The judge in the trial of two former AIPAC staffers approved subpoenas for top Bush administration officials, including Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley.
The order issued Friday by Judge T.S. Ellis III allows the issuance of subpoenas to 15 of 20 current and former government officials requested by the defendants, Steve Rosen, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s former foreign policy chief, and Keith Weissman, its former Iran analyst.
The government had sought to block 16 of the requests, including those Secretary of State Rice and Hadley, President Bush’s national security adviser, and allow only four. Ellis overruled most of the government objections, blocking only five relatively minor former officials.
Ellis upheld the defense’s argument that proving that the meetings cited in the indictment were part of a routine involving the likes of Rice and Hadley would help prove the ex-AIPAC staffers’ innocence in the classified information trial.
“Defendants are entitled to show that, to them, there was simply no difference between the meetings for which they are not charged and those for which they are charged,” Ellis wrote, “and that they believed that the meetings charged in the indictment were simply further examples of the government’s use of AIPAC as a diplomatic back channel.”
Rosen and Weissman have contended that government officials routinely used AIPAC to convey messages to Israel and to other parties, including the media.
Ellis broadened his allowance to include government officials who might have had conversations with other AIPAC staffers when Rosen and Weissman were not present, or even conversations that involved only government officials.
Ellis warned the government that resisting the subpoenas could kill its case: “The government’s refusal to comply with a subpoena in these circumstances may result in dismissal or a lesser sanctions.”
Among the others on the list, aside from Rice and Hadley, are: Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser and Bush’s top adviser on Middle East policy; Richard Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state; and Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy defense secretary. The government had not objected to four current and former officials who are cited in the indictment. Only one of those four, Larry Franklin, a former Pentagon Iran analyst, has been charged in the case. He has pleaded guilty.