Comptroller: National Security Council a crippled body
In harsh report, state comptroller criticizes former prime ministers since 1999 for excluding National Security Council from most major security decisions, says it has become irrelevant and improperly utilized in terms of security related decision-making
In a harsh report, State Comptroller Judge Micha Lindenstrauss wrote Wednesday that "the prime ministers are the ones who created the National Security Council, and then did everything in their power in order to minimize it and not include its heads in the decision-making process in national security issues."
He added that "the findings of the report raise questions about the quality of the decisions made on national security issues."
The comptroller laid the brunt of the criticism towards former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, although his part is small due to the short time in the position.
The report shows a harsh picture where the PMs simply compartmentalized the council and did not share important decisions with them. According to the report these are the central issues the NSC did not take part in:
• Barak's decision to withdraw from Lebanon
• Sharon's decision to disengage from Gaza
• Dealing with the crisis with the US over arms sales to Chine
• The Ofek satellite project
• Administrative work on the Digital Army project
• Administrative work on major defense projects
• Work on the IDF's multy year plan in 2001
The comptroller adds that "at the conclusion of the investigation, in April 2006, the administrative bodies of the various security institutions are still the dominant factor in the decision making process, and the NSC does not function as the administrative body of the prime minister in addition to the other ones, and does not have the proper power it deserves as an objective body which works on behalf of the Prime Minister. This situation severely damages the NSC's ability to fulfill its mission."
Physical distance between headquarters
Reminder: The NSC was created by a Cabinet decision in March 1999 with the purpose of being an administrative and consulting body to the Prime Minister and the cabinet on issues of national security. The chairman of the council also serves as the Prime Minister's advisor on national security.
During the seven and a half years of its existence, the NSC had five chairs: David Ivry, Efraim Halevy, Uzi Dayan, Giora Eiland, and the current chair Ilan Mizrahi, all former high ranking officials in Israel's security establishment. The NCS's budget in 2005 was NIS 13.3 million (USD 3.1 million) and currently employs 30 workers and 14 regular solders. The council is composed of four departments: Security Policy department, Foreign Policy department, Social and infrastructure policy department, and the Anti-Terrorism Bureau.
One of the absurdities highlighted by the Comptroller is the physical distance between the NSC's headquarters, located in Ramat Hasharon, and the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem. The distance between them has proven problematic because the National Security Advisor was not at the Prime Minister's side during crucial decisions.