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Perfect tool? (Illustration) Photo: CD Bank
Perfect tool? (Illustration) Photo: CD Bank
 
Seeking vengeance? Ramon Photo: Gilad Kavalerchik
Seeking vengeance? Ramon Photo: Gilad Kavalerchik
 
 

Expert: Limiting wiretapping will castrate police

Former head of police investigations unit slams parliamentary committee's bid to bridle use of wiretaps, says report is 'politicians' knee-jerk reaction to a series of police investigation'

Yael Levy
Published: 01.26.09, 11:34 / Israel News

The restrictions the Knesset is said to impose on the practice of police wiretapping will "castrate the department," said Dr. Alex Ish Shalom Monday.

 

Dr. Ish Shalom is the former head of the police's Investigations and Intelligence unit. He is also the former police comptroller and a former consultant with the State Comptroller's Office.

 

The Knesset is due to vote on recommendations presented by the committee of parliamentary inquiry on wiretapping, within the next few weeks.

Ulterior Motive?
Parliamentary committee urges limiting wiretapping  / Zvi Lavi
Knesset-appointed commission of inquiry recommends curbing wiretapping custom, subjecting procedures, individuals involved to severe scrutiny
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The committee presented the House with its report on Sunday, and urged it to limit the use of wiretaps to specific cases. The committee also suggested subjecting the judicial protocol authorizing the practice, as well as the individuals tasked with it, to severe scrutiny.

 

Dr. Ish Shalom, however, believes that forming the committee in the first place, was "the politicians' knee-jerk reaction" to a series of police investigation against them.

 

The committee was formed following the wiretapping of Vice Premier Haim Ramon by the Police, during their investigation of the sexual harassment case against him.

 

"From what I read it seems that Ramon never forgave (the police) for investigating him. If you think you were wrongly convicted – file an appeal. It seems he is using steps meant to punish the police for daring to convict him," he said.

 

'Are we done fighting crime?'

"Time is of the essence in a police investigation," he explained. "Once you add more and more steps you risk hindering the investigation. Wiretaps are an extraordinary tool and fighting the practice may end up castrating the police's fight against crime.

 

"Who would want to hinder police work? Suffice to say that people who found themselves under investigation have initiated moves meant to make a stand."

 

Dr. Ish Shalom is currently a law and criminology lecturer with the Haifa University School of Political Sciences. "As a police officer, an investigator, a comptroller and a litigator, I can tell you that wiretaps are an important and efficient tool.

 

"You can't install a wiretap without a court order; and the court doesn’t make such a decision without examining the evidence and reading affidavits. It is a proper, reasonable tool which allows for flexibility."

 

As for the allegations that the Ramon wiretap was mishandled, and that the police extended its mandate in the case to other investigation, such as the ongoing fraud investigation in the Israel Tax Authority, Ish Shalom said that "things go wrong sometimes, but to castrate the entire practice? Are we done fighting crime?

 

"Hindering the fight on crime and corruption is easy. If there would have been an evident trail suggesting every single investigation was compromised – so be it. But to change the statute because of one single case? The system already has checks and balances."

 

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