Israeli media are reporting a major leak from the prime minister’s office to Israeli journalists. Bibi was so worried that he called in the Shabak, which administered polygraphs to national security advisor and former Mossad spy, Uzi Arad and several others in his office (including his top press aide, who recently resigned). Shabak is claiming that it didn’t discover anything amiss, which makes no sense if Bibi suspected a leak. It merely means they didn’t find the culprit or didn’t find him where they thought they might.
Several readers of this blog immediately thought of Tikun Olam and our muckraking in connection with the investigation. I don’t know what to say. I’m deeply honored if Bibi is so concerned about leaks to me that he’d sic the Shabak on his own political flesh and blood. But I have a feeling if they were talking about me they wouldn’t use the term “journalist” (in this Hebrew language report) but rather “blogger.” But who knows, it’s too soon to tell who they’re really after and what they’re investigating.
UPDATE: Israeli news is now reporting that the leak concerned a meeting with a foreign leader (and presumably Bibi). Anyone have any thoughts on which foreign leader involved the leak? It’s got to be someone Bibi wouldn’t want anyone to know about. Possibly that time he went to Russia to tell Putin not to give SU-300 anti-aircraft batteries to Iran? From Haaretz in September, 2009:
…A senior Jerusalem official had confirmed that Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Russia on Monday in order to discuss the Kremlin’s arms deals with Iran and Syria, and the transfer of Russian military hardware to Hezbollah.
Netanyahu’s trip was kept secret and within the prime minister’s bureau and only the military affairs secretary, General Meir Kalifi and national security advisor, Uzi Arad were privy to details of the trip.
UPDATE I: And just to show that for every reaction there’s an equal and opposite reaction…this report was forwarded by a reader who says he heard this on a Reshet B news bulletin (it was broadcast in Hebrew on the channel show, Ha-Yom Ha-Zeh, listen starting at 9:30 till 12:28 to Shmuel Tal’s report). This is rough summary and not an exact transcript:
Reporter: The Shabak confirms that it has investigated a leak of sensitive material…They’re not saying when, but it was somewhere around three months ago.
They [Shabak] investigated and gave polygraph tests to various members of the prime minister’s staff, who were relieved of any suspicion. And they also investigated others outside his staff. It’s not known whether they were found to be involved.
It’s not yet known whether this case will lead to opening a criminal filing, it’s still being investigated. We can only say that the case involves secret material that is only dealt with in a closed political-security forum. It concerns a matter critical to the security of Israel.
Interview:…Did it get into the media?
R: No, it wasn’t published nor will it be. But we know that it concerned the fate of a certain personality.
After listening to this report, I don’t believe Bibi’s Russia trip was the cause of the investigation. He traveled to Russia a year ago and they would’ve already investigated that some time ago if it were the cause. Tal, if he is correct, notes that the leak happened around three months ago. So we’ll have to examine events in that time period to discover the substance of the leak.
I note that Tal says the news was “not published nor will it be.” I believe he means it was not published in Israel (and if I’m right about the subject of the leak, Tal is even wrong in this statement). He may not be aware that it was possibly published outside Israel. In fact, in late August, 2010, we reported here that the Shabak’s new director would be Yitzhak Ilan. This news was published for about a heartbeat by an Israeli news source and then immediatey gagged. But we here at Tikun Olam aren’t subject to Israeli gags and don’t believe in ’em.
Then in late October, Channel One aired a story which also named Ilan (calling him “Y.”) as the director-designate. If you do the math, October is about three months ago. And the “fate of a certain person” might’ve concerned the promotion of Yitzhak Ilan. If I’m right, perhaps someone should tell Shmuel Tal that there are other media outlets outside Israel which publish material that can’t be published inside Israel, and we here are one of those and proud of it.
Another interesting development, and for those of you who’ve ever seen a Kabuki play we’re about to enter that realm, comes from Haaretz reporter Amir Oren, who is a journalistic master of the art of allusion and inference. You’ll recall just after Prisoner X died (or was murdered) he published a story about security prisoners being killed “in order to silence them.” This lead me to associate the death (which had happened only days before) in Ayalon Prison with Oren’s murdered prisoner.
Now Oren writes another tantalizing story in which he praises the unique investigative skills of Yitzhak Ilan (who he calls “Y.” as is required in the Israeli press), specifically singling out his skills at administering polygraphs. Now recall that the method of investigating the leak was administering polygraphs. The rest of the story elaborately examines the who, what and why of the leak. He also notes the Shabak has found the source of the leak and that it’s outside the prime minister’s office. But Oren’s “tell” comes in the first few paragraphs of the story in his discussion about Ilan. In other words, Y. + polygraph = Yitzhak Ilan (subject of leak).
I expect we’ll be in business breaking Israeli gag orders for many moons to come with or without the strong-arm tactics of the Shabak. I kinda like being David to their Goliath. And no, I don’t own a slingshot, just a blog. But it can be pretty potent in certain circumstances.
Thanks to readers Dedi and Shmuel for letting me know of this story.