An Israeli cyber expert, who served in one of the IDF’s elite hi-tech intelligence units and still serves in the reserves, has told TPS that the Israeli government did not prevent Israelis from working on the project with Russian companies involved in the hack.
“I know where the Democrats could find the smoking guns they are looking for to annul the election result, but I will not divulge that information”, he told TPS shortly after the election but before the Electoral College convened to ratify the results.
The source said that he had informed the Defense Ministry of the offer, as he is required to do. Under Israeli law, anyone serving (including as a reservist) in a classified elite unit is required to obtain approval from Sibat (a division of the defense ministry that deals with Israeli businesses or individuals providing defense and security equipment and consulting solutions to any non-Israeli entity) before accepting a contract from a non-Israeli entity.
The ministry enforces these rules very strictly, and even senior, well-connected people have gotten into hot water in the past for failing to observe them. This fact is well known which means it is highly unlikely anyone would take such a risk, no matter how lucrative the project.
He received no indication that there would be a problem with people who had served in his unit (and other similar ones) from signing a contract with the Russian controlled companies. Even after it had become clear what they were doing, no yellow cards were issued by the ministry , ordering them to end their participation in those projects.
A few weeks later former Mossad Commander Efraim Halevy said that the Russian cyber-offensive against the US political system was a classic intelligence operation that succeeded. “It played a decisive role in determining the outcome of the elections would be favorable to Russia”, he said.
“I’m not saying this in jest”, he said, “the cyber-attack targeting the American political system was a good example of a classic intelligence operation that successfully achieved its aim, which was to covertly manipulate and subvert their opponents political system by rigging the elections to ensure the outcome was what the Russian leadership wanted”.
He made the statement while speaking at a seminar in January at the Intelligence Heritage Center near Tel Aviv.
In his lecture, Halevy said that intelligence was not only about gathering information, but also about effectively using it for a variety of purposes. He said this includes using disinformation (aka fake news) to manipulate and exploit the political process, in order to disrupt and subvert an enemy’s political system.
A former intelligence officer who served in an intelligence service trained by the KGB confirmed to TPS that the Russian attack bore all the hallmarks of Maskirovka (Russian for mask). This is a term used to describe operations built on deception and disinformation, not force.
“Unlike westerners, Russian thinking has always regarded political systems as a legitimate target, as to them it is a political infrastructure, and therefore no less a legitimate target than any other strategic infrastructure”.
“Van Clausewitz famously said `war is a continuation of diplomacy by other means`”. “A country is ultimately a political entity, subvert and paralyze the political system, and you have subverted and paralyzed the country, enabling you to manipulate its decision making establishment and process”.
“Americans don’t think like that, which was made the cyber offensive such a piece of cake for the Russians” “Russian intelligence, be it NKVD, KGB, SVR not only sees political systems as legitimate targets, but preferred ones, as they are inherently soft yet very high added value targets, and a successful attack against them can enable the weaker side, which Russia is (and the USSR was) to overcome a stronger, more powerful but less cunning and uninhibited opponents”.
“The KGB had a long history of trying to subvert the West”. “When you take combine maskirovka with state of the art cyber and cyber-media technologies, you get subversion on steroids”.
The Prime Minister’s received a request to comment on Halevy’s remarks, and the allegations that Israel, by allowing Israelis to work with Russian entities that carried out the cyber offensive against the US, collaborated with it.
The request was received by the Media Department in the PM’s office over a month ago, but spokespeople for the prime minister’s office have not responded to repeated request for comment.