.
There, senior officials point to the fact that the CIA briefing to Bush
last August, less than a month before the attacks on the World Trade Center
and Pentagon, turned out to be conspicuous by what was not said.
Yet, at that time the CIA knew of the impending threat. There are other
pointers that the President may have been kept out of the loop.
Within his own circle there is a determination to distance him from taking
the advice of his father. President George Bush Snr is seen by some in
the White House as being out of touch with today's world. And that the
advice he proffers his son during their Texas cookouts is out-moded.
All this may go some way to explain why President Bush has now publicly
acknowledged there was an intelligence failure. Much else will flow from
For insights into the world of Israeli intelligence, Gordon Thomas's Gideon's
Spies is the definitive work. It can be purchased through this site.