If Deep Throat had been as paranoid as the Israelis maybe Richard Nixon would have managed to serve out his second term. Maybe the name “Watergate” would have never become infamous.
The Sudan raid story has been dribbling out over the last few days, a rumor here, a rumor there.
Apparently the Israelis got tired of the story getting so tangled.
Enough is enough, they said. We will have to provide a definitive account to an authoritative outlet.
I can now reveal that Israel’s most trusted messenger (at least at this moment) is Time magazine.
Humbled and honored that highly-placed Israeli security sources would provide Time with “exclusive details,” the magazine apparently went one step further than promising the standard anonymity to sources whose names can’t be revealed for the standard reasons. In this case the Israelis apparently needed to be so guarded that not only could they not reveal their own names, but (sources might have told me) they insisted that the journalists they were speaking to would also have to wrap themselves in the same cloak of anonymity.
Unnamed sources talk to unnamed journalists. There’s no risk that “TIME STAFF” will ever get a subpoena!
On the other hand, there’s not much chance we can expect tenacious investigative reporting from journalists who don’t get a byline.
How long would Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein have toiled for if they had to work under the selfless byline of “Washington Post Staff Writers”?
As for the Big Story, did it contain any major revelations?
The official motive for the attack — and I’ll take this as official even though it doesn’t come in quotes but it does come as the second sentence, immediately after we’ve been told that we’re getting the straight dope from “two highly-placed Israeli security sources” — (drumroll):
The attack was a warning to Iran and other adversaries, showing Israel’s intelligence capability and its willingness to mount operations far beyond its borders in order to defend itself from gathering threats.
So there you have it. Iran now knows that any time it sends a small convoy of trucks through an isolated desert in north-east Africa, the trucks, drivers and cargo might get wiped out by a long-range stealth attack by Israeli fighter bombers.
Does this have implications for the security of Iran’s nuclear facilities?
Israel can knock out a convoy in Sudan, so, who knows what else it could do?
Knock out another convoy?
As for the question I raised yesterday, what did the Americans know and when did they know it?
Here’s the partial answer: “The Americans were notified that Israel was going to conduct an air operation in Sudan, but they were not involved.” And that’s a direct quote from… “a source.” Would that source be one of the highly-placed Israeli security sources? Maybe. Maybe not.
If the Americans got the heads-up from the Israelis that an operation was just about to take place in Sudan, did the Israelis know that the Americans had just or were just about to talk to the Sudanese?
It’s clearly in Israel’s interests to put out the message that Israel and the US see eye to eye at all times, but maybe someone at Time needs to track down an anonymous American source who’s willing to tell an anonymous reporter the American side of the story. Is that too much to ask?