The MEGA Dangle



The announcement of the pending release of Jonathan Pollard brought forth assertions by alleged “experts” opining that “friends don’t spy on friends.” Here’s a clue: spies spy. That is what they do. It’s their job. They spy on enemies and friends … on everybody. To wit:

In a 7 May 1997 article The Washington Post stated that the American National Security Agency had intercepted an encrypted call by and between an Israeli Mossad agent and his boss, General Danny Yatom. It was a request from the Israeli Ambassador for a copy of a letter written by former Secretary of State, Warren Christopher to PLO chief, Yasser Arafat. Yatom’s response was a curt, “This is not something we can use MEGA for.”

From this intercept, The Washington Post deduced that an Israeli mole was loose somewhere in the US Intelligence community, ala Jonathan Pollard, and his code name was MEGA. The alarm sounded throughout American counterintelligence and the US Attorney General, Janet Reno, immediately assigned the FBI to investigate.

The MEGA affair turned out to be no more than a Mossad security check of their communications with what is called in The Trades, a “dangle.” Had the American investigators inquired, they would have discovered that MEGA (short for MEGAWAT) identifies one of two databases the US maintains and shares with friendly governments on current affairs. The second database is coded KILOWAT. Additionally, the Christopher letter had been published in its entirety in the Hebrew daily, Ha’aretz, almost as soon as it was delivered.

This raised serious questions as to the reason(s) the story was leaked in the first place when the NSA never, ever leaks to the press. Putting aside complete incompetence, most felt that it was simply part of an on-going effort by the American Intelligence community to bash Israel in the media. Or, perhaps it was a simple message of American one-up-man-ship to the Israelis.

Whatever the case, it was bad news for Israeli Intelligence. In going for the Israeli “dangle,” the NSA revealed that the communications code known as SILON had been deciphered. And, that was the good news. SILON is one of those unbreakable, automated cipher-jumping, frequency-hopping codes, the breaking of which does not point to NSA ingenuity but rather directly to an American “mole” inside Israeli Intelligence.

So, the next time some pundit sadly bemoans the Pollard Affair with “friends do not spy on friends,” remember, The Trades is a game for serious players only and spies always spy.

Article by William Northrop

Author of SPOOK WAR, A MEMIOR FROM THE TRENCHES

Spook War gives a glimpse into the events when the Reagan Administration shifted American foreign policy to the interests of the Arab States from our allies.

Spook War gives a glimpse into the events when the Reagan Administration shifted American foreign policy to the interests of the Arab States from our allies.