Washington, DC - March 7, 2014 8AM-5PM at the National Press Club

"..a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils."

-George Washington, Farewell Address


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  Mossad poses as CIA? No-holds-barred national security reporting in the current environment
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by Mark Perry is an American author specializing in military, intelligence, and foreign affairs analysis who has authored eight books: Four Stars: The Inside Story of the Forty-Year Battle Between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and America's Civilian Leaders, Eclipse: The Last Days of the CIA, A Fire In Zion: Inside the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, Conceived in Liberty, Lift Up Thy Voice, Grant and Twain, Partners In Command, and Talking To Terrorists: Why America Must Engage with its Enemies. Perry’s articles have been featured in a number of leading publications including The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Newsday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Plain Dealer. He is a graduate of Northwestern Military and Naval Academy and of Boston University. Perry is the former co-Director of the Washington, D.C., London, and Beirut-based Conflicts Forum, which specializes in engaging with Islamist movements in the Levant in dialogue with the West. Perry served as co-Director for over five years. Perry served as an unofficial advisor to PLO Chairman and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat from 1989 to 2004. Perry has appeared on numerous national and international televised forums and is a frequent guest commentator and expert on Al-Jazeera television, has appeared regularly on CNN’s The International Hour and on Special Assignment. Perry’s books have met with critical acclaim from Kirkus Reviews, The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and many other publications. He has served as editor of Washington D.C.’s City Paper, and The Veteran, the largest circulation newspaper for veterans. Perry was also Washington correspondent for The Palestine Report, and is currently a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center. Perry is the recipient of both the 1995 National Jewish Book Award for his second book, A Fire In Zion, as well as journalism’s prestigious “Project Censored" Award.

My name is Mark Perry, or as they refer to me, the guy who has to follow Ernie [Ernest Gallo]. Thank you all for being here. Thank you very much.

I'm supposed to talk about national security reporting in the current environment, "no holds barred" no less, national security reporting. And I'm going to do that, but I'm going to take a bank shot to do it—if you don't mind—and talk about two phrases that keep kind of going through my mind when I do my reporting on the U.S. military and intelligence communities. And the first phrase is "national interest." And the second phase is "skin in the game."

Now we always hear, and we use, the term national interest and it's an important phrase, but not many people, I don't think, really know what it means when we talk about U.S. national interest. And so we can -- we can define it, free markets, free trade, free elections. Wilson's 14 points, the four pillars of Roosevelt. But I think that taking a look at reporting and one report in particular that kind of struck me, and it keeps coming back to me, would help us define national security.

Last summer, in the pages of Foreign Policy and in Politico a man by the name of Jonathan Schanzer, who is an official with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, or as I refer to them, the Foundation for the Defense of Israel, wrote an article suggesting that what the President of the United States should do in particular -- in the wake of the coup in Egypt, was to pick up the phone and call the Emir of Qatar and lecture him about Qatar's support for Hamas. And tell the Emir that it was time to stop supporting Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, or the United States would have to rethink its relationship with Qatar.

And I read this piece and I thought, all right, let's suppose that the President, Obama, reads this piece, which seems improbable, but let's suppose he did. And then he were to actually follow the advise of Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for the Defense of Israel. And call the Emir of Qatar and say it's time for you to rethink your relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood. And it's time for you to rethink your relationship with Hamas or, by golly, we're going to do whatever. And the Emir of Qatar would say, well thank you for your call, Mr. President. I'm certainly going to take that under consideration. I'm going to meet with my cabinet and I'll get back to you.

And then the Emir of Qatar, I just envision this, you can tell me if I'm wrong, would pick up the phone and he'd call the Chairman of the Board of the Exxon Mobil Corporation and he'd say, you know, I just got a call from the President of the United States and, maybe I'm out of line here, but I just, you know, I got lectured by him and I'm wondering what you think about that.

And the Chairman of the Board of Exxon Mobile would say, well, it's a very interesting phone call. Let me talk to my government relations people in Washington and give me a few days and I'll get back to you.

And then he would probably call the President of the United States—I'm just hypothesizing here now—and he would say Mr. President, there are 89,000 jobs in Texas dependent on a contract with the Emir of Qatar.

That's our national interest.

Jobs. Trade. Putting Americans to work. The U.S. Central Command, which protects U.S. and other shipping in the Persian Gulf, was formed in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. Not to counter Iran, but to protect American shipping with a little old country, Qatar, because the then Exxon Corporation had signed a $50 billion contract with Qatar to ship natural gas to ports in Texas. Which is the national interest. Not destroying Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Free markets, free trade, free elections is the national interest. And those countries that can serve the national interest are our friends.

The second phrase—now that's how I define "national interest." And the second phrase is "skin in the game." It's a pretty crude phrase. I'm sure you've heard it. It's used in the Pentagon all the time when they talk about—when the military talks about—the wars that they have fought and are fighting, or might fight.

And they talk about who America's friends are and who aren't America's friends. And how they sell the war or don't sell the war. How they support the war or don't support a war on Capitol Hill. And regularly I will hear a Colonel say, you know, the people we really respect when it comes to talk about war are those people with skin in the game. That is, who are willing to sacrifice their lives of their soldiers and their national treasure in protecting their national interests. And unless you have skin in the game, you don't count for much with the U.S. military. That's what skin in the game means. And you heard my friend Gareth Porter here this morning talking about a prospective war against Iran. And the skin in the game here would be U.S. skin, and not Israel's.

Now the President of the United States gave a State of the Union address. And during his State of the Union address, he said that the Senate was considering a sanctions bill against Iran that if it came to his desk, he would veto it. And next day after he gave that speech, if you'll recall, three of the major core sponsors of that bill dropped off the bill. What happened? Did the President's words scare the senior Senator from Connecticut? Was Senator Menendez cowed by President Barak Obama? Or was it that there were a series of briefings on the Hill, very quick briefings, from the U.S. military, which has skin in the game, that said that the United States war against Iran would last 90 days and that we would prevail in such a conflict, and it would cost us $2 billion a day, 5,000 American lives, and probably two destroyers. And that it would not be a campaign of shock and awe, but an ugly, bloody confrontation.

Did the Senate think that when the military didn't want to go to war over Syria, it would somehow want to go to war with Iran? That's skin in the game. 

So my focus in reporting over the last three years in a series of articles that began in March, 2010, have focused on national interest and skin in the game. And in March of 2010 I learned that Genera David Petraeus, who was the head of the U.S. Central Command, had been wandering through some of the towns and cities of Iraq during the surge. And when he went into many Iraqi homes, he would see a big picture in the living room of many Iraqi homes of the holy sanctuary in Jerusalem. And invariably the male of the family would say, you know, the Palestinian issue, really—and he kept hearing it, and he kept hearing it.

And he went to his staff—this is General Petraeus, the smartest guy in the room. And he said this Israeli/Palestinian thing is really a big deal here, isn't it? I'm telling you the truth. It kind of was starting to dawn on him as the U.S. Central -- head of the U.S. Central Command, that the Israeli/Palestinian issue was providing an obstacle to the resolution of political problems in the Middle East.

So he sent his staff out to visit the military staffs of his area of responsibilities, the Arab countries area of responsibility. And they said, the primary obstacle to the respect for America and American ideals and American national interest, was the failure of the United States to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Now I heard about -- then he sent his staff to brief Admiral Mullen of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who listened closely to the briefing, to the part where it said that the failure to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is an obstacle to American national interest. And I was told about the briefing and I published the results of the briefing.

And the day after I published it, I was scared to death, because David Petraeus was going to testify in the U.S. Senate. And I thought he could probably legitimately deny that any of this had ever happened, and I'd look like a schmuck.

I was in my car on the GW Parkway and I pulled over, listening to his testimony. And he was asked by Senator McCain whether he believed that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict was the primary obstacle to American national security interest in the Middle East, and he said, "yes I do."

You could have heard a pin drop in this town. But it's been said again and again and again from the Commanders of U.S. Central Command. From David Petraeus to James Mattis and most recently by Lloyd Austin, that we're going to have to resolve this conflict or we're going to continue to suffer in our relations with the Arab world. And good relations with the Arab world is in our national interest.

I then reported two other articles, which I urge you to read in Foreign Policy. One is False Flag about how Israel recruited members of the terrorist group Jundallah by saying they were CIA agents. And the second article is on how Israel is going to use, or had planned to use, Azerbaijan as a launching point for an attack on Iran [Israel's Secret Staging Ground]. And how that affected and might affect our national interest. And what the military thought about this.

And I'll close with two comments. We're here to reassess the Israel/U.S. relationship. That's the name of this conference, and I'm going to be a little bit, perhaps too optimistic. It is being reassessed.

And I understand how important and powerful APAC is, but there's no more powerful lobby in Washington thagrantn the U.S. military. The Prime Minister of Israel might call the President of the United States, and the President might or might not take the call. But when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff calls the President, the President answers the phone.

And that's the difference. Because the President and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have skin in the game. Malcolm Hoenlein—and I'll close with this—said recently. And I think this is important. Malcolm Hoenlein is the President of the Organization of Presidents of Major U.S. Organizations [Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations]. You all know that, right? He said and I want to quote him. When he was talking about the increasing sanctions on Iran. He said, "I don't want to visit any more memorials to dead Jews."

To which I think our response and the military's response is and has been, "Right. And we don't want to visit any more memorials to dead Americans."

Thank you.

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