Unfinished Business in the AIPAC case
Friday the Department of Justice indicated to the court that it would be filing a motion to dismiss the case it had brought against two former officials of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee).
The landscape of this case has changed significantly since it was first brought," the government motion stated, referring to several court rulings against the prosecution, which drastically increased its burden of proof, while granting defense motions to introduce previously classified information and to call influential expert witnesses for the defense."In addition to adjusting to the requirement of meeting an unexpectedly higher evidentiary threshold in order to prevail at trial, the Government must also assess the nature, quality, and quantity of evidence - including information relevant to prosecution and defense theories expected at trial.""In the proper discharge of our duties and obligations, we have re-evaluated the case based on the present context and circumstances, and determined that it is in the public interest to dismiss the pending superseding indictment," prosecutors wrote in their May 1 motion.
...the Justice Department has irresponsibly confused the distinction between spying and lobbying. Keith Weissman and Steven J. Rosen, two former employees of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying organization, are charged with unlawfully receiving and transmitting classified national-defense information. The stakes are high. The Pentagon official, Lawrence Franklin, who illicitly furnished the two men with secrets, and then participated in an FBI sting operation against them, has pleaded guilty for his part in the affair and was sentenced by federal judge T.S. Ellis III to more than 12 years in federal prison.This past Friday, the same judge decided a pivotal preliminary issue in the Weismann-Rosen case. The defense has subpoenaed 20 present and former administration officials to appear as witnesses for its side, including Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, Douglas Feith, Dennis Ross, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Hadley and Condoleezza Rice. The idea is to use their testimony to demonstrate that their clients had every reason to believe that what Mr. Franklin told them in conversation -- no classified documents ever changed hands in this case -- was part and parcel of the normal back-channel method by which the U.S. government sometimes conveys information to the media and/or to allied countries, in this case, to Israel.Prosecutors have resisted this contention and moved to quash the subpoenas to almost all of the officials. On Friday, Judge Ellis ruled against the prosecutors. The defendants, he wrote in his opinion, "claim that AIPAC played an important role in U.S. foreign-policy development." If true, he continued, the "government's use of AIPAC for 'back channel' purposes may serve to exculpate defendants by negating the criminal states of mind the government must prove to convict defendants of the charged offenses."
1) thank God we live in a country where the courts can correct this kind of injustice. In many countries, you would be railroaded on the basis of false charges like these.(2) There needs to be an investigation about how the anti-Israel faction in counter-intelligence was able to take baseless charges like these so far.
The core of the prosecution's case concerns a memo sent to the men from Defense Department analyst Larry Franklin -- now serving a 12-year prison sentence -- about internal White House deliberations on Iran policy. The government also used Mr. Franklin (whose main offense was taking classified documents home) to plant an apparently bogus story with Mr. Weismann claiming that American and Israeli lives were in imminent danger.None of this should have amounted to much, and certainly not criminal indictments under the archaic 1917 Espionage Act. Reporting on White House policy deliberation is the daily bread of any Washington reporter: If the offense were really criminal, half the Beltway press corps could be indicted. Mr. Franklin's mishandling of classified documents deserved sanction, but 12 years in jail is far worse than the misdemeanor and fine meted out to former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger for stuffing secret documents in his clothing. As for the planted story, putting the defendants to a moral quandary -- share classified information and save lives; keep it secret and let people die -- is the worst form of entrapment.[snip]Mr. Holder should also re-examine the AIPAC case from start to finish. The real scandal in this case starts with the attempted criminalization of policy differences and legitimate lobbying, and ends up in the wiretapping of Congress and the wrecked careers of Messrs. Rosen, Weissman and Franklin. These smacks of abuse of power, and somebody at Justice should be held to account.
The Attorney General is one of the most important positions in any administration and the DoJ one of the most significant departments. It's time it acted according to law and common sense again before it does any more damage to itself and other innocent citizens.
See also: The AIPAC Spy Case, RIP by Clarice Feldman