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Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January/February 2006, pages 12-13

Lobby Watch

FBI Investigation of AIPAC Is Second Attempt to Curb Israel Lobby’s Power

By Andrew I. Killgore

(Khaled Bendib).

ACCORDING to the federal indictment of Steve Rosen, former foreign policy chief of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and AIPAC Iranian specialist Keith Weissman, Rosen has been under investigation since April 1999. AIPAC, Israel’s principal U.S. lobby, claims that the lobby “itself” is not under investigation. This spin is intended to convince Americans that AIPAC should not be required to register as a foreign agent.

The investigation of AIPAC by the U.S. government—in the person of Paul McNulty, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia—is not the first attempt to blunt the power of the AIPAC colossus, which so far has been able to thwart all efforts to reach a solution to the Arab-Israel dispute that will preserve U.S. interests. In 1989 seven individual Americans sued the Federal Election Commission for failing to require AIPAC to publish details of its income and expenditures.

The complainants were James A. Akins, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia; George W. Ball, former deputy secretary of state (who has since died); Richard Curtiss, former chief inspector of the U.S. Information Agency and executive editor of this magazine; Paul Findley, former Republican congressman from Illinois; former Admiral Robert Hanks; this writer, former U.S. ambassador to Qatar; and Orin Parker, former president of the America-Middle East Educational and Training Services (AMIDEAST). The complainants asserted that AIPAC was a political committee and, like others, should be required to publish its financial activities.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decided against us, and we appealed to the DC Court of Appeals. Reversing the lower court’s decision, the Court of Appeals accepted our position that AIPAC was required to publish the details of its finances.

AIPAC appealed the Court of Appeals decision to the Supreme Court in 1998. In our view, the Supreme Court dodged the issue by accepting AIPAC’s argument that, as a “membership organization,” it did not have to publish its finances. The Supreme Court sent the case back down to the original U.S. District Court.

Our position is that AIPAC may be a membership organization, but that it also is a political committee, and thus liable to open up its finances. The case currently is in limbo in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where—in “court time”—it again will be tried. If it follows the course of the first trial, it eventually will reach the Supreme Court again.

A lot will ride on that future Supreme Court decision. If it favors the complainants, AIPAC will have to make its finances public, and remove the veil of secrecy behind which it must hide in order to subvert the American political system in favor of Israel and against the United States. This means it will have to reveal where it gets its current $35 million to $40 million annual budget, and to whom it gives the money. The American people have a keen sense of fairness, and they will be appalled at the tactics employed by the zealous fanatics who run AIPAC for the benefit of Israel, at great cost to the United States.

To the acute embarrassment of AIPAC, some or all of America’s leading neocon names may figure in the forthcoming trial of Rosen, Weissman and former Pentagon Iran specialist Larry Franklin, who already has pled guilty to passing U.S. government secrets to Rosen and Weissman and to an Israeli Embassy officer, Naor Gilon. Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, known as the “father of the Iraq war,” is (safely?) out of the Pentagon as president of the World Bank. Months after his announcement that he, too, would be leaving the Pentagon, neocon/Zionist Douglas Feith, former under secretary of defense for policy, finally resigned his position. It was Feith who created and ran the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans to fabricate intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The Pentagon inspector general’s office has informed the Senate that it plans to review the previous intelligence activities of Feith, “a main architect of the Iraqi war,” according to the increasingly Israel-centric Washington Post.

Neocon pit bull John Bolton, the former under secretary of state whom Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was determined to exile from Foggy Bottom, is now in New York, serving as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under a presidential recess appointment. All of these names may come up in the trial, scheduled to open in January 2006.

Moreover, Vice President Dick Cheney’s powerful chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, resigned after a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment against him on charges of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements. The indictment was the result of the investigation by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald into the leaking of CIA covert operator Valerie Plame’s name. Finally, flaming neocon Richard Perle, former chairman of the Defense Policy Board, currently has no U.S. government position, but is lying low for fear that his many shenanigans will be exposed.

As a result of its August 2004 raid on AIPAC headquarters, when it seized many files, including those on computer hard drives, the FBI already had gathered information fiercely guarded by AIPAC. U.S. Attorney McNulty summoned AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr, managing director Richard Fishman, communications director Renee Rothstein and research director Rafi Danziger to testify before the grand jury sitting in Alexandria, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC.

Fittingly, AIPAC maintains its headquarters on Capitol Hill near Congress, which it lobbies relentlessly. Israel’s American lobby employs 150 officers who literally “swarm” Congress, writing legislation and demanding that senators and representatives put Israel’s interests before those of their own constituents. AIPAC also embeds “free” interns in the staffs of important senators and congressmen.

AIPAC will be unable to control the agenda at the upcoming trial of its former honchos, who may be forced to reveal how AIPACers talk to each other in private, how adverse consequences for the United States are discussed in their schemes to help Israel—assuming those adverse consequences are discussed at all—and the pushing of the war on Iraq, with its costs in American dead.

We’ll soon learn whether Rosen and Weissman intend to go to trial, or whether they plan to plead guilty. In any case, a lot of dirty AIPAC secrets are bound to come out.

Dare one hope that AIPAC ultimately will be required to register as a foreign agent for Israel? AIPAC might realize too late that it would have been better off registering with the FEC as a political committee. At least then it could have maintained the pretense of acting in this country’s interest rather than Israel’s.

Andrew I. Killgore is publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.