WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Newly released US Department of State investigation files reveal how the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) acquisition of classified US national defense information harmed national security. (Web documents) In 1976 the Ford administration proposed selling improved Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Jordan. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee received a classified Department of Defense notification of sale. AIPAC's Director Morris Amitay reviewed the classified document after being informed "secretly by aides of Senator Clifford P. Case, Republican of New Jersey, and Representative Jonathan B. Bingham, Democrat of New York" according to the New York Times.
Criminal investigation files released on January 20, 2012 confirm the disclosure to AIPAC was "unauthorized" and included the dollar amounts and quantitative configurations of the missile system. The State Department found that "…specific details of Jordan's military equipment needs are information provided us in confidence by that government. The classification of the documents in question was, in our view, substantively proper."
Amitay and AIPAC quickly mounted a massive campaign in opposition to the missile sale, telling public pressure groups that the weapons were capable of "providing cover for offensive operations against Israel." Jordan subsequently considered buying a similar system from the Soviet Union. According to the US Department of State, "Had Jordan actually entered into such a major arms-supply relationship with the Soviets, this would have had a significant adverse impact on U.S. national defense interests and on U.S.-Jordanian relations."
The US State Department sent analysis about the feasibility of criminally prosecuting Amitay to the Department of Justice. "With the public disclosure of the information having already occurred, the authorization of its release for the purpose of prosecution would not be expected to cause damage with our relations with Jordan." However Amitay was never charged and continued to serve as director of AIPAC until he resigned 1980 to establish a political action committee in Washington.
The newly declassified State Department files could aid former AIPAC employee Steven J. Rosen. On February 14 Rosen presents oral arguments in the DC Court of Appeals claiming that handling such classified data has long been standard practice at AIPAC. Rosen sued AIPAC for $20 million after it fired him in 2005. AIPAC claimed Rosen's classified information gathering activities "did not comport with standards that AIPAC expects of its employees."