General Zinni Meets The Lobby

Thursday, April 19, 2007 11:25 AM

I've been studying American foreign policy in the Middle East for 34 years and I can't recall any U.S. president
who has subordinate American interests
to Israeli interests like this one.

-- Augustus Richard Norton,
a professor of international relations at Boston University,
a career Army infantry officer with a dozen years on the West Point faculty,
three years in combat in Vietnam (1968-71), mostly with airborne units,
and fourteen months as a military observer in southern Lebanon (1980-81).

The above quote comes from the July 19th, 2006 posting of Harper's Magazine's "Washington  Babylon", a weblog put together by Washington Editor Ken Silverstein. It may help place in context the recent article reproduced below in the N.Y.C. Jewish weekly, The Forward, concerning the upcoming trial of two top former staffers at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. They are Steve Rosen, policy director, and Keith Weissman, purported Iran specialist. They are charged with passing classified information to Israel. AIPAC's annual extravaganza in Washington took place not long ago. It was visited by every important politician in town, from Dick Cheney to Hillary Clinton.

The Forward is a non-"Neocon" secular Jewish outlet. It was The Forward which broke the story in the spring of 2002 about the five Israelis who were at Liberty State Park over looking Manhattan the morning of September 11th, 2001, and who were observed celebrating right after the  first plane hit the WTC. According to Christopher Ketcham's amazing article "What Did Israel Know in Advance of the 9/11 Attacks?" which appeared in CounterPunch not long ago, "The Forward reported that the FBI had finally concluded that at least two of the men were agents working for Mossad...and the Urban Moving Systems, the ostensible employer of the five Israelis, was a front operation." Further on, Ketcham states, " is no secret that spying by Israel on the United States has been wide-ranging and unabashed."

The more recent Forward article (below) directly concerns U.S. foreign policy and how it relates to pro-Israel pressure groups. We hear a lot about AIPAC, but it seems AIPAC is not alone when it comes to the pervasive, insidious lobbying efforts on behalf of Tel Aviv. Here we see former Marine General Anthony Zinni meeting with representatives of the ADL and B'nai B'rith International while Zinni was working as a Middle East envoy. Isn't that rather odd?

Jewish organizations must think it is, because they are refusing to come forward and help defend Rosen and Weissman. The defendants want to show that at the top levels of the U.S. Government, meetings were taking place all the time with pro-Israel special interest groups at which classified information was shared. It was routine. No doubt this fact is perfectly true but is improper in the extreme. It is the very last thing the White House and the Congress and agents of Israel want revealed to a woefully misinformed and uninformed American public.

Secret Briefing by Zinni
Seen as Key In AIPAC Duo Trial

Nathan Guttman | Fri. Mar 30, 2007 | The Forward

Washington - New details are emerging about a secret 2003 briefing that could play a key role in the defense of two pro-Israel advocates charged with passing classified information.

Until now, the identities of the participants were not publicly known, except for one of the defendants, Steve Rosen, then policy director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In recent weeks, however, the Forward has confirmed that the meeting featured a briefing delivered by top Middle East peace envoy Anthony Zinni and was attended by Jess Hordes, head of the Washington office of the Anti-Defamation League, and Dan Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International.

Defense lawyers have sought the testimony of those in attendance to demonstrate to the jury that meetings between administration officials and Jewish representatives were common practice, and that intelligence was frequently shared during these powwows without the participants knowing the information was classified. But, as first reported in the Forward last month, the Jewish representatives who attended the meeting are refusing to cooperate with the defense team.

Hordes and Mariaschin refused to comment for this story, and the identity of the third Jewish representative who is refusing to testify could not be confirmed.

In Zinni, the defense team would be turning to a harsh critic of both the Iraq War and neoconservatives at the Pentagon, who according to Zinni thought the invasion would stabilize American interests in the Middle East and strengthen Israel’s position.

“I think it’s the worst-kept secret in Washington. That everybody — everybody I talk to in Washington — has known and fully knows what their agenda was and what they were trying to do,” said Zinni in a May 2004 interview with the CBS News program “60 Minutes.”

At the meeting with the Jewish representatives, Zinni discussed the situation in the Middle East and attempts by the Bush administration to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, according to sources familiar with the prosecution’s account of the meeting. The sources said that Zinni “spoke very freely” and that he revealed information that was not available to the general public.

The next day, Rosen, who had represented AIPAC at the meeting, informed his superiors at the pro-Israel lobby about the information supplied by Zinni. At the time, Rosen was already under FBI surveillance and his conversations about the meeting with Zinni were monitored. They later appeared in documents presented by the prosecution once Rosen and the other defendant in the case, AIPAC Iran specialist, Keith Weissman, were indicted.

According to sources close to the case, the Jewish participants in the meeting are refusing to cooperate on the advice of their organizations’ respective legal advisers, who recommend steering clear of the proceedings.

Sources close to the defense expressed disappointment over the reluctance of the Jewish groups to testify. These sources describe it as another sign of the decision by Jewish organizations to distance themselves from the case. One source close to the defense described the response of the Jewish community to the prosecution of the two former senior AIPAC staffers as “abandonment,” and said that many Jewish officials and organizations cut off all ties to the defendants after the case was made public.

The U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., will make a decision later this month regarding the government’s request to keep the trial closed and not to allow the public or press to see the evidence or to listen to wiretapping recordings that will be the central pieces of evidence in the case. In a hearing last month, Judge T.S. Ellis III said that no precedent exists for such a request. The judge ordered both sides to prepare arguments for a pretrial hearing on the issue, which is scheduled for mid-April.

If the prosecution’s request for a closed trial is denied, the government will be asked to prepare redacted versions of the evidence to be presented in the courtroom.

--Copyright 2007 The Forward--