shin bet blogs 224.
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Their pictures cannot be published and they are only identified by the first letter of their names. But starting Monday, four senior members of the Shin Bet's (Israel Security Agency) Information Technology Department unveiled a new secret weapon - a blog.
In a rare and unusual step, the Shin Bet decided to allow the four employees - three men and one woman - to maintain a blog in which they will document some of their declassified experiences and thoughts about their jobs. The move was not simple for an agency that runs informants and agents in the battle against Palestinian terrorism and is widely known for its heavy shroud of secrecy.
The decision to launch the blog was made by the Shin Bet's top brass, including head Yuval Diskin, and is part of an attempt to attract hi-tech workers to the agency's growing IT department. In 2007, the Shin Bet launched its first ever public recruitment drive, unveiling a slick Web site and buying on-line ads in Israel and abroad in a campaign aimed at attracting top-tier computer programmers to its cutting-edge IT division.
The Web site and blog are aimed at attracting top computer minds as well as promoting a more accessible and positive public image for the Shin Bet, long associated with dark, undercover and even violent activity.
One of the bloggers, a female quality assurance engineer whose black silhouette appears on the new Web site (www.shin-tech.org.il), admits that "there are some things at work I can't even talk to my husband about."
She later writes that she immensely enjoys her job, even though the offices are not as glamorous as those belonging to the hi-tech company she used to work for.
"Y," another one of the bloggers - identified as a systems integration expert - wrote that it was rare for him to get home after 6:30 p.m.
"You don't stay at work unless it is completely necessary," Y, a 34-year-old martial arts enthusiast, wrote, adding in a later posting that the salaries were no different than civilian hi-tech companies.
Responses to the blog posts varied, with some people asking serious questions about salaries and employment opportunities and others casting doubt that the bloggers are real Shin Bet operatives.
In one reader response, a surfer calling herself Brandy said she was disappointed: "Maybe I've watched too many James Bond movies, but you make it sound gray and charmless," she complained.
Another reader response came from a man who identified himself as a former police officer who wrote about his former joint operations in Jerusalem with the Shin Bet.
"I know how hard you work and I respect it," Felix, the former cop wrote. "Only a few people really know what you do and how the technology you develop helps capture and kill our enemies."
A, a programming engineer who is a fan of basketball and the TV series Lost, writes that he heard the Shin Bet was looking for hi-tech workers and imagined the fictional Counterterrorism Unit from the hit show 24.
"Who wouldn't want to imagine themselves working in the command-and-control center of the CTU?" he writes.
His blog entry indicates real life might be somewhat less exciting: "Though it's really unfair, I didn't get a siren to put on my car, and I have to sit in traffic jams, too."
"This post will self-destruct in 10 seconds," he added.
AP contributed to this report.