Thursday, May 14, 2009
"The Justice Department [DOJ] moved to drop spying-related charges against two former employees of a pro-Israel lobbying group, saying it was unlikely the government would win the case. ... The case is the second high-profile criminal prosecution to collapse in recent weeks. Last month, the department withdrew its corruption case against former Alaska Sen. Ted. Stevens, after acknowledging missteps by prosecutors. ... Prosecutors cited an appeals-court decision raising the bar for the government to prove its case. 'The landscape of this case has changed significantly since it was first brought,' government lawyers said in a federal-court filing in Alexandria, Va. 'In addition to adjusting to the requirement of meeting an unexpectedly higher evidentiary threshold to prevail, at trial, the government must also assess the nature, quality and quantity of evidence, including information relevant to prosecution and defense theories expected at trial.' ... Abbe Lowell, attorney for Mr. [Seven] Rosen, credited the change of administrations for helping his client's cause. 'We are extremely grateful that this new adminstration ... has taken seriously their obligation to evaluate cases on the merits.' he said. The case was subject of debate among Justice Department officials, dating back to the previous administration, with concerns about weaknesses in the case and that a trial could expose classified information, according to people familiar with the case", Evan Perez and Jay Solomon at the WSJ, 2 May 2009.
"Four years, millions in legal fees and a half-dozen conspiracy theories later, the [DOJ] dropped its case yesterday against the two former staffers of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) indicted in 2005 on espionage-related charges. Now where do Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman--and everyone else besmirched, including California Democrat Jane Harman--apply to get their reputations back? ... Instead, the prosecution acted only after adverse judicial rulings made the case virtually impossible to win. Among the tests imposed on the prosection by a federal judge was whether the 'secrets' Messrs. Rosen and Weissman supposedly disseminated to colleagues, journalists and an Israeli embassy official were closely held, and whether the pair relayed them in bad faith. Nothing like that happened here. ... None of this should have amounted to much, and certainly not criminal indictments under the archaic 1917 Espionage Act. Reporting on White House policy deliberation is the daily bread of any Washington reporter: If the offense were really criminal, half the Beltway press corps could be indicted. ... But Washington is not a normal world, and this prosecution needs to be understood in the context in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion and the swirl of conspiracy theories about 'neocon' and Jewish influence over US policy. ... In other words, the Aipac case resembled a political hit more than a legitimate 'espionage' case", my emphasis, Editorial at the WSJ, 2 May 2009.
I always wondered if this case was politically motivated.
The WSJ's points are well-taken. The case always looked like a "hit" job. The DOJ's "surprise" at the adverse rulings in the case amazes me. Don't DOJ lawyers know crime requires mens rea? I don't believe the DOJ lawyers. The DOJ apparently tried to bully these guys into plea bargains. And failed. I thought the case was brought to raise America's standing in the Arab world, in effect saying, "see, not only do we keep Moslems at Gitmo, we incarcerate Jews too".