FBI Searches Office of Pro-Israel Group

Operation part of probe of classified Iran material

Associated Press - December 1, 2004

WASHINGTON - FBI agents searched files and served subpoenas Wednesday at the offices of the major pro-Israel lobbying organization as part of an investigation into whether Israel improperly obtained classified U.S. information on Iran.

The search at the offices of the group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, was disclosed in a statement by the organization, which repeated that it was cooperating "in order to get these false and baseless allegations put to rest fully and swiftly."

"As we have said from the beginning, AIPAC has done nothing wrong," the statement said.

The FBI previously searched AIPAC's offices Aug. 27.

Agents have also interviewed two AIPAC employees about whether Larry Franklin, an analyst for the Defense Department, gave them classified information that wound up with Israel. Franklin works on Iran and Middle East issues in the office of policy Undersecretary Douglas Feith. Franklin, who has not commented on the probe, has not been charged.

AIPAC said FBI agents requested and received files Wednesday related to the same two employees, who previously have been identified as Steve Rosen, the director of research, and Keith Weissman, the deputy director of foreign policy issues.

The FBI has copied computer hard drives and files from both men.

In addition, the AIPAC statement said the FBI served subpoenas requiring four senior AIPAC officials to testify before the federal grand jury investigating the case. A source familiar with the inquiry identified those four as AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr, Managing Director Richard Fishman, Communications Director Renee Rothstein and Research Director Rafi Danziger.

The FBI and the Justice Department would not comment.

The Israeli government has denied spying on the United States, saying that meetings between U.S. and Israeli officials were common and that the two countries shared many secrets. Iran - particularly any assessments of its nuclear ambitions - is of critical importance to Israel's security interests.

Israel said it had banned espionage in the United States since the scandal over Jonathan Pollard, an American who was caught spying for Israel in 1985.

The AIPAC investigation, which dates to the early 2001 days of the Bush administration, is being handled by U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty of Alexandria, Va. No charges have been brought

  • See Also: The Franklin/AIPAC Spy Case Page