Essential Exposure for the Mossad

The state comptroller's report on Tuesday shows that the Mossad behaved as though it had no budgetary of administrative constraints and was entitled to treat public property however it wished.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss released a first-ever report on the Mossad on Tuesday. The comptroller's investigation was carried out two-and-a-half years ago and focuses on extensive construction work inside the Mossad complex. The findings show that the Mossad abused its shield of secrecy and that the spy agency's top officials allowed themselves to deviate from rules and procedures that other government institutions are required to follow.

The report, only part of which was released for publication, identified "extremely serious flaws," including extensive construction work without comprehensive and proper planning, contracts worth millions of shekels handed out without any bidding process, and significant price overruns on the projects. The comptroller's report describes "improper management procedures to the extent of a faulty organizational culture." It raises fears that such management is "an opening for ethical failings" and calls for drawing conclusions on both a personal and organizational level, as well as expanding government oversight of the Mossad.

The conclusion is depressing: The Mossad behaved as though it had no budgetary of administrative constraints and was entitled to treat public property however it wished, because of its importance to state security and its close connection to the prime minister.

We cannot accept such an attitude. The Mossad chief during the period of the examination, Meir Dagan, was guilty of arrogance and abused his government position when he allowed "inefficiency and wasted funds." The Mossad chief's responsibility does not end with gathering intelligence and executing operations but also includes abiding by rules and regulations.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was negligent in supervising Dagan and did not insist that standards of good governance be upheld at the Mossad. The security division of the comptroller's office, headed by Maj. Gen. (res. ) Yaakov Or, did important work by investigating the Mossad. Publishing the findings was no less important. It proves that no institution is entitled to immunity from oversight and exposure of its failings, even if its operations are secret.

Sunlight is essential to guarantee that civil servants follow the rules and act efficiently and economically. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who is in charge of the intelligence portfolio, along with the new head of the Mossad, must act together to create a new organizational culture at the spy agency.