It’s the incontrovertible nature of most cover-ups that eventually they fray at the seams. Things weren’t hermetically concealed in the so-called Harpaz Affair, making that cover-up all the more difficult to maintain. However, there’s no denying that a cover-up was attempted and may be continuing.

Incremental revelations of an ulcerating politicization in the military establishment were kick-started by a bogus document allegedly forged by then-chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi’s associate, Lt.-Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz, with an eye to thwarting the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant as Ashkenazi’s successor. However, that – it soon emerged – was but a facet of the much broader feud between Ashkenazi’s and Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s bureaus.

The police went through the motions of an investigation and quickly cleared Ashkenazi. Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein was relieved to echo the police. But State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss launched a probe and discovered much evidence indicating that Ashkenazi’s staff was involved in collecting and hoarding information on rivals.

As his draft report revealed last March, Lindenstrauss concluded that even if Ashkenazi didn’t directly authorize this, he should have nipped it in the bud.

But things have gotten much worse. The central characters in the plot were asked to comment on the draft. Harpaz’s reaction powerfully substantiated suspicions of a direct collusion with Ashkenazi, indeed that Harpaz was fielded by Ashkenazi. The draft already asserts that although Ashkenazi tried to downplay his ties with Harpaz, in fact Harpaz was in cahoots with Ashkenazi’s wife, Ronit, and his aide Col. Erez Weiner.

In his May 1 communication to Lindenstrauss, Harpaz confirms that everything he did was coordinated with Ashkenazi’s bureau, including looking for dirt on Barak and Galant. There are also references to conversations between Harpaz and Ashkenazi geared to obstruct justice.

Harpaz’s latest elucidations served to fan the flames even further and moved Lindenstrauss to turn to Weinstein with an exhaustive 11-page request to renew police investigation into “escalated suspicions of felonious activities.”

To back his detailed and quite extraordinary demands Lindenstrauss passed on to the A-G all his troublesome findings thus far. To put it mildly, the prosecution is hardly enthusiastic about reopening a case it was loath to handle in the first place.

On the sidelines, Weiner has asked the High Court of Justice for an injunction that would delay publication of the comptroller’s report, knowing full well that Lindenstrauss’s term is nearly over. Weiner, it now seems, would like the matter to be bequeathed to the next comptroller in the hope that the case would languish indefinitely on forgotten, dusty shelves.

Weinstein, in the meantime, while promising to carefully study the comptroller’s request, has opined that nothing prevents Lindenstrauss from publishing his report as scheduled on July 4.

Anyone who has seen Lindenstrauss’s draft knows what dynamite it contains. All too frequently our military higher- ups forget that democratically installed civilians are in charge and not the other way round. When members of the military promote their own agendas, clashes become inevitable – as apparently happened in this situation. Prima facie, this grates hard against the democratic grain.

It’s in the public interest that the truth come out – more specifically, that it be allowed to. Both Weiner’s petition and the prosecution’s foot-dragging ill serve the cause of justice.

The police and the prosecution both failed to live up to their obligations from the time this sordid affair burst upon our scene. Whether intentionally or merely arising from what may be termed unbiased incompetence, their inaction produced a result akin to a cover-up. But it’s not too late for course-correction.

Moreover, it’s the only prudent way forward. This matter won’t die away. Any illusions should have been wiped out by Barak’s caustic anti-Ashkenazi response to Lindenstrauss’s draft.

Barak, the injured party in this instance, can be counted upon not to let anything be suppressed. If allowed to fester this might become a latter-day version of the noxious Lavon Affair of yesteryear. In the words of late US Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

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