Friday, May 1, 2009

Government Drops Case Against AIPAC Staffers and the Aftermath

Now the NY Times tells us after four years (!) that some lawyers at the Justice Department always thought the case was worthless.

However it can't help injecting some dishonesty and bad reporting:

"As reported by Congressional Quarterly, which covers Capitol Hill, and The New York Times, Ms. Harman was overheard agreeing with an Israeli ... Read Moreintelligence operative to try to intercede with Bush administration officials to obtain leniency for Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman...."

Well, let's see. First, the NSA, which was reported to be the source of the wiretap, didn't just say "no comment" but denied there was any such wiretap! So that makes the story pretty weak, doesn't it? And then the claim was not that she spoke to an "Israeli intelligence operative" but to someone who, from the description seemed to be an ordinary American citizen who spoke to Israeli officials.

In addition, the article doesn't tell us--though others have--that Harmon denied the accusation and called for any transcript to be made public and denied she had ever intervened in the case (and no one has said otherwise). But even if she had such a conversation and did nothing precisely what is she accused of doing?

And there's more. Reportedly, the person who was out to get her is someone with whom she had a confrontation over congressional staffing matters that had nothing to do with any of these issues.

The Wall Street Journal and New Republic have asked: Is anyone going to apologize to the mistreated defendents? Will there be any redress for their loss of reputation and income? Will specific bloggers who impused Steve Rosen's patriotism and honor retract their statements?

Original posting:
As predicted here, the U.S. government has dropped a case accusing two AIPAC staff members--Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman--of leaking classified material.

I won't go through the whole case here. Briefly, it involved charges with no precedent, entrapment, and questionable legal tactics (trying to ensure the defendents had no income so they would be unable to hire lawyers.) The case should never have been brought and there should be an investigation as to how this happened. The judge, at first seemingly unsympathetic to the defendents, was so disgusted that at one point he asked prosecutors if they really wanted to continue with the case--something I have never seen before happen.

Of course, people have been slandered; lives have been seriously damaged; huge costs have been incurred; time and resources wasted. This was a vindictive prosecution and at least it is over now.

The Washington Post reports:

"Dana J. Boente, the acting U.S. attorney in Alexandria, said this morning that prosecutors were abandoning the case because of "the diminished likelihood the government will prevail at trial under the additional intent requirements imposed by the court and the inevitable disclosure of classified information that would occur at any trial.''

That's a nice face-saving device but even before that court decision it was clear that the government couldn't win the case.

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