JERUSALEM (Jan. 5)
Justice Minister Haim Zadok promised today to take tough new action to plug the rising tide of “leaks” that has been hampering the Cabinet’s work. Zadok made his pledge in the Knesset as both coalition and opposition MKs took the rostrum to complain about the leaks.
Zadok said the Premier would set up a panel of experts, including secret service and military intelligence personnel, to investigate the leaks and recommend measures to stop them. But Zadok reminded the MKs of tough laws already on the statute books that provide prosecution and punishment for persons found responsible for leaking classified material.
One measure to be considered, he said, was an ordinance providing that sensitive political information, such as the recent message from President Ford to Premier Yitzhak Rabin, deploring the new settlements on the Golan Heights, be classified as military secrets with a penalty of up to 15 years in jail for leaking such material.
Zadok said the wave of leaks from the Cabinet chamber resulted in decision-making being removed to less formal forums which was a danger to democracy and good government. The reason for it was that the government feared presenting top secret information to the Cabinet lest it be disclosed.
But if the Cabinet is to function properly as the top decision-making forum of the nation, its members must be given all the relevant information and must be able to express themselves freely, Zadok observed. But they were inhibited by the possibility of leaks, he said.
Zadok’s observations were similar to those of Haim Landau of Likud and Avraham Melamed of the National Religious Party who presented agenda motions decrying the recent spate of leaks. “The floor and the ceiling of the Cabinet room have been leaking for years,” Landau charged. Government departments also leaked, he said. He apportioned the largest slice of blame to the Foreign Ministry, but contended that “the Prime Minister’s office is also culpable.”