AIPAC Finally Supports Fired Staffers
Following Judge T.S. Ellis III's ruling which admonished the government for allegedly forcing AIPAC to cut legal funding for Weissman and Rosen, describing the policy as "unquestionably obnoxious," AIPAC has agreed to pay legal fees for a former staffer who is accused of receiving and relaying classified information on Iran, the latest blow to the prosecution's efforts to isolate the defendants.
It's the latest sign of trouble for prosecutors whom Ellis has rebuked for "novel" interpretations of the Constitution and for dragging their feet. It also comes as the establishment Jewish community appears more emboldened to stand by Weissman and Rosen, who had been isolated since they were fired in March 2005.
"These people have sat around indicted for years. They are entitled to a trial," Ellis said at a May 2 hearing, raising his voice when the prosecution asked for another extension to review classified materials. "You need to get with it now."
A firm trial date has yet to be set for Weissman and Rosen, who were indicted in August 2005.
Ellis' assumptions that the government forced AIPAC to cut off the defendants and that AIPAC had a contractual obligation to pay for their defense do not carry the weight of law because of his overall rejection of the defense's motion to dismiss, which alleged that the government had violated the defendants' Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
Ellis said lawyers for both men had performed more than adequately, even though they had not been paid for nearly two years.
"Owing to the professionalism and resources of these defense counsel, the adequacy of defendants' representation has not been impaired," he wrote.
The timing may be coincidental: Both AIPAC and defense sources say the lobby's agreement to fund Weissman's case was made about two weeks before Ellis published his decision. But it's the latest sign that the Jewish establishment is more willing to embrace Rosen and Weissman's cause.