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By Richard Walker

While two executives of the powerful Israeli lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) await trial on charges of spying against the United States, the FBI has now broadened its investigation to look at whether the group tried to strike a deal with a leading member of Congress. In particular, federal investigators wish to know if AIPAC tried to reach a shady arrangement with Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

According to a recent report in a mainstream magazine, the alleged deal was that, in the event Democrats took control of Congress, AIPAC would lobby for Harman, now a member of the House Intelligence Committee, to become the chair of that committee. In return, she would be expected to press the White House and Justice Department to go easy on Keith Weisman and Steven Rosen, the two former AIPAC executives soon to be tried for espionage.

Weisman and Rosen were connected to a spy ring involving the self-confessed traitor, Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin. In January 2006, Franklin was sentenced to 12 years in prison for being part of a conspiracy to communicate Americaís national defense secrets to a foreign power, namely Israel.

According to Franklinís explosive indictment, his co-conspirators were not only Rosen and Weisman, but also Uzi Arad, a former Mossad agent, and Naor Gilan, the lead Mossad agent at the Israeli embassy in Washington. Gilan and Arad left the country before they could be interviewed by the FBI, but Rosen and Weisman were not so fortunate. It soon emerged that the FBI had a wealth of incriminating video and wire-tapped material on the two AIPAC executives and had also extracted information from Franklin about his links to them and how he passed them classified papers.


their lawyers, Rosen and Weisman argued that they were not guilty of treason and had been doing only what AIPAC had always done: They had pressured important people in the Pentagon and Congress and passed whatever information and documents they got from them to Israel.

The latest claims that AIPAC has been meddling in intelligence circles in Congress will come as no shock to those who know just how powerful the Israeli lobby in Washington is. So far, Harman and AIPAC have denied a secret deal. However, to many insiders, such an arrangement is reasonable given AIPACís stated goal of shaping U.S. foreign policy to suit Israelís agenda in the Middle East.

Many people suspect that the FBI investigations into AIPAC and Harman will go nowhere. However, the Israeli lobby cannot put the Rosen-Weissman espionage case under the rug. The evidence in the case shows conclusively that AIPAC has been the means by which Israel has acquired critical intelligence on Americaís Middle East policy, which it has used to influence American public opinion and White House policy.

The most staggering aspect of the Franklin conviction was that, even though it proved AIPAC was spying on the United States, the majority of members on both sides of the House turned a blind eye to that fact. In other words, Congress was nowhere near as concerned as U.S. courts were that Americaís national secrets were being acquired by a powerful special interest group on behalf of a foreign power.

From the moment news of the FBI investigation in AIPAC broke in 2004, the Israeli lobby in Washington called in powerful friends and started circling the wagons.

When it was leaked that Pentagon analyst Franklin had confessed to passing classified national security documents to the Israelis, the Anti-Defamation League called for a probe into FBI leaks as though leaks were more important than espionage.

AIPAC used its powerful friends in the U.S. media and Congress to play down its role in the espionage conspiracy. To that end, it persuaded Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to deliver the keynote address to the May 2005 AIPAC convention in Washington. The event was also attended by Vice President Dick Cheney, Sen. Hilary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and leaders of the House and Senate.

Richard Walker is the nom de plume of a former mainstream news producer who now writes for AFP so he can expose the kinds of subjects that he was forbidden to cover in the controlled press.

(Issue #46, November 13, 2006)

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Updated November 4, 2006