Secrecy News

Court Authorizes Subpoenas of Senior Officials in AIPAC Case

A federal court authorized issuance of subpoenas to more than a dozen current and former government officials to testify in the case of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who are accused of unauthorized receipt, transmission and disclosure of classified information.

According to the defense, the testimony of the subpoenaed officials will show that the defendants did “nothing more than the well-established official Washington practice of engaging in ‘back channel’ communication with various non-governmental entities and persons for the purpose of advancing U.S. foreign policy goals.”

The government disputes that claim and says such testimony is irrelevant to whether the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to obtain and disclose classified information.

The court, however, ruled (pdf) that circumstantial evidence of the official use of “back channel” communications could be probative of the defendants’ state of mind and could show a lack of criminal intent.

Judge T.S. Ellis III therefore authorized issuance of subpoenas to the following officials:

    Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State (then-National Security Advisor)

    Richard Armitage, former Deputy Secretary of State

    William Burns, U.S. Ambassador to Russia

    Marc Grossman, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs

    Lawrence Silverman, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy to the Slovak Republic

    Matthew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

    Marc Sievers, Political Officer, U.S. Embassy to Israel

    David Satterfield, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and Coordinator for Iraq (then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs)

    Stephen Hadley, National Security Advisory (then-Deputy National Security Advisory)

    Elliot Abrams, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisory for Global Democracy Strategy Affairs

    Kenneth Pollack, former Director for Persian Gulf Affairs for the National Security Council

    Paul Wolfowitz, former Deputy Secretary of Defense

    Douglas Feith, former Undersecretary of Defense

    Michael Makovsky, former employee of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Office of Near East and South Asia

    Lawrence Franklin, former Department of Defense employee

A copy of the November 2, 2007 Memorandum Opinion in the case of United States of America v. Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman is available here.