A Second Search of AIPAC

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FBI agents today searched the office of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for a second time in the past four months, seeking evidence to determine whether two AIPAC officials received classified information from a former Pentagon analyst and passed the data to Israeli government officials. The probe, being conducted by an FBI counter-intelligence squad attached to the bureaus Washington field office, is aimed at determining whether U.S. laws against espionage or mishandling of classified information have been breached. An AIPAC spokesman says the group has done nothing wrong and is cooperating fully with the government. According to a statement from the group, the FBI delivered subpoenas ordering "four senior AIPAC staff" members to appear before a federal grand jury.

FBI agents searched AIPAC offices for the first time on August 27. At the time, officials confirmed that agents had interviewed Steven Rosen, AIPAC director of policy issues, copied his computer hard drive and searched his office. Today, according to federal sources, agents went to AIPAC offices at 10 a.m. today armed with a search warrant for the files of officials Steven Rosen, AIPAC director of foreign policy issues, and AIPAC Iran expert Keith Weissman.

According to government sources FBI counter-intelligence agents have been looking for at least two years at allegations that AIPAC, a powerful Washington lobby, has been obtaining classified data and passing it to Israeli government officials. Several months ago, FBI agents focused on Larry Franklin, then a Pentagon analyst, and confronted him with evidence that he had passed classified information to AIPAC officials. Franklin agreed to cooperate covertly, sources said, and provided some information to the FBI about his contacts with AIPAC officials. After word of the case was leaked to the press in September, Franklin and his lawyers began negotiating with prosecutions for a plea agreement, but those negotiations stalled in October. Since then, the case has lingered unresolved.

Sources say prosecutors still have no plans to charge the AIPAC officials with whom Franklin was in contact. The objective of todays searches, the sources say, is to attempt to find evidence that could bolster the case now being assembled by federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Va.