Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 8:00 PM ET, 02/23/2011

AIPAC wins court battle with former top official Rosen

By Jeff Stein

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Wednesday dismissed a $20 million defamation suit brought by a leading pro-Israel activist against his former employer, in a high-profile battle that involved charges of espionage and pornography.

In 2009, Steven J. Rosen brought suit against officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Washington’s most powerful pro-Israel lobby, charging it defamed him by firing him in 2005 with a statement to the New York Times alleging that his conduct “did not comport with standards that AIPAC expects of its employees.”

At the time, Rosen and another AIPAC official, Keith Weissman, were under investigation by the Justice Department on suspicion of illegally obtaining classified documents from a Pentagon official. Espionage-related charges against them were eventually dropped.

Rosen, AIPAC’s director of foreign policy issues for many years, contended that he was fired because Justice Department officials threatened to make AIPAC a target in their investigation if it didn’t. He contended that AIPAC had not only condoned his gathering of sensitive national security information from government officials, but encouraged it.

Their legal struggle turned tawdry late last year, when AIPAC added to its claims of misconduct by charging in a motion that that Rosen watched pornography on his office computer. Rosen countered that some top AIPAC officials did, too.

But in granting AIPAC’s motion for a summary judgment, D.C. Superior Court Judge Erik P. Christian said that a jury would find it “impossible” to figure out what AIPAC’s standards of conduct are, not to mention whether Rosen had violated them.

“Allowing Rosen’s claim to go to trial would task the jury with identifying the standards referred to in the March 3 Times article, determining whether AIPAC had such express or implied standards, and determining whether Rosen’s conduct was in accordance with those standards,” Christian wrote.

“As explained above, these would be impossible tasks. At the same time, inviting a jury to scrutinize and second-guess an employer’s policies and business judgment would effectively convert this garden-variety claim for defamation into one for wrongful termination or discrimination. In contrast to those employment claims, the issue in this case is not the veracity of AIPAC’s motivation for firing Rosen … The issue is the objective truth of AIPAC’s public statement concerning Rosen’s firing. It is on this limited issue that the Court concludes that the statement is not provably false, and therefore, not defamatory as a matter of law.”

Rosen could not be reached immediately for comment.

[UPDATE: "We are likely to appeal," Rosen said.  "But I am not making any other statement at this time."

AIPAC spokesman Patrick Dorton, a target of Rosen’s suit, hailed the decision.

“We are very pleased that the Superior Court has granted summary judgment and ended Steve Rosen's defamation lawsuit against AIPAC and its spokesman. The court’s decision, that the statements made by AIPAC and its spokesman were not defamatory, support AIPAC’s continued assertion that this lawsuit was frivolous and had no basis in fact.”

By Jeff Stein  | February 23, 2011; 8:00 PM ET
Categories:  Financial/business, Intelligence, Lawandcourts  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Ray Davis rescue? 'Mission Impossible,' CIA vet says
Next: CIA's top Libyan contact Musa Kusa may go down with Gaddafi

Comments

'Court Judge Erik P. Christian said that a jury would find it “impossible” to figure out what AIPAC’s standards of conduct are, not to mention whether Rosen had violated them.'

I can tell you that it is easy to figure out what AIPAC' standards of conduct are.......They encourage our elected officials to do the work for Israel over the business of those who elected the officials. Nothing else matters as long as they gain. AIPAC should be considered an agent of a foreign nation but of course our leaders would never make aipac follow the low.

Posted by: tomofsnj | February 24, 2011 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm willing to be that said DC judge was of the same ilk as the bucks for kids scam in PA. There's nothing like a little something under the table to sweeten up that deal. AIPAC wins again. Pretty soon, the Star of David will be flown over the Capitol in lieu of the star spangled banner.

Posted by: trailingbegonia | February 24, 2011 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company