Judge T.S. Ellis III has offered a rare second
opportunity to the Rosen and Weissman defense team. They again made their case
that the indictment of the two former AIPAC lobbyists was "trampling on their
1st Amendment rights." Although Judge Ellis established an August 2006
trial date, he continues to consider a motion to dismiss charges altogether.
In a similar March 2006, hearing,
the defense concentrated on portraying the 1917 Espionage Act as fundamentally
flawed and unconstitutional. The indictment charges Rosen and Weissman with
violating sections of the Act by having "unlawful possession" of "information
relating to the national defense." Written in 1917 and never updated, the Espionage
Act does not use the term "classified" when referring to national defense information.
The law's musty antiquity offers the defendants abundant openings for attack.
The mainstream press has come to the aid of Rosen and Weissman by promulgating
the "slippery slope" argument. The Washington Post has argued more than
once that the charges leveled against two foreign lobbyists run amok could soon
against investigative reporters:
"The case has drawn attention from First Amendment lawyers because the judge,
the prosecutors, and the defense attorneys have all noted that the two lobbyists,
in receiving and disseminating classified information, are doing what journalists,
academics, and experts at think tanks do every day."
The "everybody does it" defense, of course, is pure nonsense. Prosecutorial
discretion means that the press won't be a DoJ target any time soon. But cracking
down on think tanks and lobbies trafficking classified information is another
matter. Shutting down illicit conduits for classified information might benefit
the majority of Americans who live "outside the Beltway." The mainstream
U.S. press and certain
Middle East think tanks spend a great amount of time scouring the branches
of government for recruits willing to release highly sensitive classified information
of high interest that ultimately finds its way to Israel. This commonplace behavior
should be ended. Many think tanks, functioning as stealth
lobbies, seek an unfair advantage and influence through access to classified
information. Taking away the motivation to seek and leverage classified information
would function as a kind of policy "regulation
FD," only in this case, small stakeholders in U.S. policymaking, rather
than small investors, won't be so easily outmaneuvered by corrupt "inside traders"
The Weissman-Rosen defense has also sought to throw out the indictment on
a number of other technicalities, including allegations that no documents were
passed, only verbal information. The most novel defense claim, asserted by attorney
Lowell (who is also defending Jack Abramoff), attacked the premise that
facilitating the trafficking of classified national defense information from
the Pentagon to Israel via lobbyists could be anything but beneficial to the
United States. In breaking the law, Rosen and Weissman are charged with passing
information that "could be used to the injury of the United States or to the
advantage of any foreign nation."
Lowell (line 17, page
"There's a disjunctive, your Honor. The disjunctive says 'injure the United
States or assist or benefit the advantage of a foreign country.' How can anybody
apply that in a context in which good foreign policy for the United States,
that clearly is intended to help make the United States' foreign policy better,
may also have a derivative impact that makes it an advantage to an ally of the
United States, whose interest are exactly the same?"
This assertion by the defendants may prove to be the core weakness of their
upcoming criminal defense. If Judge Ellis does allow the case to move forward,
outside analysts critical of the Israel Lobby, from Mearsheimer
and Walt [.pdf] to IRmep, will have the
opportunity to educate the court through amicus
briefs that Israeli and U.S. interests are often diametrically opposed.
There is ample evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the documented
subterfuges of the Israel Lobby as personified by Weissman and Rosen not only
endanger America, but have eroded the principles of liberty and justice upon
which the U.S. was founded. The illicit overt and covert activities of an unregistered
foreign agent committed to misleading Americans through the myth that Israeli
and U.S. interests are "exactly the same" can only be revealed and terminated
through a high-profile criminal trial.
Reprinted courtesy of IRmep.