'Transcripts should not have been published'

Two Winograd C'tee members say decision to release testimonies of witnesses may make it harder to investigate future wars.

By DAN IZENBERG
May 10, 2007 23:05
1 minute read.
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Two of the Winograd Committee's five members, Prof. Ruth Gavison and Maj.-Gen. (res.) Menahem Einan, said Thursday they opposed the decision to release censored testimony of witnesses who testified in private sessions and said this could make it harder to investigate future wars. "It is not right to treat the transcripts of the testimonies given to us behind closed doors as if the only possible harm that could come from publishing them would be to the security of the state or to its foreign relations and that, therefore, the censor's examination eliminates the problem," they wrote. "The publication of segments of the transcripts arouse other, important issues, too." According to Gavison and Einan, release of the testimonies could damage:

  • State security in the broad sense.
  • The ability to conduct discussions and consultations openly and without fear.
  • Expectations of witnesses that their testimony will not become public.
  • The rights of the witnesses and of those whom they discuss and cannot reply.
  • The expectation of a committee of investigation that witnesses will speak openly about their peers, commanders and subordinates.
  • The ability of investigative bodies to conduct inquiries without people expecting that the contents will be published. Einan and Gavison wrote that it was important to insist on the principles of transparency and freedom of information, but that the importance of classifying material in certain situations must not be forgotten. "We don't want a situation to develop where Israel will be unable to establish a committee to investigate its wars because such an inquiry would, of necessity, harm the state's vital interests," the two concluded. "Precisely those who want with all their might to investigate courageously and to learn lessons must make certain that the procedures will not unnecessarily harm vital state interests."

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