Lawyer: Rice Allegedly Leaked Defense Info
By MATTHEW BARAKAT
The Associated Press
Friday, April 21, 2006; 9:37 PM
ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaked national
defense information to a pro-Israel lobbyist in the same manner that landed a
lower-level Pentagon official a 12-year prison sentence, the lobbyist's lawyer said
Prosecutors disputed the claim.
The allegations against Rice came as a federal judge granted a defense
request to issue subpoenas sought by the defense for Rice and three other government
officials in the trial of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman. The two are former
lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who are charged
with receiving and disclosing national defense information.
Defense lawyers are asking a judge to dismiss the charges because, among
other things, they believe it seeks to criminalize the type of backchannel
exchanges between government officials, lobbyists and the press that are part and
parcel of how Washington works.
During Friday's hearing, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said he is
considering dismissing the government's entire case because the law used to
prosecute Rosen and Weissman may be unconstitutionally vague and broad and infringe on
freedom of speech.
Rosen's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said the testimony of Rice and others is needed
to show that some of the top officials in U.S. government approved of
disclosing sensitive information to the defendants and that the leaks may have been
Prosecutors opposed the effort to depose Rice and the other officials.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin DiGregory also disputed Lowell's claim, saying, "She
never gave national defense information to Mr. Rosen."
The issuance of subpoenas does not automatically require Rice or anybody else
to testify or give a deposition. A recipient can seek to quash the subpoena.
Calls to the State Department seeking comment Friday evening were not
The judge also granted subpoenas for David Satterfield, deputy chief of the
U.S. mission to Iraq; William Burns, U.S. ambassador to Russia and retired
Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni.
"Each of these individuals have real-life dealings with the defendants in
this case. They'll explain what they told Dr. Rosen in detail," Lowell said. "On
day one, Secretary of State Rice tells him certain info and on day two one of
the conspirators tells him the same thing or something less volatile."
The indictment against Rosen and Weissman alleges that three government
officials leaked sensitive and sometimes classified national defense information to
the two, who subsequently revealed what they learned to the press and to an
Israeli government official.
One of the three government officials is former Pentagon official Lawrence A.
Franklin, who pleaded guilty to providing classified defense information to
Rosen and Weissman and was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.
Franklin has said he was concerned that the United States was insufficiently
concerned about the threat posed by Iran and hoped that leaking information
might eventually provoke the National Security Council to take a different
course of action.
The indictment against Rosen, of Silver Spring, Md., and Weissman, of
Bethesda, Md., alleges that they conspired to obtain classified government reports on
issues relevant to U.S. policy, including the al-Qaida terror network; the
bombing of the Khobar Towers dormitory in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. Air
Force personnel; and U.S. policy in Iran.
Lowell said it is impossible for Rosen and Weissman to determine what is
sensitive national defense information when they are receiving the information
from government officials who presumably understand national security law and
therefore would not improperly disclose national defense information.
The World War I-era law has never been used to prosecute lobbyists before.
© 2006 The Associated Press