2009-05-06 / Editorial

Government was right to end ill-conceived case

When two staff members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) were charged under the 1917 Espionage Act several years ago, the case sent shock waves throughout the pro-Israel community. Many worried that advocating for Israel, being concerned about Israel's security, and disseminating information that was readily available in the public domain could lead to criminal charges.

Could the government really sustain espionage charges against the two men, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman?

The answer clearly is no.

As the case went forward, it became apparent that the Justice Department had no case. The fact that the government dropped the charges last week proves that. Unfortunately, however, much damage has already been done.

Rosen and Weissman have lived under a cloud of suspicion. Their lives and careers have been disrupted. The stresses they have endured must have been enormous. Many enemies of Israel and enemies of the Jewish people will continue to believe that Rosen and Weissman are guilty and that American Jews are disloyal to the United States.

The case has also sullied the reputation of AIPAC and the right to freedom of speech guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. A prosecution does not have to be successful in order to have a chilling effect on those seeking only to exercise their rights. People as individuals and as representatives of organizations think twice before expressing their views if they know the end result could be a long jail term.

The two men, dedicated advocates for Israel, were never criminals. They were victims of overzealous prosecutors. .

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