WASHINGTON (JTA) — Former senior AIPAC staffer Steve Rosen says he attempted in 1984 to disseminate information linking Libyan funders to the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign.
Rosen told reporters Thursday that Jackson was the candidate mentioned in documents he filed this week in his defamation lawsuit against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
In the filing, Rosen attempts to prove that AIPAC defamed him when its spokesman, Patrick Dorton, said repeatedly that Rosen was fired for not comporting with AIPAC’s standards in the wake of FBI allegations that he and another AIPAC staffer handled classified information.
Rosen refers to a 1984 incident in which he claims to have handled classified information regarding allegations that Libya’s U.N. delegation funded a presidential candidate.
"The FBI was investigating Mr. Rosen’s receipt of classified information that members of Libya’s U.N. Mission had provided money to a U.S. presidential candidate’s staff," the filing says, "and the then-Executive Director of AIPAC (Tom Dine) and senior members of the AIPAC Board of Directors had obtained legal counsel for Mr. Rosen (Leonard Garment) and, being informed of Mr. Rosen’s activities at the time, endorsed them and gave Mr. Rosen high marks in his performance appraisals thereafter."
In an interview, Rosen identified the candidate as Jackson, although he emphasized that it was never alleged that Jackson himself knew of the cash handoff.
Rosen said that a government official leaked him the information because the official was upset with an FBI decision to drop the case. Rosen informed a U.S. Senate staffer and reporters. The reporters, from The Washington Post, never pursued the matter, Rosen said, because they could never get it confirmed by a second source.
The FBI wanted to ask Rosen questions about the leak, Rosen recalled, but on the advice of AIPAC and its counsel decided not to cooperate. The case ended there, he said.
Dine told JTA on Tuesday that he did not recall anything about the incident except that there were always rumors — that he did not credit — that Jackson took money from Libya. Jackson’s office in Chicago did not return a request for comment.
The FBI would not comment on either case; a spokesman said the agency does not comment on cases until charges have been brought.
According to Rosen, none were brought against Jackson’s campaign or against him.
Dorton in a statement said that AIPAC never authorized the handling of classified information.
"As we have stated in our motion for summary judgment in this defamation case, AIPAC strongly disagrees with Mr. Rosen’s portrayal of events and circumstances related to this litigation," he said. "AIPAC does not seek, use or request anything but legal and appropriate information as part of its work."