The Central Intelligence Agency has published a series of essays on intelligence and the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, to coincide with a symposium on the subject held last week at the Nixon Presidential Library.
The publication itself (“President Nixon and the Role of Intelligence in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War”) is a welcome addition to the literature. But it also “includes some embarrassing errors,” wrote Amir Oren in the Israeli paper Ha’aretz on February 3 (“CIA report on Yom Kippur War: Israel had nuclear arsenal”).
“For example,” Oren wrote, “in the photograph labeled ‘An Egyptian soldier holding up a portrait of President Sadat,’ the soldier in question and the two soldiers flanking him are clearly Israelis, as evidenced by the ‘IDF’ stamped visibly on their shirts.”
“The editors of the new study also err in attributing two things to lessons from the Six-Day War: the faulty prevailing conception among Israeli Military Intelligence ‘that Israel would have at least 48 hours’ warning before an invasion’ and that Sadat wouldn’t start a war before acquiring fighter planes. Furthermore, it seems they also confused war analyst Maj. Gen. (ret.) Chaim Herzog with one of his sons, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Mike Herzog,” he added.
If these discrepancies are cause for embarrassment, then it is the kind of embarrassment that should be willingly endured. To put it another way, exposing such work to external review and criticism is an unsurpassed way of identifying and correcting errors.