Feds want to dig through archives for clues against AIPAC

washington (jta) | The FBI is casting its net at least as far back as the 1980s in its attempt to prove a pattern in the government’s classified information case against two former Jewish lobbyists.

The recent revelation that the FBI wants to plough through decades-old files belonging to the late investigative reporter Jack Anderson is the latest sign that the government has not yet prepared its case against Steve Rosen, former foreign policy director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Keith Weissman, AIPAC’s former Iran analyst.

Government delays in assessing what evidence should be classified and what should be used have pushed the trial back from April to August, and prosecutors still are scrambling to find precedents for a case that the defense and judge say is unprecedented.

The questions also have contributed to concerns among free-speech advocates that the case is an assault on the First Amendment.

Mark Feldstein, director of the journalism school at George Washington University, said he was “shocked” when FBI agents came asking for access to Anderson’s files. The family has given the files to Feldstein, for archiving and because he is writing a book about the muckraking journalist, who died last December.

“As they explained it to me, they were looking for additional evidence for their case against the lobbyists,” Feldstein said. “They grilled me about which pro-Israel reporters worked for Anderson, and which ones had connections to Anderson.”

Feldstein would not release the documents. The FBI still may pursue them through the courts.

FBI spokesman Bill Carter, who would not comment on the AIPAC aspect of the case, said the government’s interest in the files was natural.

“An individual came to us that had seen the documents and indicated that there were a number of classified U.S. government documents in the collection,” said Carter. “Our concern was that since the plan was to make the documents available to the public, to make sure that no classified documents would be made available to foreign agents.”