Israel's officials have a message for anyone praising the CIA for its sophisticated cyber attack on Iran: It was our baby. The Stuxnet computer worm, described by David Sanger in The New York Times last week as an invention by the Bush administration, was actually developed by Mossad, according to Israeli officials speaking with Haaretz journalist Yossi Melman on condition of anonymity:
The Israeli officials actually told me a different version. They said that it was Israeli intelligence that began, a few years earlier, a cyberspace campaign to damage and slow down Iran’s nuclear intentions. And only later they managed to convince the USA to consider a joint operation — which, at the time, was unheard of.
Israel’s Unit 8200, a part of its military, had technical expertise that rivaled the N.S.A.’s, and the Israelis had deep intelligence about operations at Natanz that would be vital to making the cyberattack a success.
My Israeli sources understand the sensitivity and the timing of the issue and are not going to be dragged into a battle over taking credit. “We know that it is the presidential election season,” one Israeli added, ”and don’t want to spoil the party for President Obama and his officials, who shared in a twisted and manipulated way some of the behind-the-scenes secrets of the success of cyberwar.”