Is Dagan to blame for the flotilla failure?
Mossad chief Meir Dagan, credited with so much, may be reaching the end of his tenure
Flawed or even nonexistent intelligence concerning the weapons stockpiled aboard the Marmara, and the willingness of some of those on board to use them, is one element of the tragic episode of the storming of the boat in the Gaza flotilla. Such intelligence could have been obtained by Mossad agents.
If there had been information and it was relayed to the Navy's intelligence branch, then the responsibility for the unsuccessful preparations for the operation would lie with the Israel Navy. If there was no such information, then it is a failure of the Mossad, another crack in the Teflon coating around its chief, Meir Dagan.
But unconnected to the events of the Gaza flotilla, there have been rumblings of displeasure among senior Mossad officials regarding Dagan's management. In the two years after his appointment in fall 2002, most of the protests related to his blunt treatment of senior Mossad officials, his arrogance and the structural changes he made in the organization. Two years later, Dagan stopped behaving like a bull in a china shop. He retracted unsuccessful decisions, and the bottom line shows he can be credited with restoring the organization's operational deterrence capability, as well as the pride and satisfaction of its people, following improvements in information gathering on Iran's nuclear capabilities and the thwarting of shipments of materials to Iran. And there have been daring assassinations of terrorists, which have been attributed to the agency, first and foremost, the assassination of Hezbollah's Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus.
The last year, however, has seen another turnaround. Dagan's relationship with his two deputies deteriorated. One of them, T., left in anger, and the other, N., was dismissed after being caught red-handed leaking information to a Haaretz reporter. The assassination operation in Dubai, which affected foreign and intelligence relations with Britain and Australia, also threatens Dagan's tenure.
In a few months, it will be eight years since he took office. It's unclear whether he will leave his post or if the prime minister will ask him to stay another year. Dagan's remarks to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee two days ago (it was clear he knew they would be published ) to the effect that Israel's value in the eyes of Washington is declining, and it is increasingly seen as a liability rather than an asset, may indicate that he knows his term will end soon, and he's not afraid to say things that are unpleasant for Benjamin Netanyahu to hear.
One way or another, Dagan, who never worried until now about finding his successor, or a team from which one may emerge, is delaying the promotion of senior officials and creating a traffic jam among the agency's leadership. It would be preferable for senior members of an important organization such as the Mossad to know what their chances are of obtaining a promotion. It's no wonder that many of them are embittered. Due to his actions, it's highly doubtful Dagan's replacement will come from the organizations upper echelons.
A scandal in Peru
Israel's joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development requires it to adopt new norms, including greater transparency and refraining from bribing senior officials in countries to which it exports defense equipment. What is happening in Peru these days is an example of how not to act.
In late 2006, the Israeli company ISDS, owned by Leo Glasser, brokered a deal for the sale of 50 Abir troop carriers between the Nazareth Automotive plant and the Peruvian police, with a price tag of $107,000 each. The Peruvian interior minister was subsequently replaced by Luis Alva Castro, who announced that he was suspending the deal. A respected Peruvian journalist, Gustavo Gorriti, claimed in investigative reports that the suspension reflected the desire of the minister for some associates, including expat Israelis, to be included in the deal. Glasser refused so the deal did not go through.
Glasser is suing the Pervuian government in a court in Peru. The trial proceedings have not yet ended. In December 2009, the new interior minister, Octavio Salazar, and his deputy, Samuel Torres, approved going ahead with the deal, this time with Glasser being replaced by the Hatehof metal plant in Nazareth. Gorriti disclosed in his online journal, IDL Reporteros, the cost of each vehicle jumped from $107,000 to $170,000.
The minister and his deputy claimed this vehicle had a different kind of chassis - improved and upgraded. Journalist Gorriti did not let up and raised suspicions of improprieties. President Alan Garcia approached Israel for help in silencing the matter. Gorriti did not relent. The Peruvian police had to send a team, headed by General Mario Obregon, to Israel to inspect the vehicles.
The team reporte to the Peruvian government there were inconsistencies in the registration numbers of the chassis of several vehicles. It also found they were equipped with automatic gears, instead of manual gears, as agreed. Around a week ago, President Garcia announced he was cancelling the deal. Deputy Interior Minister Torres resigned, and political analysts in Lima believe Salazar's days in office are numbered. Apparently, the Peruvian police have already paid Hatehof most of the money, around $5 million. Responses: The Foreign Ministry declined to comment. The Ministry of Defense stated that because this deal involves vehicles classified as civilian, it did not require the ministry's approval.
The CEO of Hatehof, Shimon Shaham, stated: "Hatehof legitimately and legally won an international tender to supply two types of armored vehicles to the Peru Police, valued at $11 million. Of that amount, $5.3 million was for the vehicles that are the subject of this article. In the wake of a media fuss in Peru, a delegation of officers headed by the deputy police commissioner of Peru visited the Hatehof plant and carefully reviewed the claims and the specifications - and they were found to be without blemish and no basis was found for the claims made. In the vehicle that is the subject of this article, there are additions and significantly improved capabilities, and this is the source of the price change.
Hatehof was not and is not involved in the previous deal and its name was unfairly mentioned in the matter involving ISDS and the Peruvian police." Leo Glasser said he has no interest in wrestling with companies from Israel; he just wants the government of Peru to honor its agreement with him or to compensate him as required by law.