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Out after 5-year ban, report slams Shin Bet

By Gideon Alon
Ha'aretz Legal Correspondent

A State Comptroller report made public yesterday includes very severe
findings on the work of the Shin Bet security service's investigation
branch during the tenure of Yaakov Peri as its head, chiefly accusing
its members of lying to their superiors in the service, to the courts and
to commissions of inquiry. The report also reveals large-scale
deviations from the interrogation rules laid down by the Landau
Commission in 1987, mainly in the interrogating facility in Gaza.

The report, prepared in 1995 by previous state comptroller Miryam
Ben-Porat, is based on an inspection of the Shin Bet interrogation
facilities from September 1991 to December 1992. It states that "even
after the release of the Landau Commission Report, the habit of telling
lies did not cease among Shin Bet investigators. Some lied while
testifying in court or other investigation and inspection bodies, others
lied in reporting to their supervisors and others in the Shin Bet itself."

The Landau Commission was entrusted with investigating the Shin
Bet's interrogation methods. Its Nov. 1987 report, sanctioned the use of
"moderate physical pressure" in interrogations.

Ben-Porat had asked to release a summary of the report back in 1997,
but her request was rejected by the "committee of two" (a special
sub-committee of the Knesset State Control Committee. Its members at
the time were MKs Uzi Landau and Ran Cohen), which decided to bar
the publication. The committee (now made up of MKs Landau and
Ophir Pines-Paz) overturned the previous decision only this week.

The report deals extensively with the effect of the Landau Commission
Report on the Shin Bet, finding that the rules the commission laid
down were not adhered to, at least for a large portion of the period
reviewed, and that the negative behavior pointed to in the report, such
as disregard for the law and false or partial reports, continued.

The comptroller points the finger at the chain of command, headed by
Peri, saying that her inspection found a "web of defects indicating that
those in charge of the entire organization failed badly in their task of
running the Shin Bet within the framework of the law.

"The irregularities were not, for the most part, the result of not
knowing the line between the permissible and the forbidden, but rather
were committed knowingly. Veteran and even senior interrogators in
the facility in Gaza committed severe and systematic deviations [from
the regulations]. During the inspection period, senior Shin Bet
commanders did not prevent these irregularities, whether by allowing
the use of pressure methods not included in the file compiled by the
Landau Commission, by ignoring restrictions with which the Landau
Commission qualified the permits [it gave for using "moderate physical
pressure"] or by refraining from rooting out these practices, as required
by their position."

Former Shin Bet head Peri yesterday protested sharply against the
report, rejecting the damning criticism. Peri said that the report had no
public value and he failed to understand the point of releasing it 12
years after the events, which were tended to and corrected at the time.
The criticism, he said, was mistaken and unfair to the service and its
members.