WASHINGTON (CN) – Former pro-Israel lobbyist Steven Rosen has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, claiming it caved to government pressure and fired him as director of foreign policy after the Department of Justice falsely accused him of leaking national defense secrets.
While working for AIPAC, Rosen claims it was his job to “obtain and share” foreign policy to fellow employees, supervisors and outsiders. But he insists he never spread the classified information the government accused him and former co-worker Keith Weissman of leaking to other lobbyists, foreign officials and the media.
About six months after the government’s allegations surfaced, AIPAC placed Rosen on involuntary administrative leave, “immediately after receiving threats from the Justice Department,” Rosen claims. The government allegedly threatened to go after the organization if it didn’t take action against Rosen and Weissman.
He claims AIPAC employees defamed him in the press, trying to distance themselves from Rosen, despite knowing that his conduct was in line with the company’s unstated policies. AIPAC spokesman Patrick Dorton falsely told The New York Times that Rosen had been fired because his actions diverged from “the conduct AIPAC expects from its employees,” the lawsuit claims. Dorton allegedly repeated this stance to a reporter for the New Yorker and other publications.
“At no time in the 23 years Mr. Rosen was employed by AIPAC did the organization provide in writing or orally any guidance or standards that he and other employees were expected to follow, regarding the receipt and sharing of information that might be offered by government officials,” Rosen claims.
“Moreover, the implied standards that were embodied in the organization’s normal practices over these decades were completely consistent with Mr. Rosen’s behavior.”
He demands $5 million in actual damages, $10 million in punitive damages against AIPAC and $500,000 in punitive damages against each individual AIPAC defendant.
His attorney is David Shapiro with Swick & Shapiro.
(On Feb. 26, Courthouse News reported on a 4th Circuit ruling allowing the use of redacted and summarized classified documents in Rosen and Weissman’s trial.)