AIPAC Defense Attorneys Strike Back

The presiding judge in the AIPAC espionage case has ruled in a hearing on pre-trial motions that the prosecution can withold certain evidence from defense attorneys because it is in the national interest to do so. The evidence is reported to include hundreds of hours of wiretaps taken over the course of the six year investigation of the Israel lobby. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis said that he will decide which prosecution evidence the defense should be given access to, and since that is likely to be a lengthy process, he has delayed the trial’s start date from January 2nd to April 25th.

The defense attorneys for Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, AIPAC’s former foreign policy chief and chief Iran analyst, respectively, have sought to subpoena three Israeli diplomats and four U.S. officials. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency article included below reports that the officials include Naor Gilon, chief political officer at the Israeli Embassy in Washington until this summer; David Satterfield, deputy ambassador in Iraq; and Kenneth Pollack, a member of President Clinton’s national security council. For Satterfield and Pollack, the article notes, “[if] required to testify, they likely would be asked why it was important to get this information [on Iran and al-Qaida] to the pro-Israel lobby.”

U.S. foreign policy on the Middle East has become a revolving door between the lobby and the three major policymakers, the Pentagon, the Department of State, and the national security council. It is not that persons go through this door but highly classified insights aimed at pointing American policy in the direction that Israel desires.

The JTA notes a connection to the CIA leak case in the way that the AIPAC case may expose how classified information gets passed around Washington:

“Journalists, increasingly denied access to the Bush administration, have taken in recent years to soliciting information from groups and lobbies close to the White House. AIPAC is known among journalists as a premier conduit for hard-to-get information, and two such incidents are cited in the indictment. JTA has learned that the incidents involve The Washington Post and The Nation.

“Additionally, defense sources say they have reason to believe that the defendants’ relationship with a New York Times reporter might have been monitored.”

Justin Raimondo of speculates that the Times reporter is Judith Miller. If so, this is a fascinating connection between the Libby indictment and those of Franklin, Rosen, Weissman. The case should be a major reason for Congress passing new legislation requiring transparency in the financing and activities of lobbies dedicated to the policies of foreign governments.

Related Links

  • AIPAC trial could expose ways information is gathered in D.C., Ron Kampeas, JTA (1 November 2005)