Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Friday, September 30, 2005

JTA NEWS: BEHIND THE HEADLINES Judge in AIPAC case focuses on government refusal to share tapes

JTA NEWS "BEHIND THE HEADLINES
Judge in AIPAC case focuses on government refusal to share tapes
By Ron Kampeas and Matthew E. Berger
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (JTA) — The judge hearing a case against two former staffers of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has raised tough questions about the government’s reluctance to share information with the defendants, suggesting it could lead to a dismissal.
The contours of the trial against Steve Rosen, AIPAC’s former foreign policy director, and Keith Weissman, a former Iran analyst, on charges of trading in classified information are beginning to become clear in preliminary hearings. The trial date is set for Jan. 2.

Lawrence Franklin, a former Pentagon analyst who is charged as a co-conspirator, is set to plead guilty on Wednesday, which would require him to testify against Rosen and Weissman.

In a routine scheduling session Sept. 19, Judge T.S. Ellis was taken aback by prosecutor Kevin DiGregori’s plans to withhold from the defense a portion of tapes and transcripts of conversations among Rosen, Weissman and others, in which the defendants allegedly incriminate themselves.

“I am having a hard time, Mr. DiGregori, getting over the fact that the defendants can’t hear their own statements, and whether that is so fundamental that if it doesn’t happen, this case will have to be dismissed,” Ellis said. “Have you ever heard of a case where a defendant couldn’t have his own statements? I have been on the bench 18 years, with another 20 years before that, and it has never happened. I don’t know of any reported case.”

Prosecutors said the wiretap material was “owned” by various government intelligence agencies, and it was up to those agencies to share the material.

Thomas Reilly, a Justice Department lawyer, invoked the notorious secrecy of the three-judge panel that orders wiretaps under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, and suggested that the sensitivity lay not in what Rosen and Weissman had said but in whom they were speaking with.

“It involves FISA-derived electronic surveillance, your honor, of the defendants and third parties,” Reilly said.

The indictment speaks of information garnered from two U.S. government officials and relayed to three foreign officials, understood to be senior Israeli Embassy staffers.

JTA has learned that one of the U.S. government officials is David Satterfield, then deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs and now the No. 2 man at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The other is Kenneth Pollack, a Clinton-era National Security Council staffer and now an analyst at the Brookings Institution.

One of the Israelis is Naor Gilon, who until this summer was the chief political officer at the embassy.

None of those men has been charged. That raises questions about the government’s case against Rosen and Weissman, who — according to the government scenario — would have been middlemen in the whole affair.

Rosen and Weissman also allegedly relayed some of the information in question to journalists at the Washington Post and The Nation. The government may be sensitive about revealing that it wiretapped journalists and Israeli diplomats, some close to the case say.

Judge Ellis was skeptical of the government’s position, but gave the government until Thursday to explain its case.

“I can understand how that conceivably might be national security information, but I find it hard to understand how the defendants shouldn’t have access to it,” he said, adding that he might review the material himself.

In a response filed Thursday, the government cited precedents to show that prosecutors need not reveal wiretapped information that is not exculpatory or is irrelevant to the defense. They likened keeping the information secret to laws that protect informants.

In the Sept. 19 hearing, Ellis said it was up to him to determine relevancy. The defendants have until next Friday to respond.

Rosen’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, had raised the matter because he said a lack of access to material would prevent him from meeting court deadlines to file motions to dismiss. Ellis appeared sympathetic and postponed some of the hearings, though he was adamant that the trial would start Jan. 2.

Lowell said in court that he had spoken to lawyers for the foreign officials — apparently the Israelis — and had little hope of calling them for the defense.

“My initial inclination, from what I have spoken to counsel” for the foreign officials, “is that they are not going to make this very easy,” he said.

More broadly, Lowell suggested that the government’s proposed release of nine hours of recorded material was sparse, because his client was under surveillance for four years. He suggested that the government had much more material than it claimed.

“I am happy to hear, but would be surprised to find out, that there are only nine hours of surveillance tape,” he said. “On the issue of motions, it will be necessary to hear everything my client said.”

DiGregori suggested that the material the government wished to suppress was a small portion of the whole.

“Except for two outstanding issues on some of the FISA material,” he would release everything, DiGregori said.

In the later written submission to the court, DiGregori said that even the quantity of the government’s recordings should remain classified.

If Ellis allows the government to withhold some of the wiretap recordings, the defendants could consider it grounds for appeal.

AIPAC is committed to paying for the legal defense of Rosen and Weissman because of an indemnification clause in employee contracts, JTA has learned. AIPAC employees sign an agreement that protects them from legal harm until all appeals are exhausted, according to a source close to the defense of Rosen and Weissman who has firsthand knowledge of the clause.

JTA previously had learned that AIPAC’s bill for the pair’s defense had topped $1 million, even though AIPAC fired Rosen and Weissman in April, allegedly because of information arising out of the FBI investigation. AIPAC declined to comment, as did Lowell.

Franklin, the Pentagon analyst who has been charged along with Rosen and Weissman, plans to plead guilty on Wednesday, a clerk for the court told JTA. The clerk, Edward Adams, said he did not know what charge Franklin would plead to, or if the plea is part of a larger deal.

Plato Cacheris, Franklin’s lawyer, would not say what his client would plead to, but confirmed to JTA that negotiations with the government were under way and that his client would be required to testify if he pleads.

Cacheris also confirmed that part of the negotiations involved retaining Franklin’s pension. Franklin has five children and an ill wife.

In the past, Cacheris had suggested that Franklin would plead guilty to charges that he moved classified documents out of a designated area to his home in West Virginia. That is the least of the charges against him, and doesn’t involve Rosen or Weissman.

Rosen and Weissman were charged with “conspiracy to communicate national defense information to people not entitled to receive it,” which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Rosen also is charged with actual communication of national defense information, which also is punishable by 10 years in prison.

The charges come under the Espionage Act, but do not rise to the level of espionage.

The indictment lists charges involving incidents dating back to 1999, and is related to information on Iran and terrorist attacks in Central Asia and Saudi Arabia. For a period in 2004, Franklin worked covertly with the government and relayed allegedly classified information to Rosen and Weissman.

One charge against the pair accuses them of relaying the information in turn to Gilon, the Israeli Embassy staffer."

Ariga: Running Scared AIPAC Drops Israeli Anthem Friday, September 30, 2005

Ariga: An election, an anniversary and an investigation, Friday, September 30, 2005: "And on the eve of the new Jewish year, which begins on Monday evening, Israeli officials, particularly at the mbassy in Washington are bracing for the reading of the plea bargain deal cut with Larry Franklin, the Pentagon analyst indicted for handing secrets (reportedly about Iranian spies in Kurdish Iraq looking for Israeli agents there) to two top officials from AIPAC, the organized 'Jewish lobby' in Washington. The two AIPAC officials, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman have also been indicted in the case – and at least three Israeli officials from the embassy, who are all back in Israel, are named in the indictments, though not as defendants. The case, say Israeli officials somewhat blithely, will be bad for AIPAC, but not so bad for Israel. But already this year, for the first time in AIPAC history, the Israeli anthem was not played after the American anthem at the opening session of its annual general assembly of activists from all over the country."

National News

National News: "AIPAC Restructuring

Ron Kampeas
Special to the Jewish Times

SEPTEMBER 30, 2005
Washington

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is undergoing major restructuring in the wake of recent growth, JTA has learned.

The premier pro-Israel lobby is simultaneously expanding its lobbying efforts in Washington, the number of issues it addresses and its outreach to Jewish communities across the United States, according to three sources familiar with the expansion.

The changes have been in the works since 2003, all the sources said, and predate an FBI raid last year that roiled the organization and led to charges against two former AIPAC staffers accused of passing classified information.

Much of AIPAC's growth has to do with renewed activist interest in Israel since the breakdown of the peace process in 2000 and the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada, according to insiders. The momentum accelerated with the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

AIPAC has expanded its top management team, hired a number of new regional directors and added lobbyists. No one would give specific numbers.

The expansion is of a piece with the organization's recent membership drives through synagogues and on college campuses. AIPAC officials say the average regional event has ballooned from 200-300 people a few years ago to about 1,000 nowadays.

AIPAC also has added a number of issues to its lobbying agenda, including homeland security, nuclear proliferation and terrorism. Its venture into homeland security is a first dip into domestic issues for the organization, which has made foreign policy its strength. Other groups, including the United Jewish Communities federation umbrella organization, currently lobby on homeland security.

"Given AIPAC's tremendous growth, both in terms of its membership and overall agenda, we continue to evolve and explore ways we can be even more effective and achieve greater synergy across all areas of the organization," spokesman Josh Block said.

AIPAC's membership has almost doubled since 2000, from 55,000 to 100,000, and its annual operating budget has more than doubled, from $17 million to more than $40 million.

It also has established a capital fund and a building fund. By the end of 2007 AIPAC will be housed in its own building for the first time, a few blocks from the Capitol.

One of the hallmarks of the restructuring is that the congressional and executive branch lobbying departments, run separately for years, will be rolled into one outfit. It will be jointly headed by Brad Gordon, who currently runs congressional lobbying, and Marvin Feuer, a senior defense analyst.

Much of the criticism of AIPAC in the wake of the FBI case is that one of the targeted former staffers -- Steve Rosen, who was director of foreign policy issues -- relied too heavily on the executive branch and allegedly became embroiled in its secrets. Feuer has assumed Rosen's responsibilities.

All three sources said the plan to combine the two lobbying departments predated the FBI raid. Two of the sources said the circumstances of Rosen's departure helped shape how the new shop would operate, though they would not elaborate.

AIPAC fired Rosen in April in the wake of the FBI investigation, which AIPAC said uncovered evidence of inappropriate behavior.

Earlier this summer, AIPAC confirmed that it had hired former Justice Department lawyers working for an outside legal firm, Howrey LLP, to review its lobbying practices.

However, the FBI raid and the legal charges against Rosen and Keith Weissman, an Iran analyst, have resulted in increased contributions for the organization, AIPAC lay leaders have said.

This story reprinted courtesy of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency."

AIPAC and Espionage: Guilty as Hell- by Justin Raimondo

AIPAC and Espionage: Guilty as Hell- by Justin Raimondo: "AIPAC and Espionage:
Guilty as Hell
Pentagon analyst plea bargains, threatens to expose Israel's Washington cabal
by Justin Raimondo
The plea bargain struck by former Pentagon analyst Lawrence A. Franklin – charged with five counts of handing over classified information to officials of a pro-Israel lobbying group, who passed it on to Israeli diplomatic personnel – has delivered a body blow to the defense of the two remaining accused spies. Steve Rosen, who for 20 years was the chief lobbyist over at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and Keith Weissman, AIPAC's top foreign policy analyst, befriended Franklin and pumped him for top-secret information – including sensitive data about al-Qaeda, the Khobar Towers terrorist attack, Iran's weapons program, and attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Now they face the likely prospect of Franklin testifying to their treason in court.

For months, AIPAC's defenders have been bruiting it about that this prosecution is persecution, that the whole thing is a "setup." What Rosen, Weissman, and Franklin are accused of is routine, said their defenders – "everybody does it" – and the decision to go after AIPAC is thinly disguised anti-Semitism, the 21st century American equivalent of Kristallnacht. They have impugned the FBI as some sort of neo-Nazi outfit, exonerated the accused before even hearing the charges, and engaged in a smear campaign against anyone who wonders why it is that a purportedly American organization is engaged in an intelligence-gathering operation involving the transfer of top-secret information to a foreign government.

Now the man they portrayed as being a persecuted victim is admitting that, yes, he spied for Israel, and, furthermore, the clear implication of this apparent plea bargain is that he is prepared to expose the spy ring that Israel was – and perhaps still is – running inside AIPAC, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington.

This case has received relatively little publicity in relation to its importance. It isn't just the fact that, for the first time in recent memory, Israel's powerful lobby has been humbled. What is going on here is the exposure of Israel's underground army in the U.S. – covert legions of propagandists and outright spies, whose job it is to not only make the case for Israel but to bend American policy to suit Israel's needs (and, in the process, penetrate closely-held U.S. secrets).

Particularly fascinating is the apparent longevity of the ongoing investigation: the implication of the latest indictment [.pdf] is that FBI counterintelligence officials have been looking into Israel's covert activities in the U.S. since at least 1999, when Rosen apparently was observed telling a "foreign official" that he (Rosen) had "picked up an extremely sensitive piece of intelligence" identified as "codeword protected." At this meeting, the indictment avers, Rosen handed over this information – regarding "terrorist activities in Central Asia" – to the foreign official.

The AIPAC spy nest has been burrowing deeply into Washington's official secrets without regard for propriety or party. The indictment describes the duo's extensive contacts with a wide range of U.S. government officials, Israeli diplomats, and other individuals, none of them identified by name. However, two have been subsequently outed in the media by sources close to the investigation: they are David Satterfield, a deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs and now the second most senior U.S. government representative in occupied Iraq, and Kenneth Pollack, who served on the National Security Council in the Clinton administration. Said Pollack: "I believe I am USGO-1," identified in the second indictment as having met with Rosen and Weissman on Dec. 12, 2000. Pollack handed over classified information about "strategy options" against an unidentified "Middle Eastern country."

Pollack, a key Democratic Party foreign policy adviser, authored an influential book, The Threatening Storm, which convinced many liberals to jump on board the pro-war bandwagon. "If we observe how we were lied into war with Iraq, and by whom," I wrote in May, "the whole affair looks more like an Israeli covert operation by the day." The AIPAC spy scandal is confirming this in spades – and much else, too. It is also showing that the Israelis were not about to stop with Iraq, but were – and are – lobbying furiously for more military action in the Middle East, this time aiming for regime change in Tehran. The indictments issued against Franklin, Rosen, and Weissman describe a systematic attempt by Israel's fifth column in Washington to garner top-secret U.S. intelligence about Iran, its weapons program, and U.S. deliberations about what action to take.

The chief beneficiaries of the conquest of Iraq, and subsequent threats against both Iran and Syria, have been, in descending order, Israel, Iran, and Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda has used the invasion as a recruiting tool and training ground for its global jihad against the United States. Iran has extended its influence deep into southern Iraq and has penetrated the central government in Baghdad. In the long run, however, Israel benefits the most, as a major Middle Eastern Arab country fragments into at least three pieces and the U.S. military is ineluctably drawn into neighboring countries.

While the U.S. imposes an occupation eerily reminiscent of Israel's longstanding occupation of Palestinian lands and prepares to deal with Israel's enemies in the region, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon makes major incursions into the West Bank, even while supposedly "withdrawing" from Gaza. In the meantime, the political and military bonds between the U.S. and Israel are strengthened, as the two allies present an indissoluble united front against the entire Muslim world.

Except the alliance is far from indissoluble, as the AIPAC spy scandal reveals. The U.S.-Israeli relationship, often described as "special," is rather more ambiguous than is generally recognized, both by Israel's staunchest friends and its most implacable enemies. This has come out in Israel's funneling American military technology to China, and the threat of American sanctions, but was also made manifest earlier by indications that Israel was conducting extensive spying operations in the U.S. prior to 9/11 – suspicions that are considerably strengthened by the AIPAC spy brouhaha.

Israel's secret war against America has so far been conducted in the dark, but the Rosen-Weissman trial will expose these night creatures to the light of day. Blinking and cursing, they'll be confronted with their treason, and, even as they whine that "everybody does it," the story of how and why a cabal of foreign agents came to exert so much influence on the shape of U.S. foreign policy will be told.

In the course of bending American policy to the Israelis' will, they had to compromise the national security of the United States – and that's what tripped them up, in the end.

The blogger Billmon succinctly summed up how this case throws a new light on the real contours of U.S.-Israeli relations and puts an entirely different face on the "special relationship":

"While the marriage may look like perfect conjugal bliss from the Washington end, the Jerusalem end has a different point of view – and always will. The Israelis understand, even if their American patrons do not, that they live in another country, one with its own national interests, its own strategic ambitions and its own enemies, none of which necessarily overlap with America's.

"They don't even make much of an attempt to hide it, as this writer for David Horowitz's Frontpage (to Israel what the Daily Worker once was to the Soviet Union) makes clear: 'A more independent Israel is determined to make its own mark on the world – questioning U.S. authority more frequently in order to establish its own autonomous relations with other countries.'

"A good idea. It's just a shame our own political lap dogs and their media water carriers won't do likewise."

The Soviet analogy is very apt, The success of both the KGB and the Mossad in Washington, albeit at different times, was in both cases enabled by an alliance born of political necessity as well as military utility. Our World War II alliance with the Soviets made the KGB's job a lot easier, allowing them to set up a network based on ideological loyalty that later reaped intelligence dividends. In addition, there was a lot of domestic political pressure to give the Russians what they wanted, as the Communists took the lead in dragging us into war in order to save Stalin's "workers' paradise" from Hitler's legions. America's longstanding relationship with Israel similarly gave the Israelis the basic structure of a very efficient and increasingly bold spying apparatus in the U.S., the tentacles of which reached into the upper echelons of the U.S. government, including the Pentagon. AIPAC functions simultaneously as a lobbying group – one whose will is rarely defied by legislators – and as a key link in the chain of espionage that binds us to the Israelis in a very "special relationship."

Israel's legendary Mossad intelligence service, with its reputation for both efficiency and ruthlessness, reportedly shadowed the 9/11 hijackers on American soil as they prepared to launch the biggest terrorist attack in our history. Multiple sources reported a large-scale surveillance operation directed at U.S. government buildings, including offices of the Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI, U.S. courthouses, and some military bases and research facilities. The AIPAC spy cell in Washington was the brain, and the "Israeli art students" – whose movements shadowed the hijackers in Florida and elsewhere – were the arms and feet of a subterranean creature whose dimensions we are only just beginning to discover.

– Justin Raimondo"

Pentagon analyst expected to plead guilty - Nation/Politics - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

Pentagon analyst expected to plead guilty�-�Nation/Politics�-�The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: "Pentagon analyst expected to plead guilty
By Jerry Seper
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
September 30, 2005


A veteran Pentagon analyst accused of using his Defense Department position to illegally disclose classified information to officials at an influential pro-Israeli lobbying group is expected to plead guilty in the case, although sources said yesterday that no final deal had been reached.
Lawrence A. Franklin was named in a six-count grand jury indictment handed up in federal court in Virginia in May, accusing him of disclosing the information to two officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). He is tentatively scheduled to enter a plea Wednesday.
A statement by the U.S. District Court in Alexandria said it was not clear to what charges Mr. Franklin might admit, and a court official noted that any plea agreement in the case could collapse overnight.
The 20-page indictment said Mr. Franklin, 58, of Kearneysville, W.Va., arranged for and set the agendas for meetings with those to whom he relayed the data and acted on requests for more information. The government said the disclosed information could have been used "to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation."
The indictment also said Mr. Franklin met with a foreign government agent near the Israeli Embassy in Washington in January 2003 and discussed "a Middle Eastern country's nuclear program." The indictment did not identify the agent, although he is thought to be Naor Gilon, political adviser at the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
Last month, Mr. Franklin, a specialist on Iran, pleaded not guilty to all counts during a hearing before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria.
The two AIPAC officials also charged in the case are Steven J. Rosen, 63, of Silver Spring, former director of foreign policy issues for the organization, and Keith Weissman, 53, of Bethesda, former senior Iran analyst at AIPAC.
The indictment outlines an extensive FBI undercover investigation dating to 1999, when conversations between Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman with officials from foreign countries and others were monitored. It said the AIPAC officials illegally disclosed information from classified reports, including data on terrorist activities in Central Asia, the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, U.S. strategy options in the Middle East and al Qaeda terrorists.
Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman have vigorously denied the accusations and pleaded not guilty in the case. The three were scheduled for trial in January.
AIPAC and the Israeli Embassy have denied any wrongdoing. Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman have left the organization."