Sunday, May 03, 2009

"Accepted and routine": The AIPAC spies walk

As expected, accused AIPAC spies Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman have received their get out of jail free card.
"Thank God we live in a country where you can defend yourself against an injustice like this," Rosen, 66, said yesterday. He said the case was politicized and pushed by government officials "who have an obsession with leaks . . . and an obsession with Israel and the theory that it spies on America."

Read the Complaint -- which I summarize here -- and then tell me if Rosen and Weissman engaged in a purely theoretical exercise. Here's a sample from my summary (the earlier post links to the original, which will demonstrate the accuracy of my precis):
February 14, 2003: Rosen encouraged Franklin to seek a position on the NSC. Rosen said that he would do what he could to make sure that Franklin got the sensitive position. In other words, a promise of career advancement helped to hook Larry Franklin.

March 10, 2003: The three met at Union Station, then switched restaurants three times before ending up at an empty eatery. The indictment does not state what the trio discussed during these strange maneuvers. Sports, probably.

March 13, 2003: Rosen disclosed what he knew about the Iran document to an official at a D.C. "think tank." That would be the Saban Center -- yes, run by that Saban. (Of whom, more below.)

March 17, 2003: Franklin faxed a classified document from his Pentagon office to Rosen. This was an appendix to the document mentioned on February 12.
If the year were 1986 and if Rosen and Weissman belonged to a USSR friendship committee, everyone in the country would have no problem recognizing this spy ring as a spy ring. The exact same actions would be (correctly) seen as damning and beyond exculpation.

The Motion to Dismiss does not claim that Rosen and Weissman are innocent of espionage. Rather, it emphasizes the likelihood that a trial would reveal classified information to the public. In other words: Jane Harmon might not be the only politician named in a flurry of embarrassing revelations. In a single word: Blackmail.

Always remember that when Pollard spied for Israel, the Israeli Prime Minister handed our secrets over to the Soviets to facilitate immigration of Soviet Jews. The interests of Israel -- and of any other nation -- do not coincide with our own.

Remember, too, that Larry Franklin (the official who handed Top Secret data over to Rosen and Weissman) is doing a long stretch in the pokey. If this spy ring were merely a matter of theory, then why is Franklin in jail?

As I have observed previously, Franklin's crime was Spying While Goy. You and I would do time if caught telling a DOD employee to hand over Top Secret Documents in exchange for a promise of career advancement. AIPAC personnel may do what you and I may not.

No, I will not apologize for the previous paragraph. I have spoken the plain truth and you damn well know it, even if you will not admit it.

The finale of this case is ludicrous on its face. Thus, the New York Times and the WP feel compelled to hide that face and to disguise the facts. This NYT story presents a shockingly skewed view of the scandal -- a view which excludes all mention of the skullduggery outlined in the indictment.
Advocates of civil liberties and of open government asserted that the defendants were being singled out for activities that were part of the accepted and routine way that American policy on Israel and the Middle East had been formulated for years, with people exchanging information.
Apparently, it is "accepted and routine" to switch locations four times during one meeting for fear of being overheard. Apparently, it is "accepted and routine" to pass copies of classified documents. Apparently, it is "accepted and routine" for AIPAC to release classified U.S. government information to reporters, when doing so benefits Israel.

I hate to link to HuffPo, but Yale Professor David Bromwich has a pretty good response to the nonsense published in the Times. Bromwich argues that dropping charges against AIPAC means that the Obama administration has accepted AIPAC's view that Israel's interests and those of the United States are one and the same. This view holds that Israel is not an ally in the same way that (say) the U.K. is an ally. Instead, Israel must now be considered part of the United States. Israel, Arizona, New Hampshire -- same thing. Hence, Israel cannot -- by definition -- spy on the US, despite all the Le Carre-esque maneuvers executed by Rosen, Weissman and Franklin.

This premise appears all the more absurd when one notes, as I have noted in the past, that the growing Jewish fundamentalist movement in Israel is increasingly anti-American, or at least anti-"West." These fundamentalists feel estranged by our values and ethics, preferring a culture of female submission, theocracy and racism. Allow me to repeat a couple of examples (and your can find many more if you search):
In some parts of Israel, women are required to sit in the back of the bus. A newspaper editor characterized a petition to change this practice as an attempt "to impose Western secular culture on us."
A Jewish "modesty patrol" in a Jerusalem suburb tossed acid in the face of a 14 year-old girl who committed the crime of wearing pants.
Rabbis told Israeli troops assaulting Gaza that theirs was a holy war -- a jihad, if you will -- against Gentiles. This fanaticism resulted in the deliberate murder of civilians.
The growing tendency toward ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel is, essentially, a reaction against the West -- against the culture of the United States.

We may find a further example of anti-American antipathy in this attack piece by a pro-Israel writer. (I've linked to it before.) The author begins with an attack on Rahm Emmanuel:
He knows that Israel is not going to be blackmailed into a two state solution. He knows Israel doesn’t need the U.S.’s $3 billion. He also knows that his boss doesn’t give a shite about any of those things. He just wants the Arabs and Islamists to love him; hence his bow of subservience in front of the Saudi king.
In other words, fuck you and your money, Uncle Sam. But it gets better:
Nope, they see Israel as a leech sucking America’s ass for that $3 billion which, in reality, represents about 1-2% of Israel’s GNP, and comes with a number of strings that have held the Israeli military, intelligence gathering, and economy back for quite a long time. The time to finally tell the U.S. to keep the change has arrived. At her height Israel was a free agent with no allies. She is now in a position to create alliances with far greater strategic and economic benefit than the United States has ever provided.
The loyalty on display in these two passages goes to Israel, not to the United States. It's not a question of dual loyalty: There's nothing "dual" about it. America has value only insofar as it can be of help to Israel.

Moreover, I think that this contemptuous attitude extends well beyond the confines of one crankish pro-Israel blog.

Scour the internet. Look closely. You'll see that the above-quoted words reflect a vituperative anti-U.S. attitude which is gaining ground throughout Israel and the fundamentalist Jewish community outside Israel. For tactical reasons, they still pretend to be our friends. But when they think long-term, they don't see much future for America. So they've made new pals: China and India.

America, in their view, holds Israel back from instituting a Final Solution to the non-Jewish problem. Would China give a damn if every the Israelis murdered every Palestinian?

The bloodthirsty killers who engineered the Gaza and Lebanon campaigns, the Israeli hard rightists, the ultra-Orthodox, the fundamentalists: These people view Uncle Sam as an annoyance. They long for the day when they can turn away those irritating Jesusmaniac tourists from Alabama. They long for the day when they can openly pronounce that Israeli values and "Western" values are as alike as a hawk and a handsaw. They long for the day when they can shout Screw you, Uncle Sam.

One day, they will do just that -- and those poor, duped, perpetually misinformed Jesusmaniacs will feel the shock of the century.

When that day comes, when the despisers of "the West" become sufficiently vocal and undisguised, AIPAC will no longer be able to maintain the fiction that Israel is the 51st state. Then and only then will the sayanim lose their spying privileges. Of course, the Israelis won't care at that point, since the United States will no longer be a superpower.

But until der Tag, until the day when Israel can drop the petticoat and show what's underneath, AIPAC pretends that Israeli and American interests are identical -- and guys like Rosen and Weissman will have carte blanche.

Added note:
The despicable Atlas Shrugged blog (remember how they championed the "birth certificate" canard?) offers the news about Rosen and Weissman under this headline: "Jew Hating AIPAC Case Dropped."
The case was anti-Semitic entrapment anyway by that vicious, Jew hating, FBI agent, David Szaidy
Pamela Geller and her cronies are sick. (Note that the AIPAC cheering squad never quotes from or links to the indictment, as I do.) Pam posits brazenly an absurd theory that other sick-bloggers only hint at: They believe that a cabal of anti-Semites exists within the FBI and other branches of the U.S. government. That paranoid notion does much to explain the anti-"West" animus discussed above.


Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, Larry Franklin is Jewish. Other than that, this is one fine piece. Can you imagine if the American-Chinese Public Affairs Committee was having our congress bow down to it next week?

Anonymous said...

Larry Franklin has been reported to be a devout Catholic.

- a previous poster

Anonymous said...

It disturbs me that the most powerful and influential lobby in the United States advocates for a foreign government.

I would feel that way (or worse) no matter what government it was.

Gary McGowan said...

Glenn Greenwald just wrote on this, including links to two previous pieces he did on it.

Bizarre, you'd almost think Cannon and G'wald were writing about different cases.

What's with Greenwald?

Or maybe their writings simply address different facets with equal rigor and reason, and I'm not seeing it with my 1:00 a.m. bleary-eyed reading?

Anonymous said...

From the comments at Atlas Shrugged:

Severely ill Jonathan Pollard rots in an American jail for the SOLE REASON HE IS A JEW. The median sentence for his offence is 2-4 years. He was given an INCOMPETENT lawyer. He was given life and spent the first 7 years underground - destroying his health. FREE POLLARD NOW!

The Jew-hate NEVER stops! It is against the law in America to discriminate based on race or religion, yet this law is broken when it comes to Jews. The U.S. demands a Muslim TERROR State in Israel that will reduce tiny Israel at mid-section to 9 miles wide INDEFENSIBLE, Auschwitz borders facilitating a Second Holocaust of Jews.

Based solely on race-Jews and religion-Judaism, the U.S. want hundreds of thousands of Jews kicked out of their own land-Judea, Samaria, Golan and Jerusalem and their Holy Land surrendered to jihadi Muslims bent on Jewish annihilation.

Where are the lawyers??? It breaks U.S. law to wickedly discriminate on the basis of race and religion!
That's turning the crazy up to 11

Sextus Propertius said...

Well, as Greenwald says:

"There are very compelling reasons why the mere receipt and transmission of classified information by non-government employees should not be criminalized"

Much as I respect Greenwald, it seems to me that this is not what we're talking about in the AIPAC case. Instead of passive receipt, we are discussing two individuals who lobby on behalf of a foreign government and are accused of soliciting a cleared government employee to steal classified information so that it may be passed on to that foreign government. That's not "mere receipt and retransmission" that's "running an agent". Regardless of one's fundamental views on Israel (and I pretty vehemently disagree with Joe about this), that is espionage, pure and simple. It ought to prosecuted as such.

Gary McGowan said...

Sextus, Thanks for the comment. You cleared away a lot of the clutter and summarized the essence of much of my quandary usefully. Why Greenwald can't agree with what you say, I don't know; it seems glaringly obvious to me and I agree with it.

Gary McGowan said...

Well, I had to give in to my compulsion to look into my question more. Snipped and lightly edited for brevity from the comments pg 12,13 at Greenwald's:


I thought it was illegal.
Weren't Julius and Ethel Rosenberg tried, convicted under the Espionage Act of 1917, and executed for obtaining and passing along classified government information?

When a journalist publishes classified information he publishes for all the world to see, you're right.

That is not the same thing as obtaining classified information for the purpose of giving it over to an agent of a foreign government. (Curiously, none of the reporters Rosen and Weissman talked to published anything about the classified info.)
A reply, poster’s emphasis:

They were convicted because they were part of an espionage ring collecting classified military information from government employees and defense industry workers -- who were spies-- and then passing that on to Soviet handlers, not the press. They did not give the data to journalists; they were soliciting spies for a foreign government and passing what those spies gave them to agents of another state. (Or at least Julius was; whether Ethel was materially involved is a more murky issue.)Then Greenwald responds:

But that's pretty much what the AIPAC officials are accused of doing.

Then again, it's what investigative journalists are accused [by Bush admin., when this prosecution started] of doing, too - giving our secrets to Al Qaeda, etc.

I'm not sure what legal distinctions can be meaningfully drawn between handing classified information to an agent of a foreign government and putting it on the front page of a newspaper where those foreign governments can obviously read it. -- GlennGreenwald


Seems to me that some befuddlement is bound to occur in the mind of anyone who studies Constitutional Law in the U.S.A. Whatever Paul Krugman is to economics, who is that to constitutional law? (Doesn’t seem to be Glenn Greenwald) I’d like to read some.

Joseph Cannon said...

Well, I know this much:

One of the documents that was passed to the Israelis was an unclassified CIA assessment of Iran written by Flynt Leverett.

He left the Agency and published a version of that document in the New York Times.

The Bush administration screamed bloody murder about the release of state secrets, and RE-classified large large sections of that document. Leverett's piece was censored for the print edition and later internet editions.

You may recall the incident. The idea of re-classifying material previously considered open infuriated a lot of journalists.

What infuriates ME is the assertion that AIPAC may see that which the readers of the NYT may not.

Of course, Rosen and Weissman also passed along Top Secret material. The exculpatory pieces written about the pair never mention that fact and never link to the actual indictment.