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Whistleblower Anat Kamm Gets Five-Year Sentence

anat kamm

Anat Kamm, a lonely figure in the face of the massive power of the Israeli military-intelligence establishment (Motti Milrod)

In the closing act of a travesty foisted upon Israel by its military-intelligence apparatus and tacitly supported by a quiescent media, Anat Kamm was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for passing secret IDF documents to Haaretz journalist, Uri Blau.  Now, Kamm becomes the Israeli version of Bradley Manning and Shamai Leibowitz, both of whom (Manning is imprisoned but not yet tried or convicted) were sentenced to jail sentences for obeying their conscience and revealing secrets that implicated their governments (or Israel in Leibowitz’s case) in acts that violated the law and drew the nation closer to war.

Long ago, an Israeli journalist pointed out that IDF generals and cabinet ministers all leak top-secret information to journalists.  It’s called doing their job.  They’re not imprisoned.  Often they’re promoted as a result.  As long as you leak in service to your commander and prime minister, no matter what the garbage you leak, you are in like Flynn.  But obey your conscience and cross the political/military elite, and you’ll be destroyed.

A journalist once pointed out that an IDF soldier of similar rank to Kamm once leaked secret documents to a reporter and received a sentence of a few days confinement to base from her commander.

The Israeli far right has demonized Anat Kamm.  They’ve vandalized her home where she served two years under house arrest.  They’ve painted graffiti on it calling her “traitor.”

After eight months of negotiations and a prosecution offer of a nine year sentence, which Kamm rejected, the judge imposed this harsh penalty.  Israeli media reports say that her attorneys plan to appeal it to the Supreme Court.  Perhaps a judicial body that lacks any guts in most national security matters will see its way clear to undoing at least part of this injustice by substantially reducing her sentence.  At the very least, the two years under house arrest should be included as time-served in computing the prison time she should serve.

This is sad day, a day of disgrace for Israel.  A day in which military malfeasance was endorsed (Kamm’s materials revealed that IDF general Yair Naveh ordered unarmed Palestinian militants to be assassinated in contravention of Supreme Court rulings–rulings the Court of course has refused to enforce in this case out of deference to the IDF supreme role in society).  A day in which a woman who should be a national heroine was made to grovel in the dirt.

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  • Hezi October 30, 2011, 7:44 AM

    If Kam had limited her leak to a single document showing the illegal use of force, she would have likely been spared the prolonged imprisonment, but this is not the case here.

    But Kam decided to mass-copy around 2000 classified documents, without knowing their contents. Most of these documents were operational plans, troop deployment plans, etc’ that have zero interest to the public but if leaked have the potential of doing serious damage to Israel’s security. Kam didn’t know what documents she was leaking, she simply batch copied a bunch of documents and tried to give them to whatever journalist who’d agree to accept this hot potato.

    Just like Manning, who indiscriminately leaked top-secret, endangering the lives of others, Kam should pay a price for what she’s done.

    • Hezi October 30, 2011, 10:48 PM

      As for the claim that Kam revealed wrongdoings in the military system – this has also been debunked.
      As a result of Blau’s story about the allegedly illegal target killing, two motions have been filed against the so-called illegal killings. One was filed to Meny Mazuz, the Yoet’z Ha Mishapti for the government. Mazuz rejected the motion. The second was a motion made to Bagatz to withhold Nave from advancing to the role of deputy chief of staff. Bagatz rejected that motion as well, and concluded that the targeted killings were fully legal. So, while Kamm may have believed she was uncovering illegal conspiracies – she was wrong.

      Now, whistle blowers keep the investigative media alive, and I would support Kam had she leaked only the pertinent materials to Blau. But what she did was not “targeted” whistleblowing, it was a wholesale theft of deeply classified materials. By the way, the operational orders of the “Cast Lead” operation were also those among stolen, and the IDF had to change its plans to defend itself from the possibility that hostile elements had obtained access to the plans.

      Kam used her access to classified materials to promote herself and engaged in wholesale theft of super-classified materials. When right-winged soldiers pass information to their settler friends about possible dismantling of illegal settlements, it is rightly considered an offense, and Kam is subject to the same judgement. If the IDF can’t entrust its soldiers to handle classified materials with common sense, it will not be able to operate as an army.

      • JONDS October 31, 2011, 1:37 AM

        Well said

  • Paul Suciu October 30, 2011, 12:23 PM

    Well, then again, gag orders on the media, intimidation of the accused, etc, etc, shows again what kind of people rule the promised land. The same mafia tactics that Rome brought around a while ago, seem to still rule the place. Plus, they looked incompetent twice (because they had a leak and cause they couldn’t enforce the gag) and created a new folk hero. Anyway, military leadership is prone to abuse wherever found (just watch Egypt’s case). The lives of soldiers, bah… If anyone cared about their lives they wouldn’t be soldiers. As it stands, their lives are considered expendable. Or am I wrong?

    • Hezi October 30, 2011, 10:53 PM

      What sort of intimidation was Kam subjected to that is considered abnormal? At some points, the court was quite lenient with her, rejecting the prosecution’s request to have Kam be put into normal arrest rather than house arrest.

      One may argue against the wisdom of the gag order, but keep in mind that while the gag order was in place, Uri Blau was in the UK with a CD filled with classified documents. The gag order was put in place to protect against the possibility of the materials falling into wrong hands. How was is this amount to “mafia tactics”?

      At least in Israel, Kam isn’t considered a “folk hero”. To expose what she did she didn’t need to steal thousands of classified documents and pass them to the first journalist who’d agree to deal with this hot potato. She might not be a dangerous spy, but what she did was dangerous and foolish and certainly not deserving of respect or appreciation.

  • Joel October 30, 2011, 3:46 PM

    Pollard obeyed his conscience,crossed the political/military elite, and was destroyed.

    Does Pollard rate a blog entry from you, Richard?
    Not one that I’ve ever seen.

    • Richard Silverstein October 31, 2011, 12:03 AM

      Stupidity. POllard was paid. Plus, he did more damage to U.S. security than any spy in the past many many yrs & his stolen documents ended up in Soviet hands. Pollard rates gornisht which is what I hope he gets fr every U.S. president till his life ends or there is Israeli-Arab peace.

      • JONDS October 31, 2011, 1:39 AM

        So Pollard is a hostage of the US administration?

  • Ryan October 30, 2011, 4:42 PM

    Kamm never “accepted a deal” that will send her to prison for 5 years. The judges landed the punishment on her, after 8 months of arguments for sentencing.

    • Richard Silverstein October 31, 2011, 12:02 AM

      You are right. I stand corrected (& have done so)

    • JONDS October 31, 2011, 1:42 AM

      Kamm admitted the charges. By that she reduced her punishment only for 5 years.

      • Ryan October 31, 2011, 3:44 AM

        She admitted the charges but it had nothing to do with the punishment. The decision on that was left solely for the judges.

        • JONDS October 31, 2011, 3:56 AM

          By what I wrote, I meant that when deciding about the punishment, the judges considered her confession and the time she saved. If she didn’t confess, she would get up to 15 years in jail. This is the nature of plea bargains.

  • Daniel F. October 30, 2011, 6:10 PM

    According to Kamm’s own testimony, she transferred the classified documents out of “a mere stupidity.”
    Possibly,she was angry at her CO and felt that she was somehow entitled to do what she did.
    Well guess what,if any soldier abuses his access to classified information he is going to be punished,
    plain and simple.Can it be otherwise.
    ….and remember that as part of the plea bargain, the more serious charge of intent to harm state security was dropped and Kamm was only charged with leaking classified materials for which she received a lenient 5 years sentence out of a possible 15 year maximum.
    I wonder……….had Kamm been a Russian immigrant or a Sephardi Jew,would the two years spent under house arrest have been spent behind bars,would the media have expressed the same interest in the case.

    • Richard Silverstein October 30, 2011, 11:59 PM

      According to Kamm’s own testimony, she transferred the classified documents out of “a mere stupidity.”

      Where did you read this? The fact that she has also publicly stated that she leaked them in order to expose a potential war crime argues against any claim that what she did was “stupidity.” Of course, saying it was a stupid thing to do (if your claim is true, which I would not concede till you could prove it) would be designed to curry favor with the prosecution and judge imposing sentence. People will say many things when facing many years in prison.

      Possibly,she was angry at her CO

      Stop with the nonsense. No one has ever said this & you have no basis to say it either.

      would the media have expressed the same interest in the case.

      What interest? The media has done gornisht to report this case other than the bare minimum. A shoddy job of journalism.

      • shmuel October 31, 2011, 12:16 AM

        According to the media reports of her sentencing, Kamm stated in the initial Shabak investigation that she did it for ideological motives, but later changed her story in the police investigation and in open court, and said it was mere stupidity.
        The judges determined that her earlier statement before the Shabak was the prefered one as it was before she had a chance to “improve” her case. This ideological motive was held against her in sentencing.

        • Richard Silverstein October 31, 2011, 12:33 AM

          Which all the more makes her a whistleblower & prisoner of conscience. I hope the Supreme Court will reverse or at least reduce this disgrace. It once again proves that the entire Israeli judicial system is in the pocket of the military-intelligence apparatus (at least regarding national security cases).

          • JONDS October 31, 2011, 1:43 AM

            Kamm breached the trust that IDF gave her. For that she deserves what she got and more.

  • Ziv October 31, 2011, 3:21 AM

    She stole secret documents, gave them to a journalist – that is actually treason, especially when many times the system (IDF, Government) sees journalists as enemy.

    On the other side, if she got punished for leaking documents than all heads of staes, heds of security and defense system should pay as well. Everyone of them leak secret documents to reporters. It looks like she’s a victim of the visibility of making justice.

    http://colaholic1972.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/anatkam/

    • Ziv October 31, 2011, 4:24 AM

      *head of states

  • viz November 5, 2011, 7:48 PM

    What other country can produce heroes of the caliber of Amira Hass and Anat Kamm, amid so many worthless excuses for human beings? Only Israel!