Haaretz answers four key questions on the Anat Kam case
Israel's security depends on upholding the censor's regulations, and on upholding Israel's free press.
1. Does Haaretz's insistence on protecting its reporter and his sources in the Anat Kam affair endanger state security?
Of course not. All the reports Uri Blau published in Haaretz based on his documents were submitted to the military censor and approved by her before publication, as required by law. In fact, in one case Haaretz's editors decided not to publish one of Blau's stories after it had gone to press, after senior defense officials changed their minds and requested that it not be released.
The state's security depends not only on upholding the censor's regulations, which Haaretz has done and continues to do, but also on upholding Israel's democratic values, including a free press. The agreement signed between Blau and the Shin Bet security service proves that the Shin Bet understands this as well.
2. Does Blau possess classified documents and why doesn't he give them to the Shin Bet?
Blau left on vacation abroad with no classified documents in his possession. But like any investigative journalist, he has documents on which he bases his articles. These include, for example, the documents that led him to expose that Itay Ashkenazi, the chief of staff's son, was employed in companies that do business with the Israel Defense Forces - or documents he used for the report on Knesset Constitution Committee chairman David Rotem's involvement in the purchase of lands in Beit El with false papers. This is also the case with documents detailing money transfers to Ehud Barak Ltd., the company controlled by the defense minister's daughters.
Haaretz, therefore, believes that it cannot pass on all the documents Blau has to the defense establishment because its senior officials may use them to trace his sources.
The agreement between Blau and the Shin Bet sets down the criteria for choosing the documents to be given to the Shin Bet, and Blau believes he acted according to the agreement. He passed on dozens of classified documents adhering to these criteria, and the defense establishment had no complaint about the choice of documents. Months later, the Shin Bet claimed that Anat Kam, who is suspected of giving the documents to Blau, gave him 2,000 documents. In the meantime, this number has been reduced to 700 documents classified "secret" and above.
Blau gave the Shin Bet not only dozens of printouts, but also his personal computer, which was destroyed in his presence. There is no telling how many documents were in the computer, and the Shin Bet cannot say which documents are still missing.
The documents Blau handed over to the Shin Bet included the protocols of the meeting in which the chief of staff and Shin Bet heads decided to carry out apparently illegal acts in the territories. A short time after Blau handed over the documents, the Shin Bet arrested Kam on suspicion that she gave them to him. This raised Haaretz's suspicions that the documents Blau handed over may have assisted in the arrest, even though the agreement between Blau and the Shin Bet precluded any such use of them. Given this, Haaretz instructed Blau not to submit any further documents while his sources' protection was not guaranteed.
3. Why isn't Blau returning to Israel to explain all this?
Uri Blau went on a three-month private vacation in the Far East with his fiancee. During his holiday, the Shin Bet arrested Anat Kam and told Haaretz it was reneging on its agreement, which assures the immunity of Blau's sources, first and foremost Kam, and that he would not be questioned.
Blau's return to Israel in these circumstances may strengthen the charges against Kam. The witnesses for the prosecution listed in the charge sheet against her already include one journalist - Yedioth Ahronoth reporter Yossi Yehoshua.
The Shin Bet announced that it intends to question Blau on arrival, put him through a lie-detector test, have his entire document archive inspected and arrest him unless he doesn't reply to all the lie-detector questions about his news sources. At this point Haaretz decided to instruct Blau to remain abroad until the end of the negotiations, which are intended to ensure that the agreement between Haaretz and the Shin Bet is upheld.
4. Is it impossible, as far as Haaretz is concerned, to safeguard state security without revealing your news sources?
This is certainly possible. This combination has worked and will keep working, and it's important to ensure that it continues to exist. This is why Haaretz passed on another suggestion, intended to guarantee that the required classified documents are returned to the Shin Bet without endangering the sources who gave Uri Blau those documents.