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Home arrow Blog arrow January 2010 arrow January 5, 2010

January 5, 2010
January 5, 2010: What SECURITY Can Never SECURE: The free flow of info  

 



Loosing Control of "Security" is from Jewish Peace News, which follows what i wrote on November 24, 2008:


Dear SECURITY: SECURE This!




[Tel Aviv] Last night I left occupied east Jerusalem for the seventeen hour return home trip to my sanctuary in Florida. I am home now and I am whipped!

I wore my NAKBA t-shirt and was greeted with a smile by my first inquisitor at Ben Gurion Airport, who inquired, "May I have your passport? Why did you come to Israel?"

I readily replied as I handed it to her along with my WeAreWideAwake.org business card, "I came to Israel in order to go to occupied Palestine to learn more about Al Nakba and report it all on my website."

"Al Nakba?"

"Yes, Al Nakba, which is Arabic for The Catastrophe, The Disaster; the other side of the story of what happened when Israel became a state, in 1948. No coincidence, I think that UN Resolution 194 affirms the Right of Return to Palestinian's who became  refugees when Zionists grabbed even more land than 'civilized' white men partitioned to them."

"Oh, I see…Did anyone give you anything, anything at all? I must ask as even a harmless looking item can be made explosive."

"Nobody in occupied Palestine gave me anything except food, drink and good company. The only thing explosive about me are the words that I pound out on my computer, for I am a citizen journalist, not corporate controlled media."

"I see. Please wait here."

I did, and she went to converse with three colleagues a few yards from me. Within a minute, they were all looking at me. Ten minutes later, she returned with a smiling man who held my passport and business card and introduced himself as "Security."

I smiled and replied, "Happy to know you, I am Eileen."

"What was your reason to visit Israel?"

"Well, you can read all about it on my website, and I hope you will. I have been to Hebron, Erez Crossing and occupied east Jerusalem. I came to learn more and report the truth as I dissent from the way my American tax dollars are spent. Seven to ten million U.S.A. tax dollars every single day, go to support the military occupation of Palestine, and that ticks me off!


THE REST:



November 24, 2008




Loosing Control of "Security"


Israel, like many other states, has undertaken the massive privatization and outsourcing of so-called security functions or, more precisely, of the state authorization to train for, equip for and exercise organized violence, both inside the country and beyond it. In demonstrable correlation with this ongoing process, the state of Israel has enacted a systematic loosening of checks and controls over one of the most powerful, sensitive and dangerous parts of executive government. Israel's government is arguably in the process of handing over its control of the militarized use of force to private entrepreneurs, effectively inviting corruption in this literally destructive "industry" while bypassing and seriously undercutting (alleged) democracy in Israel. Though it is far from being the only state "loosing control" in this vein (see for example reports on the recent US court ruling on the wanton killing of 17 Iraqi citizens by Blackwater security guards; for instance:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/02/us/02blackwater.html), Israel is distinctive in the relative bulk and predominance of its security industry and exports, supported by the highly visible combat experience and supposed expertise of the ex-military (Israel Defense Force) personnel who own and staff many of the firms now selling this "know-how".

The three items below report on recent instances of corruption or serious investigations into corruption in Israeli "security" exports and industry.

Taken together, these three pieces offer a seriously troubling and even frightening look at the implications of combined militarization and privatization in Israel.

 

There are many more instances exemplifying the anti-democratic underside of this continuing process.

 

Like most other issues obscured and obfuscated under the "security" label, these too are largely, and dangerously, ignored by civic society and most of the public in Israel.

The first item was researched and compiled by activists of the Who Profits? group (of which I'm a supporting member) based in Israel and working to expose the "money trail" of Israel's crimes of occupation (see: www.whoprofits.org). The item, published Sunday, December 27 2009, reports on the shady dealings and problematic history of the Israeli security firm "responsible for … [the recent] failure to prevent a bombing attempt on a Delta Airlines transatlantic flight leaving from Schiphol airport in Amsterdam".

The second and third items are recently published parts of the ongoing work of journalist Yossi Melman of Haaretz.

The second item focuses on an investigation into "'aspects of the employment of IDF retirees in the [domestic] security industry'".

 

Ordered by the State Comptroller and dragged out indefinitely by the military, this effectively blocked probe arouses "doleful thoughts about the army's procedures for investigation, inquiry, and learning lessons". It also, I might add, raises the question just who is behind, and indeed who profits from, this procrastination on the part of the army. And, accordingly, who is actually in charge? Is it the state or the army, the elected body/ies or the high-ranking officers, of which, an alleged offender told Melman, "there are thousands" involved in similar cases.

The third item highlights a different channel through which the supposedly democratic civic sphere – both inside and beyond Israel – integrates militarized practices, shading into violent coercion for profit and power, and into possible illegality. The item reports on a partnership of security consultants suspected of illegally peddling arms, military training and security systems to the new ex-military ruler of the African state of Guinea.

 

The partnership, including former Israeli officials such as former foreign minister Shlomo Ben Ami and former Tel Aviv police commander David Tzur, was contracted in part to "teach Guinean decision-makers in a 'strategic' workshop, for the stated purpose of increasing awareness of democratic values. Responsibility for the workshops was to have been placed in the hands of former foreign minister Ben-Ami and former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh. Later on, Ben Ami and Ziv sent former MK and former ambassador to France Nissim Zvili to
Guinea." (See Amnesty International's most recent press release on the current actions of Guinean decision-makers at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/guinea.) Following a September 2009 slaughter of demonstrators by the new president's freshly trained soldiers, "The French government and the United Nations approached Israel with a request to examine the involvement of Israeli military advisors in Guinea". The article reports on some of the surprising details of the still ongoing investigation.

Rela Mazali




WhoProfits on Israeli Airline Security
Share
Sun at 10:11pm

An Israeli security firm is responsible for this Saturday's failure to prevent a bombing attempt on a Delta Airlines transatlantic flight leaving from Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. The bomber got on the flight with the necessary bomb ingredients despite being on some warning lists and after being screened by airport security. It was his fellow passengers that managed to stop him from putting together the bomb.

Starting in Feb 2008, the company awarded the passenger screening contract (for 5 years) in Schiphol airport is ICTS (International Consultants on Targeted Security), a security services company registered in the Netherlands but traded in New York, founded and owned by Israelis offering Israeli security knowhow and technologies:
http://www.ictseurope.com/index.html

ICTS was founded in 1982 by Ezra Harel with five other veteran Israeli security experts. Ezra Harel has a rich history of bankrupted public companies (http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/1,7340,L-2359434,00.html) along with fraud allegations, and even alleged bribes to the former (expedited) judge Dan Cohen.

The company established itself in the 90s as a big aviation security services provider mainly in US airports. After one of the airport checkpoints managed by ICTS in Logan airport allowed the 9-11 airplane hijackers through, conspiracy theorists have hinted at connections between Israeli security and the 9-11 attacks, and a new
federal law (2001) was made against all foreign firms giving security services in US airports. Thus, the company lost most of its US business.

The company, facing bankruptcy, tried to re-establish itself through its Netherlands subsidiary by providing services in Europe. The founder and CEO Ezra Harel was investigated by the Israeli SEC in 2003 for cheating investors, and while sailing in his Yacht in the Canary Islands, he tried a change a sail, had a heart attack and died at sea.

Following the death, the company stocks jumped and it was bought by his old partner Menachem (Menta) Atzmon, formerly the co-treasurer of the Likud party, who was convicted in court in the fictitious invoices scandal (1988). His partner then as co-treasurer of the Likud party was Ehud Olmert (he was charged but not convicted).

For two years after this purchase, ICTS showed remarkable recovery, gaining more and more contracts around the world with airports and airlines security.

At the same time, the company neglected to issue proper reports to the stock exchange, resulting in its being delisted from Nasdaq in 2006. It was still traded as an OTC paper, and about 11% of it owned by Everest Fund of Nani Maoz. Lately, Everest Fund have complained to the US SEC about misconduct of ICTS(http://www.maozeverest.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=36&Itemid=29) in concealing information from the investors and misrepresenting the
true worth of the company.

In response to questions raised today against ICTS security after the company's failure to prevent the bombing attempt, officials suggested that the blame lies with European regulations against "Israeli Style" ethnic profiling and privacy concerns preventing the use of SafeView-style "nude" full body scanners that would have detected the non-metal bomb ingredients (such as the scanners used in the Erez checkpoint).




http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1137325.html

Thu., December 24, 2009

Inside Intel / An officer and an investigation

By Yossi Melman

The State Comptroller has been waiting more than a year for the examination that the IDF was supposed to have carried out on ethics and conflicts of interest with regard to senior officers. But the examination has been delayed, arousing doleful thoughts about the army's procedures for investigation, inquiry, and learning lessons.

In September 2008, the Israel Defense Forces security division of the State Comptroller's office under Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Orr gave the army the findings of a report on "aspects of the employment of IDF retirees in the security industry."
   
One section of the report was devoted to Brig. Gen. (ret.) Hagi Lotan, an intelligence officer in the northern command. Lotan, who is considered by the comptroller's office to be a serious person, and a professional and highly valued officer, devotes many days to the army - almost 100 a year on average for reserve duty. It was in this context that Lotan took part in discussions shaping the army's intelligence approach and deployment plans for the north, as well as issues dealing with intelligence material needs.

Since 1995, Lotan, in his civilian capacity, has also advised the Defense Ministry, the army, and the aerospace industry in the development of computerized intelligence systems for data processing and the production of aids.

He has also established partnerships in this field.

The Comptroller's office concluded in this case that it suspected a significant conflict of interest. Even before the army responded to the report, and before its publication, Lotan was summoned to several hearings by members of the Comptroller's office.

He tried to convince them that their findings were mistaken. He managed to moderate their criticism, which was reformulated, but did not succeed in convincing them completely that he was right. While a section of the report focused on Lotan, the problem raised by the comptroller is broader and deals with basic principles.

"The IDF and the defense ministry," the report reads, "have not examined the question of possible conflicts of interest ... The business of senior [reserve] officers as suppliers or advisors to the IDF arouses a fundamental issue which is deserving of investigation by the army and the Defense Ministry."

The IDF agreed that a committee would be formed to examine the issues and also the specific case of Lotan.

The IDF made a commitment to finish its inquiry by the end of the first quarter of 2009. Maj. Gen. Yishai Bar, president of the army court of appeals, was appointed committee chairman, but he retired from the army before the investigation was completed.

The army didn't lift a finger to take care of the matter for a while.

Only recently has a new committee been appointed under the leadership of Maj. Gen. (ret.) Udi Shani. But it appears that Shani may tackle only the underlying principles.

He is prevented from looking into the Lotan case for the simple reason that Shani served directly over Lotan as head of the northern command. About a month ago, the IDF agreed to appoint a new officer who would finish the investigation within a few months.

But even if the army keeps its promise this time, a year and a half will have passed since the Comptroller's findings were published and conclusions are possibly drawn from it.

There are those who see the way the army has conducted itself in this case as a message that it is not attentive to the issue of conflict of interest and the need to strictly avoid it, and not just for the sake of appearances. It's hoped that the army is approaching operational investigations more seriously.

'Won't offer up my head'

Meanwhile, Lotan continues to serve as an officer for the intelligence corps and has no intention of resigning. He continues to believe he is innocent.

"I reject the comptroller's complaints about me; I felt that the investigators were basically hostile towards me, that they were overly enthusiastic about catching a retired brigadier general and presenting him as a criminal," he said. "I imagine that someone there doesn't like me and complained about me. The investigators were especially rude to me. They threw accusations at me that I had taken double payments from the army and from one of the security firms, a claim that they themselves discovered to be false. There are thousands of cases like mine in a small country like Israel of officers serving in the reserves whose civilian professions supposedly conflict with the army. I have no intention of falling victim to the system. I won't offer up my head for the general good. And so I haven't considered for a second to resign from my [reserve] job. If I had ever so much as blinked to myself, I would admit that I wasn't okay, but I have never thought that, not even for a second."

The IDF Spokesman, in a detailed response to Haaretz, presented the chain of events as described above, emphasizing that Shani "is to complete his task in the near future and present his conclusions to the deputy chief of staff. In addition they will be offered to the security sub-committee of the Knesset."

With regard to the delay in the matter of Hagi Lotan, the spokesman said, "It has been decided to appoint an investigatory committee headed by a senior officer to examine this specific case. The deputy chief of staff is expected to appoint the officer who will head it in a few days."

The spokesman emphasized that the IDF attributes great importance to the State Comptroller and sees in the office "an important and effective tool to improve the way the army conducts itself. The IDF is undertaking thorough procedures to create a plan to deal with the State Comptroller's November 2008 report, including its approval by the deputy chief of staff's committee, as is required."   




Inside Intel / Bloody business in Africa by Yossi Melman

ARTICLE REMOVED ON 2 January 2012:

Threats of Lawsuits and Remembering Nakba
Read more...


--------
Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman



Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com


Jewish Peace News sends its news clippings only to subscribers. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription, go to http://www.jewishpeacenews.net





   
 
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