Dual Loyalties

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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Haaretz - Israel News - Four AIPAC officials asked to testify in FBI investigation

Haaretz - Israel News - Four AIPAC officials asked to testify in FBI investigation: "Four AIPAC officials asked to testify in FBI investigation

By Nathan Guttman
WASHINGTON - The FBI yesterday searched the offices here of the pro-Israel lobby American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), as part of its ongoing investigation into suspicions that Pentagon analyst Lawrence Franklin had made available sensitive documents to AIPAC members.

AIPAC was not surprised at the return of the FBI, with a request for more documents and computer files. But they were also presented with a subpoena ordering four senior officials appear before the grand jury investigating the affair.

The four are the AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr, research director Rafael Danziger, communications director Renee Rothstein and managing director Richard Fishman. Their testimony is expected by the end of the month, although no precise date has been given.

Agents of the FBI's counterintelligence unit, who are in charge of the investigation, collected documents and computer files belonging to two AIPAC officials considered central to the affair. The two are Steve Rosen, in charge of foreign policy at the lobby group, and Keith Weissman, who deals mostly with Iran.

Rosen and Weissman were questioned in late August by FBI investigators, when agents first searched the AIPAC offices. During that search, agents copied files from Rosen's computer.

The two AIPAC officials were mentioned in news reports as allegedly being the individuals to whom Larry Franklin passed secret information on U.S. policy on Iran. They are in turn believed to have forwarded the information to Israel.

FBI spokesmen refused yesterday to answer questions about why the four AIPAC officials were called to testify, saying that details are classified. But observers hypothesized that the FBI is not trying to expand its investigation against AIPAC but to gather more information on which to base its case against Franklin.

The four subpoenaed witnesses deal with the day-to-day running of AIPAC, and it is expected that they will be asked to explain how the lobby group functions and its perception of the thin line between unofficial conversations with government officials and receiving classified information.

This is in effect the heart of the investigation that began three years ago. A number of officials behind the probe believe that AIPAC crosses the allowable limits and that it illegally receives secret information.

However, AIPAC officials contend, as do diplomats and other lobbyists in Washington, that this is a normal part of the ongoing contact, on an unofficial level, between lobbyists and U.S. government officials.

During the early stages of the investigation, the FBI sought to gather information on Larry Franklin indirectly from AIPAC. They presented their queries as an attempt to evaluate Franklin's security clearance on the eve of a possible promotion in the administration.

The investigators posed many questions on Franklin's personality and links with AIPAC, but never revealed that they were carrying out an investigation against him.

The real aim of the FBI was revealed only after the case broke in the news in August. At that point the Franklin ceased his cooperation with the FBI investigators in the case.

The case now also involves a grand jury investigation, parallel to the FBI counterintelligence operation.

What is still unclear is whether any charges will be brought against Franklin and if so, whether he will be charged with espionage or a lesser crime.

Sources close to the investigation say it is unlikely that any AIPAC officials will be charged, and that the latest FBI foray into the lobby's offices signals a final attempt to gather information prior to ending the probe."

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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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."

Newsday.com - AIPAC Spy Ring Fishman, Rothstein, Danziger, Kohr,

Newsday.com - National News: "More evidence from pro-Israel group

BY KNUT ROYCE
WASHINGTON BUREAU

December 2, 2004
WASHINGTON -- For the second time this year the FBI yesterday executed search warrants at the office of the nation's most influential pro-Israel lobbying group. The agency also issued grand jury subpoenas on four of its top officers, a signal that the two-year investigation into the alleged transfer of classified material may be winding down.

In a statement late yesterday, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee confirmed that the FBI had obtained additional evidence from two officials who were the subject of search warrants on Aug. 27.

In addition, AIPAC said that agents yesterday "delivered subpoenas requiring the appearance of four senior AIPAC staff before a grand jury."

AIPAC did not identify the two officials whose computer files were seized or the four officials ordered to testify before the federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va. Earlier reports identified one of the two officials as Steve Rosen, AIPAC's top foreign policy expert. His deputy, Keith Weissman, was interviewed by the FBI in August, according to earlier reports.

A source familiar with the inquiry identified the four as AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr, managing director Richard Fishman, communications director Renee Rothstein and research director Rafi Danziger, The Associated Press reported.

For two years the FBI probe had been a covert national security investigation into whether some members of AIPAC were receiving classified materials and passing them onto Israel.

Both AIPAC and Israel have denied the allegations.

But several months ago the probe expanded into a criminal investigation when a Pentagon intelligence expert was observed at a meeting with the AIPAC officials already under surveillance.

The expert, Lawrence A. Franklin, is suspected of having turned over classified material, including a draft presidential policy directive related to Iran. Franklin reportedly has been cooperating with the FBI. "

FBI raids offices of pro-Israel lobbying group -

FBI raids offices of pro-Israel lobbying group -: "FBI raids offices of pro-Israel lobbying group
12/2/2004 10:58:00 AM GMT




The AIPAC investigation is being handled by U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty.


The FBI searched documents and served subpoenas Wednesday at the offices of the major pro-Israel lobbying group as part of an investigation into whether Israel improperly obtained secret U.S. information on Iran and whether it had a high-level spy in the Pentagon.

After the search, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a statement that it is cooperating "in order to get these false and baseless allegations put to rest fully and swiftly."

"As we have said from the beginning, AIPAC has done nothing wrong," the statement added.

The FBI previously raided AIPAC's offices on Aug. 27.

FBI officials have also questioned two AIPAC workers about whether a Defense Department analyst, Larry Franklin, passed secret information about Iran to Israel, which is concerned about the Islamic republic mainly because of its nuclear plans.

Franklin works on Iran and Middle East issues in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's office and U.S. government sources say that he provided the papers to Israel through AIPAC.

AIPAC said that FBI agents on Wednesday asked for files linked to those same two interviewed employees, who were identified as Steve Rosen, the director of research, and Keith Weissman, deputy director of foreign policy issues.

The FBI has made copies of computer hard drives and files from both employees.

The influential lobbying organization also said: "We believe any court of law or grand jury will conclude that AIPAC employees have always acted legally, properly and appropriately".

In addition, the AIPAC statement said that subpoenas were served by the FBI demanding four top AIPAC officials to testify before the federal grand jury probing the case.

A source close to the investigation identified the four as AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr, managing director Richard Fishman, communications director Renee Rothstein and research director Rafi Danziger.

The FBI and Justice Department refused to comment.

The AIPAC investigation, which started in 2001, is being handled by U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty of Alexandria, Va. No charges have been issued yet.

Israel has denied spying on the United States, saying that talks between U.S. and Israeli officials are common and that the two nations share many secrets. The Jewish state also claimed that it has banned espionage in the United States since the scandal over Jonathan Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel in 1985."