Thursday, April 8, 2010

Anat Kamm and the Real Culprits

It took time, but eventually the court rescinded the gag order I related to earlier this week.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.


Michael W. said...

Didn't the case involve classified documents that shows the Israeli military/intelligence organizations breaking a High Court ruling on assassinations of persons that could be captured? If Kamm did steal such documents, isn't it because she saw evidence that the Shin Bet or who ever, was breaking an Israeli court order, in effect, Israel's own laws. In other words, she had to break a law to prove the military was breaking another law.

AKUS said...

Kam should be locked up and the key thrown away. She is one of the worst traitors Israel has had since Udi Adiv.

Ha'aretz should be sued onto bankruptcy, and if Blau ever sets foot in Israel, he should be sent to join Kam.

What is particularly invidious in this case is the mercenary background - Kam clearly saw this way to advance what she was hoping would be a career as a journalist, and Blau glommed onto her documents to try and make more of a reputation for himself. If had been for some ideological reason it would be more understandable.

Yaacov said...

Michael -

She stole 2000 (two thousand) documents, for crying out loud! These included, so we're told, plans of operations, details about units, their strengths and deployment details, and other highly classified documents. Moreover, she seems to have stolen them over a protracted period, and then waited until after she completed her service and only then tried to make use of them.

There is a long an honorable tradition in Israel of soldiers and officers blowing the whistle on misdemeanors and even crimes, when such things happen. None of them ever felt the need first to steal thousands of documents. Had she been perturbed by a specific case - or even by a series of them - she could have called Carmela Menashe at the public radio, and had Menashe smelled a story it would have been splashed all over the front pages the next morning. That's how Israeli society operates.

This is nothing like that. It's a serious crime, and it's inexcusable. Trying to excuse it by covering it with ideological glory merely makes it worse.

In the US, such a person really would spend the rest of their life in jail. Kamm will be out, even if convicted, in 10 or 15 years.

Michael W. said...

Thanks for clarifying. I'm just trying to get a clear idea of the case.

Anonymous said...

Haaretz gave me this headline in its NL today

'IDF censor okayed Haaretz articles in Anat Kam case'

I couldn't find confirmation for that claim in the article


Yaacov said...

Silke -

Another red herring.

The military censor in Israel authorizes almost anything these days, unless the story contains an obvious and immediate danger to lives. 40 years ago, perhaps, the censor stuck his nose into lots of things, but that was then and now is now.

Anyway, the censor's position has nothing to do with stealing 2000 documents (Kamm), acquiring them (Haaretz), and obstructing an investigation by smuggling a prime suspect out of the country (Haaretz).

These are all attempts to distract our attention from the main story and its culprits.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Although the PP was more of a history report than plans and operations. Charges against Ellsberg were ultimately thrown out because of the government meddling (wiretaps, break-ins, meeting with the judge) in his case.

A very distressing case.


NormanF said...

Haaretz preaches about the rule of law to Israel's government but in the light of its behavior in the Kam case, it can never be taken seriously again since it does not live up to the lofty standard it demands of others.

But that is par for the course for Leftist hypocrisy. The one thing we won't see happen is Haaretz sanctioned for breaking Israeli law and aiding and abetting a criminal fugitive in the UK. Any one else, in Israel or in any other country, wouldn't get off so lightly.

Sylvia said...

Blau's attorneys are also Haaretz attorneys since Haaretz is also a defendant in this case. Haaretz'z editors had to know the source for the articles.

But sending Blau away overseas illustrates better than anything the radical left's well noted failure to carry the logical process far enough. By sending Blau to London - and demanding to lift the gag order, they have sent each and every intelligrnce agency on his tail. Because except for a couple of documents dealing with targeted assassination all the rest of the 2200 documents deals with Israel's military secrets they would like to put their hands on. In other words, he would be much safer in Israel.

Alex Stein said...

Yaacov - two questions/points:

1. If she's endagered lives, how did the military censor clear the Haaretz articles that made use of the documents she stole.

2. It seems that Anat Kamm has committed a crime. For this, she should be punished. If, over the course of the case, it is proven that the IDF top brass ordered the killing of Palestinian terrorists in deliberate contravention of a Supreme Court ruling on the matter, do you think they should also be punished?

Sylvia said...

There are some aspects of this case that nobody - but NOBODY - is addressing. Here are a few:

1. Most of the documents Anat Kamm collected concerned principally troop deployment and military strategies, and she did so precisely in the years that saw the abduction and killing of the soldiers which led to the second Lebanon war, the period of escalation on the Gaza border that involved hundreds of rockets a day that caused the death of innocent civilians, and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, the circumstances of which which suggest that the kidnappers had to have the exact coordinates of his position in order to dig a tunnel and come out 200m on the Israeli side of the border exaqctly behind him.

2. Blau said Anat Kamm gave him only 150 documents, of which he returned fifty. Where are the other 2000 documents? To whom did she give them and when?

3. Anyone who has been in Israel long enough knows that the kind of job she got in the army - in the inner sanctum of Central Command - is not obtained by mere merit. She had to be warmly recommended by some important people to land there. The question is who put her there and why?

4. I heard her lawyer say that she is "Salt of the earth" which in Israel's social code means that she is no Wanunu, that she is "one of us". By thi9s, he hinted that she belongs to that ethnic group that usually gets away with murder (remember Tennenbaum? Udi Adiv?).

NormanF said...


The damage Anat Kam did was far greater than that which Uri Adiv to Israel. She placed every Israeli soldier, airman and sailor's lives at great risk. She should be shot but Israel treats treason all too gently. She chose to satisfy her personal ambitions and to help those at Haaretz who want to "rape" Israel fulfill their goals. This is the very antithesis of Zionism and love of one's fellow Jew. There is nothing noble or redeeming about her conduct. She betrayed her oath and might as well as have given the keys to the country to Israel's enemies. That is what she did do. Anat Kam is no heroine; she is an enemy and a traitor.

Anonymous said...


Isabel Kershner unequivocally in clear terms repeats - and gives it weight - that unsubstantiated by Haaretz itself headline this morning i.e. the censor slept at his desk or stop making a fuss the documents were harmless as certified by the censor (needless to say it is not for a soldier to decide what's harmless and what isn't) - I mean even saying that there is a censor the way she does it constitutes slander i.e. Israel and free press - haha you gullible you ...

But the Kershner-piece ups the ante even more i.e. is getting outright heinous by in the middle switching seemlessly to the Olmert trial making it seem to the not-alert reader as if the two are somehow interdependant.

Is she paid by someone?
to keep the March-ruckus going, slandering Israel with a bit of chipping here and a bit of chipping there? What will she get for it? a one on one with one of the tough-lovers? i.e. Obama? or only Hillary?


Gavin said...

All these incidents with the hardcore leftists must be pretty upsetting to you Yaacov. You've made it plain that you're a bit of a socialist yourself and these people are doing just as much harm to the left as they're doing to Israel. It's inevitable that there will be a significant backlash against the left as Israel becomes more vilified & isolated and yet they seem blithely ignorant and unapologetic over the damage they're doing even to their own kind.

Regards, Gavin

Anonymous said...

I've been told that one of the commies' strategy was that "things must go worse before they can become better" - i.e. they envision themselves as Peter O'Toole or Omar Sharif on the (camel) stallion riding to the rescue when everything is breaking up.

Flirting with murder Romantics are on the rampage.

(admirer of Orwell who said something like:
to not want socialism makes you a callous person
to believe that it can work makes you a lunatic.)

Anonymous said...

just to be clear
the thinking goes
"one must very very actively help things along to getting worse and worse, make them break up the more spectacular the better, otherwise one misses one's chance to do the rescue stunt on the stallion."

One day I remember the UK-web site were staunch supporters of the totally uncritical free market mantra were nevertheless pushing their far far left agenda - they had somehow figured out how the two complemented eachother (because both are wanting it global - economy sans frontieres? à la Kouchner)
One of their loudmouths used to be a commenter at the London Times also, but has now gone. But if you value slyness they were sure worthy of a crown. So whoever drives this bunch in Israel may very well have some very staunch global anti-state nuts connections wherever they have their Politbureau these days.


Anonymous said...

just remembered

one of my middle management level superiors brought the "worse before better" mantra back as the latest wisdom from a fancy management course by McKinsey or the like in the late 90s.
He was very proud of it and lectured us subalterns about it every time we wanted to get his permission to adjust a procedure to prevent another mishap.

If Obama is as McKinsey-ish as he seems to me maybe he has learned and adheres to that utter comedy worthy leadership mantra also ...


Sylvia said...

Anat Kamm will get away with a lighter sentence because she is "Melah haAretz." Compare her case with the Wanunu case. He did 18 years of prison and even after he completed his full sentence he was prohibited from leaving the country. And for what? For something he allegedly said to a journalist abroad concerning the number of warheads Israel may or may not have. This information, true or false is in every anti-Israel internet site. But none of those hyprocrites claimed ideology in his case nor did they call on the Courts to restrict the espionage charge to passing classified information to the enemy only.

And Haaretz too will get away with what is clearly blackmail of those in charge of our security. They can, because the Supreme Court owes them one since Haaretz campaigne4for the dismissal of Daniel Friedman, the current Court's arch-enemy.

NormanF said...


Correct. Even if the Interior Minister banned Haaretz the Leftist Supreme Court in Israel would move to overturn it in record time. What the case revealed as you pointed out is there are two systems of justice in Israel: one for the Left and one for every one else. Its been that way for a long time now and its not not going to change in the future.