The Forward's J'accuse!

AIPAC’s hubris and its absurd (though convenient) belief in an unparalleled convergence of the interests of two separate nations with very different needs may have contributed to their high-level employees vulnerability to the trap that was laid for them. Because of their positions and their demands that AIPAC cover their legal fees, it is ridiculous to argue that Weisman and Rosen didn’t at least believe they were working under the auspices of AIPAC. But it may not really be about Aipac at all.
It is becoming increasingly clear that this trap was set on orders (of some sort) from the White House itself, apparently to clamp down on leaks, and that Rosen and Weisman specifically and perhaps AIPAC generally were selected in part because they were identified as easy and obvious patsies.
This week’s fiery Forward editorial, “Then they came for me,” makes a strong case that this is not, at its root, about breaking necessary secrecy laws, not about a fifth column of Jews who value Israel more than the U.S., and not about anti-Jewish elements within the F.B.I. Rather, it may be largely about expanding the definition of those accountable to the secrecy laws to cover the general public, not just government employees. That is to say, about “control.”

The government’s increasingly public actions in the case make it plain that its goal is to deter leakers and tighten its hold on classified information. The plan, legal scholars are increasingly convinced, is to stake out new legal ground and extend government secrecy laws, making private citizens accountable for violations that were previously enforceable only on government employees.
[…] Under American law as it now stands, a government employee can be punished for leaking classified information, but private citizens can’t be sanctioned for receiving it. If private citizens could be punished, it would have an enormous chilling effect on the ability of the press and the public to expose government wrongdoing. And that, it seems, is the point. That appears to be the reason that the government took the curious tack of pleading out the case of Franklin, the government employee accused of leaking classified information, and using him to bring down the two lobbyists accused of receiving it, former Aipac aides Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman. The administration evidently wants to make their case into a show trial, hoping to make new law out of the ruined lives of two respected public advocates.

We are probably in for quite a spectacle. But I feel I can say, without accusations of dual loyalty, that if there is a guilty verdict for Rosen and Weissman for merely accepting information, (and it is still too early to know the extent of the prosecution’s ongoing case), it will be a very bad day for both the Jews and the U.S.
Full story.

17 thoughts on “The Forward's J'accuse!

  1. I’m not an AIPAC fan (and not only because they banned me from attending their events). I don’t see how they’re doing anything other than setting US Jews up to be punching bags for the extreme right and the extreme left. I mean, in a serious way, if you are a hardcore AIPACnik, are claims of dual loyalties lobbied against you wrong? When your job is to influence American policy so it hews more closely to the interests of a foreign country…I don’t know. Seems a little treyf. Obviously AIPAC overstates its own importance (ever been to one of their event? Three days of patting themselves on the back, literally), but in doing so, it sure plays into the hands of anti-Semites.
    Of course, the main thrust of the article is perhaps even more alarming. Yay for government crackdowns.

  2. Michael, you wrote, “I’m not an AIPAC fan (and not only because they banned me from attending their events). I don’t see how they’re doing anything other than setting US Jews up to be punching bags for the extreme right and the extreme left. I mean, in a serious way, if you are a hardcore AIPACnik, are claims of dual loyalties lobbied against you wrong? When your job is to influence American policy so it hews more closely to the interests of a foreign country…I don’t know. Seems a little treyf.”
    I agree with you completely, but then I get told I have a “shtetl” mentality.
    Maybe they had a better sense of fair and foul play back in the shtetl. I suspect they did.

  3. Hmmm, I haven’t visited that long “AIPAC spy” discussion since I left it, but assuming you didn’t erase my comments, you will find one where I say exactly what the Forward and now you are trying to say. 😉

  4. TM,
    Some of us are willing to rethink our positions as improved information comes forward (say, more than thirty seconds after the verdict) and feel a need to be responsible and make sure we explain that this changes things, and that we were wrong, even if our headline was less radical, and more moderate than even the leading Israeli newspaper. And some of us have never and will never ever admit to being wrong on any level.
    Which category of person do you consider yourself, TM?
    And I think you missed the part about this not being about anti-Jewish sentiment at the heart of this entrapment, but about abuse of power and the desire for more of it at the top. And you were wrong about these guys not believing they were doing this under Aipac auspices.
    So I wouldn’t gloat too much. It’s not becoming.

  5. Also from the editorial:

    Nor was there any “espionage”; the Pentagon aide, Lawrence Franklin, evidently hoped to reach his own higher-ups by sidestepping the chain of command and sharing information with well-connected lobbyists, something that happens every day in Washington.

    Franklin also passed information to Naor Gilon, at the Israeli embassy. How does this fit in with the “sidestepping the chain of command” explanation?

  6. Comparing the Berger case to this is comparing apples and oranges. Berger did not give classified information to a foreign government; Franklin did. Why would anyone think the Espionage Act–which, despite Glick’s claim has been invoked before, and for arguably even weaker a reason than this–was at all relevant to Berger’s case in the first place?
    That said, it is disturbing to see the Act invoked so suddenly. Unless the FBI had probable cause to think that a real spy operation, one in which more than a few documents were changing hands, was going on, the sting against Rosen and Weissman is very unsettling.
    But the argument that American Jewry is on trial here bothers me likewise. Few American Jews side with the Likud-sympathizing heads of AIPAC and many are very critical of Franklin’s actions. There seem to be few indications of a slippery slope here; the only Jewish organization directly affected by the case is AIPAC itself. And any assertion coming from Dershowitz, who sees anti-Semitism around every corner, is dubious at best (you would hope that a law professor would have corrected Glick’s misconception regarding the past use of the Act…).

  7. So a powerful Jewish lobbying organization is targeted – and there is no other word for it since this was a set up after years that the FBI was monitoring these folks – and you don’t perceive it as antisemitism. Okay, then why AIPAC? Why these two folks? Why the set up? One reason posited now by a number of sources is that this is simply another element in a greater fight by the Administration to clamp down on journalists and access to leaked information, but if this is so, why AIPAC? Could it be that the FBI has been searching for another Pollard and thinking they had something here they targeted these two lobbyists? But then we are back to Jews and Israel.
    If this wasn’t a wishy-washy sting operation with the story being the potential death of Israeli soldiers as the stakes, I would understand this prosecution far better. But, in fact, this matter does not include money or espionage.

  8. TM,
    The Forward’s “point” would answer your question. It seems that while you are accusing Ben of not seeing antisemitism, you are doing the following:
    1) Willing to discard all other motives as long as there is antisemitism present. And there may be some amount of antisemitism present, but it may be a minor detail in the overall motivation of the case.
    2) You continue to refuse to see any problems with the hubris of Aipac, which Michael Kinsley outlined point by point. This may have been a contributing factor to why there high-level members were targeted for this sting more than the particulars of what they stand for.

  9. The “hubris” of AIPAC?
    AIPAC has its priorities and its mission. It does its best to be an effective advocate and lobbying organization. Sometimes it is effective and sometimes it is anything but. Guess what? There are defense industry contractors who get the US to spend tens of billions on arms that don’t work or that work poorly, not to mention advocating wars and interfering with US foreign policy to their advantage. Is that hubris? Are the energy lobbyists exhibiting hubris? How about the pharmaceutical lobbyists? Are they exhibiting hubris? What about the evangelical lobbyists? Are they exhibiting hubris?
    Oh, it’s that Jewish lobby that must be exhibiting hubris. Imagine that, thinking that maybe there is more to this than meets the eye or that we would want to admit to ourselves. If it’s not antisemitism and it’s because of hubris, Kelsey, then don’t you need a theory that explains away why the FBI didn’t track and target all of these other lobbyists?

  10. Aipac by its OWN ADMISSIONS is the most successful lobby in getting the U.S. to change foreign policy from what would otherwise not be perceived as in the interest of the U.S. Go the link I supplied to what Kinsley noted Aipac itself says about Aipac.
    What are you going to do now, TM? Call Aipac antisemitic for accusing Aipac itself of this sh-t?

  11. Kelsey, I not only read Kinsley’s article, but I actually went to the AIPAC site and then found his article to be preposterous.
    Here’s what they say on their site:
    For these reasons, The New York Times has called AIPAC the most important organization affecting America’s relationship with Israel, while Fortune magazine has consistently ranked AIPAC among America’s most powerful interest groups.
    Wow, imagine a group trying to curry favor, influence policy-makers and raise funds for its continued existence tooting its own horn by quoting prominent magazines. How terrible! How presumptuous! How Jewish of them!
    After all, other lobby groups don’t do it. Nope, can’t see the NRA doing it : http://www.nrahq.org/history.asp (scroll to the bottom). And the pharmaceutical industry just lays there, semi-moribund, never tooting its own horn like on this page: http://www.bio.org/aboutbio/history.asp
    Can’t wait till the FBI stings those groups as well. That’s right, cause guns and faulty drugs don’t kill enough Americans – the problem must be the pro-Israel lobby.
    What are you gonna do now, Kelsey, throw some more of Kinsley’s flawed opinion at me?

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