friedmann 224.88 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Following the government's decision to officially reprimand Police Chief Insp.-Gen. David Cohen over comments he made in a Ha'aretz interview criticizing several high-ranking ministers, Cohen published an apology which expressed "regret over the possibility that any government ministers... were offended."
Sunday's statement went on to say that Cohen's comments "were not at all intended to criticize the government."
The police chief was quoted in the interview as saying that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann "cannot lash out at the Police Department... for him to publicly make such grave comments is downright irresponsible."
"[Such statements] are indicative of professional, national and even personal carelessness," Cohen told Ha'aretz.
Among other comments, Cohen also expressed surprise at corruption allegations against Prime Minister Olmert and criticized Vice Premier Haim Ramon.
"It hurt," Cohen had said. "There was this feeling of 'how can this sort of thing happen? How could someone in such a senior position act the way he acted?
"The hardest thing for us was to witness the daring way these things were done. This power intoxication that caused everything. It surprised all investigators - and me too," Cohen said.
Cohen also had plenty to say about the 2007 Ramon affair, in which the vice premier was convicted of sexual harassment.
"First and foremost, Ramon was convicted. Secondly, he has never appealed. Instead, he chose to go back to the government and to hold a public battle from within the government. Claiming the police were using illegal wiretapping is a clear attempt to slander the police," Cohen said.
"Things were done in an attempt to limit the police and the attorney-general's steps."
The interview was discussed in Sunday's cabinet meeting, with Olmert calling it an "embarrassment," and Minister-without-Portfolio Ami Ayalon recommending that the government admonish Cohen.
During the discussion, Friedmann remarked, "The man obviously has a very high opinion of himself," adding that he believed an apology should be demanded of Cohen.
Specifically regarding the interview, Friedmann said "It is unprecedented that a police chief in a democratic state [should] feel he is entitled to criticize the government in general and the justice minister in particular.
"The police chief's argument that the police is an independent body undermines the foundations of democracy. The government and the government alone is in charge of maintaining the rule of law, and the police execute that function on its behalf."
"Someone should remind the chief of police that he works for the government," Friedmann went on, "[and] there are many faults in the police under his command. The least he could do is offer an apology to the government, if not a personal apology to me."
New Kadima chairman Tzipi Livni then intervened, saying, "it is wrong to discuss this interview here, since there is a minister in charge and he's the one who needs to patch things up," to which Olmert responded: "There is only one small problem, and that is that the minister in charge [of the police] came here this morning [after having made a] statement that attributed all the corruption to his own party and to the government."
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, to whom the prime minister was referring, quipped, "that minister is sitting right here."
"When I appointed you to be the minister of internal security, I told you that you had many missions, including fighting corruption. I told you not to be afraid, and that you would get my full backing," Olmert said.
"When I decided to resign my position I did something that has never been done before. I took upon myself this mission, so as not to damage the state's stability, and I made an difficult personal choice in order to maintain the country's stability. So how can he [Dichter] speak like that?"
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