The False Flag Waves in the Fog

“Absolute nonsense!” Israel has responded to Mark Perry’s “False Flag” claim that Mossad agents recruited Jundallah members by posing as CIA officers. They’ve responded clearly, they claim, because they don’t want US-Israeli intelligence cooperation to get as bad as it did when we caught Jonathan Pollard spying for Israel.

But I’m just as interested in the “proof” Israel offers that this didn’t happen: that Meir Dagan is still welcome in Washington.

The senior Israeli government official said that if there were any truth the claims in Perry’s report, Meir Dagan, the head of the Mossad at the time of the alleged operation, would have been declared a persona non grata in the U.S. and that “Dagan’s foot would not have walked again in Washington”.

Now, it is true that Dagan ran Mossad at the time–2007-2008–when the recruitment in question is alleged to have taken place. And it is true that under Dagan Mossad got rather embarrassingly caught using US (and other Western allies’ passports to facilitate their assassination squads in the Dubai assassination of Quds Force surrogate Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

But it is also notable that Dagan has made a series of increasingly strident remarks against war with Iran and for the kind of engagement that the latest scientist assassination seems designed to undercut. And then there’s the presumably intentional irony in the statement: Dagan’s ability to travel is limited not by his welcome among Western allies, but because Bibi Netanyahu revoked Dagan’s diplomatic passport last summer in response to his efforts to prevent war against Iran. Since traveling without diplomatic immunity would expose him to arrest for acts that include the al-Mabhouh assassination, Dagan, the former head of Israel’s assassination agency, cannot travel freely to prevent such assassinations in the future.

In other words, this is a very witty but nevertheless quite serious reminder that the same people now trying to find a peaceful path forward are themselves thoroughly implicated in the same crimes they now disown. This is Bibi’s camp reminding that everyone has been breaking the rules in ways that could cause significant legal trouble.

Right on cue, Iran has sent diplomatic notes to both the US and Britain, claiming that the CIA is behind the most recent assassination.

The message addressed to the U.S. government, read, “According to authentic documents and reliable information, the assassination plot was directed, supported, and planned by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was carried out with the direct involvement of the agents affiliated with this organization, and the government is directly responsible for it and should be answerable based on international regulations and rights and bilateral commitments.”

[snip]In the protest note, Iran also said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran condemns the inhumane assassination, calls on the U.S. government to provide an immediate explanation, seriously warns about its repercussions, and calls on the (U.S.) government to stop supporting any kind of anti-humanitarian terrorist action against the lives of Iranian citizens, which is in contravention of international rights and the relevant commitments and pose a serious danger to international peace and security. In addition, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves the right to pursue the issue.”

In the note addressed to the British government, the Foreign Ministry pointed to the remarks that MI6 chief Sir John Sawers made on October 28, 2010, in which he said, “Stopping nuclear proliferation cannot be addressed purely by conventional diplomacy. We need intelligence-led operations to make it more difficult for countries like Iran to develop nuclear weapons.”
The note read, “The Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran takes into consideration the fact that the assassinations of Iranian scientists began right after the announcement of the very attitude of the British government by Mr. John Sawers, the head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, and once again expresses its protest about the repercussions of the mentioned attitude of the British government and holds the country responsible for such terrorists acts.”

Gosh, Iran could have drafted these letters using the letters the US issued after it busted the Scary Iran Plot allegedly involving Manssor Arbabsiar as a model! (Which reminds me. Has anyone checked in on the Saudi involvement to defeat Iran, of late? And what they–and the Pakistanis–think about Israelis purportedly running terrorists out of Pakistan?)

Remember, too, according to Perry’s “False Flag,” the recruitment of the Jundallah members–by whomever–largely took place in London, “under the nose of U.S. intelligence officers.” So if Perry’s piece was meant as preemptive inoculation against evidence his sources knew might be revealed, it would not be surprising if such evidence implicated both the US and Britain.

Now, if it weren’t for the latent lethality behind all this posturing (and if weren’t so clear that, whatever Iran has, Israel surely has evidence of our complicity here, if they ever feel the need to reveal it), this might be a somewhat amusing and overdue spat between Israel and the US.

But as it is, it seems the winner of this conflict between Israeli and US neocon Hawks (some of who presumably remain in government positions) on one side, and those trying to avoid war (if not regime change) on the other threatens may depend most on who wins the infowar that has broken out. Clearly, all sides have the goods on the others, but no one can risk having all this damning information come out.

Update: Corrected post to reflect that Mossad did not use US passports in the Dubai hit.

35 replies
  1. Jim White says:

    Mutually assured bearding! Who will dare to commit the next illegal act now that everyone has admitted that they know what the others are doing?

  2. CasualObserver says:

    Could it possibly be that all the hoopla on the US side is actually that they continued assistance to Jundallah after Jundallah was declared a foreign terrorist organization in Nov. 2010–thus being in violation of providing material support to terrorists?

  3. emptywheel says:

    I read this in this worthwhile Paul Pillar piece:

    Imagine the response if even just one scientist (let alone four or five) who was employed, say, at one of the U.S. national laboratories had been been similarly assassinated and a foreign hand was suspected. There would be screams of “act of war” and the U.S. president would be hard-pressed to hold back impulses to strike back forcefully.

    And all of a sudden remembered all the American microbiologists who died in mysterious circumstances in the 00s.

    Just saying.

  4. MadDog says:

    I thought it also might be helpful to parse exactly what Haaretz reported:

    “A senior Israeli government official has called “absolute nonsense” a Friday report in Foreign Policy that Mossad agents posed as CIA officers in order to recruit members of a Pakistani terror group to carry out assassinations and attacks against the regime in Iran…”

    My parsing comes up with these questions:

    1) Did the Mossad agents pose as something other than CIA officers? Perhaps US Department of State, DIA or NSA officers? Or perhaps merely posed as non-governmental Americans operating as NOCs (Non-official cover)?

    2) Is the senior Israeli government official merely denying that the Mossad efforts in London were about recruiting? And that perhaps the members of a Pakistani terror group had already been previously recruited? And that the Mossad meetings with members of a Pakistani terror group in London were instead about something else like mission planning or even mission debriefing?

    And as EW states, I find the anonymous, but supposedly official “proof” that if the FP report was true then Meir Dagan, the head of the Mossad would not be able to set foot in Washington as leaving me massively underwhelmed.

  5. rugger9 says:

    @MadDog: @MadDog: #9
    It’s a very dangerous game here, and EW’s Q about the Scary Iran Plot is equally valid. Remember that the CIA isn’t the only off-the-books USA operation, there’s JSOC as well which has already demonstrated their antisocial tendencies. Or the contractors, since Erik Prince needs something to do. Everyone has had good input here, and one also wonders how Zardari’s trip to Dubai could be related to Israeli operations in Pakistan. As factional as that country is, I’m sure one let Mossad in and another wants them gone.

  6. MadDog says:

    OT – If folks here haven’t already read this, I highly recommend it:

    Guantánamo: An Oral History

    “January 11, 2012, marks the 10th anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees at the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay—the first of what would be nearly 800 prisoners to cycle through the camp. One hundred and seventy one are still there. Despite President Obama’s pledge, the facility remains open, a prisoner of fear-mongering and politics—and it continues to be a symbol of mistreatment and missteps in the prosecution of the war on terror. Vanity Fair has interviewed dozens of people associated with Guantánamo—lawyers, soldiers, diplomats, former detainees—in order to tell the story in their own words…”

  7. Gitcheegumee says:


    rugger, I don’t know if you reviewed EW’s earlier false flag thread ,but I posted a coupla things re: Saudi Arabia,this one,just this afternoon.

    If I may:

    Gitcheegumee on January 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm said:


    oATL,thanks for linking the Wiki. I read it AFTER I posted at comment #13.

    Here is an excerpt from the Wiki you linked on Jundallah:

    Saudi Arabia

    Iran considers Jundallah as a group connected to Taliban and their opium revenues, getting financial as well as ideologic support directly from Saudi Arabia in collusion with other hard-line elements within Pakistan and Afghanistan[citation needed].
    Others point to the fact that United States has for long supported Low intensity conflict and assassinations with Saudi money, especially against nationalists, socialists and Shias.[

    NOTE: Is Blackwater considered CIA? (Just for the record, they moved their operation to Dubai a short while back…as did Haliburton,before them.)

  8. Phoenix Woman says:

    Now, if it weren’t for the latent lethality behind all this posturing (and if weren’t so clear that, whatever Iran has, Israel surely has evidence of our complicity here, if they ever feel the need to reveal it), this might be a somewhat amusing and overdue spat between Israel and the US.

    But as it is, it seems the winner of this conflict between Israeli and US neocon Hawks (some of who presumably remain in government positions) on one side, and those trying to avoid war (if not regime change) on the other threatens may depend most on who wins the infowar that has broken out. Clearly, all sides have the goods on the others, but no one can risk having all this damning information come out.

    I’m wondering how this might be playing to the average man/woman in the street in the Mideast. Assuming, that is, that the average man/woman in the Mideast hears about this.

    My guess is, that if the US reaction wasn’t to immediately make Israel pay some sort of price, then most Middle Easterners would probably figure “Ah, this proves once again that Israel has the US on a tight leash, just like the USS Liberty incident did back in 1967.”

  9. orionATL says:


    “… And all of a sudden remembered all the American microbiologists who died in mysterious circumstances in the 00s’…”

    please elucidate in more detail.

    – how many, + or – ?

    – who?

    – at least one source to read.


  10. orionATL says:


    of course there is another very simple explanation that requires no parsing of israeli govt statements at all:

    the israelis are lying thru their teeth! ***

    *** just as the american military/paramilitary, aka jsoc/cia, may well be lying thru their teeth,

    and may have set up “foreign policy” to provide a red herring, an alibi, or a cover.

    in-depth interviews with foreign policy are absolutely required at this point.

    for some reason, in this connection, i keep thinking of that loathsome, slimy creature, lemo.

  11. MadDog says:

    OT – Via the AP, and caveat emptor:

    “Pakistan Taliban leader possibly dead in US strike

    Pakistani intelligence officials say they have intercepted militant radio communications indicating the Pakistani Taliban’s leader may have been killed in a recent U.S. drone strike in northwest Pakistan.

    The officials said Thursday they overheard Taliban militants in around a half a dozen intercepts discussing whether their chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, was killed on Jan. 12 in the North Waziristan tribal area. Some militants confirmed Mehsud was dead, and one criticized others for talking about the issue over the radio…”

  12. Jim White says:

    @MadDog: Yeah, if true, that’s just peachy. Back on Jan. 9, this is how I ended my post about the NYTimes begging for more drone strikes at a time when the Taliban were showing positive signs by opening their office in Qatar:

    It’s hard to imagine Taliban or Haqqani network leaders feeling comfortable at a negotiating table in Qatar speaking with parties they know will try to kill them once they return to their homes in Pakistan.

    Given the all JSOC, all the time mood I’ve been in lately, I can’t help wondering if they were the ones behind this strike. We had been assured that strikes were now principally within the purview of the CIA, but the timing of this strike on a Taliban leader just smacks of JSOC’s attitude of extracting the worst possible payback at the worst possible time. The only thing arguing against that is that their strikes usually take out more innocents along the way. No matter who did it, though, there seems to me to be a significant break between those in the Obama administration who want a negotiated end to the war and those who never want to stop fighting.

  13. Bob Schacht says:

    @Jim White: This could be an example of one branch of government messing up the work of another branch, and is almost inevitable when the President delegates authority. How its handled then becomes critical. Jimmy Carter would have tried to micromanage. But the main thing is to discipline the out of bounds agency. Their defense, of course, will be “But you told us to….” and then what do you do?

    The government is just too big for the President to be involved in all of these decisions.

    Bob in AZ

  14. PeasantParty says:

    @Bob Schacht: DING!

    That is exactly what I was thinking. The militarization of the CIA, the JSOC, and other NSA actors are not being collaborated correctly. I said that on earlier posts, but it is clear to me that we are drowning in the intelligence misadventures here.

  15. karenjj2 says:

    @pdaly: the link re 5 deaths of scientists in 2001 is “stranger than fiction.” Confirms my feeling that our “wildest speculations” way short of the ugly reality.

  16. Gitcheegumee says:


    Lest we forget Dr. David Kelly,eminent germ warfare scientist who was found dead in the English woods on July 18,2003…allegedly a victim of suicide.

    Many posts were written here and elsewhere of the Kelly connection to Porton Down,the OTHER dead scientists,and his public assertions that Iraq had NO WMD.

  17. Gitcheegumee says:


    Many thanks for the reminder.

    Wow, that is truly a strange one,there.

    BTW, what was the name of the man found wandering -and later in a dumpster,in the US ,last year,IIRC?

  18. joanneleon says:

    You have probably already seen this Op-Ed in the New York Times today, but just in case you haven’t, they also chose to highlight Meir Dagan’s position:

    But the stalemate with Iran could actually delay or prevent peace in the region. As the former Israeli spy chief, Meir Dagan, argued earlier this month, Israel’s current stance might actually accelerate Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons and encourage Arab states to follow suit. Moreover, talk of an “existential threat” projects Israel as weak, hurts its morale, and reduces its foreign policy options. This helps explain why three leading Israeli security experts — the Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, a former Mossad chief, Efraim Halevy, and a former military chief of staff, Dan Halutz — all recently declared that a nuclear Iran would not pose an existential threat to Israel.

  19. joanneleon says:

    Basically, even after reading, I don’t know how many articles, in the past five days about this whole thing, I was already very alarmed. But this particular emptywheel post scared the crap out of me, given that it looks very much like factions in our government may be driving policy according to their own will and along with Israel, forcing it on everyone else, perhaps including the C-in-C.

    But as I thought more about it, looking for some positive outlook, I wondered whether the fact that all of this information, scary as it is, is coming out right now might be a good sign? Might it be a sign that the relatively “good guys” are exposing some of the dangerous things that have been going on at a level not seen before?

    After years of posturing, which most people did not pay a lot of attention to, believing that it was mostly bluster and propaganda and to some extent the attempt by people who are now out of power to force their will, the thing that amazes me about this week is how serious things got in such a short period of time. After what amounted to a smattering of articles about this situation with Iran, here and there, over a period of years, suddenly everyone is reacting and it is everywhere in the news and in the blogs. Well almost everywhere. Some progressive blogs are highly distracted by every story about a Republican primary candidate picking his nose or walking into a room with toilet paper on his shoe.

    But otherwise, everyone made the sudden change in like, a day, and now seem to be saying “Okay, this is serious.” Why did that happen? Was it the Staits threat alone? After several scientist assassinations, why is this one the one that crossed the line? I thought it was serious after the explosions and previous assassinations. But it was hardly in the news and Iran did not seem to want to publicize it very much. Why did everyone stand to attention this time? Did someone in our government tell the media to focus on this?

  20. emptywheel says:

    @joanneleon: Oh, I think it may well be positive. And that’s even before our annoumcement that we’re postponing a training exercise with Israel.

    Go read this Gary Sick piece (if you don’t know, he worked Iran for Carter and wrote the best book on the way the incoming Reagan Admin got the Iranians to stall the release of the hostages).

    While I’m not entirely convinced he’s got all the pieces parts nailed, I do think the Obama Admin is trying to create space for itself.

  21. orionATL says:


    let’s be clear what the u.s.’ “iranian problem” is:

    it is NOT iran.

    it IS netanyahu foreign policy.

    it is lack of foreign-policy leadership in the american congress.

    it is a money-saturated congressional election process.

    it is the israeli-american domestic political lobby.

    gary sick’s article was thoughtful and informative.

    the question it raised in my mind, though, is:

    what can iran give the u.s.?

    what does the u.s. expect iran to give it?

    iran has no nuclear weapons and has not pursued them for years, possibly since 2001.

    iran has every right to develop nuclear power. is the u,s, expecting iran to forego nuclear power? (though if japan and russia are any example, doing so might be in the long term interests of the iranian people.)

    what do the iranians give the americans? hezbollah? no terrorism? over-flight rights for drones?

    if i were the iranians, i’d be moving toward china (and egypt if possible) as fast as possible, maybe with long-term oil contracts, testing to see if the u.s., israel, and the western europeans have a stomach for dragon meat.

  22. Gitcheegumee says:

    Speaking of mathematics, how does this on square:

    Steven Rawlings

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