The Role of the Legal Counsel in Security Agencies

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  • Publication Date:
  • Cover Type: Softcover
  • Number Of Pages: 117 Pages
  • Center: The Amnon Lipkin-Shahak Program on National Security and Democracy
  • Price: 45 NIS

A survey of the history of the office of the legal advisor to the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet or General Security Service), which draws on two controversial incidents—the Bus 300 affair and the Landau Committee report—and formulates principles that can serve as the basis for an effective system of legal advice in Israeli security agencies.

In the modern world, where public and legal legitimacy are of growing importance, it is necessary to reexamine the principles that should underlie the work of the legal advisors in Israel's security agencies. What are these principles? How are they manifested in practice? What is the appropriate system of relations between Israel's Attorney General and the legal counsels of public bodies and, in particular, of security agencies? These are the questions at the center of the present study.

In this policy paper, Attorney Eli Bahar surveys the history of the office of the legal advisor to the Israel Security Agency (also known as the Shin Bet or the General Security Service). Drawing on the organization’s legal history, and especially two controversial incidents—the Bus 300 affair and the Landau Committee report—he formulates principles that can serve as the basis for an effective system of legal advice in Israeli security agencies. These principles are meant to prevent the continued decline in public confidence in Israel's security agencies.

Adv. Eli Bahar was a member of the legal department of the Israel Security Agency for many years and served as its Legal Counsel between 2006 and 2011. Today he is a Researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute and the Director of the Amnon Lipkin Shahak Program on National Security and Democracy at the Israel Democracy Institute.