US Department of State investigation files reveal the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) director received classified US national defense information. In 1975 the Ford administration tried to sell improved Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Jordan and duly sent notification containing classified Department of Defense data to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee. 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.
According to criminal investigation files released on January 20, 2012, this disclosure to AIPAC was "unauthorized" and included the dollar amounts and quantitative configurations of the missile system. The State Department considered "The 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 constituent public pressure groups that the weapons were capable of "providing cover for offensive operations against Israel." Jordan subsequently considered acquiring 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 Defense Department letter is still classified.
The US State Department advised the Justice Department on the feasibility of criminally prosecuting Amitay. "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 an Israel-oriented political action committee in Washington
|01202012_aipac_missile_case.pdf 1.6 MB||Author Norman F. Dacey, chairman of the American Palestine Committee, mounted an unsuccessful campaign to have the perpetrators of the classified information incident criminally prosecuted. A March 30, 1976 letter to Adolph Dubs, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs asks, "did you initiate action to discover the identity of the individual's) responsible for the violation and to institute appropriate action to punish the violator?" On April 29, 1976 the State Department forwarded Dacey's letter to the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice. "A notice of sale is normally not considered by the Department of Defense to require classification and protection...I would appreciate any comments you could offer on the issues presented by the letter..." On May 19, 1976 the State Department told Dacey "we consulted with the Justice Department informally after receipt of your first letter and, at their request, transmitted it to them for further consideration. The matter is still under review in the Justice Department, which expects to provide you with a direct response in the near future." On June 22, 1976 Dacey responded, "While we are certain that you have not intended to give the appearance of exhibiting disdain for public inquiries courteously submitted, the lack of any satisfactory response leaves us with no alternative to that conclusion. We do not wish to proceed publicly under sections 2383 and 2384 but you appear to leave us with no other course." On June 16, 1976 Dacey again pressures the State Department. "We have had no response....There has been a flagrant violation of the U.S. Criminal Code." On June 25, 1976, the State Department advised Dacey, "We are not aware that any Department of State official has failed to meet his obligations under applicable law and regulation regarding this document."|
November 4, 1976 US Department of State letter to the Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division and Director of the FBI. The letter responds to Department of Justice questions sent to the State Department on July 21, 1976.
"It is uncontested that the Department of Defense is the originating agency for the correspondence in question..." "The material appears to have been properly classified...the unauthorized disclosure of information on the numbers and value of important defense systems acquired by a foreign government could reasonably be expected to cause damage to that government's confidence in the United States as its major weapons supplier and thus cause damage to a significant aspect of our foreign relations. The 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."
"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."