The Night Beat: What Israeli Intelligence Thought They Knew About the Ships

Good evening.

On the Night Beat, with about 30 percent of the vote in, Rep. Artur Davis is getting his hiney handed to him by agriculture commissioner Ron Sparks in the Alabama gubernatorial primary.
If this result holds, it'll be sweet revenge for liberals angry that Davis tacked so hard to the right during the primary (he voted against health care reform), and it'll be a surprise for pollsters, who had Davis beating Sparks.

Davis self-consciously ran as a "color blind" black candidate. But he might not have paid enough attention to his base, which, color blind or not, didn't appreciate his ideological apostasy.

Breaking News: Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told his party that he will resign because he broke his campaign promise to move the U.S. Marine base off of Okinawa. (It's saying put.)

By a significant margin, the administration's national security establishment is paying more attention to the troubles on the Korean peninsula than they are the near-term ramifications of Israel's actions in international waters.  It is what it is. The limits of how the Obama government communicates with Americans about the Middle East are also apparent. But there's no real mystery to what the US is trying to say.

The U.S. supports Israel and certainly the president understands why Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had to cancel his visit tonight. P.J. Crowley, the assistant secretary of state for public affairs, tweeted this tonight, directly acknowledging and affirming one point of view:

"Re: Free #Gaza #Flotilla, #SecClinton expressed deep regret over the loss of civilian life; U.S. supported the quick response at the #UN."

Code word: UN.

Not in the Tweet or in any statement from anyone in the US government: "U.N. investigation."

The reference to the UN response (which, thanks to the US, did not directly condemn the government," sent a message of displeasure to Israel. President Obama called for an "impartial" investigation. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mused that there might be some "international component to it."

Israel does not trust international investigations, particularly those carried out at the behest of the UN. So the message, quite clear to Israel was: you're getting a chance to put your affairs in order and do an investigation the right way. If you can't, there's not much we can do to stop something that is beyond your control.

Israeli officials are privately telling their international counterparts that they had intelligence that Hezbollah operatives were hidden among the crew and passengers of several ships. The initial plan was to board all the ships, separate the alleged terrorists, bring the flotilla to Ashdod, and then deal separately with the Gaza activists.  But the intelligence was apparently non-specific, the commandos were trigger-happy and tense (unusually so for the Israelis) and they did not anticipate that passengers and crew on one of the ships would turn against them. A cascade of failures, unclear rules of engagement and a climate of tension --> a tragedy.

For a fascinating perspective on Israel's efforts to use social media to communicate today, see here:

This is a line that was uttered by a senior intelligence official upon hearing from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that the unpaid advisory board the White House wanted to add Rep. Joe Sestak to was NOT the President's Intelligence Advisory Board: "Thank goodness. We hoped POTUS thought more of the PIAB than that."

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the projected cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is now a cool $382 billion, up 65%.

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) will visit the White House Thursday, reports Jake Tapper. Bring your ID, Gov. Brewer.

Map of the day from Patrick Ottenhoff: what the oil spill would look like superimposed over the Washington, D.C. area:

Events: June 23, the National Archives Declassification Center will host a public forum on its plans @ 2:00 pm ET. ... On Thursday, National Security Agency Director/Commander in Chief of cyber command Gen. Keith Alexander, will speak in public for the first time on his cyber portfolio. CSIS, quickly becoming the to-go forum for Obama administration policy pronouncements, will host.