Disinformation Campaign Letting Arafat Off the Violence Hook is Instigated by CIA Chief George Tenet To Save His Own Face

The CIA has launched an extensive disinformation campaign, according to debkafile‘s intelligence sources, to falsely depict Yasser Arafat as powerless to halt the present wave of Palestinian violence and terror. Its primary purpose is to provide a face-saver for George Tenet, who regarded the tripartitate security mechanism he built up over three years as the best possible apparatus for terror prevention and his crowning achievement. Based on a judicious blend of secret diplomacy and covert operations, Tenet had hoped the joint US-Israel-Palestinian body would be held up as the contemporary model for dealing not only with Palestinian terrorism, but also the radical Islamic phenomenon epitomized by Osama Bin Laden.
The concept Tenet advocated for creating the mechanism was perfectly in tune with the political tendencies and nature of President Clinton and his national security adviser Samuel Berger. Neither were overly interested in how intelligence bodies do their work and they eagerly adopted Tenet’s creation, moving the CIA chief into center spot in the administration’s policy ventures. Tenet’s meteoric rise was such that Secretary of State Madeleine Allbright often found herself sidelined, especially in trouble spots like the Middle East and the Balkans. George Tenet was to be found in the busying himself in the wings of crucial diplomatic encounters, like the 1997 Paris gathering which decided the fate of Kosovo, the Wye Plantation summit between Clinton and Binyamin Netanyahu the same year, and the most recent Sharm el-Sheikh conference called by the US President to arrest the current round of Palestinian-Israeli violence. America’s number one spymaster had become its number one behind-the-scenes diplomat.
But it so happened that none of those initiatives turned out well. Questions began to be heard in Washington on the lines of: maybe the method and its chief practitioner are at fault, rather than the policies. In the 1998 Kosovo War, the CIA joined hands with Albanian underground movements against the former Yugoslav leder Slobodan Milosevic. However, toppling Milosevic was merely the overt objective; the main purpose was to use the link with the Albanian subversives to achieve American penetration of Osama Bin Laden’s organization and its chief operational arm, the Egyptian Jihad Islami, both of whom were heavily present in Albanian security service and Moslem Albanian opposition groups in Kosovo. This goal was important enough to Washington to draw its NATO allies into the Kosovo War.
But the upshot was quite different. The CIA found it had trained, armed and imparted an intelligence capability to the Albanian subversive movements without penetrating them – an exact replay of the Afghanistan flop. Just as the Afghan Arabs rose to become a crack force in the world of terror, so too have the Kosovan Albanian “returnees”. After the 1998 war, some went over to the Albanian mafia in West Europe, whose criminal operations fan across Switzerland, Austria and Italy; others joined up with radical Islamic terrorist groups, including Bin Laden’s Qaeda.
Just as the CIA failed to forestall fatal terrorist attacks on US embassies in Nairobi and Daar es Salaam in 1998, it failed again to prevent the bombing of American guided missile destroyer USS Cole in Aden harbor last month.
In the two intervening years between those two strikes, the mechanism Tenet fashioned to coordinate Israeli-Palestinian security efforts to prevent terror outbreaks, missed more often than it hit the mark
A key to its success was the US spymaster’s bond of trust with Yasser Arafat. Tenet often spoke highly to officials in Washington about his warm relations with Palestinian leader, saying in effect: Just leave him to me, if you have any problems. Not only Clinton, but Netanyahu and Barak did exactly that, gambling their own policies on this friendship.
In actual fact, the Palestinian leader double-crossed his American friend, using that trust and the sham operation of Tenet’s anti-terrorist mechanism to conceal his preparations for the “Al Aksa Intifada”, a violent firestorm that finally burnt that mechanism to a cinder.
Arafat not only duped George Tenet, the man, but also his proud organization, the CIA, inflicting untold damage to America’s standing in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.
The assigning of responsibility for a humiliation of this order is inevitable. Someone will certainly be looking for George Tenet’s head. This explains the haste made to “remove” him from the top CIA post without waiting for the departure of the Clinton administration and arrival of the next president in January. One conspicuous sign of Tenet’s situation was the obituary-style article run in the influential New York Times on Tuesday, November 14, under the heading: “CIA Director Sees His Unprecedented Mideast Role Fall Apart”. That article must have galvanized Tenet into returning the fire. In the last two days therefore, fresh reports turned up in various US and Israeli media presenting Arafat as being in less than full control of the battlefield. The idea behind this disinformation campaign was to demonstrate that the undeniable breakdown was not due to Tenet’s role and mechanism “falling apart”, but to Arafat’s personal weakness.
All of debkafile‘s most credible sources insist that this is far from the case; Arafat is in perfect command of all his men in the field and he is the one who determines Palestinian tactics. But he is certainly not inclined to place this command at the disposal of the Americans or the Israelis.
The US-Israeli disinformation effort will therefore avail nought to the CIA director or to the Americans and Israelis riding his coattails. The Republicans, in particular, viewed the CIA’s inordinate dabbling in diplomacy under Tenet as both inappropriate and ineffective. It was also unpopular with some of the higher echelons of the agency itself, especially the Directorate of Operations.
George Tenet’s number is therefore up and the unprecedented use to which he put the CIA is over. Whomsoever moves into the Oval Office will almost certainly order the post-Tenet CIA to stay out of diplomacy and revert to its conventional functions.

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