from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2009, Issue No. 40
May 1, 2009

Secrecy News Blog:


Prosecutors today filed a motion for dismissal of the controversial case against two former employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, who were charged under the Espionage Act with unlawful receipt and transmission of classified information.

"The landscape of this case has changed significantly since it was first brought," the government motion stated, referring to several court rulings against the prosecution, which drastically increased its burden of proof, while granting defense motions to introduce previously classified information and to call influential expert witnesses for the defense.

"In addition to adjusting to the requirement of meeting an unexpectedly higher evidentiary threshold in order to prevail at trial, the Government must also assess the nature, quality, and quantity of evidence - including information relevant to prosecution and defense theories expected at trial."

"In the proper discharge of our duties and obligations, we have re-evaluated the case based on the present context and circumstances, and determined that it is in the public interest to dismiss the pending superseding indictment," prosecutors wrote in their May 1 motion.

If the case had gone forward and prosecutors had prevailed, it would have set a terrible precedent for using the Espionage Act to regulate and to punish access to classified information by non-official persons. Instead, the dismissal of the case after years of fruitless litigation makes it extremely unlikely that prosecutors will attempt a repeat performance.

Ron Kampeas at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency had the first word on the motion for dismissal this morning. Eli Lake at the Washington Times had an on-the-record confirmation.


Last January 30, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz disclosed a secret Israeli government database on settlements in the occupied West Bank, and posted the Hebrew text of the database on their website. Last month, the ODNI Open Source Center completed an English translation of the 200-page document. Secrecy News obtained a copy which we are publishing today.

The database provides a concise description of each of the dozens of settlements, including their location, legal status, population, and even the origins of their names, which are often Biblically-inspired. Crucially, the database makes clear that unauthorized and illegal construction activity has taken place in most of the settlements.

"An analysis of the data reveals that, in the vast majority of the settlements - about 75 percent - construction, sometimes on a large scale, has been carried out without the appropriate permits or contrary to the permits that were issued," according to the Haaretz account. "The database also shows that, in more than 30 settlements, extensive construction of buildings and infrastructure (roads, schools, synagogues, yeshivas and even police stations) has been carried out on private lands belonging to Palestinian West Bank residents."

A copy of the database had been requested by Israeli citizens groups under that country's freedom of information law, but release was denied by the Defense Ministry. Haaretz obtained a copy independently and, notwithstanding Israel's military censorship apparatus, proceeded to publish it. See "Secret Israeli Database Reveals Full Extent of Illegal Settlement" by Uri Blau, Haaretz, February 1, 2009:

An English translation of the settlement database prepared by the ODNI Open Source Center is now available here:

A copy of the Hebrew original is here:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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