Turkish officials and senior military officers are angry about the results of the Nov. 5 meeting in Washington between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President George W. Bush. An agreement was reached whereby the U.S. would not oppose Turkey’s plans to launch air strikes against the PKK in Northern Iraq whenever the Turks have “actionable intelligence” on PKK targets. The U.S. promised to provide information on the terrorists, including location data for bombing attacks, but Turkish military officers believe this is a delaying tactic by Bush. The key word is “actionable.” They doubt that any genuine operational intelligence on PKK targets will come from the U.S. and that the “actionable” requirement gives Americans de facto control over Turkish military actions inside Iraq. It is not clear to what extent Erdogan knew he was being manipulated.
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On Nov. 2, Al Jazeera’s website alleged that the still secret Sept. 6 Israeli air force raid over Syria was actually carried out by the U.S. Air Force. The website quoted anonymous Israeli and Arab sources as saying that two American jets armed with tactical nuclear weapons carried out an attack on a nuclear site under construction, with Israeli F-15 and F-16 jets providing cover for the U.S. planes. According to the report, the site was hit by one bomb and was totally destroyed. Intelligence sources in the U.S. state that the Al Jazeera report is false and is disinformation that plays to the common misperception that everything Israel does is directed by the United States, though it is not clear who had a motive to spread the story. If a tactical nuclear device had been used for the attack, there would have been considerable radioactive residue in the air that would have been detected. Also, it is not clear why the USAF should have been involved at all since the Israelis, who have not signed a peace treaty with Syria, were fully capable of undertaking the attack.
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The National Intelligence Estimate is the intelligence community’s “best assessment” of a foreign-policy issue, but the politically manipulated 2002 NIE on Iraq was full of false information and bad assessments that contributed to the Iraq War. The “lessons learned” from Iraq have meant that all of the information and judgments of the impending NIE on Iran are being looked at very critically. The report is already more than one year late, and it has apparently been rejected in three different drafts because the White House does not find its conclusions “strong enough.” The problem is that intelligence on Iran is poor, and no one is comfortable with taking a hard position on the alleged nuclear-weapons program or on other key issues. Nevertheless, the White House continues to want a document that can be used to support military action if that should become necessary. A leading analyst working on the report believes that no matter what the outcome, the probability that there will be a war with Iran in the next nine months is 85 percent.
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer, is a partner in Cannistraro Associates, an international security consultancy.