Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Daniel Pipes: Why I Supported Steven J. Rosen

From DanielPipes.org:
On the other hand, he (along with his AIPAC colleague Keith Weissman) stood accused by the Bush administration of breaching the ominously-named Espionage Act of 1917, and faced criminal charges that could have landed him in jail for years. Although he was not accused of spying, his (and our) opponents reveled in calling him an "accused spy"; and, of course, we worried about the ramifications for us if he were found guilty.

During extensive consultations with the MEF's board of governors, I found a consensus on wishing to bring on board so formidable an analyst in his hour of need mixed with apprehension about the criminal case.

Two developments resolved the dilemma for us in September 2008. Our study of the government's case convinced us of its injustice, shoddiness, arbitrariness, hollowness, and futility. Certain of Mr. Rosen's innocence, the lawsuit against him would not stop us from hiring him.

Second, world events kicked in. Seeing the Iranian drive to get the bomb as the single greatest danger both to the Middle East and to the United States (in the later case, via electro-magnetic pulse), we realized that the outgoing Bush administration would not take steps to stop the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons; and that Barack Obama, with his soft approach to Iran, would likely win the election.

Accordingly, the Forum in October 2008 began funding Mr. Rosen to work on ways to stop the Iranian march to nuclear weapons. He is ideal for the job, having begun efforts to stymie Iranian nuclear ambitions fifteen years ago – long before these became a general concern. Working behind the scenes, for example, he initiated efforts to develop leverage over Tehran through graduated economic sanctions by securing two presidential orders in 1995, followed by the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 which laid the foundation for all subsequent efforts to bring economic pressure to bear against the Iranian government. He has been active in this arena ever since.

Following the inauguration, the Forum brought Mr. Rosen formally on board as a visiting fellow. In his brief time in this capacity, he initiated a Washington Project with his influential weblog, "Obama Mideast Monitor," and a new publication series called The Policy Forum. Notably, Mr. Rosen's blog started the chain of events that caused Charles Freeman to withdraw his name for consideration as chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

Then, on May 1, came the welcome news that the U.S. Department of Justice dropped its case against Messrs. Rosen and Weissman. In the words of the Washington Post, this decision amounted to "a stunning vindication" for them. Beyond that, it confirms the limits on arbitrary and prejudicial government actions.