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Israeli Subcommittee Faults Intelligence on Iraq

An investigation into Israel’s failure to provide accurate intelligence on Iraq’s weapons capabilities found that Israeli intelligence agencies suffered from a closed “information loop,” as well as other failures.

The conclusions are the result of an eight-month investigation by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee for Intelligence and Secret Services that questioned intelligence officials, military officers, and Cabinet members. On March 28, the subcommittee released an 81-page declassified report pending the completion of a longer, classified version.

The report criticized Israeli intelligence agencies for a number of failures, concluding that the agencies overestimated Iraq’s ability to strike at Israel directly. Likud Knesset member Yuval Steinitz, who headed the investigation, cited an “escalation” between 1998 and the beginning of the war in the number of missiles believed to be possessed by Iraq for which there was “no explanation.”

The subcommittee found that Israeli intelligence agencies used information from foreign intelligence services without recognizing that the other states obtained the data from Israel in the first place. The result, according to Steinitz, was that speculation was passed in circles “without any substantiation from the field.” However, Steinitz rejected suggestions that the Israeli agencies intentionally misled the United States and others in hopes of encouraging them to go to war against Iraq, a longtime enemy of Israel.

Steinitz criticized Israeli agencies for their failure to develop sources of hard data within Iraq, noting that the United States and the United Kingdom were able to obtain superior intelligence because of their direct access to Iraqi airspace.

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