Jim O. Madison: Conspiracy/Complicity Theories
Second-highest U.S. diplomat in Baghdad is 'USGO-2' in AIPAC indictment (NYT)
On Thursday the New York Times cited "people who have been officially briefed on the case" as the source of the information that "The second-highest diplomat at the United States Embassy in Baghdad is ['USGO-2,'] one of the anonymous government officials cited in an Aug. 4 indictment as having provided classified information to an employee of" AIPAC. -- "These people asked not to be identified because many of the matters related to the case are classified," the Times reported, its extraordinarily vague language used to describe its sources reflecting the sensitivity of what began as the Larry Franklin affair but which continues to develop in surprising directions. -- David M. Satterfield, the diplomat in question, "is the first higher-ranking government official to be caught up in the criminal inquiry," wrote David Johnston and James Risen. -- As has become standard practice in reporting on this case in the Times, there were almost as many exculpatory negative statements as positive statements in its account: -- (a) "The indictment does not accuse USGO-2 of any wrongdoing." -- (b) "[N]or does it indicate whether he might have been authorized to talk with the lobbyist. -- (c) "Mr. Satterfield is not believed to be the subject of a continuing investigation." -- (d) "[O]ne State Department spokesman said that Mr. Satterfield would not discuss the matter." -- (e) "Several Middle East experts noted that Mr. Satterfield was never regarded as particularly supportive of AIPAC's views on Israel." -- The Times hinted, without saying so, that there appears to be little to the investigation, which it called "one of the more puzzling national security cases in recent years," suggesting that the matter was the result of someone taking advantage of some minor technicality: "[F]oreign affairs lobbyists and officials of the United States and other governments, . . . over the years, have routinely traded gossip and sometimes classified information. Under the Justice Department's theories of the case, it is no longer clear whether such conversations are legally permissible." -- A piece posted Thursday by the Jerusalem Post did a better job than the Times in describing the dramatis personae of the case, but added no new information. -- The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, in a "behind the headlines" piece, took the same line as the New York Times, only more explicitly: "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." -- Of course, it would also be possible take the opposite point of view, and say that questions were raised by the willingness of the State Department to post such an individual to an assignment in an historic Arab capital and cultural center. -- "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," wrote Matthew E. Berger. -- Berger quoted Neal Sher, a former AIPAC executive director, as saying: "The trafficking in sensitive information, some of which might have been classified, is the norm in many instances." --Jim
U.S. DIPLOMAT IS NAMED IN SECRETS CASE
New York Times
[PHOTO CAPTION: David M. Satterfield, deputy chief of the United States mission in Baghdad, is accused of giving classified information to a pro-Israel lobbyist.]
WASHINGTON -- The second-highest diplomat at the United States Embassy in Baghdad is one of the anonymous government officials cited in an Aug. 4 indictment as having provided classified information to an employee of a pro-Israel lobbying group, people who have been officially briefed on the case said Wednesday.
The diplomat, David M. Satterfield, was identified in the indictment as a United States government official, "USGO-2," the people briefed on the matter said. In early 2002, USGO-2 discussed secret national security matters in two meetings with Steven J. Rosen, who has since been dismissed as a top lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC, who has been charged in the case.
The indictment said that Mr. Rosen met USGO-2 on Jan. 18, 2002, and March 12, 2002, but provides few details about the encounters. The indictment does not describe Mr. Satterfield's activities in detail nor does it specify what classified information the diplomat discussed with the lobbyist. The meetings were also confirmed by documents, people who have been briefed said. These people asked not to be identified because many of the matters related to the case are classified.
The indictment does not accuse USGO-2 of any wrongdoing, nor does it indicate whether he might have been authorized to talk with the lobbyist. Mr. Satterfield is not believed to be the subject of a continuing investigation. He is the first higher-ranking government official to be caught up in the criminal inquiry.
Mr. Satterfield's role in the inquiry has been known within a small circle at the State Department. Before he was sent to Baghdad, officials at the State Department asked the Justice Department whether the investigation posed any impediment to his assignment in Iraq, someone who has been officially briefed said. Officials at the State Department were advised that he could take the job.
Mr. Satterfield is one of the department's rising stars. Before his assignment as deputy chief of mission in Baghdad, Mr. Satterfield, 50, held several jobs in the Clinton and Bush administrations as a Middle East expert. He was ambassador to Lebanon from 1998 to 2001, and was confirmed by the Senate as ambassador to Jordan in 2004, although he never served in that position.
Current and former colleagues say that Mr. Satterfield, who went to Iraq earlier this year, chose the Baghdad post because it posed a bigger professional challenge than Jordan. The United States ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, has strong political credentials but, colleagues said, Mr. Satterfield was brought in to provide managerial strength.
Mr. Satterfield did not respond to an e-mail message asking about his role in the case, and one State Department spokesman said that Mr. Satterfield would not discuss the matter. Sean McCormack, the spokesman for the department, referred legal questions about Mr. Satterfield to the Justice Department.
He added, "David is a fine public servant who has served the American people for many years and is continuing to do so under difficult working conditions."
The investigation is one of the more puzzling national security cases in recent years, focusing on the interactions between foreign affairs lobbyists and officials of the United States and other governments, who over the years, have routinely traded gossip and sometimes classified information. Under the Justice Department's theories of the case, it is no longer clear whether such conversations are legally permissible.
Current and former colleagues praised Mr. Satterfield as a seasoned and careful diplomat. "I've known David Satterfield for 20 years, and he is thoroughly professional, and takes his responsibilities very seriously," said Dennis Ross, the former chief Middle East negotiator for the United States and a longtime State Department official. "He has always acted solely in American interests." Martin Indyk, Mr. Satterfield's former boss in the Clinton administration, both at the National Security Council at the White House and at the State Department, said the idea that Mr. Satterfield leaked classified information is "absurd."
"The way he speaks is crafted for a public audience," Mr. Indyk said. "He has this facility for talking publicly without saying anything sensitive. So the idea that he would be leaking classified information is preposterous.
"He has an unblemished record as the consummate diplomat and as a highly effective policy maker as well. He is among the cadre of the best and the brightest in the Near East Bureau. He dealt with AIPAC, because it was part of his job to deal with AIPAC."
Mr. Rosen and another former lobbyist, Keith Weissman, have been charged with conspiring to communicate national defense secrets to journalists and a foreign government, which officials have identified as Israel. A third person, Lawrence A. Franklin, a former Pentagon analyst and Iran expert, has also been charged, accused of turning over information to the two lobbyists.
At an arraignment on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Alexandria, Va., all three pleaded not guilty and were released on their own recognizance. Judge T. S. Ellis III set a trial date for Jan. 3.
Only Mr. Rosen met with USGO-2, according to the indictment. At the time of the meetings, Mr. Satterfield was the deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, which made him the State Department's second-ranking official for the Middle East.
Their meetings are listed as overt acts in a conspiracy to illegally communicate national defense secrets to a foreign government. After Mr. Rosen's first meeting with USGO-2 on Jan. 18, 2002, the indictment said, a memorandum containing the information that Mr. Rosen had obtained was sent to other AIPAC employees. The indictment did not indicate who wrote the memorandum, but said that it "contained classified information provided by USGO-2."
The two men met again on March 12, the indictment said. At their second meeting, they talked about Al Qaeda, the indictment said, without saying what aspect of the terror network was discussed. On March 14, Mr. Rosen disclosed to an unidentified foreign official, "FO-2," the information that he had heard from USGO-2, the indictment said.
Prosecutors have charged that Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman improperly obtained classified information from Mr. Franklin, Mr. Satterfield, and two other American officials. The two officials whose identities remain unclear are referred to in the indictment as "USGO-1," and a Defense Department employee identified as "DOD-B." Although USGO-1 has not been publicly identified, the people who have been officially briefed said that person was no longer in the government.
As the AIPAC's director of foreign policy issues, Mr. Rosen was a well-known figure in foreign policy circles related to the Middle East, inside and outside the government. He helped Aipac set its lobbying goals and maintained relationships with powerful conservatives in the Bush administration. Mr. Weissman was a senior Middle East analyst.
Several Middle East experts noted that Mr. Satterfield was never regarded as particularly supportive of AIPAC's views on Israel. One analyst at an independent consulting firm recalled attending a conference AIPAC held for Congressional staff members, during which Mr. Satterfield talked about United States policy toward Israel. She recalled that Mr. Satterfield was met with a mixed reception because his comments were not in line with AIPAC's views.
SATTERFIELD NAMED IN AIPAC INDICTMENT
David Satterfield, who served as the second-ranking Middle East officer in the State Department, is the U.S. government official who is mentioned in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee indictment.
The U.S. Justice Department is accusing two former officials in the lobby, former AIPAC policy director Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, of unlawfully receiving classified information and passing it on to Israeli diplomats and to members of the press. Satterfield is not described as the source of this classified information in the indictment, which focuses on information the two AIPAC lobbyists received from Larry Franklin, an analyst in the Pentagon's Iran desk.
The New York Times reported Thursday that Satterfield was the person who was in touch with Rosen and that he was the one who discussed classified information with Rosen. Legal sources close to the case confirmed that Satterfield's name has come up in the context of the investigation.
The indictment, handed down on August 4, does not mention Satterfield by name, but refers to him as "Government Official 2" (USGO2). The indictment details two separate meetings Satterfield held with Rosen, both in 2002, in which classified information was discussed, though it is not clear what this information was and whether Satterfield has broken any law by discussing the information with the AIPAC lobbyist.
According to the report, the State Department consulted with the Department of Justice prior to appointing Satterfield to his new post, as deputy chief of mission in Baghdad, and was informed that Satterfield is not a suspect in the case and that it should have no effect on his new assignment.
As a senior official at the Near East bureau of the State Department, Satterfield was in close contact with all those who deal with the Middle East, including representatives of AIPAC.
Another U.S. official is mentioned in the indictment as "Government Official 1" (USGO1). This official's name was not available, but it is presumed that he too is a former employee in the State Department Near East bureau.
Three Israeli diplomats are also mentioned in the case, and referred to by code names "Foreign Official" -- FO1, FO2 and FO3. Israeli and American sources have identified FO3 as Naor Gilon, the former political officer at the Israeli embassy in Washington, and FO1 as Rafi Barak, former deputy chief of mission at the embassy. Israeli sources emphasized that, contrary to prior media reports, ambassador Danny Ayalon is not the diplomat referred to in the indictment as FO2.
The trial of Rosen, Weissman and Franklin is due to begin on January 3 at the U.S. federal district court in Alexandria, Virginia.
Behind the Headlines
NEWS REVELATIONS IN AIPAC CASE RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT FBI MOTIVES
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
WASHINGTON -- 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.
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."