Israel’s Daniel Ellsberg?


(Graffiti in Israel: “Where are you, Anat Kam?”)
Max Blumenthal is helping to break a huge story in Israel that involves journalists, leaks, accusations of alleged treason, illegal assassinations, house arrests, a Haaretz editor in hiding, and personal conscience.
I thought the John Le Carre era was coming to a close — but not when there are stories like this one percolating.
The story is complex and needs to be read in full rather than excerpted. Do read “Inside The Media Blackout Scandal in The Middle East’s Only Democracy.”
— Steve Clemons


21 comments on “Israel’s Daniel Ellsberg?

  1. nadine says:

    Interesting take on Blau and the whole story from Yaacov Lozowick, an Israeli historian. Sounds like Haaretz, which has turned itself into a propaganda sheet in an effort to defend paying for one of its journalists to stay in London and obstruct the criminal investigation, has painted itself into a corner over “whistle-blowing” that involved many stolen classified documents, but not that much to blow the whistle over:
    “Haaretz republished most of Blau’s story over the weekend, to remind us that the real culprits are the generals who are not behaving correctly. In brief, the High Court of Justice ordered that Palestinian terrorists not be assassinated in cases where they can be arrested; Kamm’s documents seemed to be saying the generals were disregarding this order. Since Haaretz was so helpful as to re-publish the story, I feel confident in saying it isn’t convincing. The documents they cite seem to be saying that the terrorists must be arrested, but if the choice is between letting them get away or killing them, they should be killed. In other words, precisely what the High Court said. There was also mention of the fat that should there be a need to fire at the terrorists, this would be permissible even if there was one single unidentified individual with them – but not two, say, or four. We know that in the invasion of Iraq the Americans were allowed to assasinate identified enemies along with up to 29 civilians – so the documents Kamm stole seem to prove the opposite of what Uri Blau said they proved.
    …Since Haaretz had so helpfully shown the stolen documents, the counter-espionage officials came to talk with Blau. Had he been anything other than a journalist, he’d have been summarily arrested and facing many years of jail. But since he’s a journalist, and democracy needs journalists to be able to act freely, he wasn’t arrested. A deal was cut with him and he agreed to give back the stolen documents, so that they’d never reach someone more dangerous than Haaretz.
    Blau returned 50 documents. When the investigators found Kamm independently of him, she told them there had been 2000 documents, not 50. The went back to Blau and his newspaper to retrieve the other 1950 documents, but he absconded, and his lawyers – who are the lawyers of Haaretz – have refused to return the documents.”


  2. ... says:

    questions – israel reminds me of the bush gulag where everything is turned into a secret document and after that, everything is out of bounds… it is not the kind of country or set of values i would want to support… glad you are giving us the latest rationale for the clamp down…. it would seem israel has its own version of the patriotic act, or what i refer to as the idiotic act…


  3. questions says:

    “For the first time since she was placed under house arrest in December, the Israeli government allowed the Israeli press to publish the name of a 23-year-old journalist, Anat Kam, who has been charged with stealing thousands of secret documents while serving in the Army and leaking evidence of an allegedly illegal assassination program that targeted Palestinian militants. An Israeli judge had previously not only ordered the Israeli press not to cover the case, but also to refrain from even mentioning that a gag order was in place.
    The silence broke only last week, after Jewish bloggers and news agencies outside Israel, as well as foreign news media, began reporting on the case. The appearance of reports outside of Israel


  4. JohnH says:

    If Nadine bothered to read, she would know that Sami Al-Arian was never convicted. After being found “not guilty” on all 17 charges against him, he was not released. After 3 years in prison, he finally agreed to cop a plea on a single count. When his release date arrived, he was still not allowed to leave jail. Now exactly what crime did Al-Arian commit to warrant five years in jail? Speaking freely while Palestinian-American?
    Syed Fahad Hashmi is another case. He


  5. Haim says:

    Wow. Carrol, thanks for this clear display of
    racism, you ass.
    And now, when the court has removed the gag by
    request of the prosecution and the GSS, what do we
    That Anat Kam had intentionally and deliberately
    stolen 2000 documents, many of which were
    classified “top secret”, including war
    dispositions of the Central Command of IDF.
    That, a year and a half after the publication of
    Uri Blau’s famous article about targeted killings,
    no one – not Israeli Attorney General, not Supreme
    Court and not even Israeli Arab rights
    organizations – had even thought about prosecuting
    the officers involved for “contempt of court”, or
    even for murder.
    That “Haaretz” had committed an enormous blunder
    by exposing its source.
    That Israeli internal security service had bought
    Uri Blau a new laptop to exchange for the old one
    which held the documents and was destroyed.
    A tale of oppression, persecution and all-around
    dark night of Israeli fascism, indeed.


  6. ... says:

    interesting letterwriter on the bottom of the link steve provided…
    “On 1 April 2010,


  7. ... says:

    israel wanted to do the same with goldstone for speaking out on israels illegal actions… the world was supposed to accept israels bullshit about goldstones lack of impartiality… this is yet another example of israels avoidance tactics… speaking of avoidance tactics, i like those regulars here who work especially hard to derail the conversation away from the specifics of this story…
    whisteblowers are treated as enemies of the state in israel… israels priority is to make sure its illegal actions remain covered up..
    what does it mean for israel to claim democracy, while blacking out commentary on secret arrests? can i get some rationalizations from the local apologists??


  8. JohnH says:

    Lest there be any doubt about the American government buying the loyalty of foreign governments, today’s New York Times is revealing: Kyrgyzstan’s despotic President Bakiyev appears to have been ousted today. “Mr. Bakiyev…took power in 2005 after the Tulip Revolution, one of a series of so-called color revolutions that seemed to offer hope of more democracy in former Soviet republics.”
    But Bakiyev turned out to be a less than reliable American ally. Ultimately he allowed American access to critical airbase only after the US agreed to pay much higher rent than the Russians would pay.
    Now the question is very clear–will Obama seize the possibility for a democratic opening and support the opposition parties now in control? Or will Obama revert to the usual pattern of buying loyalty either by bring back Bakiyev or buying opposition leader? And how much money will Obama have to borrow from China to do it? Or will China prefer to buy the new government instead, using the mountain of dollars it has accumulated?


  9. JohnH says:

    As for PA corruption, this is standard operating procedure for American allied tyrants around the world, particularly in Africa. Most foreign “aid” is returned to American companies to pay for construction, services or unnecessary military equipment. Another significant chunk serves to buy loyalty to Western interests and typically finds its way into Western banks, often the tyrant’s Swiss bank account.
    At the time of his death, Zaire’s Western allied tyrant, Mobutu Sese Seko had embezzled wealth exceeding his country’s huge foreign debt and sent the money to Switzerland. Of course, the money could not be reclaimed to pay down the debt.
    So Arafat was probably a piker by global standards. But every negotiation involves a buying and a selling. And the buying of Arafat and his cronies was part of the Oslo deal.
    From the American and Israeli perspective, buying the loyalty of someone to work against his people’s interests is much cleaner solution than relying on something messy, like freedom and democracy.
    No one who watched Arafat and the PA government should be surprised by any of this. Hamas is less corrupt, which is big part of the reason they won the election and is also a big part of the reason Israel and the West don’t want to deal with them.


  10. nadine says:

    Wigwag, Arafat was, as everybody knew, a gangster and notoriously corrupt. But if the Israelis were stupid enough to talk the only leader the Arab League allowed the Palestinians to have, why would anybody else notice his corrupt, terrorist, and dictatorial habits?


  11. nadine says:

    Sure, I remember Sami al Arian. He wasn’t convicted of leaking secrets; he was convicted of fund raising for Palestinian Islamic Jihad.


  12. WigWag says:

    “He has produced several documentaries on the Palestinians for the BBC and many other networks, including ones that exposed the connection between Arafat and payments to the armed wing of Fatah and the financial corruption within the Palestinian Authority.” (Nadine)
    It’s somewhat off topic so we probably shouldn’t spend too much time discussing it here, but I have frequently wondered about whom in the West actually knew about the financial corruption that took place under Arafat. After all, the money that Arafat and his cronies stole was donated for the most part by the Americans and Europeans although a fair amount did come from the Sunni Arab nations as well. The money was intended to help the suffering Palestinin people.
    In particular, I’ve always wondered about Rita Hauser and her then law firm, Stroock & Stroock and Lavan. Hauser is a New York philanthropist, a board member of the New America Foundation, a former member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and a co-chair of Republicans for Obama. She is obviously a brilliant woman who is well-connected and erudite.
    She was also Yasser Arafat’s American lawyer. Ms. Hauser met with Arafat as early as 1988, when America still considered him a terrorist and refused even to allow him access to the United Nations headquarters in New York.
    Arafat ended up hiring Hauser who was a partner in Stoock & Stroock and the firm billed the Palestine Liberation Organization many millions of dollars. It’s no exaggeration to say that some of the millions that Hauser donates to worthy and not so worthy causes today came from fees paid to her law firm by Arafat and the PLO.
    Stroock & Stroock and Lavan was a registered foreign agent of Arafat’s PLO. The fact that Arafat and the PLO were notoriously corrupt was widely known at the time and it strains credulity to suggest that neither Hauser nor the law firm were aware of the allegations of corruption. But who knows, maybe neither Hauser nor the other partners at Stroock were aware of allegations of corruption; or if they were aware, maybe they thought it wasn’t their problem. Surely these brilliant lawyers were smart enough to comply with the letter of the law.
    The money that Arafat and his cronies stashed away in their Swiss bank accounts was money intended for the Palestinian people; instead, it made a few men notoriously wealthy.
    Someday, some enterprising reporter is going to ask Ms Hauser the same question that was asked during the Watergate hearings;
    What did you know and when did you know it?
    Only the question won’t be about Nixon’s corruption, it will be about Arafat’s corruption.
    Steve mentioned Daniel Ellsberg in this post; do you think that a muckraker like Ellsberg might be interested in knowing whether fancy American lawyers knew anything about Palestinian leaders who paid them millions in fees while stealing from the very people they were supposed to be protecting?


  13. JohnH says:

    As long as were speculating, anyone care to hazard a guess about what might happen to a Palestinian, or any Arab-American, caught leaking secrets? Anyone remember Sami Al-Arian?


  14. nadine says:

    Wigwag, no need to hazard guesses. Here’s a speech by Khalid Abu Toameh from 2004 discussing what happened to Palestinian media under Oslo. Naturally, the situation hasn’t exactly improved under Hamas:
    Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli Arab, is the West Bank and Gaza correspondent for the Jerusalem Post and U.S. News and World Report. He previously served as a senior writer for the Jerusalem Report, and a correspondent for Al-Fajr. He has produced several documentaries on the Palestinians for the BBC and many other networks, including ones that exposed the connection between Arafat and payments to the armed wing of Fatah and the financial corruption within the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Abu Toameh received his BA in English Literature from the Hebrew University and currently lives in Jerusalem with his wife and three children. He addressed the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia on April 27, 2004.
    As an Arab journalist working among Palestinians, I am often asked if I feel threatened while I work. I am indeed frequently placed in life-threatening situations, yet the threats I experience do not come from the Israeli occupation, but from Yasir Arafat’s Palestinian Authority (PA). At least 12 Palestinian journalists have been attacked by masked men in the past four months in what appears to be an organized campaign to intimidate the media. Only days ago, a photographer working for Agence France-Presse had his arms broken by a masked man in Ramallah. Agence France-Presse did not do anything about this attack, but a great outcry is raised when Israeli soldiers allegedly harass journalists in the territories.
    The Lack of Independence in the Palestinian Media
    Twenty years ago, while studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, I worked for the PLO’s newspaper Al Fajr (The Dawn). Al Fajr was more than a paper; it was a PLO institution. At the paper we basically received and carried out orders from Arafat’s office in Tunisia. Although I eventually became an editor there, I did not mention my position at Al Fajr on my resume for years because I did not consider the work that went on there to be real journalism. Now, after being censured for my outspokenly critical views of the Palestinian media, I consider my time at Al Fajr testament to my knowledge of the lack of journalistic freedom at the PLO newspaper.
    I continue to witness what is happening to the Palestinian media under Arafat. Many of my Palestinian colleagues actually envy me for writing for an Israeli paper. Working for the PLO, I was not able to write a word of my own free will. Yet in two years at the Jerusalem Post my editors have never told me what to write. I can function as a journalist at the Jerusalem Post in a way that many Palestinians have tried to function under Arafat, but have failed.
    Arafat’s Attack on Free Speech
    When Arafat returned to the West Bank and Gaza from his exile, his security forces ignored pursuing terrorists and instead arrested independent journalists not loyal enough to the PLO. Over 38 journalists were forced out of their jobs or the country. This was not given much attention by the foreign media because at the time Arafat was allowed to do whatever he wanted in the name of Oslo. Although they did not cover the story heavily, I was not alone in pointing out to foreign journalists that the first thing Arafat did when PLO returned to the territories was to restrict freedom of speech.
    Arafat has complete control over the Palestinian media to this day. Almost all Palestinian newspapers are financed by the PLO, and serve as a mouthpiece for the organization, which is basically Arafat’s office. Some days the headlines for the three major Palestinians papers are identical. The lack of freedom at these papers is a big disappointment for Palestinian journalists; they were freer to write what they wanted under Israeli occupation before the PLO returned from exile.
    Arafat’s suppression of free speech is another example of an Arab leader not allowing the people to speak out. In this way Arafat is no different from other Arab dictators, who see the role of the media as subservient to


  15. DonS says:

    “Anyone care to hazard a guess about what might happen to a Palestinian living in Gaza or even the West Bank who leaked secrets that Hamas or the Palestinian Authority don’t want released?” (wigwag)
    Let’s just assume the worst. In the case of Weissman and Rosen, I would settle for something between that speculative result and the back peddling that the US prosecutors did under the immense back room pressure by AIPAC and the rest of the lobby.
    To argue, after all, that this was just normal procedure to share sensitive information with AIPAC tests credulity, Mr. Floyd Abrams first amendment warrior notwithstanding. Let’s face it, professional prosecutors were stepped on and forced to back down because of political pressure lest a trial should reveal the unholy close alliance between too many aspects of the US government and Israel that fly under the radar. Speculation? I’d bet on it.


  16. WigWag says:

    Wow, this case is certainly reminiscent of the case the United States brought against AIPAC lobbyists Stephen Rosen and Keith Weissman and against mid level defense department employee, Larry Franklin.
    As I’m sure everyone remembers, Franklin who worked for DOD, leaked information to Rosen and Weismann. In this case, Kam purloined information from the office of an Israeli General and leaked it to a reporter, Uri Blau.
    In the American case, Franklin, the party who did the leaking, was charged with several counts of espionage and eventually accepted a plea bargain that came with a sentence of 13 years.
    In the Israeli case, the leaking party, Kam, is allegedly charged with espionage, a crime that according to Blumenthal carries a sentence of 14 years.
    In the American case, the parties that received the leaked information, Rosen and Weissman, were indicted and charged with violating the “Official Secrets Act.” (18 USC 793). Had they been convicted they each could have been imprisoned for ten years.
    In the Israeli case, the party that received the leaked information, Uri Blau, has not been indicted or charged with anything but fears that he might be. Whether his fears are justified is impossible to know.
    In the American case, the Government’s behavior was roundly criticized by prominent civil rights attorneys. Floyd Abrams, a leading First Amendment attorney, said the AIPAC case “is the single most dangerous case for free speech and free press that I have ever seen.”
    In the Israeli situation, if the case should ever actually come to trial, it will undoubtedly also cause a major stir and incite strongly worded condemnations from Israeli civil rights activists.
    In the American case, the Government was forced by an independent judiciary to relent; in a major embarrassment for the Justice Department, the prosecution lost motion and motion rendering their case laughable. The charges against Rosen and Weissman were dropped and Franklin’s prison sentence was withdrawn and he was re-sentenced to probation.
    Of course, in the Israeli situation we don’t even know if Kam will stand trial or whether Blau will be charged with anything at all.
    If either of them is brought to trial, they can be thankful that they will be tried in a nation that has an independent judiciary that is every bit as independent as the judiciary in the United States.
    Anyone care to hazard a guess about what might happen to a Palestinian living in Gaza or even the West Bank who leaked secrets that Hamas or the Palestinian Authority don’t want released?


  17. JohnH says:

    “It seems criminality is in full bloom.” I think this has more to do with rampant abuse of power. Remember Sharon, the Bulldozer, was not part of the Russian element, but he was being investigated for corruption when he went into a coma. He was notorious for his abuse of power, starting way back in the Qibya massacre of 1953. Then there was the Sabra and Shatila massacre that he presided over.
    Once you get used to being above the law in one capacity, it’s easy to believe yourself above the law in many capacities.
    IMHO there’s a direct line between the moral depravity of the Occupation and the moral corruption of the government.


  18. Carroll says:

    Maybe I am “mis-remembering” but it seems years ago that the Israeli Supreme Court carried some weight in Israel. Now it appears it is often disregarded.
    I am curious if the Jewish Russian immigrant influx a decade ago (the one in which the US paid Israel 10 billion to resettle Russian Jews)has created even more of a bad element in Israel. There are sometimes remarks in the Israeli papers about the “Russian element”
    Several of those Russian Jews play a part in the Israeli government now. When Russia exported those Jews at Israel and US request, half of them went to Israel and half came to the US. In fact last year congress extended the 7 year aid given to these Jewish Russian immigrants to 9 years, saying 7 years wasn’t long enough for them to learn English and get jobs.
    The biggest downside to our 10 billion in Jewish Russian resettlement generosity is that the FBI says the US Jewish Russian mafia is now the largest most violent organized crime cartel in the US and it’s main network runs from the US to Israel.
    Putin did what Castro did and released criminals from his prisons for immigration to Israel and the US…spawning the current Russian Jewish US-Israel organized crime network.
    Jewish groups object to the FBI calling it the Jewish Russian cartel and say that many of people and those held in prisons claimed to be Jewish just so they could get out of prison or poverty…which is also probably true in some cases. I haven’t seen anything on how the Russian Jews were vetted as Jews in order to qualify.
    At any rate it seems criminality is in full bloom
    around the Israeli government.


  19. JohnH says:

    “Israel is as rouge internally as it is internationally it seems.” And the government is getting ever more desperate, because it’s moral standing is approaching non-existent.
    With a few more operations with the wanton destruction in Lebanon, then in Gaza, the Goldstone Report, and now the Kam affair, maybe even our elected representatives, who are usually oblivious to moral considerations, will begin to be receptive to questions about supporting such a rogue state.
    It has taken more than four decades, but the moral depravity inherent in the Occupation is finally being exposed to the light of day.


  20. Carroll says:

    Very strange case.
    Question is, why did they wait for a year after the offending article was published to arrest Kam, who they claim stole army documents showing the IDF had violated a supreme court ruling on assassinations? And to seize the computer of the Haaretz reporter Blau, who they say Kam gave the documents to? Maybe they didn’t make the connection until Kam left the army and went to work for Haaretz? But why wait a year to go after Blau?
    And Haaretz is claiming there is no connection between Kam and Blau?
    And Kam is under arrest and Blau has fled to London and no one is going after the IDF officers who violated the Supreme Court order by conducting the assassination(s)?
    Israel is as rouge internally as it is internationally it seems.
    This is probably true though….
    “Due to a gag order, we can’t tell you what we know. Due to laziness, indifference, and misplaced trust in the defense establishment, we don’t know anything,” the Hebrew-language daily explained Friday.


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