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Ear to the Ground

Justice Dept. Drops AIPAC Spy Case

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Posted on May 1, 2009
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Charges against former AIPAC lobbysts Steven Rosen, left, and Keith Weissman have been dropped by the Justice Department.

President Obama’s Justice Department has moved to drop all espionage charges against two former AIPAC lobbyists after they were accused of disseminating sensitive information to journalists and diplomats gleaned from conversations with senior Bush administration officials.

The New York Times:

The Obama Justice Department moved Friday to drop all charges against two former pro-Israel lobbyists who had been charged under the Espionage Act with improperly disseminating sensitive information.

The move by the government came in a motion filed with the federal court in Alexandria, Va., which was to be the site of the trial that was scheduled to begin June 2.

The prosecution’s case against Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman suffered several setbacks in rulings from the trial judge. At the same time, the case was fraught with deep political dimensions, as it raised [the] delicate issue of behind-the-scenes lobbying over Middle East policy and the role played by American Jewish supporters of Israel.

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By Sepharad, May 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment

Robert, re billboards: businesses and publications cave to advertiser/public/government pressures all the time. (In publications, a longterm FoI study found that advertisers had more effect on what a newspaper or magazine printed or did not print than any other form of censorship, including governmental.) I think people should be able to publish whatever they have to say, and that economic or political group pressure should not have a role in suppressing this.

But you and I both know that ALL special interest groups and politically motivated groups organize to suppress free speech and intimidate the speakers or writers all the time. E.g., pro-Palestinian groups mobilize on campuses and at public demonstrations to shut down pro-Israel comment. I’m not saying it’s OK for anyone to do this, but pro-Palestinian groups do just as much wheeling and dealing and pr and pressuring and trying to encourage boycotts and exclusion of all sorts against Israel—maybe more. Some people buy what one group asserts, others do not. What matters is that the right to express opinions isn’t lost in the process. It’s just as wrong for pro-Palestinians to shout down an Israeli politician speaking to a university audience, or threaten university students on campus with a booth and a pro-Israel message,  as it is for pro-Israelis to pressure an advertiser to drop their anti-Israel messages.

I also think America has to figure out, define and stick to its own best interests vis a vis Iran. We certainly did not get into WWII for the European Jews, but for our ally Britain as well as Europe, and for control of the southern Pacific. Israel is an ally, also a country that provides a huge number of medical, technical, cultural, environmental and scholarly contributions to the world far out of proportion to its size. Despite all the anti-Zionist propaganda on this site and elsewhere, there is much to admire in that country. Some of the things Israel does are not good, and people who care about her should (and do) call for an accounting and work for change. Given the amount of free-floating anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe though this country has its share of anti-Semites too, some of them on this site, it’s more important than ever for Israel to survive as a majority-Jewish nation (and to also recognize that the Palestinians also have an equivalent rightful claim on part of Old Palestine).

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By Sepharad, May 2, 2009 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment

felicity, good point. Having spent so many years working fulltime to get the FoI Act passed in ‘60s and early ‘70s, I sometimes feel all the effort was for naught. As long as the President and a few others have the right to classify whatever the hell they like for as long as they like—exactly what the Act was designed to prohibit; don’t executive branch lawyers ever READ it?—the time and expense to actually get something that is no threat to national security declassified is more daunting than most people are willing or able to challenge. What puzzles me is why the executive branch continues to break that law as written, and they never go to jail like any other lawbreaker, let alone respect or enforce it. Suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that anyone still follows the Voting Rights Act provisions.

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By omop, May 2, 2009 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

To paraphrase a European website, ” Obama was propelled into the US Senate and the Presidency race as early as 2004. He entered the scene during the Democratic convention for John Kerry’s nomination.

At that time he was an unknown member of the Illinois Senate, but was already controlled and coached by Abner Mikva and his men (Jews for Obama), and he had the support of the Anglo-Saxon financial sphere (Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan,etc)”

At the present the calm in the Middle East seems a bit unreal;- the Lebanese generals complicit in the Hariri assassination have been released; the Iranians have begun receiving their Sam’s missiles from Russia, Hezbolla is armed to the gills; the King of Jordan acts as if his days are numbered; Israeli exports to Europe are down dramatically; for all the vaunted military hardware Israel receives from the US the IDF in its latest ventures has acquired Nazi-like characterizations and condemnations.

America has let “junior” have his way for far too long (60 years) and the chickens have come to roost. Allowing Israel/AIPAC to do what its been doing for the past 60 odd years in the USA and then accusing them of spying is similar to a punch and judy show.

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By felicity, May 2, 2009 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

Sepharad (etal) - In 2004, information was classified at request of president or designated agency heads (and just about anyone else with a halfway plausible excuse) 45.6 million times (at a cost of $7 billion, by the way.)

And that was just for the year 2004. Seems like the ‘threat of revealing classified information’ should prevent any in government or remotely connected to it from ever going to trial for anything. The lesson here?  If I’m considering committing a criminal act, I’ll be sure to somehow involve the government in it.

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By Robert, May 2, 2009 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

Billboards criticizing US aid to Israel taken down under pressure Source: Mondoweiss

04.29.2009 | Mondoweiss

“A few weeks ago we posted about ten billboards going up around Albuquerque, NM calling for congress to cut off aid to Israel. They were put up by The Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel, a multi-ethnic, multi-religious coalition working to “end to the ten year commitment of $30 billion in U.S. taxpayer-funded military aid pledged to Israel in 2007 by the Bush administration.” Today, the coalition sent out a press release saying that although Lamar Outdoor Advertising had signed a contract to run the billboards for eight weeks, they care coming down after three. From the press release:

  On April 8th, the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel erected the billboards throughout the Albuquerque area in order to inform the public about the misuse of their tax dollars, denominated in human lives. The group was motivated by concern for the Palestinian people who had recently been subjected to a massive invasion of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military. Over 1,400 Palestinians – mostly civilian, including three hundred children – were killed and over 5,000 were injured. In 2007 the Bush administration signed a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30 billion of U.S. taxpayer dollars to Israel over a ten year period beginning in 2008. The majority of these dollars will be used to purchase American-made weapons.

  The design of the billboard had been approved by Lamar and the billboards’ wording and final image were suggested by Lamar’s graphics designer.

  According to information from Lamar, it appears groups claiming to be pro-Israel have conducted a campaign to pressure Lamar to remove the billboards. The Coalition believes this is a deliberate attempt to silence its right to free speech because the humanitarian message of the billboards supports equal rights for the Palestinian people, thereby necessitating criticism of Israel.”

http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/nazi-party-on-the-offensive-again/

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By Robert, May 2, 2009 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

May Day Weekend Edition
May 1 - 3, 2009

Iran and the Israel Lobby’s Frustration

Dropping the AIPAC Spying Case

By GARY LEUPP

“On August 4, 2005 American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) operatives Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman were arrested on charges relating to espionage on behalf of Israel.

This had a lot to do with Iran. It followed the arrest in May 2004 of Larry Franklin, the Pentagon’s top Iran analyst by the FBI after he had been caught turning over secret documents (including ones pertaining to Iran) to Israeli Embassy staffers including Mossad Station Chief Naor Gilon.

(Franklin had worked in the Office of Special Plans under neocons Douglas Feith and Abram Shulsky and participated in the Rome meeting in December 2001 with Michael Ledeen that likely hatched the Niger uranium forged letters plot.) He was given a reduced sentence of 12 ½ years for cooperating with prosecutors in January 2006.

You might suppose that Israeli intelligence officers would have intimate access to U.S. intelligence without resorting to espionage.  According to retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, Israeli officials didn’t even need to sign in when visiting Feith’s Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon when she worked there in 2002.This whole affair is testimony to the extraordinary concern of the Jewish state with Iran, with knowing whatever the U.S. knows about Iran’s nuclear program, and with influencing U.S. plans to “deal with” Iran.

Sometime after the Rosen-Weissman arrests Jane Harman had a telephone conversation with a “suspected Israeli agent” under NSA wiretap. The agent asked her, as a California Representative and member of the Intelligence Committee to use her influence to reduce the charges against the indicted men.  She agreed to “waddle in” to the matter, “if you think it would make a difference” but thought she might have more influence with an unnamed official at the White House.

This would be done in exchange for the Israeli agent arranging for an AIPAC fundraiser (widely identified as California billionaire Haim Saban) to put pressure on Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat expected to become House speaker after the 2006 election, to select Harman as head of the Intelligence Committee.  Justice Department lawyers upon hearing the tape felt that they had caught the congresswoman in a “completed crime” demanding investigation.

The Congressional leadership including Pelosi was subsequently notified of the wiretap, although Harman only became aware of it last week. But Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez declined to even authorize such an investigation, because, according to Stein and others, the Bush administration appreciated her services to date in supporting the administration’s program of illegal surveillance and expected her to provide further services in future. (Okay, their reasoning apparently went, so she was wheeling and dealing politically with an Israeli agent. But she was helping them persuade the New York Times to sit on its story about their warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens. “We need Jane,” Gonzalez reportedly declared.)”

http://www.counterpunch.org/leupp05012009.html

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By Folktruther, May 2, 2009 at 10:04 am Link to this comment

Good link to Justin, Beerdoctor, but only plutocrats drink St Paulis.  Get you to Trader Joes where they have really good beer for 3 or 4 dollars a sixpack which also has a greater alchahol cpntent to get you drunk faster.

Just the folktruther special service for good links.

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By Sepharad, May 2, 2009 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

Computer back and functioning.

Just read a longer story of the dropping of this case and doubt than any laws were broken, though AIPAC lobbyists trying to influence Harlan were definitely out of line. Re Weissman and Rosen, the NYTimes story said “Advocates of civil liberties and of open government asserted that the defendants were being singled out for activities that were part of the accepted and routine way that American policy on Israel and the Middle East had been formulated for years, with people exchanging information. ... The case would have been the first prosecution under the [WWI] espionage law in which no documents were involved and in which the defendants were not officials who provided the information, but the private citizens who received it from them in conversations. While Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman trafficked in facts, ideas and rumor, they had done so with the full awareness of officials in the U.S. and Israel, who found they often helped lubrifcate the wheels of decision-making between two close, but sometimes quarrelsome, friends.”

Still, the AIPAC effort to bribe a congresswoman is something that seems to cross a line that, if not illegal, should be.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 2, 2009 at 7:27 am Link to this comment

No, there is nothing surprising about this except that those Obama believers who thought the president’s speech at AIPAC was just campaign rhetoric. The fact that this same group is now hell bent on going to war with Iran, with United States assistance, should give everyone pause.

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By Pod, May 2, 2009 at 7:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No surprise here. Anyone that doesn’t know that AIPAC has out government in its hip pocket is clearly delusional.

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By Walldizo, May 2, 2009 at 6:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Now here comes the real Obama.For a while we dared to think that change has come to correct the discourse that disgrased the US image in the world.Unfortunatly,it was a short lived optimism.Dropping the charges against AIPAC’s henchmen proves that change as promised was but a mirage that could hardly materialized for those who fought hard to bring change to the White-House.Obama should be tought that winning harts and minds of the Arab and Muslim worlds start with his own emacipation from the Zionist hyenas.Its apparant that Israel lobby is still as strong and influential as ever, an augury for another chapter of lies and deciptions.

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By Gerard, May 2, 2009 at 5:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am giving up in believing in the greatness of the United States of America.

We have all these discussions over if we should torture people or not; we see the loss of assets and pension benefits of people who have worked hard all of their life; and now we see the justice department relinquishig its responsibility to send spies on trial for political reasons.

Better keep the military powerful because the USA will need it to be respected throughout the world in the future.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 2, 2009 at 4:48 am Link to this comment

I was just waiting for Truthdig to cover this story, so I could provide this link:

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2009/04/30/the-lobby-wants-war/

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By dsmith, May 2, 2009 at 4:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Remember these documents revealed the secret US position on Iran. (Iran is in the cross hairs of Israel and they want the US to do their dirty work…bomb Iran and create more havoc in the middle east.)

Currently Israel is working the system to stop the Swiss from refining Iran’s oil into gasoline and then shipping it back to Iran. This would certainly cripple Iran and it’s economy.

I agree with the European politician…How can one shitty little country (Israel) create so many problems?

I’m for cutting off US aid to Israel (which they recycle back into the US to buy political influence…with our own tax dollars)until there is a Palestinian state.

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By foggyjones, May 2, 2009 at 2:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

OMG, AIPAC has boldly kicked ordinary Americans right in the arze and pizzed on the Flag, again. They no longer pretend where they stand and now with those like Jane Harman, Pelosi, Feinstein, Schumer and the borscht belt assembly in power places, their arrogance and audacity is no longer hidden. It is an “in your face” act today. This goes far beyond hubris, it is overt and an outright dare: “Yeh, we did it and so whatcha gonna do about it?”

I feel like little Oliver Twist (despite still being a former skilled combat vet) begging for a second bowl of thin soup, “Please sire, more?)

I can only come to the believe their motives come from and are justified by the endless story of the never-ending story of the Holocaust. It has become and never-ending excuse to do anything that is necessary to take everything possible of wealth and power to achieve ultimate domination in the USA. It is not about religion, it is based on revenge and the end game is pure evil, power, revenge on the world and owning all the stuff. Even the land, homes and jobs. All the existing means of farming and industry. With false sciences, control of education and the means of communications it is possbie to take our minds. Thus, they create a small and immensely weathly aristocracyh and a nation of deluded servants, most which they disdain and are quick to use or punish. The character in “1984,” Silverstein or was it Goldberg thought it all through and managed Britania the same way. Alas, this week the enemy is Oceania next week Iran and keep an eye on Lebanon. What a jaundiced view of life. What a crime against all humanity. Other than the complete anihlation of mankind, this is a reptilian kind of thinking. I know of what I speak, I crossed over and would not be surprized at anything their relentlessk,complex plan entails. These reptiles have no meaning or purpose but taking, amassing and seeking complete domination. And a drugged, dumbed down population are truly helpless. As Henry Kissinger said decades ago, traditional American cannot win, in the long run they lack the relentless will to fight and achieve victory. That was extinguished after WW2. One man cannot do it. We are easily distract and generally accept the repetitious propagand on mainstream media, all of their closely held media with doctored news and mindwashing movies from their Hollywood factories. Pure relentless psycological warfare against to teach the chilren. Even the angry music and the drugs are no accident. I had rather have Rev. Wright and Lewis Ferakhan guiding us that what seems to have begun with the Reagan years that has lead to the misguided leaders in charge nowadays. I am now a stranger in a strange land. I doubt that I can live in this brave new world, not for very much longer. Maybe I have enough left to throw in the towel and manage to emmigrate. Uk? Italy? New Zealand or even the Carribean and live a short life searching for Margarittivile. I just don’t want to play in this game anymore. Battered troops who managed to march home from Gettysbergy might have felt the same. My stomach is rumbling, again.

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By Sam Clemenz, May 1, 2009 at 10:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sad indeed!!!  Change? - yeah right!

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By samosamo, May 1, 2009 at 6:38 pm Link to this comment

By ThaddeusStephens, May 1 at 8:54 pm

Thanks for the list or rollcall. Very well stated. I can only add to it by adamantly saying that the people’s control will return with the shuting down of the biggest bribery scheme going, lobbyists.

I don’t have heineken but I will drink to you with a st. pauli girl.

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By ThaddeusStephens, May 1, 2009 at 5:54 pm Link to this comment

This article, among so many, points to one fact:
Our government is completely fractured and ineffective in its one supposed purpose-to have the sole power of coercion.
The AIPAC lobby sets our government’s foreign policy towards Israel.
The energy companies (like Exxon Mobil) have been instrumental in setting energy goals and public policy on mass transit.  They have often obtained huge public handouts despite their great wealth.

Health insurance and physician’s groups dictate policy on a move towards national health insurance reform.

The major media conglomerates have dictated public policy regarding control of the broadcast and wire and cable services.

Every major corporate interest, if the money trough is deep enough, controls its own segment of the public policy that pertains to it - paper, mining, logging, electrical production-

Even inside the government corporate turf is surrounded by high castle walls and a near feudal state pervades. The CIA and the Pentagon both are major governments in their own right and dictate to Congress what the public policy will be. JFK was assassinated when he suggested the CIA should be disbanded. Martin Luther King likewise had to be martyred when he resisted the control the military had over the making of public policy.

Fractured governments inevitably rely on holders of large wealth to maintain control over a restless populace.

Pass me another Heineken please.

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By truedigger3, May 1, 2009 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment

In the very near future, I wouldn’t be surprised if
Pollard was released too!!!

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By Observant, May 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Another prime example as to who`s running this country.
A well known fact by the majority of “informed people” in this country,in spite of all the Lies the Zionist controlled media is pouring out an a daily basis.
Obviously the rest of the world knows it as well.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/05/20095118549553841.html

It only underlines again that >Poor Obama . . change we can believe in< is being controlled by those >very same Zionist on every level of Gov<..

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1029302.html

....and will >only be allowed to follow their orders and as they please<
Period.

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By Big B, May 1, 2009 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

Tropicgirl,

Truer words were never spoken! Barry has yet to meet an ex-clintonian neo-liberal asshole that he would not cow-tow too. I am begining to believe that, like Ronny Reagan, Barry has never had an original thought pass through his pointed head.

Why should we be surprised that Barry is permitting the well financed jewish lobby to piss down his back? After all, they had to stand in line with their dork in their hands waiting for the bank lobby, the AMA, and chamber of commerce to shake twice and not wash their hands.

I have said it before, Barry is a gutless swine. If you are liberal, and you’re waiting for Barry to do the right thing, I would suggest not holding your breath.

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By Chet Roman, May 1, 2009 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Franklin got 12 years in jail for his involvement in this spying case but the AIPAC spies are free. It is time that AIPAC be required to register as an agent for a foreign power. The U.S. has lost control of its foreign policy and now we are losing control over our judicial system.

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By artie, May 1, 2009 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Israel’s treachery and duplicity visa the USA have been clear for 60 years, but millions of American Zionists, in and out of government, support and aid it. They will be a major cause of our downfall.

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By Druthers, May 1, 2009 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

How can our gouvernment justify any detention under criminal charges if torturing and spying are not considered crimes? 
One justice system for the Washington insiders and another for the rabble?  Will we soon have debtors prisons for those who cannot pay the banks and find themselves on the street?

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By Diane K. Morris, May 1, 2009 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I wonder if the Supreme Court pick will have to be cleared by AIPAC?

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By Sepharad, May 1, 2009 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My computer is still non—functional (mail lost the part that was to replace broken one)but can occasionally use this one for short times if not registered. (If anyone asks a question and I don’t respond for a few days it won’t be out of disinterest—just non-access to a computer.)

What has puzzled me from the outset about this case is why, if Rosen and Weissman were actually acting as spies, would they have revealed whatever information they had to a whole group of people including news journalists? Have always envisioned spying as a matter of conveying the information surreptitiously, in privacy. If they are indeed spies they aren’t very good ones. (On the other hand, Daniel Ellsberg stole and leaked the Pentagon Papers to the NYTimes. I was at the FoI Center at the time and before publishing the Times asked for an amicus brief to be used in their defense if necessary, which I helped prepare.)

Re why the case was dropped, if the “classified” material was an issue wouldn’t it have already been released to the newspeople who spoke with Weissman and Rosen? As a supporter of the existence of Israel as a Jewish-majority state, I do NOT think that lobbyists should get a free pass if they break an American law, and this case should not have been dropped. In my experience, roughly 75% of “classified” information actually does not need to be classified. The prosecutors should ask for a hearing on the nature of that material.

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By Folktruther, May 1, 2009 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

Zionism is largely running US foreign policy in the interests of Israel. Rosen led the campaign against Freeman to head an intelligence agency while under indictment. In effect Israeli agents are selecting or at least holding a veto of US appointments.

On Zionism, Obama is to the RIGHT of the Bushites.  These two were indicted by Bushites and freed under Obama. And this determines US foreign policy on Arabs and Moslims, and US domestic policy as well.  Harman sponsored the thought control bill to censor the Internet and American civlil liberties under Aipac aegis.

It isn’t possible to end the War on Terrorism, and the troture and spying it legitimated without restricting Zionist power in the US power structure.

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By Fadel Abdallah, May 1, 2009 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

Congratulations, Zionists, you now run this country openly! You’re the real masters in control!

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By Fadel Abdallah, May 1, 2009 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

It’s been a while since Zionists did not make news, at least on Truthdig. And I thought of this as being the calm that precedes the storm!

So here comes another storm whereby the ever-in-control Zionists order the Obama Administration to drop the case against those two sacred cows, doing the “jihad” on behalf of beloved Israel!

Another travesty of justice and another proof of who really runs the policies and politics of this sad country, known as USA!

The Obama Administration will prove to be the first Zionist administration to run this country openly, without the fig-leaf that previous administrations always used to hide behind!

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By tropicgirl, May 1, 2009 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

Obama is a moral coward.

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By samosamo, May 1, 2009 at 10:23 am Link to this comment

““Obama’s Justice Department has moved to drop all espionage charges against two ex-AIPAC lobbyists after they were accused of disseminating sensitive information to journalists and diplomats information gleamed from conversations with senior Bush officials.”“
************

Of course, obama’s justice department won’t prosecute, izrael, via the american izraeli public affairs committee, is the real governing body of the USA. Obama made that clear in his campaign as a condition of his becoming president.

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By Frank, May 1, 2009 at 10:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What a shocker! NOT!

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By jr., May 1, 2009 at 10:03 am Link to this comment

Why does this not surprise me.

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