(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The private attorney representing the Winograd Committee on Wednesday rejected arguments that even if its final report included only systemic conclusions and recommendations, it would still implicate those in charge of the criticized systems.
In such a case, the committee would be obliged to send cautionary letters to those individuals and to allow them to defend themselves before it published the report.
Recently, the Winograd Committee announced that it would not publish facts, conclusions or recommendations that stood to harm any individual who held a senior position during the Second Lebanon War. The announcement created controversy because it meant that no one could defend himself in case the committee did, indeed, criticize individuals, while others were angry that the committee would not call for punishing those found responsible for the war's failures.
The statement was made by attorney Zvi Agmon during a hearing held in the High Court of Justice on two separate petitions filed by the Military Defender's Office and the Movement for Quality Government protesting the committee's announcement that it would not publish facts or present personal recommendations or conclusions regarding failures by individuals.
Agmon told the committee that Article 15 of the State Commission of Inquiry Law stressed that a commission was obliged to send cautionary letters only if it published facts, conclusions or recommendations that related directly to specific individuals.
The justices replied that the matter was not as simple as Agmon made it out to be. "I don't have a good feeling about this," said Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch. "The problem isn't giving warning to potential victims of the report. The problem is giving them the chance to respond. For example, if you say that a certain brigade failed in its mission, it is difficult to determine whether or not this statement is not enough to warrant issuing warnings [to brigade leaders.]"
"If the report states the army is to blame for something, it is not a personal conclusion," said Agmon. "If it says the chief-of-staff is to blame, then it is a personal conclusion."
The second petition, filed by the Movement for Quality Government, demanded that the committee not suffice with systemic conclusions and recommendations, but name the individuals who were responsible for these failures and recommend the measures that should be taken against them.
'Without personal conclusions and recommendations, there is no point to the report," said Movement for Quality Government head Eliad Shraga. "It will just be a book report."
Agmon rejected Shraga's charge. He said that the committee's partial report, issued in April, "had led to many improvements" in the various institutions that were found wanting during the war.
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