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Thursday, December 02, 2004

CNN.com - FBI searches pro-Israel group's office - Dec 1, 2004

CNN.com - FBI searches pro-Israel group's office - Dec 1, 2004: "FBI searches pro-Israel group's office
Possible espionage probed; employees subpoenaed
Wednesday, December 1, 2004 Posted: 10:00 PM EST (0300 GMT)

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• FBI probe eyes Pentagon worker

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- FBI agents searched the offices of a pro-Israel lobbying group Wednesday as part of an espionage probe, two government sources told CNN.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, said the government also subpoenaed four senior staff members to appear before a federal grand jury.

The probe involves allegations that a Pentagon analyst passed classified information to Israel through two employees of the organization, the sources said.

Government officials previously told CNN the information that allegedly was passed included a draft presidential directive on U.S. policy toward Iran.

Government sources refused to give a reason for Wednesday's search -- the second of the AIPAC offices -- because the search warrant is under seal.

"It's just a normal investigative procedure," one official said.

The investigation of AIPAC, which became public in late August, has been going on for many months.

An FBI spokeswoman refused to comment on the search.

In a statement released late Wednesday afternoon, AIPAC said it "learned in August that the FBI was investigating two AIPAC employees when the authorities visited the AIPAC offices and requested and obtained computer files related to these two employees.

"Today, the FBI returned and requested and obtained additional files relating to the same two AIPAC staff members and delivered subpoenas requiring the appearance of four senior AIPAC staff before a grand jury."

The group said it has done nothing wrong.

"Neither AIPAC nor any member of our staff has broken any law," it said in the statement posted on its Web site. "We are fully cooperating with the governmental authorities. We believe any court of law or grand jury will conclude that AIPAC employees have always acted legally, properly and appropriately.

"Despite the false and baseless allegations that have been reported, AIPAC will not be distracted from our central mission of supporting America's interests in the Middle East and advocating for a strong relationship with Israel."

In August, AIPAC said it was assisting the government's investigation, including providing documents and information and making staff members available for interviews.

Sources have told CNN that two AIPAC employees were previously interviewed by the FBI.

The Pentagon analyst's lawyer told The Los Angeles Times his client did not engage in any espionage activities.

CBS News, which first reported the story in August, said the FBI had developed evidence that included photographs and conversations recorded through wiretaps. (Full story)

The network said the Pentagon analyst has ties to two senior Pentagon officials: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith.

A spokesman at the Israeli embassy in Washington denied in August that the country had spied on the United States.

CNN's Kevin Bohn and Carol Cratty contributed to this report."


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