It took time, but eventually the court rescinded the gag order I related to earlier this week. Predictably, the fuller story that is now coming out is different than the one that swirled over the Web recently. That was about the benighted Israeli authorities who had made a young journalist disappear and then blocked the story, just like in Iran (really, that was the line. Go see Richard Silvestein's blog. He's been all over the story for weeks).
The story pouring out the past few hours is quite different. First, however, let's relate to the gag order. I expect when it was first given it was reasonable: investigators of leaks of large amounts of classified documents don't need thoughtless journalists second-guessing their every move and broadcasting the limits of the investigator's knowledge to possible unidentified culprits. This isn't because Israel resembles Iran, it's the nature of police work, anywhere. Eventually, however, selective versions of the story did reach journalists beyond the writ of Israeli gag orders; once this happened, allowing this slanted version to dominate the stage was poor tactics. Especially as we can now trace the time line, and the leaks to the press came late in the investigation. When former supreme court justice Dalia Dorner said this week that the order was causing damage, she knew what she was talking about.
Second, the initial facts. According to the allegations - which have yet to be proven in court, let us never forget - Anat Kamm stole thousands of classified documents from the office of a top IDF general during her military service. There's a long and detailed description of the case here, (only in Hebrew), and another long report, less extensive but in English, here. (The Hebrew report seems to be based on a six-page description sent out by the press office of the Ministry of Justice, but alas, they haven't posted their own press release on their own website, so I can't link to it. Lot's of bright light-bulbs in this story). If proven, Kamm will be sentenced to a long prison term for espionage (though being 23 years old she'll be out before she's 40), which is as it should be. Her acts could have lead to people getting killed: that's what top-secret military documents deal with. This isn't Enron, or Lehman Brothers.
Kamm's lawyers. There are two of them. Eitan Lehman is about 40, intelligent, probably a fine attorney, but not well known. He has no public persona. Avigdor Feldman, in his mid-60s, is one of Israel's most prominent criminal lawyers, and is arguably the single best known defender in politics-related trials from the Palestinian side or the Left. At this stage of the matter, lawyers are paid to deny all allegations and attack the prosecution: that's the way the game works. Interestingly, however, Eitan Lehman was sent to face the media and trot out the predictable lines about how his client is innocent and the prosecution is undermining democracy etc. Coming from Feldman, no-one wold listen; coming from Lehman-the-new-face, somebody just might. Nice touch, that. But then someone couldn't keep mum, and had to add that Ms. Kamm is a good person, who was motivated only by ideology, and not, say, money: "That's why she passed the documents to Haaretz and not to some foreign agency", according to her attorney Avigdor Feldman.
"Ideology", of course, means left-wing dissatisfaction with Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians and the way Israel defends itself from its enemies. Let us be clear about that. Yet another incident in which some people on Israel's Left cannot accept actions of its democratically elected executive or official organs.
According to the official description, Kamm tried to pass her documents to at least one (unidentified) media outlet before Haaretz, but that outlet declined to use them. Which brings us to the role of Haaretz. There seem to be a number of them. First, the fact that they used illegally procured documents for a story. I don't like it, not at all, but tend to the opinion that freedom of the press and the need to hold the authorities to the spirit and letter of the law in their activities may justify this. Or rather, in principle this can be justified; in this case: we don't know enough to say.
Journalists from other media outlets are saying that they've never seen a trove of 2000 classified document, ever. (Yoav Limor, channel one TV). I'm not certain what that tells us about the editors of Haaretz, but doubt it puts them in a positive light.
Then there's the matter of the negotiations with the police once the matter was under investigation. As far as I can tell, the behavior of Haaretz (and their lawyers) was wrong. They agreed to return the documents they had acquired, then returned a mere 50, not 2,000 - and neglected to tell that they had 2,000. The investigators only figured that out once they had arrested Anat Kamm.
Then there's the matter Uri Blau, reporter at Haaretz. He moved to London five months ago to escape the investigation (soft version), or arrest (hard version). He's living in London on the dime of Haaretz. As I write this Amos Schocken, proprietor of Haaretz, has just said on TV that the paper's attorneys are responsible for his staying there, and he (Schocken) supports this. So Haaretz is assisting a fugitive from the law in an espionage case. Looks very bad to me.
That's as far as I wish to take it right now. Perhaps in a day or a week I'll have more to say. Perhaps not.