U.S. Drops Case Against Ex- AIPAC Lobbyists
2009 05 03

By Jerry Markon | washingtonpost.com


Steve Rosen, left, and Keith Weissman, right


Former AIPAC Employees Faced Espionage Charges

Federal prosecutors yesterday abandoned an espionage-law case against two former lobbyists for a pro-Israel advocacy group, a case that had transfixed much of official Washington because of its potential to criminalize the exchange of sensitive information among journalists, lobbyists and policy analysts.

In asking a judge to dismiss charges against Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, formerly of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, officials said recent court rulings had changed the legal landscape and made it unlikely that they would win.

Prosecutors and investigators had used FBI wiretaps to pursue Rosen and Weissman for at least five years, building a complex case that involved secret court hearings and dozens of legal filings and rulings. The two men were charged in 2005 with conspiring to obtain classified information -- about topics including al-Qaeda and U.S. forces in Iraq -- and pass it to the Israeli government and journalists from The Washington Post and other news organizations.

Rosen and Weissman were the first civilians not employed by the government charged under the 1917 espionage statute.

"Thank God we live in a country where you can defend yourself against an injustice like this," Rosen, 66, said yesterday. He said the case was politicized and pushed by government officials "who have an obsession with leaks . . . and an obsession with Israel and the theory that it spies on America."

The case was not a total loss for the government. A former Pentagon analyst, Lawrence A. Franklin, pleaded guilty in 2005 to passing government secrets to Rosen and Weissman. He was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.

Lawyers for Rosen and Weissman attributed the withdrawal of the case in part to the Obama administration. "We are extremely grateful that this new Administration . . . has taken seriously their obligation to evaluate cases on the merits," the lawyers, Abbe D. Lowell, John Nassikas and Baruch Weiss, said in a statement.

But David Szady, who was the FBI's assistant director for counterintelligence when the case was brought, said politics was not a factor in the decisions to file charges or to withdraw them. "If you commit espionage against the United States, the FBI has an obligation to investigate that, regardless of the political fires around it, and we're blind to whatever country may be involved," Szady said.

Recent pretrial rulings made the case difficult for the government, including an appeals court ruling that allowed the defense to use "national defense information" at trial. A lower-court judge also said prosecutors must show that the two men knew that the information they allegedly disclosed would harm the United States or help a foreign government -- a high burden for prosecutors.

Officials said FBI agents opposed the decision, believing they had a strong case. Joseph Persichini Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office, said yesterday that the case's end was "disappointing," but he commended the work of the agents.

The decision to drop the case was welcomed by AIPAC, long an influential presence in Washington because of its close ties to policymakers, think tanks and lawmakers. The group had distanced itself from Rosen and Weissman, formally firing them in 2005, but spokesman Patrick Dorton yesterday called the decision "a great day" for the defendants and their families.

AIPAC's critics had seized on the allegations against the two lobbyists as fresh evidence that the group had aligned itself so closely with the Israeli government that it was acting on that country's behalf. Supporters of the group said they were mystified by the case, noting that collecting information from government officials and sharing it with others, including governments with embassies in Washington, is a highly profitable local business.

The outcome left wider opinions about AIPAC and its influence largely unchanged. Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he had never found the case to be particularly revealing about AIPAC. "I thought it was an unusual action by the government," he said.

Gary Wasserman, a professor of government at Georgetown University who is writing a book about the case, said he was not surprised that AIPAC was pleased by the proposed dismissal. A trial, he added, "would have provoked a lot of public discussion about how they worked."

Staff reporters R. Jeffrey Smith and Carrie Johnson and research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.

Source: washingtonpost.com

Barack Obama at AIPAC


Senator Clinton Addresses AIPAC Policy Conference 2008


Hillary: Obama Will Be A Good Friend To Israel



Related Articles
Head of AIPAC Boasted about his Control of Politicians in 1992
This is Change - 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama's White House
Noam Chomsky - Controlled Asset Of The New World Order
Breaking the Silence - Bilderberg Exposed


Latest News from our Front Page

Water rationing hits California: limit of 50 gallons per person per day or face fines of $500
2014 09 29
Millions of Californians are about to be hit with strict water rationing -- daily "allocation" numbers that represent the maximum amount of water you’re allowed to use for any purpose. Households that exceed the allocation limit will face stiff fines of hundreds of dollars per violation. "In July, the State Water Resources Control Board passed stage one emergency regulations, giving powers ...
Much of Earth’s Water is Older than the Sun
2014 09 29
Much of the water on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system likely predates the birth of the sun, a new study reports. The finding suggests that water is commonly incorporated into newly forming planets throughout the Milky Way galaxy and beyond, researchers said — good news for anyone hoping that Earth isn’t the only world to host life. “The implications of ...
Did the Vikings Get a Bum Rap?
2014 09 29
A Yale historian wants us to rethink the terrible tales about the Norse. This illustration shows the stereotype of Viking marauders wreaking mayhem, even on clergy. The scene depicts the monastery at Clonmacnoise, Ireland. The Vikings gave no quarter when they stormed the city of Nantes, in what is now western France, in June 843—not even to the monks barricaded in the ...
David Cameron Says Non-Violent Conspiracy Theorists Are Just As Dangerous As ISIS
2014 09 29
David Cameron told the U.N. that "non-violent extremism" is just as dangerous as terrorism and must be eradicated using all means at the government’s disposal. He references 9/11 and 7/7 Truthers as examples of the type of extremism that must be dealt in a similar fashion to ISIS. If you thought Obama’s War is Peace speech to the U.N. was creepy, ...
NY Times: Europe’s Anti-Semitism Comes Out of the Shadows
2014 09 28
NY Times Whines about European "Anti-Semitism" In the wake of the conflict in Gaza, three communities became flash points of violence and began contending with hatred they thought was buried in the past. Read the NY Times hit piece on Europe here Below is a rebuttal from Mike King’s The Anti-New York Times at tomatobubble.com: Strike up the violins and break out the barf ...
More News »