Analysis: Lindenstrauss may be best choice for wiretapping probe

Based on Lindenstrauss' record up until now, it is a safe bet that he will name names and recommend measures to be taken.

lindenstrauss 88 (photo credit: )
lindenstrauss 88
(photo credit: )
The government's decision to appoint State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to investigate both police wiretappings and the manner in which the recorded material is transferred to the defense is a welcome one in the legal establishment, particularly given the activist role that Lindenstrauss has taken upon himself since being appointed to his post. Based on the findings of both the Brenner and Zeiler reports on the Ramon wiretapping affair, it seems clear that there were serious flaws in the conduct of some senior officials. This is true of both the police and the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office (Criminal Matters). What is needed is to name names and recommend administrative measures against at least some of those mentioned in the Brenner report. It is not clear whether Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz or Police Inspector-General David Cohen would have taken such measures had it been left to them. Based on Lindenstrauss' record up until now, it is a safe bet that he will name names and recommend measures to be taken. Should he conclude that there were criminal acts involved in the affair, he will not hesitate to say so. The issues at stake in the saga of the Ramon wiretapping affair are important ones and deserve to be examined objectively. But the substance of the issue, as so often happens here, has been overshadowed by the personalities involved and by the bottom-line question: Were the police and/or the prosecution out to depose Ramon, as Ramon and Friedmann believe, or were the state prosecution and police guilty of negligence and - in the case of the police - an instinctive and perhaps overbearing desire to convict whoever falls into their clutches. The question of whether the omissions in the case were based on malfeasance or gross negligence is, of course, a critical one which Lindenstrauss will have to address. But it is not the only question. Ramon and Friedmann may settle for nothing less but a determination that the police and prosecution set Ramon up. Indeed, it is likely the only issue that concerns them. But Lindenstrauss will also be distressed if he "only" finds severe negligence, which almost everyone involved in this case admits there was. Lindenstrauss cares about improper administration - indeed, that is his job, and therefore he is a good choice to conduct the examination. Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann welcomed the cabinet decision, but it is obvious that he was disappointed by it. The Labor Party recently proposed the compromise approved on Sunday, whereby the state comptroller would carry out the investigation. Friedmann turned it down, saying the matter would be buried unless a government committee of examination armed with all the powers of a state commission of inquiry and the right to make personal conclusions looked into it. When Shas refused to support his proposal, he had no choice but to put his best face forward and join the bandwagon. Mazuz and State Attorney Moshe Lador also welcomed the cabinet decision. Their reaction may have been more genuine. Both are jealous of the independence of the state prosecution from the government and objected to the idea of politicians appointing a committee of examination to investigate it. Many observers agree with Mazuz. They strongly opposed the appointment of the Winograd Committee by the government to investigate the government for the same reason. On the surface at least, it is hard to imagine that the three men picked by Friedmann to investigate the wiretapping affair would have been biased. Nevertheless, there is obviously a conflict of interests when cabinet ministers, particularly those currently under investigation by the state prosecution, appoint their investigators' investigators.