Knesset Online Security Lapse Exposes Secret Mossad Data

Second major error in a year reveals names of intelligence and security service officials.

The Knesset Web site committed a major security lapse several weeks ago by publicizing the names of high-level Mossad and Shin Bet officials whose identities are kept secret by law.

The security breach comes after a similar error last year exposed information on some of Israel's most sensitive, defense-related technological systems, Haaretz has learned.

Memoranda from the meetings of Knesset committees and other government bodies are routinely posted on the Knesset Web site. But because committees often hear matters on sensitive security issues, monitoring regulations are in place to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of information that could harm state security.

Last year's oversight was quickly identified by Defense Ministry officials, who urgently contacted the Knesset to remove the sensitive information from the site. The incident was addressed slowly, however, and for a short while the memos remained accessible on the site. Defense officials expressed deep concern over the incident, stating that in the hands of enemy states or terror groups, the leaked protocols could have seriously harmed national security.

After learning of last year's incident, authorities asked Haaretz not to publicize it - even in general terms - on the grounds the information remained accessible by proficient Internet users.

A Knesset spokesperson said then that lessons had been learned from the incident, and that those responsible for operating the site had received additional training on posting sensitive information.

This week, the business daily Globes reported that of late similar incidents have occurred, involving the publication of memoranda from sensitive Knesset subcommittee meetings and the names of top intelligence figures.

Defense officials told Haaretz the two incidents reflect serious security lapses on the part of the Knesset, and that those responsible must be reprimanded.

Knesset representatives attributed the incident to insufficient awareness on the part of committee members to alert the protocols department on the need to censor certain information before posting it to the site.

Knesset spokesman Giora Pordes, who is also the spokesman for the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Knesset Web site, said yesterday, "We can unequivocally say that the protocols of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee are confidential. These memoranda are not posted on the Web site at all, but are filed in committee records and placed in a safe. Only Knesset members and committee members are authorized to read the memos, and only subcommittee members are allowed to read subcommittee protocols.

"As a rule, there is great sensitivity in the Knesset toward everything related to security matters, particularly those related to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee," he said.