A Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff member has taken "personal leave" from his post following accusations that he offered a Pentagon document on Arab military bases to Israeli officials.
The aide, Stephen Bryen, said he went on leave to prepare for his wedding planned for this weekend. He confirmed that he had met Tuesday afternoon with senior members of the committee, and had submitted a written statement at their request.
Sen. Clifford case (R-N.J.), who Bryen served as a staff aide for four years before joining the Foreign Relations COmmittee, called the charges "an abvious concoction" and "molicious." Case said the personnel subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee had agreed to Bryen's request for leave because of the circumstances and his impending marriage.
The charges arose from a meeting in the Madison Hotel coffee shop March 9 between Bryen and some Israeli officials. Sitting at the next table, evidently by chance, was Michael P. Saba, a North Dakota trade organization representative and former executive director of the National Association of Arab Americans. Saba is of Middle Eastern ancestry.
In an affidavit submitted to the Department of Justice, Saba said he overheard Bryen discussing propose U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel, and quoted him as telling the Israelis, "I have the Pentagon document on the bases, which you are welcome to see."
Bryen denies having said that. He said he suggested to the Israelis, in a discussion about Arabian bases, that they ask for a briefing on the matter from the Pentagon.
Congressional and administration sources said a secret Pentagon report on the airplane sales, including discussion of some Saudi Arabian bases, was sent to the Foreign Relations Committee on March i.
Justice Department officials said an inquiry had been started on the accusations by Saba, as required under departmental procedures.