Thursday, August 18, 2005

JTA NEWS: David Satterfield Spied For Israel

New revelations in AIPAC case
raise questions about FBI motives
By Matthew E. Berger
August 18, 2005

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (JTA) — New revelations in the case against two former American Israel Public Affairs Committee staffers raise questions about why FBI investigators have been focused on the pro-Israel lobby.
The New York Times reported Thursday that David Satterfield, the No. 2 man at the U.S. mission in Baghdad, was one of two government officials who allegedly gave classified information to Steve Rosen, AIPAC’s former director of foreign policy issues, but he wasn’t named in the indictment handed down against Rosen and two others earlier this month.

A big chill among lobbyists?
Ex-AIPAC men join to fight charges
Satterfield allegedly spoke with Rosen on several occasions in 2002 — when Satterfield was the deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs — and shared classified information. At one point, Rosen allegedly relayed the secret information in a memorandum to other AIPAC staffers.

The fact that Satterfield is not a target of the case and was allowed to take a sensitive position in Iraq has raised questions about the severity of the information allegedly given to AIPAC officials, as well as about the government’s motives for targeting Rosen and Keith Weissman, a former AIPAC Iran analyst, neither of whom had classified access.

The defendants and AIPAC supporters see the new revelations as evidence that federal prosecutors are targeting the powerful pro-Israel lobby for simply conducting the normal Washington practice of trading sensitive information. Officials inside and outside government privately acknowledge that classified information routinely changes hands among influential people in the foreign policy community and that the exchanges often are advantageous to diplomats.

“If, in fact, Satterfield passed on classified information that other people should not have had, then they should all be guilty of the same thing,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “The fact that Satterfield hasn’t been prosecuted suggests that’s not the case.”

Rosen and Weissman both pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of conspiracy to communicate national defense information. Rosen also is charged with communicating national defense information to people not entitled to receive it.

Larry Franklin, a Pentagon Iran analyst, has been charged with five similar counts, including conspiracy to communicate classified information to a foreign agent. Franklin, who also pleaded not guilty, is accused of passing classified information to Rosen and Weissman from 2002 through last year.

Observers say the case is likely to create a chill among lobbyists and others who seek to garner foreign-policy information from the government.

The second U.S. government official, who allegedly met with Rosen and Weissman in 2000, remains anonymous but reportedly has left government service. Their identification is seen as central to the government’s case that the AIPAC staffers followed a pattern of seeking classified information and disseminating it to journalists and officials at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. A spokeswoman for Paul McNulty, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, would not comment.

Attorneys for Rosen and Weissman, who are collaborating on their defense, will likely use the same information to show that sharing documents and other information was normal practice between government officials and AIPAC.

Leaders of other pro-Israel groups say State Department and other government aides handling the Middle East portfolio frequently share information.

“When we discuss issues, it’s an exchange. It’s not one-sided,” Hoenlein said. “What people forget is they benefit from these exchanges too, because they learn things from us.”

Those who have worked with Rosen say a large part of his task was capturing sensitive material and that numerous government officials aided his pursuits over the years.

Tom Dine, a former AIPAC executive director, said Rosen had claimed in a 1983 memo, shortly after joining the pro-Israel lobby, that he received a classified review of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Dine, who recently left his post as president of Radio Free Europe to head the San Francisco Jewish federation, told the New York Jewish Week that he was shown the document by FBI investigators.

“Everybody knew that Steve was quite capable of luring important information, which was exceedingly useful to the mission of the office,” said Neal Sher, another former AIPAC executive director. “It was understood by the people in the organization, both professional and lay.”

But they say Rosen’s work mirrored what was being done throughout Washington.

“The trafficking in sensitive information, some of which might have been classified, is the norm in many instances,” said Sher, a former federal prosecutor. “While I don’t recall ever being specifically told that info they passed on to me was classified, I would not have been shocked if that was done.”

A spokesman for AIPAC denied any wrongdoing by the organization.

“AIPAC does not seek, use or request anything but legally obtained information as part of its work,” Patrick Dorton said. “All AIPAC employees are expected and required to uphold this standard.”

Satterfield is not considered a subject of the government’s probe, and he reportedly was cleared by the Justice Department for his Iraq post.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said he could not comment on an ongoing investigation.

“I will say, though, that David Satterfield is an outstanding public servant, he is a distinguished Foreign Service officer and diplomat, and that he has worked on behalf of the American people for a number of years,” McCormack said Thursday.

A State Department official said it was within Satterfield’s portfolio to work with policy groups such as AIPAC. As the deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, Satterfield led the State Department group dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as other regional issues on AIPAC’s agenda.

“It wasn’t out of the normal at all for a deputy assistant secretary, as he was, to be meeting with AIPAC on a regular basis,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Our office tries to meet with interested people of all groups, and it’s supposed to be an informational exchange.”"

Penn's Iran Dispatches Ready to Run - Aug 17, 2005 - E! Online News

Penn's Iran Dispatches Ready to Run - Aug 17, 2005 - E! Online News: "Penn's Iran Dispatches Ready to Run

by Charlie Amter
Aug 17, 2005, 4:40 PM PT

When it comes to Sean Penn's latest journalistic experiment, it's a case of better late than never.

The actor, dispatched to cover the Iranian elections two months ago, will finally see his byline in the San Francisco Chronicle come Monday, according to editor Phil Bronstein.

The Chronicle Executive Vice President and editor confirmed to E! Online Wednesday that Penn's long-in-the-works report will likely be divvied up into five segments, with one running each day next week. Bronstein added that Chronicle staffers are "still laying the piece out" and that "the number of days could change."

Asked why it took so long to get Penn's story into print, Bronstein said, "It's a process you don't want to rush into."

The editor, known in pop-culture circles as the former Mr. Sharon Stone, said readers can expect Penn's "personal observations" and "personal experiences" in the multipart series.

In any case, the Mystic River Oscar winner wasn't writing for the money. Asked how much Penn might expect for his freelance gig, Bronstein said, "We haven't even discussed that yet."

Penn's assignment has already generated some headlines. In June, wire reports said the novice newshound spoke out to students at an event in Iran, taking a timeout to note chants of "death to America" hurt the peace process between the U.S. and Iran.

"I understand the nature of where it comes from and what its intention is," he told a film student at the event, per Reuters. "But I don't think it's productive because I think the message goes to the American people and it is interpreted very literally."

Days later, Penn had his camcorder briefly confiscated by authorities after he taped a peaceful demonstration, a sit-in led by women, at Tehran University.

This isn't the first time the actor has moonlighted as a Chronicle correspondent.

Penn, who turned 45 Wednesday, visited Iraq in 2002 for the Chronicle, preaching peace and angering many who felt the actor was acting against America's best interest.

He returned to Iraq the week before Saddam Hussein was captured in 2003 for another assignment. In January of 2004, the Chronicle ran Penn's account on "how life had changed after the American invasion" in Baghdad.

As for his day job, Penn will next be seen in Sony's big screen adaptation of Robert Penn Warren's political novel All the King's Men this December."