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Home arrow Blog arrow April 2010 arrow April 2, 2010

April 2, 2010
April 2, 2010: Israel arrests a journalist and an Israeli air strike on Iran? Read it in The Times   

The New York Times


Soldier-turned-journalist under house arrest in Israel

April 1, 2010

Israeli Woman Detained on Military Leak Accusation

 

NEW YORK (AP) -- A former Israeli soldier is being kept under house arrest after being accused of leaking classified military information about Israel's policy of assassinating wanted militants, people familiar with the case told The Associated Press on Thursday.


Anat Kam, 23, was arrested in December and was charged with passing information with the intent of harming national security. A court-imposed gag order has prohibited officials in Israel or Israeli media from releasing details of the affair.


The U.S.-based Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which is not subject to the gag order, first reported the story earlier this week.


According to people familiar with the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the gag order, Kam is accused of copying classified documents while she was a soldier and leaking them to the Haaretz daily. The newspaper published a story that accused the military of defying an Israeli Supreme Court ruling against killing wanted Palestinian militants who could have been captured alive.


A November 2008 Haaretz story suggested the military had unilaterally loosened its rules of engagement and marked militants for assassination.


Israel's targeted killing policy was one of its most contentious in its years of bloody battle against a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000. Critics charged it to be illegal extrajudicial killing, while supporters credit it with quashing the Palestinian campaign of suicide bombings and shooting attacks.

In late 2006, Israel's Supreme Court set strict restrictions on assassinations in the West Bank, limiting them to extraordinary cases. Officially, the military stopped the practice following the ruling.

But the Haaretz report cited a document from March 2007 that included an order from Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh, then the top Israeli commander in the West Bank, permitting firing upon three top Palestinian militants even if they did not pose clear and present dangers.


That summer, one of the men, Ziad Malaisha, of the Islamic Juhad, was killed in Jenin. Experts interviewed by Haaretz said the order was illegal. Naveh told Haaretz at the time that the killing was justified and did not violate the court ruling. Naveh is now retired and could not be reached for comment.


At the time of the memos, Kam served in Naveh's office.


Kam has since completed her mandatory military service and became a gossip columnist for the Walla Web site. The charges against her do not relate to her journalistic activities.


Reached by the AP, Kam said she could not comment on the case, saying only that she no longer works for Walla. Her lawyer, Eitan Lehman, also refused to comment because of the gag order. The military had no comment.


Despite the gag order, Israeli media appear to be well-acquainted with the case.


Yediot Ahronot, another Israeli daily, hinted toward the brewing saga for the first time Thursday with a story headlined ''What does the Shin Bet not want you to know?'' and directing readers to the JTA's article on the Internet.


The Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency, declined to comment.


Haaretz's editor in chief, Dov Alfon, said the newspaper has filed a request to lift the gag order. A court is scheduled to hear the plea April 12, he said. He also said the reporter of the 2008 story, Uri Blau, has been transferred to London ''and will stay there as long as necessary.'' He did not elaborate.


The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based group that advocates for reporters and press freedoms, said it supported having more transparency around the situation.


''There are more questions than there are answers'' because the gag order makes it impossible to verify information about the case, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, coordinator of the Middle East and North Africa program for CPJ.


A successful challenge to the gag order would change that, he said.


Israeli courts are typically wary of allowing publication of material deemed sensitive to national security.


While the mainstream media formally comply with the rulings, they often get around restrictions by citing foreign reports, and material often finds its way to the blogosphere.


The secrecy surrounding Kam's detention is reminiscent of the arrest of Mordechai Vanunu, a renegade technician at Israel's secret nuclear reactor who leaked details about Israel's nuclear program to the Sunday Times of London in 1986. Foreign experts who reviewed the information concluded that Israel had a large nuclear arsenal.


Vanunu later was kidnapped by Israeli intelligence agents in Rome and was taken back to Israel to stand trial behind closed doors. He served 18 years in prison, including 11 in solitary confinement.

Vanunu's attorney, Avigdor Feldman, told reporters he had argued that the prosecution had failed to prove Vanunu had spied against his country or otherwise betrayed it. But Vanunu later testified that he disclosed Israel's nuclear secrets to warn Arab countries and Israel itself about the dangers of nuclear weapons, his brother said.


Vanunu told judges his ''motives were mainly ideological,'' his brother, Asher Vanunu, told the AP during the trial.


Some details of the Vanunu affair are still under wraps domestically.

 
 

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/04/01/us/AP-US-Israel-Military-Whistleblower.html?_r=1&ref=global-home



Here's hoping by imagining the unimaginable it won't happen, for the only thing sure about war is it will raise taxes and innocent people die.



Imagining an Israeli Strike on Iran

By David E. Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent for The New York Times.


 

In 1981, Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak, declaring it could not live with the chance the country would get a nuclear weapons capability. In 2007, it wiped out a North Korean-built reactor in Syria. And the next year, the Israelis secretly asked the Bush administration for the equipment and overflight rights they might need some day to strike Iran's much better-hidden, better-defended nuclear sites.

 

They were turned down, but the request added urgency to the question: Would Israel take the risk of a strike? And if so, what would follow?

 

Now that parlor game question has turned into more formal war games simulations. The government’s own simulations are classified, but the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute created its own in December. The results were provocative enough that a summary of them has circulated among top American government and military officials and in many foreign capitals.

 

For the sake of verisimilitude, former top American policymakers and intelligence officials — some well known — were added to the mix. They played the president and his top advisers; the Israeli prime minister and cabinet; and Iranian leaders. They were granted anonymity to be able to play their roles freely, without fear of blowback. (This reporter was invited as an observer.) A report by Kenneth M. Pollack, who directed the daylong simulation, can be found at the Saban Center’s Web site.

 

A caution: Simulations compress time and often oversimplify events. Often they underestimate the risk of error — for example, that by using faulty intelligence leaders can misinterpret a random act as part of a pattern of aggression. In this case, the actions of the American and Israeli teams seemed fairly plausible; the players knew the bureaucracy and politics of both countries well. Predicting Iran’s moves was another matter, since little is known about its decision-making process.DAVID E. SANGER


 

1. ISRAEL ATTACKS

 

Without telling the U.S. in advance, Israel strikes at six of Iran's most critical nuclear facilities, using a refueling base hastily set up in the Saudi Arabian desert without Saudi knowledge. (It is unclear to the Iranians if the Saudis were active participants or not.)


Already-tense relations between the White House and Israel worsen rapidly, but the lack of advance notice allows Washington to say truthfully that it had not condoned the attack.

 


2. U.S. STEPS IN

 

In a series of angry exchanges, the U.S. demands that Israel cease its attacks, though some in Washington view the moment as an opportunity to further weaken the Iranian government, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

 

Telling Israel it has made a mess, Washington essentially instructs the country to sit in a corner while the United States tries to clean things up.

 

 

3. U.S. SENDS WEAPONS

 

Even while calling for restraint on all sides, the U.S. deploys more Patriot antimissile batteries and Aegis cruisers around the region, as a warning to Iran not to retaliate. Even so, some White House advisers warn against being sucked into the conflict, believing that Israel's real strategy is to lure America into finishing the job with additional attacks on the damaged Iranian facilities.

 


4. IRAN STRIKES BACK

 

Despite warnings, Iran fires missiles at Israel, including its nuclear weapons complex at Dimona, but damage and casualties are minimal. Meanwhile, two of Iran's proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, launch attacks in Israel and fire rockets into the country.


Believing it already has achieved its main goal of setting back the nuclear program by years, Israel barely responds.

 


5. IRAN SEES OPPORTUNITIES

 

Iran, while wounded, sees long-term opportunities to unify its people - and to roll over its opposition parties - on nationalistic grounds. Its strategy is to mount low-level attacks on Israel while portraying the United States as a paper tiger - unable to control its ally and unwilling to respond to Iran.

Convinced that the Saudis had colluded with the Israelis, and emboldened by the measured initial American position, Iran fires missiles at the Saudi oil export processing center at Abqaiq, and tries to incite Shiite Muslims in eastern Saudi Arabia to attack the Saudi regime.

Iran also conducts terror attacks against European targets, in hopes that governments there will turn on Israel and the United States.




     6. IRAN AVOIDS U.S. TARGETS


After a meeting of its divided leadership, Iran decides against directly attacking any American targets - to avoid an all-out American response.


    

     7. STRIFE IN ISRAEL


Though Iran's retaliation against Israel causes only modest damage, critics in the Israeli media say the country's leaders, by failing to respond to every attack, have weakened the credibility of the nation's deterrence. Hezbollah fires up to 100 rockets a day into northern Israel, with some aimed at Haifa and Tel Aviv.


The Israeli economy comes to a virtual halt, and Israeli officials, urging American intervention, complain that one-third of the country's population is living in shelters. Hundreds of thousands flee Haifa and Tel Aviv.

 


    8. ISRAEL FIRES BACK

 

Israel finally wins American acquiescence to retaliate against Hezbollah. It orders a 48-hour campaign by air and special forces against Lebanon and begins to prepare a much larger air and ground operation.



   9. IRAN PLAYS THE OIL CARD

 

Knowing that its ultimate weapon is its ability to send oil prices sky high, Iran decides to attack Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, an oil industry center, with conventional missiles and begins mining the Strait of Hormuz.


A Panamanian-registered, Americanowned tanker and an American minesweeper are severely damaged. The price of oil spikes, though temporarily.


 

   10. U.S. BOOSTS FORCES

 

Unable to sit on the sidelines while oil supplies and American forces are threatened, Washington begins a massive military reinforcement of the Gulf region.

 


  11. REVERBERATIONS

 

The game ends eight days after the initial Israeli strike. But it is clear the United States was leaning toward destroying all Iranian air, ground and sea targets in and around the Strait of Hormuz, and that Iran's forces were about to suffer a significant defeat. Debate breaks out over how much of Iran's nuclear program was truly crippled, and whether the country had secret backup facilities that could be running in just a year or two.

 



A REPORTER'S OBSERVATIONS

 

1. By attacking without Washington's advance knowledge, Israel had the benefits of surprise and momentum - not only over the Iranians, but over its American allies - and for the first day or two, ran circles around White House crisis managers.

 

2. The battle quickly sucked in the whole region - and Washington. Arab leaders who might have quietly applauded an attack against Iran had to worry about the reaction in their streets. The war shifted to defending Saudi oil facilities, and Iran's use of proxies meant that other regional players quickly became involved.

 

3. You can bomb facilities, but you can't bomb knowledge. Iran had not only scattered its facilities, but had also scattered its scientific and engineering leadership, in hopes of rebuilding after an attack.

 

4. No one won, and the United States and Israel measured success differently. In Washington, officials believed setting the Iranian program back only a few years was not worth the huge cost. In Israel, even a few years delay seemed worth the cost, and the Israelis argued that it could further undercut a fragile regime and perhaps speed its demise. Most of the Americans thought that was a pipe dream. —D.E.S.

 

 


 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/weekinreview/28sangerintro.html

 


   
 
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