You read it here first. And no Israeli media site had the guts to break the gag. I find it interesting that Bibi Netanyahu disclosed his choice precisely one day after Yossi Melman, Haaretz’s military-intelligence correspondent, using information I provided, vented his spleen that he could not disclose Tamir Pardo’s identity, despite the fact that I had already done so and Alon Ben David had already done so as far back as last June.
UPDATE: A reader reports in the comment thread that Ben David removed his tweet sometime after Melman wrote his story yesterday (you can still see it in Google cache here). I swear the behavior of some Israeli reporters reminds me more of frightented lemmings than journalists. By the way, Alon, you can restore the tweet now. Pardo’s name is official and you won’t get into trouble with the censors for naming him, even last June.
Anyway, Bibi has made it official, the new Mossad director-designate is Tamir Pardo, a veteran of the Entebbe raid who served under the prime minister’s brother, Yoni. Pardo rose through the intelligence agency ranks to the number 2 position under current director, Meir Dagan. Dagan has a history of driving away his number 2s and several resigned in anger during his tenure including Pardo, who eventually left the intelligence community entirely and delved in business ventures with Israeli gambling entrepreneur, Noam Lanir. The new spy chief lives in the small central Israel moshav of Nirit, within the Green Line.
Bibi apparently decided that Pardo deserved the job and the deep family bonds can’t have hurt the latter’s candidacy. One wonder what happened to the two other far better known candidates, Amos Yadlin and Yuval Diskin, who seemed more logical choices for that reason. Haaretz reports that at least one other candidate rejected Bibi’s offer of the job. It doesn’t seem as plum an assignment for some as one would expect.
Pardo began his career with Mossad as a technician and rose to head the Operations division (Neviot) which, according to Yossi Melman was assigned the task of penetrating espionage targets to plant bugs and obtain photographs.
One of the director designate’s primary assignments will be to continue efforts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, the effects of which may be seen in yesterday’s news that two Iranian nuclear scientists were attacked by car bombs and one was killed. This is the third such attack on Iran’s scientific community by unknown assailants. Interesting to note that Hezbollah’s operations chief, Imad Mugniyeh was murdered by a similar method of car bombing in Damascus. It would seem to be a method of choice for the Mossad or whoever the killers might be, when they can’t get close enough to drug and kill the victim (a la al-Mabouh).
My exposure of Pardo’s identity shows once again the utter pointlessness of many customs of Israeli intelligence secrecy. A cursory reading of the media coverage about Pardo when he was merely “T.” and a search of Google Books turned up his real name. What kind of national security state is this? I’ll bet they even classify the type of toilet paper the Mossad chief uses for fear it will reveal some hidden vulnerability.
The truth is that when everything is secret, the concept loses any real meaning and both citizens and those outside Israel believe the concept is little more than a laughingstock, a fig leaf to conceal any deed or fact the intelligence agencies prefer to remain hidden.
Another negative impact of such secrecy is that candidates whose identities are hidden cannot be vetted properly either by the politicians who appoint them or the media. So Pardo or any other potential intelligence director may have skeletons in his closet and they will not be known until he is already in the job (or given Israel’s level of secrecy, they may never be known).
No one in reporting this story has mentioned the likelihood that Pardo is of Sephardic origin, since his last name originates in Castille, Spain. If I’m right, he would be the first Mossad head of Sephardic background, an important milestone.