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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Israeli authors dispute claim that US started cyberwar with Iran

From IsraelSpy.com, by Yossi Melman, a co-author along with Dan Raviv of a forthcoming book on Israeli intelligence:
Well-informed Israeli security and intelligence officials responded with a smile and a pinch of verbal salt, when asked about Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power the book coming out (this coming week) by David Sanger, The New York Times reporter.

In his book Sanger argues that it was an American idea to attack Iranian nuclear installations with sophisticated and clandestine cyberspace warfare – planting viruses and worms in Iran’s computers.  According to the writer, the operation — code-named ”Olympic Games” — was initiated in 2007 by the Bush administration and sped up under President Obama. In an excerpt adapted from his book by the Times, Sanger wrote that only at a later stage were Israeli intelligence experts and computer wizards were brought in and joined forces.

The Israeli officials actually told me a different version. They said that it was Israeli intelligence that began, a few years earlier, a cyberspace campaign to damage and slow down Iran’s nuclear intentions. And only later they managed to convince the USA to consider a joint operation — which, at the time, was unheard of. Even friendly nations are hesitant to share their technological and intelligence resources against a common enemy. In our book,Spies Against Armageddon, we will reveal much more about the special strategic relations and cooperation between the CIA and the Mossad and the importance given by the Aman (military intelligence) to cyberspace warfare.

Yet my Israeli sources understand the sensitivity and the timing of the issue and are not going to be dragged into a battle over taking credit. “We know that it is the presidential election season,” one Israeli added, ”and don’t want to spoil the party for President Obama and his officials, who shared in a twisted and manipulated way some of the behind-the-scenes secrets of the success of cyberwar.”
I notice that Melman didn't explicitly say that Israel was behind Stuxnet or Flame, only that they started their cyberweapons program against Iran before the US. Does this mean that Stuxnet really was American?

And does it imply that there are some Israeli software in Iranian systems that have not yet been detected?

The book sounds fascinating. From its blurb:
Among the burning questions addressed and answered in SPIES AGAINST ARMAGEDDON are these: Who planted a powerful computer worm in Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges?  Who has been motorcycling boldly through the streets of Tehran, assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists?  Are Israeli spies regularly inside Iran and other enemy countries?  Did the Mossad make a huge mistake when two dozen of its operatives were seen by hotel security cameras in Dubai, or was it a successful murder mission?  Do the assassins, as portrayed in the movie “Munich,” really feel pangs of conscience?  Have Israel’s enemies ever managed to plant agents in the Israeli government?  Does the United States really trust Israeli intelligence, or is the relationship limited by mutual mistrust?  Why do U.S. security agencies believe their close ally is spying on America?  Is Israel trying to maneuver the U.S. into attacking Iran?
Looks like I might have to buy this....

(h/t Yoel)