DEFENSE: FEDS EYED AIPAC UNTIL ROSEN, WEISSMAN CUT OFF
The FBI was considering expanding its investigation into AIPAC and classified information leaks in early 2005 when the pro-Israel lobbying powerhouse fired two staffers already under scrutiny, according to court documents.
In a memorandum filed last Sept. 22 and unsealed last week, defense lawyers for Steve Rosen, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's former foreign policy chief, and Keith Weissman, its former Iran analyst, claimed for the first time that the FBI had considered expanding its criminal investigation.
AIPAC's March 2005 firing of Rosen and Weissman, and its decision several months later to stop paying their legal fees, headed off the expanded investigation, according to the sworn defense filing. The filing stems from a defense effort to force AIPAC to resume paying legal fees.
The memorandum describes a Feb. 16, 2005 conversation between Abbe Lowell, Rosen's lawyer, and Nathan Lewin, AIPAC's lawyer.
The U.S. Attorney in eastern Virginia at the time, Paul McNulty, "would like to end it with minimal damage to AIPAC," the document quotes Lewin as telling Lowell. "He is fighting with the FBI to limit the investigation to Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman and to avoid expanding it."
The filing is compiled from notes by the defense lawyers. The Lewin-Lowell conversation took place during a conference call, according to the memorandum.
The claim is significant because until that September filing, the defense allegation of government pressure was confined to a procedural threat: a Justice Department policy dating to 2003 that makes corporations culpable for the alleged crimes of their indicted employees unless the corporation cuts off those employees.