The Washington Post has come out with an editorial urging Attorney General Holder to drop the prosections against AIPAC officials Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman.
The two were charged with conspiracy to disclose national security secrets in a convoluted case that began in 2005:
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.
It's something of a mystery why the Bush Administration proceeded with these prosecutions - especially given the rulings by the court in the intervening years that, as the Washington Post explains, will make it difficult for prosecutors to convict.
Let's hope they take that advice.