Aipac Spy Case Involves Intelligence

AIPAC Spy Case involves Intelligence on Iranian WMD

James Gordon Meek reports that both FBI investigations of leaks from the Pentagon concern in part secret US intelligence on Iranian weapons of mass destruction programs. The FBI suspects that this intelligence was leaked to AIPAC and the Israelis on the one hand, and to Ahmad Chalabi on the other. Chalabi in turn is suspected of passing the information on to Tehran, playing the role of double agent. Although the FBI seems to be keeping the two inquiries separate, there is strong circumstantial evidence that there was a behind-the-scenes connection between Chalabi and the Israelis. That is, the information circuit may have been ingrown among the Neoconservatives, the Israelis and Chalabi’s people.

It should be noted that Chalabi, the Neoconservatives, and Israel’s Likud Party were allied in wanting to get up a US war against Iraq. But they were divided on the next stage, which was to get Washington to attack Iran, as well. Chalabi hates Saddam, but as an Iraqi Shiite has strong ties to Tehran, so he was not actually on board with Stage Two, and may have helped derail it, for which he is now hated in some Neoconservative circles.

The reasons for the iron lock AIPAC has on US congressional Middle East policy is covered by Eric Fleischauer of the Decatur Daily. He writes

‘ Members of a lobbying group accused of channeling classified information from an alleged spy in the Pentagon to the Israeli government were instrumental in putting an Alabama congressman in office.

A probe by the FBI targeted Larry Franklin, a senior analyst in a Pentagon office dealing with Middle East af-fairs. Officials accused him of providing classified information about Iran’s nuclear program to two officials employed by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee . . .

The major beneficiary of pro-Israel campaign contributions in this state has been U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham.

According to an estimate by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, Davis received $206,595 in pro-Israel contributions in advance of the 2002 election. This despite the fact he was not an incumbent, and despite the fact his five-term incumbent opponent, Earl Hilliard, was also a Democrat.

Even under the conservative CRP estimate, Davis’ 2002 pro-Israel receipts were more than double his total contributions from his previous try at Hilliard’s seat, in 2000.

Seventy-six percent of Davis’ contributions during the 2002 election cycle came from outside Alabama, most from New York City.

AIPAC is not a political action committee and does not give out money itself. But it is a sort of central coordinating committee that tips Jewish American organizations as to where it thinks campaign contributions neeed to go. Because a lot of wealthy individuals contributed to Hilliard as individuals, the true amount AIPAC directed his way was probably double the conservative estimate above. Fleischauer writes, “Davis’ receipts skyrocketed. By May 15, 2002, Davis was up to $446,821. Of the 517 individual contributions to Davis in the weeks surrounding the fundraisers, only four came from Alabamians.”

The reason for AIPAC’s New York-based raid on an Alabama congressional race? Davis’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Earl Hilliard, took a more even-handed position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than AIPAC would stand for.

Fleischauer writes of Hilliard,

‘ He said Tuesday he believes pro-Israel money won Davis the 2002 election. The congressman-turned-lobbyist said his main concern is that pro-Israel money tends to crowd out the voice of Arab countries, a result he said could eventually lead to more wars in the Middle East. ‘

It ought to be illegal for congressional contests to be interfered with to this extent by money from another state. The technique of targeting congressmen for un-election has given enormous power to all single-issue lobbies, and not just AIPAC. But Hilliard is entirely correct that AIPAC’s activities do contribute to bloodshed in the Middle East. By arranging for the far rightwing Likud coalition to have a free hand in dispossessing millions of Palestinians, AIPAC contributes to the hatred for the United States in the Muslim world that breeds terrorism against US citizens.

There is a long hit list of US politicians who were insufficiently obsequious toward the policy of Israeli hawks in the Occupied Territories, whom AIPAC helped unseat by encouraging donations to their opponents. The Charles Percy case became legendary in Congress, and discouraged senators and congressmen from taking on AIPAC.

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http://www.decaturdaily.com/
decaturdaily/news/040905/davis.shtml

Rep. Davis helped by group tied to spy case

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2004

By Eric Fleischauer Decatur DAILY Staff Writer eric@decaturdaily.com · 340-2435

Members of a lobbying group accused of channeling classified information from an alleged spy in the Pentagon to the Israeli government were instrumental in putting an Alabama congressman in office.

A probe by the FBI targeted Larry Franklin, a senior analyst in a Pentagon office dealing with Middle East af-fairs. Officials ac-cused him of providing classified information about Iran’s nuclear program to two officials employed by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.

AIPAC and the Israeli government denied the allegations. No charges have been filed.

Whether or not Israel benefited from Franklin’s alleged espionage and backdoor lobbying, its American supporters have actively courted U.S. congressmen for years.

The major beneficiary of pro-Israel campaign contributions in this state has been U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham.

According to an estimate by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, Davis received $206,595 in pro-Israel contributions in advance of the 2002 election. This despite the fact he was not an incumbent, and despite the fact his five-term incumbent opponent, Earl Hilliard, was also a Democrat.

Even under the conservative CRP estimate, Davis’ 2002 pro-Israel receipts were more than double his total contributions from his previous try at Hilliard’s seat, in 2000.

Seventy-six percent of Davis’ contributions during the 2002 election cycle came from outside Alabama, most from New York City.

“I received a lot of money from the Jewish community. I agree with that,” Davis said.

The contributions to Davis were higher than pro-Israel contributions to any other candidate for the House in 2002, according to the CRP.

Steve Weiss, head of the CRP, said the organization’s methodology in calculating pro-Israel contributions tends to underreport them. This is the case because it must largely ignore individual contributions.

Davis’ filings with the Federal Elections Commission suggest the pro-Israel contributions are much higher than CRP estimated.

As of March 31, 2002, according to the FEC, Davis had reported $92,100 in political contributions. At that point, Davis’ receipts were about one-fourth of Hilliard’s receipts.

In mid-April of 2002, Davis attended a series of fundraisers, coordinated by AIPAC members, in New York City and Washington D.C.

Davis’ receipts skyrocketed. By May 15, 2002, Davis was up to $446,821. Of the 517 individual contributions to Davis in the weeks surrounding the fundraisers, only four came from Alabamians.

After beating Hilliard in the primary, Davis’ only opposition in the general election was a little-known Libertarian. Davis, nonetheless, had collected receipts totaling $1.6 million by the end of the 2002 election cycle.

Hilliard, from Birmingham, knocked heads with the pro-Israel lobby in 2001 when he and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus took pro-Arab positions on several issues.

He said Tuesday he believes pro-Israel money won Davis the 2002 election.

The congressman-turned-lobbyist said his main concern is that pro- Israel money tends to crowd out the voice of Arab countries, a result he said could eventually lead to more wars in the Middle East.

“We are being embroiled in a 3,000-year-old conflict,” Hilliard said. “Israel’s influence is tremendous.”

Davis actively courted AIPAC and the pro-Israel vote before the 2002 election. He spoke at five fund-raisers sponsored by AIPAC members in New York City. This year, he had one fund-raiser sponsored by an AIPAC member in New York City and another one sponsored by a Birmingham AIPAC member.

Two weeks after the 2002 election, an AIPAC publication explained why he received strong Jewish support.

“Davis has met with AIPAC activists and staff and has close ties to members of the local and national pro-Israel community,” the publication said.

A pro-Israel PAC, To Protect Our Heritage, said in a newsletter that it contributed money to Davis’ 2002 campaign because “Hilliard has one of the most dismal records in Congress in Israel-related issues.”

The issue is to some extent the chicken-or-egg dilemma.

Did Davis become pro-Israel to get Jewish contributions, or did the Jewish community support him because he was pro-Israel?

“The rule of thumb with political contributions,” said Davis, “is you take positions, then organizations decide whether to back you based on those positions. Not the other way around.”

Hilliard claims that Davis developed a pro-Israel position to attract desperately needed campaign contributions.

Davis disagrees with Hilliard, but he acknowledges the political reality he faced in the 2002 election.

“In 2002, we were unable to raise large sums of money because Earl Hilliard was an incumbent,” Davis said. “That required us to develop a national fund-raising strategy or forgo our ability to win the race. So we developed a national fund-raising strategy.”

Davis said whatever AIPAC’s involvement in alleged espionage, he had no relationship with the committee.

“I have never accepted money from AIPAC,” Davis explained. “My relationship has been with donors who are members of AIPAC.”

Despite its name, AIPAC is not a political action committee. It cannot legally contribute to candidates, but it can — and does — recommend that its members make contributions.

The Fiscal Year 2005 Defense Appropriations bill, approved by the Senate, included more than $300 million for joint U.S.-Israel weapons programs. It also included $2.22 billion in military aid to Israel. In 2004, Israel received $2.16 billion in military aid.

Hilliard said these numbers indicate the power of AIPAC.

“Everyone (in Congress) is scared of it,” Hilliard said. “They are afraid the same thing that happened to me will happen to them.”

Davis said the allegations against Franklin may suggest illegal activity, but not anti-American activity.

“At its height, the allegation would simply be that the information was used to make the Israeli government aware of Iran’s nuclear program,” Davis said. “There is no suggestion that this intelligence was designed to harm American interests or to compromise American safety.”

One of Decatur’s congressmen, U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer, D- Huntsville, said the allegations against AIPAC disturbed him, but “regarding campaign contributions, I have followed the Federal Election Commission’s guidelines.”

Cramer received $50,400 in pro-Israel contributions since 1996.

Decatur’s other congressman, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R- Haleyville, has received $36,500 from pro-Israel groups and individuals since 1996.

Aderholt said he accepts pro-Israel contributions and supports Israel legislatively, in part, because it is the only democracy in the Middle East.

“When I go into churches in the 4th District,” Aderholt said, “there are only two countries I pray for: Israel and the United States.”

THE DECATUR DAILY 201 1st Ave. SE P.O. Box 2213 Decatur, Ala. 35609 (256) 353-4612