Former Watchdog Official Slams Comptroller's Conduct

Aviezer Yaari, a former head of the defense department at the State Comptroller's Office, was critical yesterday in an interview with Haaretz of State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss' conduct. Lindenstrauss has sought to present the Knesset State Control Committee with the findings of his report on the condition of the home front during the second Lebanon war.

A retired major general, Yaari was in charge of the defense department under state comptrollers Yaakov Meltz, Miryam Ben-Porat and Eliezer Goldberg between 1987 and 2000.

In an interview with Haaretz, Yaari said that if "the current comptroller began to make public the findings of the report prior to receiving the response of those being examined, and wants to use this as the basis for describing the shortcomings and for accusations, this is very serious, and was not practiced before. It is terrible. It is a negative development."

"All the comptroller predecessors were careful to talk [about details of their findings] only after the report draft was ready, it had been delivered to those being investigated for their responses, the responses had been received and editing of the final report was completed.

"Only after the final report was presented to those being investigated and the Knesset, can the comptroller make all the noise in the world. Some of the current comptroller's predecessors excelled in creating a huge debate when they presented their final report."

"There are procedures for preparing a comptroller's report, and the procedure has held for many years. If the procedures for preparing the report are now changed, then I think these new administrative developments are not good," Yaari said.

'Should not make report public'

The veteran official says he is unfamiliar with the findings of the report on the preparedness of the home front for the war, which is being drafted by Lindenstrauss and his team.

However, "if a person being investigated received the report and did not comment about it, then the state comptroller did not complete his work on the report and therefore he cannot make it public ... Except for the findings of the Winograd Committee, there was no reason to rush."

Regarding the claim that the findings of the comptroller were so severe as to warrant immediate publication, particularly in anticipation of renewed fighting and the need to deal with the problems of the home front, Yaari says that "one option, which we tried in my time, is for the comptroller to oversee the process of fixing the shortcomings alongside the organization carrying out the corrections."

In response to whether the comptroller is undermining the institution, Yaari said that "following conversations, it appears that while state control is a tool for combating flawed management, one has the sense that the comptroller has contributed to criticism against the institution."

"It would have been best if the comptroller's work did not appear to be a personal witch hunt against Olmert. There is an impression that the comptroller is after Olmert and that hurts the state control," Yaari added.

Yaari supports Lindenstrauss in his war against corruption, however says that "his predecessors fought no less hard but made a lot less noise."