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Kam: History forgives those who expose war crimes

New details from case against journalist accused of espionage reveal one of the CDs containing classified military documents is missing

Vered Luvitch
Published: 04.12.10, 17:00 / Israel News

The Tel Aviv District Court allowed several new details in the Anat Kam affair to be released Monday, among which is the disconcerting discovery that one of the CD's burnt by the indicted journalist has gone missing.

 

The CD in question was complied by Kam, along with dozens of others, during her military service in the GOC Central Command chief's office.

 

The former Walla website reporter faces espionage charges for copying thousands of classified military documents without authorization and giving them to Haaretz journalist Uri Blau.

 

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Justice Zeev Hammer, presiding over the Kam hearings, defined the security failures at the GOC Central Command chief's office as "astounding," adding he was "shocked to learn of these incomprehensible failures and negligent data protection (protocols)."

 

Among the details cleared for publication Monday are two statements Kam made during her interrogations by the Shin Bet: "There were some aspects of the IDF's operational procedures in the West Bank that I felt should be public knowledge," said the first statement.

 

"I couldn't make a big enough difference during my service. I thought exposing (procedures) would bring about a change… When I was burning the CDs I kept thinking that history tends to forgive people who expose war crimes."

 

'Complete disregard to protocol' 

Kam, said Hammer, "saw no danger to national security in her actions, saying she assumed the reporter would not focus on the subtleties of military operations, but rather on the policies leading to them.

 

"(Kam) said she turned to reporters assuming that the Military Censor would disallow the publication of any classifieds or compromising material."

 

In a second statement to investigators, Kam said she copied the documents thinking that "if and when the war crimes perpetrated by the IDF were investigated, I would have evidence to that effect."

 

Hammer added in his summation that he found it astonishing that the young soldier was given any kind of access to both the sensitive computer and the classified material on it.

 

How is it, Hammer wondered, "That prior to Kam's release from the IDF, she asked a fellow soldier to burn the information onto CDs and her request was carried out, no questions asked? No one even thought to ask why she needed copies of classified information before leaving the service."

 

Hammer further described data protection protocols at the GCO Central Command chief's office as "disgraceful."

 

The judge also addressed the fact the Kam herself had complete disregard to security protocols, "As evident by the fact that she has apparently misplaced one of the CDs, and who knows where it is now. She also admitted to knowing that (Israeli) journalists often bypass the Censor's orders by leaking stories to the foreign media."

 

Infiltration by any other name

Hammer further wrote in his summation that he disagreed with the defense's claims that Kam's actions were, to quote another statement she made, "as easy as filing away a piece of paper."

 

That statement, said the judge, "Illustrates (Kam's) entire attitude towards her grave offenses. She may not have had to embark on a daring commando operation in order to infiltrate a secret military office – she was already there and she grossly breached the confidence her superiors had in her."

 

Kam, continued the judge, failed to explain her sudden expertise in international law and the highly complex definition it gives for war crimes.

 

"There is no need to steal thousands of classified documents in order to bring 'aspects of IDF operations to the public's attention,' or investigate 'war crimes.' Any independent body given those documents, even by someone like the defendant, has no (security) clearance to afford it the review of such military secrets.

 

"There was also no need to give a reporter thousands of sensitive documents without discretion," he concluded.

 

Despite the criticism, Hammer did not remand Kam to police custody, citing that since she was cooperating with the investigation and was not deemed a security or a public risk, she can remain out NIS 250,000 (about $68,000) bail. 

 

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