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Shhh... It's a secret

Friday, May 28, 2004 12:01 AM

British Journalist, Peter Hounam, was released about four hours ago. Hounam was arrested yesterday by the Israeli security service. He was held in isolation, and was not allowed to meet with his attorneys until today. He was never charged, and according to his attorneys was held minutes under the maximum of 24 hours, to avoid arraignment.

Hounam is the journalist who, in 1986, published Mordechai Vanunu's account of Israeli nuclear secrets in the Sunday Times. A gag order regarding the cause of the arrest, issued yesterday, has been removed tonight. Apparently, Hounam was suspected of conducting an illegal interview with Vanunu. Israeli security forces claim that Vanunu, recently released from an 18-year prison sentence, a great deal of which was spent in complete isolation, still knows many secrets and may reveal them given the opportunity.

In a whole different time zone, the US Justice Department has retroactively classified information given to Congress (link may require free registration to the New York Times web site). In an impressive display of decisiveness, information that have been in the public domain for almost two years is now classified. In an amusing coincidence, the classified material would have been usable in several pending lawsuits, but not anymore. Funny how these things work out.

Apparently, security services think the best way to keep secrets is to attract as much media attention as possible. Not being a security expert, I can't evaluate the value of this strategy. I am, however, a pretty good cynic. You see, I get a lot of training.

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Copyright 2004 Yorai Aminov