Legislation & Lobbying
Espionage Charges Dropped Against Two Pro-Israel Lobbyists
Posted May 1, 2009 9:35 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Federal prosecutors are dropping espionage charges against two former lobbyists for the pro-Israel lobbying group known as AIPAC.
Prosecutors said court decisions made it unlikely they could win convictions against Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, former lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Washington Post reports. The two men had been charged with conspiring to obtain classified information and pass it to journalists and the Israeli government.
Acting U.S. Attorney Dana Boente of Alexandria said prosecutors were dropping the case because of intent requirements imposed by the court and the likely disclosure of classified information that would occur at trial, according to the story.
The New York Times recently wrote that the case had been viewed “as a problem child for the Justice Department.”
Recent reports said U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., had been caught on a wiretap some four years ago promising to lobby for reduced charges against Rosen and Weissman. The stories said former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales delayed disclosure of the wiretap to Congress, in part because he needed Harman's help defending the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.
Harman has denied intervening in the case and has blasted the wiretap as an abuse of power.