Two well placed sources confirmed to FOX News that Israel last year made "various requests" for U.S. assistance with a planned Israeli air strike on Iran's nuclear program — and that the requests were made directly to the White House because the Israelis were "disturbed and fearful" of leaks from the U.S. intelligence community and "did not trust" Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
One source told FOX News the Israelis approached the Bush White House at least once last summer, possibly twice, and were "slammed down" because senior administration officials felt such assistance would "unravel our position in Iraq."
President Bush was convinced by aides, sources said, that any such American aid to an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear program would cause the Iranians "to foment great upheaval in Iraq."
One source told FOX News the Israeli emissary sent to request Washinton's help was Meir Dagan, head of the Israeli spy agency Mossad. Dagan was sent reportedly because the Israelis considered him "the only trusted channel."
In the summer of 2007, shortly before the Israelis' Sept. 6, 2007 air strike on a nascent Syrian nuclear facility — built with the help of North Korea — it was Dagan whom the Israelis authorized to alert Washington to the impending attack.
Sources tell FOX News the upper echelons of the Central Intelligence Agency are "royally peeved" that the Israeli requests for assistance last summer went directly to the White House and not through Langley.
From the Israelis' point of view, that was because they believed that CIA had tried to force the Israelis to abort the 2007 Syrian strike hours before it was launched.
According to one source: "CIA leaked the impending raid [on Syria in 2007] the day before in order to, as the Israelis suspected, scuttle it. Israel almost called it off, but when their sources detected no heightened Syrian readiness or defensive measures, they were sure Syrian intelligence had not picked the leak up, and thus Israel decided to go ahead and do the raid. From that experience, Israel believed that the Iran raid would need to be through even more restrictive channels — direct to the president by Olmert's most trusted channel, Dagan. They did not trust Condi."
The refusal of the Bush admministration to provide the assistance the Israelis requested occasioned sharp dispute among senior policymakers, who split along the now-familiar lines that saw Vice President Dick Cheney and his aides favoring harsher measures against the Iranians and Secretary Rice and others opposing them.
"It's yet another example," said one source, "of the Bush administration morphing into the Obama administration before Obama was elected."
James Rosen joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999. He currently serves as the chief Washington correspondent and hosts the online show "The Foxhole." His latest book is "A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century" (Crown Forum, October 4, 2016).