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Former Mossad Chief Shabtai Shavit
Photo: Ofer Amram

'WikiLeaks docs embarrassing, not perilous'

Could reports of exposure of intelligence agents in new Wikileaks cables endanger national security? US condemns leaks but Israeli experts believe concern is overrated

Do WikiLeaks documents concerning Israel truly pose a risk? US security experts maintained on Tuesday that confidential State Department documents leaked online "have put individuals at risk," but Israeli intelligence and security experts were not so quick to agree.

 

Israeli experts downplayed the security risk posed by the leaked documents, which name alleged Israeli, Iranian and Jordanian intelligence agents, but said that WikiLeaks has definitely taken a more brazen stand vis-à-vis Washington.

 

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"The use of the word 'agents' is misleading," a veteran of the Israeli intelligence community told Ynet. "WikiLeaks is based largely on US State Department documents and they don't use agents – they have diplomats. 'Agents' are people who potentially betray their county and may pay a heavy price for their actions.

 

"In this case, it's more likely the names are of people who have had lunch with American diplomats and then talked about it," he said.

 

"The documents may include quotes by people who didn’t mean to have their names in the media. They may include embarrassing details of a personal nature or of a political nature, and the sources are likely to be from a wide spectrum of people who come in contact with American embassies. The mentioning of a specific name may pose a problem for that individual, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they were intelligence sources," another source added.

 

'No big deal'

Former Mossad Chief Shabtai Shavit said that from his experience, international intelligence agencies do not reveal their information sources to each other:  "Exposing a source is a highly irregular step. I can pinpoint only singular, extreme exceptions... when sources were exposed.

 

"At first glance it would seem that the danger is not as extensive as it is being presented. Even if the identities of Israeli sources were allegedly exposed – it must be regarded with suspicion as there is always the possibility that they are merely speculating."

 

Former Knesset Member Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael agreed: "The only possibility is that they managed to hack into the Mossad computers which is something they aren't claiming and furthermore, makes no sense. The only plausible explanation is that the names of intelligence organization representatives were exposed. It's no big deal."

 

The Wikileaks website denied that it had exposed the identities of intelligence agents in its last wave of cable leaks last week, which included 133,000 cables and correspondence from the US State Department.

 

Meanwhile, the US has condemned the leak stating that it endangered the security of individuals and the US' national security as well as efforts of cooperation with other countries.

 

 

 


פרסום ראשון: 08.31.11, 00:45
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