WASHINGTON — More than one thousand documents released under Freedom of Information Act filings reveal details of a secret battle that raged between founders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and top U.S. law enforcement officials. The new book “America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government” reproduces and analyzes these files and their troubling implications for rule of law in the United States.
“America’s Defense Line” also reveals stunning details of a preferential deal engineered within the highest levels of the U.S. Department of Justice over the course of three years and implemented in 1965 — but kept secret from the American public until today. Old documents and new analysis from the Center for Policy and Law Enforcement raise many questions about the upcoming October 2008 AIPAC espionage trial.
In 2005, Colonel Lawrence Franklin was indicted alongside two executives of AIPAC for allegedly violating the 1917 Espionage Act. Franklin later pled guilty to passing AIPAC a classified presidential directive and other secrets concerning America’s Iran policy. Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman of AIPAC allegedly forwarded the highly sensitive information to Israeli government officials and select members of Washington’s media establishment. This covert leaking appears to be one of many AIPAC tactics designed to encourage tougher U.S. policies toward Iran, from financial boycotts to naval blockades and possibly even military strikes.
On October 28, 2008, government prosecutors are scheduled to appeal the ruling judge’s order that they must prove the alleged AIPAC leaks of national defense information actually harmed the United States. The 1917 Espionage Act actually requires a much lower standard of proof: “the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign country.”
According to Grant F. Smith, the declassified documents bolster the prosecution’s position that the Espionage Act should be tightly interpreted as it was written. “In the early 1960s, the Attorney General found that the Israel lobby was acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Israel and ordered it to register. Nevertheless, after a similar three-year period of delays and appeals, AIPAC’s predecessor was allowed to file a secret Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) statement, our nation’s first exception to that very important public disclosure law. Forcing today’s prosecutors to operate under a higher standard of evidence smacks of institutionalized preferential treatment for a lobby that has serially engaged in activities harmful to the United States.”
Federal, state and local law enforcement officials may request a complimentary hard copy of “America’s Defense Line” by sending their agency’s mailing address to info@IRmep.org from a government email domain. Complimentary books will be sent only while supplies last. Members of the public can purchase the hardcover edition of “America’s Defense Line” for $29.95 at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other fine bookstores. The 340-page report’s ISBN number is 0-9764437-2-4.
IRmep is a Washington-based nonprofit that studies U.S. policy formulation toward the Middle East. IRmep’s Center for Policy & Law Enforcement examines how balanced and vigorous law enforcement can improve trade, economic development and America’s international standing.