Who is DEBKA?
Doc poses the question about this new news site that everyone is talking about: DEBKA runs lots of interesting stories, but what's DEBKA's own story?

And we've got answers!
First, check out WHOIS for www.debka.com:

Turns out the Registrant is:
Shamis communication LTD
  53/3 Bar Cochba
  Jerusalem, Is 97892

Aha! We're getting hot!

Now, check out a search of Google for Shamis:
Scan through the first few pages and eventually you fall upon this article from today's New York Observer's "Off the Record Column."

The article as quoted from below explains that DEBKA is the effort of two Israeli reporters with many, many contacts. And they don't deny that they have a natural Israeli bias, but they also say they don't have an agenda. Read on to see what I mean.

A lot of the material on Debka.com is just plain scary, the kind of stuff that makes you want to close your eyes and hide under your desk. On Sept. 14 there was an unattributed report of “an estimated 30 to 50 suicide killers … waiting inside the U.S. for their orders to strike.” And then there was another report (also unattributed) describing Osama bin Laden’s army as “not ragged rabble, but a well-drilled, dedicated Islamic legion of at least 110,000 zealots, raring to take on Western armies and unafraid of elite U.S. Delta, Rangers and Seals or British S.A.S. commandos descending on their strongholds.”

 But on several occasions, Debka.com has beaten the Western media to information that has later shown up in U.S. newspapers. On Sept. 16, for example, the site was reporting that U.S. war planners were airlifting the 82nd and 101st Airborne to Pakistan, as well as contemplating a campaign into Iraq. This was reported before the Bush administration leaked that one of the hijackers may have been connected to Saddam Hussein.

 As a result of information like this—and some pretty quick word-of-mouth in the U.S.—Debka.com has experienced a massive surge of traffic in the past two weeks. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, it has gone from 150,000 visitors a week to 250,000 per week, said Giora Shamis, one of the two Israeli journalists who run the site. (Mr. Shamis and his partner, Diane Shalem, also publish a weekly newsletter at $120 a year, which at the moment has 320 paying customers.) Debka.com claims its readers include American military and intelligence officials, as well as foreign correspondents covering the Middle East.

 ...So what is Debka.com’s mission in its dispatches from the murky world of intelligence and counterintelligence? The two reporters acknowledged a pro-Israeli bias. “Let’s put it this way,” Mr. Shamis said. “We are Israelis. So whatever bias is coming out of this, that is possible. It doesn’t mean that we are presenting and defending the official Israeli points of view, certainly. You can imagine that officials in Israel, the people who are in charge of whatever they call it, information or propaganda or whatever … they don’t like us very much.”

 Prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, Debka.com was, according to a Google search, most popular among right-wing sites like WorldNetDaily.com, as well as Zionist supporters of Israel and, in a few cases, religious apocalyptics who, one supposes, wanted a real-time account of the Book of Revelation. And in any case, having an agenda does not necessarily mean that your information is always inaccurate. Just ask Matt Drudge about that blue Gap dress.


>From: "Diane Shamis" <dedit@debka.com>
>Subject: RE: point of view?
>Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 12:33:33 +0200

We are not anonymous but journalists who have no axe to grind and try to be
as dispassionate and truthful as possible. Our names are Giora Shamis, chief
editor, and Diane Shalem, English editor, with various correspondents and
stringers who are selected for being apolitical.

>Would you be able to offer a brief statement of your political point of
>I like your material very much, but am troubled by the *total* anonymity of
>the people involved.
>Randy C.