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Senior Israel Defense Forces officers expressed dissatisfaction yesterday with the announcement by Chief of Staff Dan Halutz that he had recently instructed the Field Security Directorate at the General Staff to keep track of their telephone conversations.

According to a report in Haaretz yesterday, Halutz instructed the Field Security Directorate to provide him with the telephone logs of the generals, their department heads and their secretaries, in order to crosscheck whether they have had contacts with journalists.

Even though the chief of staff made it clear that there were no plans to tap telephones and listen in on conversations, or adopt a policy of punishing those who did talk with journalists without explicit permission, his decision triggered sharp criticism.

According to the disgruntled officers , the chief of staff's action "stinks of McCarthyism" and reflects "pressure on the part of the head of the army who feels under siege and is focusing on minor details."

The same sources noted that there was hardly a senior officer who avoided talking with journalists or who did so only with the explicit permission of the IDF Spokesman's Office and the chief of staff. They also expressed doubts that Halutz himself had abided by any such restrictions in his previous senior positions.

There have been past Field Security investigations in which officers took lie detection tests, but these were never in reaction to criticism of General Staff conduct or management of a war.