Steve Rosen speaks


His first in-depth interview about the classified information case, given to the redoubtable Gil Tamari at Israel’s Channel 10 within hours of learning that the prosecution was dropping the classified information charges,

Here are a couple of accounts of the interview, one by AP and one by the Jerusalem Post.

His most unsettling suggestion is that the people who came after him have their sights on other Jewish figures:

"They have materials against other people at AIPAC," he continued. "They have material about people at other Jewish organizations. These guys are still there in the bureaucracy. They still believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America. They still believe that there are Jewish spies under every bed. And they may find another opportunity to bring another case against someone, and that’s the problem."

We’ll try to find out more. (I have yet to view the full interview; it won’t play on my computer.)

Rosen likens himself to Dreyfus and says anti-Jewish and anti-Israel animus drove the case. According to the J-Post account, Rosen vindicates President Bush as having nothing to do with it. (*I’ve learned the Jerusalem Post is correcting its version; Rosen, in fact, rejects any comparison with Dreyfus.)

Not directly, and certainly – as we saw in recent weeks with the last-gasp bid to involve Jane Harman in this mess – anti-Israel animus within some sectors of the intel community was critical to bringing this case. But it couldn’t have happened if the Bush administration was not hell bent on expanding its executive privilege.

On Sept. 5 2001 – six days before the attacks – John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, was to have testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee about proposed legislation to toughen secrecy laws.

In that testimony (pdf) – never delivered – Ashcroft argues that such legislation is not necessary. (This turned out to be of a piece with the Bush-Cheney philosophy of avoiding congressional vetting like the plague). Ashcroft outlines – almost to the letter – the strategy the prosecution would pursue four years later with Rosen and Keith Weissman. The same almost never used section of the 1917 Espionage Act. The same Supreme Court precedents.

Ashcroft was not anti-Israel – far from it. But it was clear he was casting about for a case upon which to hang the dubious precedent of criminalizing dealings with the executive branch.

And apparently, the folks with the Israel jones were the first to raise their hand.

The importance in pointing this out is that I do not believe that these beliefs about the insulated executive are dead. Dick Cheney is still peddling them like fries on the boardwalk.

And the next time these folks come knocking it could be for Arab American lobbyists. Or Korean American. Or Greek American.

And, for the sake of the First Amendment, it will be just as important to slap them down.

It’s something Walter Pincus at the Washington Post gets:

The two lobbyists had been charged in August 2005 with conspiring between 1999 and 2004 to disclose national defense information to people not authorized to receive it — the first time that civilian, non-government employees had been prosecuted under the then-88-year-old act. The case had broad implications, because the same charges technically could be applied to academics, think tank analysts and journalists who seek and receive security information in conversations every day.

Not only does he get it, but he gets it in a way that I hope the Jewish community does should this bid to inhibit the flow of information ever target a group that does not otherwise share its interests. On her blog, Laura Rozen reveals that Pincus does not have an AIPAC-friendly past; he was a staffer for Sen. William Fulbright (D-Ark.), who tried his damnedest in the 1960s to get AIPAC to register as a foreign lobby.

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