Drop AIPAC case, urges Post


In an unsigned editorial Wednesday, The Washington Post urges new attorney general Eric Holder to "put an end to a criminal case that never should have been brought"– the prosecution of former AIPAC staffers Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman for passing classified information:

The government has the right to demand strict confidentiality from government officials and others who swear to protect its secrets. The Justice Department errs egregiously and risks profound damage to the First Amendment, however, when it insists that private citizens — academics, journalists, think tank analysts, lobbyists and the like — also are legally bound to keep the nation’s secrets. The prosecution in effect criminalizes the exchange of information.

If principle alone is not enough to convince Mr. Holder of the need to drop this case, he should also consider the difficulty his prosecutors face in making the charges stick. Recent rulings have strengthened the hand of the defendants by allowing them to rely on classified documents and to call former Bush officials, including former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, as witnesses. The trial court has also determined that in order to prevail, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants passed along information they knew to be closely held by the government, that they did so knowing it could damage national security and that they acted in bad faith. These are exceedingly high hurdles to clear.

A trial has been scheduled for June in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Mr. Holder should pull the plug on this prosecution long before then.

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