Ex-Israeli Spy Chief's Iran Comments Spark Row Since leaving Mossad, Meir Dagan has attacked Israel's leaders for their "reckless intent" to attack Iran over its suspected nuclear program. That someone so respected would talk publicly about one of the country's most sensitive issues has set tongues wagging.
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Ex-Israeli Spy Chief's Iran Comments Spark Row

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Ex-Israeli Spy Chief's Iran Comments Spark Row

Ex-Israeli Spy Chief's Iran Comments Spark Row

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

A former head of Israel's spy agency issued a warning to his country, and now he is embroiled in controversy. Meir Dagan was the head of the widely respected agency, Mossad. And then he retired, which gave him the freedom to speak openly - a freedom he has repeatedly used. Dagan accused Israel's leaders of a lack of judgment. And he said it was, quote, "stupid for Israel to think of a military strike on Iran." Afterward, the government took away his diplomatic passport. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports from Jerusalem.

LOURDES GARCIA: Unidentified Man #2: (Foreign language spoken)

GARCIA: In statements over the past few weeks he has said that a military strike on that nation targeting its suspect nuclear program would be disastrous. And he lambasted the current Israeli leadership for being reckless in pursuing that aim.

RONAN BERGMAN: Dagan is very popular in Israel and something like this coming from his mouth is harmful to the prestige of these people in the eyes of the Israeli public.

GARCIA: That's Ronan Bergman, a leading Israeli journalist and author of the upcoming book, "Mossad and the Art of Assassination." He says because Dagan is so well respected, his words have been taken very seriously by the public here. Bergmam says Dagan has faced a lot of censure for speaking out.

BERGMAN: He worked against the code. He, so to speak, spilled out the inner discussion over one of the major subjects.

GARCIA: Danny Dannon is the deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset and a member of Netanyahu's Likud party.

DANNY DANNON: You have a difference between elected officials and people who are nominated. And Dagan was not elected. The government was elected, Prime Minister Netanyahu was elected, and a very important public official should follow the decision of the government, whether he likes them or not.

GARCIA: Ephram Halevy is also a former head of Mossad. Israel, he says, has to present a united front, publicly, to an enemy like Iran, whatever the internal divisions.

EPHRAM HALEVY: I don't think it's very wise to discuss the options in this manner. I don't think we have to provide our adversaries with all that information as to our intentions. I don't think it's a very wise or necessary thing to give them a timetable of when or when not consider this or that possibility of using this or that force.

GARCIA: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Jerusalem.

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