In the misbegotten case against former AIPAC officials, the judge has just upped the ante on the government:
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- 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 16 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 four 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."
One wonders how much longer this charade will continue.
"For over two years, we have been explaining that our clients' conduct was lawful and completely consistent with how the U.S. government dealt with AIPAC and other foreign policy groups," Lowell said on behalf of both defendants. "We look forward to the trial."
Ellis left open the possibility that the Bush administration may challenge the subpoenas on the grounds they would reveal privileged information. But the judge said his ruling Friday "may trump a valid governmental privilege."
If so, that could force the government to decide whether to allow the testimony or drop the case.
Neither the State Department nor the Justice Department had an immediate comment. (Emphasis Supplied.)