Secrecy News

Leaks to AIPAC Said to be “Common”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby organization, has often received and distributed confidential government information, including classified materials, asserted former AIPAC official Steven J. Rosen in his pending lawsuit against the organization.

“There is evidence that the receipt and distribution of confidential foreign policy information is a common practice for AlPAC,” he argued in a December 14 legal filing (pdf).  The organization disputes that claim.

Mr. Rosen contends that he was wrongfully terminated by AIPAC after he and fellow AIPAC employee Keith Weissman became the subjects of a federal investigation for the unlawful receipt and disclosure of classified information they obtained from former Pentagon official Larry Franklin.  Rosen and Weissman were indicted in 2005 but the federal case against them was withdrawn by prosecutors in 2009.

On previous occasions, Mr. Rosen said in his current lawsuit, “AIPAC condoned the receipt and distribution of classified information.”  In 1984, Rosen recalled, he had received and shared classified information that members of the Libyan UN delegation had provided money to a US presidential candidate’s staff.  His conduct in that matter was supported by the organization, he said.

“There were in fact other situations before the 2004 Larry Franklin matter involving Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman in which AIPAC employees were involved in receiving classified material,” including the 1984 acquisition of a classified US Trade Representative document, some details of which been redacted from the public version of Mr. Rosen’s filing.

The latest developments in the case of Rosen v. AIPAC were reported in “Steve Rosen Fires Back in His Law Suit Against AIPAC” by Nathan Guttman, Forward, December 15. Selected case files are available from the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy here.

An AIPAC spokesman told the Forward that it “strongly disagrees with Mr. Rosen’s portrayal of events and circumstances related to this litigation.” He said that “senior employees at AIPAC testified under oath during this litigation that they had never been involved with seeking or knowingly disclosing classified information as part of their jobs at AIPAC.”

AIPAC has stated that Rosen and Weissman were fired because their behavior “did not comport with standards that AIPAC expects of its employees.”

But Rosen’s December 14 pleading said that there were no AIPAC standards on handling classified information, and therefore he could not have violated them.  “At no time in the 23 years Steven Rosen was employed by AIPAC did the organization provide in writing or orally any guidance or standards that he and other employees were expected to follow regarding the receipt and sharing of secret, sensitive or ‘classified’ information that might be offered by government officials.”