"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Grand jury query of AIPAC officials postponed two weeks

By Nathan GuttmanWASHINGTON - The interrogation of four American Israel Public Affairs Committee senior officials, which was to take place this week, has been postponed until after the New Year holiday.

The four are slated to testify before a grand jury investigation into the Pentagon mole affair, and to answer questions that will focus, according to sources following the case, on AIPAC's modus operandi and the type of ties it maintains with U.S. and Israeli government officials. The four AIPAC officials are executive director Howard Kohr, managing director Richard Fishman, research director Rafi Danziger, and communications director Renee Rothstein.

At the outset of the investigation this summer, American officials stressed that the four officials are viewed as witnesses, not targets of a probe of AIPAC officials suspected of conveying classified information to Israeli embassy officials. The targets, as far as the lobby's activities are concerned, are Steve Rosen and Keith Weisman, who handle foreign policy issues for the committee.

The investigation, which is being overseen by a grand jury in Arlington, Virginia, is taking place in secrecy. The U.S. Justice Department has provided no information regarding its progress. But since a raid at the beginning of this month on AIPAC offices in Washington, two major directions have emerged in the case - one that AIPAC officials, not Pentagon official Larry Franklin, are at the center of the investigation, and the other, which has only been hinted, concerns the American Jewish community's stance on the case. The community came to AIPAC's defense when the story broke, and officially remains solidly behind the lobby. However, in recent informal conversations, there have been signs of discomfort and concern among community representatives. This discomfort erupted largely after AIPAC offices were raided for a second time and subpoenas were issued to the four officials to testify before the grand jury. AIPAC insisted to Jewish leaders that the charges were false and an attempt to frame the lobby, but community leaders began questioning whether they were getting the full picture. The use of a grand jury indicates the seriousness of the case, and increases the chances of indictments.

"If something comes out of this, indictments or anything else, for sure there will be those who will want to distance themselves from AIPAC," one Jewish source in Washington said yesterday. "No one wants AIPAC hurt, but no one wants to get into trouble for something that might go wrong," he said.

Another Jewish source disagreed, saying that although the raid and subpoenas had raised a lot of eyebrows among community leaders, as far as the Jews are concerned, "the burden of proof is still more on the FBI than on AIPAC."

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Milton Frihetsson, 17:54


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