AIPAC conference

For the last few days, I watched several speeches given by various Congresspeople and US officials delivered to the AIPAC national conference, which meets yearly to discuss/dictate policy in the Middle East, specifically in regard to Israel.

For those that don’t know, AIPAC stands for the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee. It is widely regarded as the most influential lobbying group in Washington, and I have a website that lists contributions that AIPAC makes to US congress members, and it is interesting to note the correlation between those contributed funds and the voting record of the recipients when it comes to Israeli aid and the general foreign policy in the Middle East.

That aside, I think the argument can easily be made that the US system of representation is too easily corrupted by all manner of lobbying groups ; whatever side of the political line you find youself on (or if you subscribe to the circular model of political alignments), it is hard to deny that US congress members are bombarded by special interest groups and their commitment to voting on behalf of their constituents must be called into question. There are currently more than 68,000 registered lobbyists in Washington DC; vying for the souls of 100 US senators and 435 US representatives!

Now why was I so upset with the AIPAC conference and the list of US officials giving speeches there?

Because last year Larry Franklin was quickly indicted on passing classified information to 2 high-ranking members of AIPAC (Rosen and Weissman). Franklin worked at the Pentagon as an analyst on Iran, and he inadvertently stumbled into an FBI investigation of AIPAC’s practices in the Unites States, specifically relating to espionage activities. Rosen and Weissman quickly resigned, and one might think that this issue would be considered newsworthy to US presses, and one would be right if considering alternative presses. The story could not even make the front page of any prominent newspaper! According to the mainstream presses in the US, the Franklin-AIPAC event was a non-event, which is scandalous.

AIPAC enjoys tax-exempt status in the US. AIPAC has had a history of spying in the US. I could offer another example of a high-ranking AIPAC official bragging of his influence over Clinton, but that shouldn’t be a feather in anyone’s cap because Clinton was pretty slimy when it came to caving into political influences (Mark Rich’s last-second pardon, his serious consideration of pardoning Jonathan Pollard (another spy for Israel) at the request of the ADL).

And yet, given the gravity and recent nature of this Franklin development, did it deter US officials from delivering speeches at the AIPAC national conference?
No!

Who were these US officials?

Ambassador John Bolton
Jane Harman
Richard Perle (aka “prince of darkness”)
William Kristol (not a US official, but editor of the Weekly Standard, a neo-con publication and he is frequently seen on CSPAN)
John Boehner
John Edwards
Evan Bayh
Susan Collins
VP Dick Cheney
Roy Blunt
Steny Hoyer

Well I watched several of the speeches, and they were pretty much identical content-wise: paraphrasing … ” The US and Israel have a “special” relationship. The world cannot stand for an Iran that threatens Israel. The US will put pressure on Iran (like it has been doing since its coup against Mossadegh in ’53), the US will protect Israel, the US will stand with Israel, We have seen anti-semitism on the rise in Europe and the Middle East , blah blah blah “

That was a rough paraphrasing , but on target.

To be crude, all of the US officials stood up there on stage and kissed AIPAC’s ass!

Next entry : Israel’s record in the OT in the last 5 years (to be continued)

Posted at 06:10 pm by Scottie

Posted by BP @ 03/08/2006 08:11 PM PST
Scottie…first of all welcome back…

Second, labels like “neocon” are not useful, since noone REALLY has figured out what the hell that means. Labels like “prince of darkness” are MUCH cooler….LOL

Third…this is really good stuff, although I would hesitate to look at the 68,000 vs. 535 and say…”lobbyists bad”, some could make the argument that without any lobbying mechanisms the 535 would be completely inaccessible except around election time. I would say given their influence, which is admittedly high, then the ratio of 68,000 to 300,000,000 is a more significant ratio.

I also agree that Israel is given some liberties that others are not, but given the investment that we have in them, it’s understandable we would prop them up. Now you can argue against that investment, but without it would we have ANY real stronghold of allies in the Middle East, and if that’s true is the argument that we don’t need that influence?

Just a thought…great post, though, and please keep it up.

Posted by scottie @ 03/08/2006 09:35 PM PST
One quick comment on Butch’s reply:

What about the heart of the matter on Larry Franklin’s passing classified info to AIPAC and AIPAC being heavily surveilled by the FBI for ongoing espionage activities? That was the core point that one year after a huge news story was silenced by the major media that US officials would have the temerity to deliver speeches hailing the efforts of the same group!

It’s fraudulent, and insulting to me as an American that political power can be wielded by groups that are, at their heart, unconcerned with this country and pre-occupied with occupying another country.

Posted by John Broussard @ 03/08/2006 09:52 PM PST
I must admit I am ambivalent about lobbying or campaign finance reform. I haven’t contributed to any politicians or PACs, I like the freedom to contribute to a cause I support. I don’t like the British model where the state has a complete monopoly on the media due to incredible television taxes. But this is proposed by progressives as a possible campaign reform. Just ban campaign ads and let the state control the media. When Howard Dean was raising money like mad from guys my age, who never contributed to a campaign before, I never heard them complain about the influence of outside money in a campaign. Ditto when Soros and company contributed to MoveOn.org etc. I support the right of Soros and the NRA, NAACP to contribute and solicit contributions to lobby for their cause.

Posted by BP @ 03/09/2006 07:07 AM PST
Scottie…no absolutely right…I addressed the generalities but the particulars of AIPAC passing classified info is VERY disturbing. No arguments from me.

Johnny, the worst thing to ever happen to political fundraising was McCain/Feingold. All it did was take away any accountability of the parties for the millions of dollars on campaign ads. I agree with you, though, that they do have the right to raise the money.

My biggest concern of lobbyists is the off campaign promises and potential bribes coupled with pork barrel deals that continually add to the size of our Government, thus taking more money from our pocket.

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