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Aug 15, 2006

Did he have nothing better to do at the time?

Haaretz is now reporting that 3 hours after Eldad Regev and Udi Goldwasser were abducted by Hezbollah on the northern border, which led to the outbreak of conflict (it was never given the status of war by Olmert), IDF Chief of Staff went into a bank to sell his investment portfolio worth about $30,000.
While the politicians and military people were meeting deciding how to respond, Halutz took the time to go to his bank and sell his stocks.

This raises some questions. Halutz's response only deals with one aspect of it. Was he trading stocks based on knowledge of the possible breakout of war? Insider trading of sorts? Obviously war means the market goes down because of instability. Halutz's response dealt with this issue by saying that he has to deal with his portfolio like any other citizen and it had nothing to do with the war. Is he telling the truth? I have no idea, and I do not really care. Insider trading, while worrisome, is not what bothers me.

What bothers me is the issue that was not directly raised, and completely ignored by Dan Halutz. The issue being - did IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz have nothing better to do 3 hours after the soldiers were abducted as Israel is deciding whether or not to go to war. How did he have the time and presence of mind to worry about his portfolio?

Was the military situation the most pressing thing on Dan Halutz's mind, as he is about to bring Israel to war with Hezbollah/Lebanon? Did Dan Halutz's distractions affect his decision making?


Amos Harel has written in analysis piece in Haaretz in which he says Halutz will have to resign, when he finishes bringing the troops home..

To quote the most interesting paragraph, "But from the point of view of the infantry and tank troops, deep in the mud, with supply lines that sometimes are slow in delivering the goods, things look differently. At noon, on July 12, when brigade commander Colonel Chen Livni and his soldiers were trying to rescue the bodies of four soldiers from the burned remains of a tank near the site of Hezbollah's raid, the chief of staff was talking with his bank. Did the reservists who were rushed to the north under emergency orders (and some did not return) have time for similar arrangements?"

and here the State Comptroller is considering changing the law to include many other public officials in the law not allowing them to manage their own finances (due to conflict of interest). Currently the law only includes the PM and other ministers. He wants it to include all senior officials.


  1. It is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time.

    I understand the emotional reaction....you expect or want everyone to be so wrought with feelings of urgency that they can do nothing else. However, that is not how highly trained proffesionals should respond. A chief of staff should have the wherewithal and cool demenor which allows him to multitask even during highly charged events.

  2. it is not an emotional reaction. The Chief of Staff at best acted unethically (though technically not illegal). The Israeli SEC said it is not illegal because insider trading only applies to business not state institutions, so what he did was probably not illegal. However, it was clearly unethical, both from the insider aspect and from the priorities aspect (which has come up during the day as the frontrunner of these two problems).

    The Chief of Staff should have had more important things to keep his mind on when he is busy sending in people to fight a war.

    I do not understand why he was stupid enough to do it himself. Why did he not have his wife make the trade for him (he admitted he did it)? Why did he not make the trade over the internet which is mroe anonymous (people would not know it was him - could be wife or someone on his behalf?

    He claims he is also a private person. He is not. he is the Chief of Staff.

  3. The incident looks worse than it is. He didnt go into the bank. He had his secretary make a phone call to sell his 'tik'. That order took about 4 seconds.

    Nail the guy on the fact that soldiers went days without food, reservists had no equipment, and intelligence failures. This bank incident is peanuts.

  4. anon - that is very true, but that could be an indication of why things went so badly. He had his mind elsewhere...

  5. it's too bad Boogie is no longer chief of staff. Now there is a great fighter and even better commander! I just wish Sharon hadn't been born!

    Great blog! I'll be visiting you often from here on in!

  6. article in haaretz today recaps the story and says that he called his banker. A phone call. He did not take hours out of his day to deal with this issue and make a trip into Tel-Aviv. He made a phone call and broke no rules.

  7. that is true.. The story has changed a bit, and I am sure it will change some more as time goes on. That always happens in the press.
    It is not as bad as it was. However it is still ethically wrong, if not a problem of insider trading (though not illegal because of that technical issue of state institutions mentioned in the article)...

    Just to point out - my analysis of the situation after I saw the initial report in Haaretz was the same analysis as the pros about 8 hours later. Since then, the calls for his resignation (!) (I did not go there even but it was an obvious conclusion) have only increased, and he has received minimal supprot from ministers. Even his soldiers are upset that that is what he was worried and concerned about, as he was about to send them to war...

  8. Greg - Boogie was pretty good. The best thing about him was that he was quiet and got the job done. People did not know too much about him, as he kept quiet and did not blow off his mouth in public (as many others have done) looking to advance his post-military career...

    Thanks for coming in and takign the time to comment..


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