It seems like ancient history, but the Espionage Act charges against former AIPAC staffers Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman were once "unmentionable" at the lobby’s policy conferences.
Quick review: The feds charged the two top staffers in 2004 and indicted them in 2005 for receiving classified info.
As the pretrial proceeded, it became clear this was a government overreach, essentially an attempt to criminalize the receipt of sensitive info — something, if successful, that would have had huge First Amendment implications. The judge in the case eventually drew the conclusion that the case was too constitutionally fraught and the feds dropped it in 2009.
In the meantime, AIPAC sacked Weissman and Rosen. The fraught question of whether the lobby had abandoned loyal staffers or whether it had little choice in the face of government pressure or whether Rosen and Weissman merited their dismissal even though they eventually won vindication continues to dog the group. But rarely on itsown turf.
Jane Harman, who now helms the Wilson Center and who was for years a top-ranked congresswoman on the House Intelligence committee, was dragged into the case in 2006, when it was revealed that she had had a meeting with an unidentified person who had sought her intervention and again in 2009, when it was revealed that a U.S. agency had secretly recorded the conversation.
There was never much there — there was never any evidence Harman even attempted to intervene. She was cleared by the Ethics Committee.
Harman made waves that year when she raised the issue at the policy conference, defending her Fourth Amendment rights.
It came up again this morning, but this time Harman, ahead of a session on the current status of the Middle East, more explicitly brought in AIPAC:
In 2009, when I was the victim of a political smear campaign, I will never forget [then-AIPAC president] Lee Rosenberg and others telling me, ‘Jane, we have your back.’