The neocons' next war
By secretly providing NSA intelligence to Israel and undermining the hapless Condi Rice, hardliners in the Bush administration are trying to widen the Middle East conflict to Iran and Syria, not stop it.
By Sidney Blumenthal
The National Security Agency is providing signal intelligence to Israel to monitor whether Syria and Iran are supplying new armaments to Hezbollah as it fires hundreds of missiles into northern Israel, according to a national security official with direct knowledge of the operation. President Bush has approved the secret program. (Intelligence, including that gathered by the NSA, has been provided to Israel in the past for various purposes.) Inside the administration, neoconservatives on Vice President Dick Cheney's national security staff and Elliott Abrams, the neoconservative senior director for the Near East on the National Security Council, are prime movers behind sharing NSA intelligence with Israel, and they have discussed Syrian and Iranian supply activities as a potential pretext for Israeli bombing of both countries, the source privy to conversations about the program says. The neoconservatives are described as enthusiastic about the possibility of using NSA intelligence as a lever to widen the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah and Israel and Hamas into a four-front war.