Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Former Top AIPAC Official States Passing US Secrets to Israel Is
Routine for the Israel Lobby
By Philip Giraldi
Israel-Palestine News, January 10, 2011
Former top AIPAC official claims to have "about 180"
documents that demonstrate that classified information was regularly
collected by AIPAC and given to the Israeli Embassy with full knowledge of
the organization's Director Kohr and other senior officials
Philip Giraldi - Reports of surfing porn sites and frequenting prostitutes
is not what one expects to read regarding the leadership of Washington's
most powerful foreign policy lobby.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is
embroiled in a court battle with its former Director of Foreign Policy
Issues Steven Rosen, who is claiming that AIPAC first unfairly fired then
slandered and libeled him, publicly denouncing him for not exhibiting "the
conduct that AIPAC expects from its employees." He is seeking total damages
of $20 million...
Defeat for AIPAC could have major consequences
beyond a sudden shortage of donors, including increasing demands for the
group to register as a foreign lobby and even criminal charges relating to
the passage of classified information to Israel, an offense under the
Espionage Act. Some have even predicted that the trial could spin out of
control, with proliferating charges and counter-charges leading to the
effective dismantling of AIPAC...
...Rosen and his AIPAC colleague
Keith Weissman were charged under the Espionage Act in 2003, after the FBI
made the case that they had obtained classified information from Pentagon
employee Larry Franklin and passed it on to Israeli diplomats and to
journalist Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post.
In 2005, the two men
were fired by AIPAC in spite of initial pledges of support. The trial,
sometimes referred to as AIPACgate, dragged on until May 1, 2009, when it
was finally dismissed after the government could not make its case due to
adverse decisions by the presiding Judge T. S. Ellis, possibly acting under
pressure from the White House to end the proceedings.
At the time, as
the centerpiece of his defense, Rosen claimed somewhat ominously that
passing classified information obtained from government contacts was
business as usual in Washington. He asked that high level witnesses
including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser
Stephen J. Hadley, former Defense Department officials Paul D. Wolfowitz and
Douglas J. Feith, and Richard L. Armitage, the former deputy secretary of
state all be called on to testify that confidential information was
frequently given to AIPAC for discreet passage to the Israeli Embassy.
Rosen's lawyers also demanded access to numerous government documents to
assist them in making their case. Many of those documents would have
themselves been classified, eventually leading government prosecutors to
abandon their attempts at a conviction in the belief that more damage would
be done by proceeding than in dropping the case.
Rosen and Weissman
were not, however, either exonerated or acquitted, an indication that the
government lawyers believed the prosecution to be a sound one.
Dismissing Rosen was a bad move by AIPAC as he has since worked hard to get
Recent moves and countermoves by Rosen and AIPAC have
included a 260-page motion by AIPAC filed on November 8th that interestingly
makes the case in some detail that Rosen engaged in espionage while
distancing AIPAC itself from any involvement. The intention is clearly to
demonstrate that Rosen and Weissman were a rogue operation, not sanctioned
by their employer.
The motion also incorporates a lengthy deposition
of Rosen in which he describes his own sexual "experimentations" with both
men and women, some of whom were discovered on Craigslist. Rosen also
recounts how pornography was regularly viewed and even saved on AIPAC
computers by a number of senior employees, including Director Howard Kohr
and his secretary, and there were visits to prostitutes by AIPAC officials.
Rosen is expected to counter the AIPAC November filing with his own
motion later this month and there will be an obligatory mediation session
with the presiding judge in mid January. The cycle of attacks and rebuttals
has not done much to help AIPAC's reputation, already tarnished by the long
running Rosen-Weissman trial that led to the lawsuit and there are reports
that donations have declined by 15%, with a number of major contributors
like Haim Saban having opted instead to help Rosen financially.
contends that his betrayal by AIPAC was motivated by a desire to avoid
criminal charges against its executives...
....On February 16, 2005,
AIPAC's counsel said that the lead federal prosecutor `is fighting with the
FBI to limit the investigation to Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman and to
avoid expanding it.' This warning implied that AIPAC's Executive Director
and the AIPAC organization as a whole could become targets."
there is a much bigger story lurking in the background, though no one is
quite sure who holds the cards and how it might play out, involving the
regular provision of top level classified information from AIPAC to the
Israeli government and to the media.
The November AIPAC motion and
the Rosen deposition inadvertently demonstrate the close ties between AIPAC
and the Israeli Embassy in Washington, recording as they do the details of
numerous meetings with diplomats and intelligence officers in which secret
information was passed. For AIPAC to win its war of words with Rosen it must
demonstrate that he was indeed guilty of espionage with "a foreign country"
while distancing itself from his activities and also at the same time
keeping Israel out of the story insofar as possible.
Rosen must turn
the tables on AIPAC by proving that it was completely collaborative in the
collection and delivery of intelligence material to foreigners. He intends
to replay his planned defense in the Espionage Act trial, asserting that
passing classified information was a regular and accepted feature of life in
Washington, particularly for those who worked to advance Israel's interests.
Rosen claims to have "about 180" documents that demonstrate that
classified information was regularly collected by AIPAC and given to the
Israeli Embassy with full knowledge of the organization's Director Kohr and
other senior officials, something that they have denied under oath.
He also claims that depositions of FBI agents who questioned AIPAC officials
will demonstrate that the collection and use of classified information was
routine, generally known, and widely accepted within AIPAC. Rosen also has
given signs that he might broaden the inquiry.
In September 2009, he
filed a list of 48 prospective witnesses that might be called to testify
that included: Douglas Bloomfield, Morris Amitay, Thomas Dine, Elliott
Abrams, John Bolton, Martin Indyk, David Satterfield, Kenneth Pollack,
Malcolm Hoenlein, and Abraham Foxman. All are major figures in the Israel
Lobby. The intent would appear to be to demonstrate that passing secrets to
the Israeli government was standard operating procedure for many groups and
individuals linked to the Lobby, not just AIPAC.
It will also
motivate the groups that the men represent to put pressure on AIPAC to
settle the case with Rosen, at whatever cost.
What is ultimately at
stake is AIPAC's powerful mystique, derived from its status as a foreign
lobby posing as a domestic lobby that is so untouchable that it does not
have to register with the Justice Department or play by anyone's rules but
its own. The charge of trading in US government classified information, even
if the Barack Obama administration predictably opts not to prosecute the
criminal activity, would render disingenuous the argument that AIPAC should
not have to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)
because it only operates domestically and its focus is educational. It could
also lose its completely bogus non-profit tax exempt status.
those who see a dark future for AIPAC fail to reckon with the strengths of
the organization, to include an endowment fund of $50 million that can be
tapped in emergencies.
It continues to be extremely powerful at all
levels within the Barack Obama Administration and with congress. AIPAC has
resources deep within the Justice Department, which will make sure that it
is advised of every impending move against it and that will do everything
they can to impede any investigation that might lead to criminal charges or
to registration under FARA. And then there is the media role or rather the
lack of one.
The mainstream media assiduously avoided the story of
the Rosen-Weissman trial and it has not reported on the Rosen AIPAC lawsuit
apart from few brave souls like Jeff Stein in his Spy Talk at The Washington
Post. If the federal government prefers not to investigate or prosecute a
clear violation of the law and if the media does not report the failure to
do so the public will once again be kept in the dark. It could mean that
those who long for the death of AIPAC might well be disappointed.
Philip Giraldi is Executive Director of the Council for the
National Interest. This article is published in full in an upcoming issue of
American Conservative magazine. Original title: "The End of AIPAC?"
Thursday, December 16, 2010