[DEBATE] : Bush aides face spy case summons
Riaz K. Tayob
riazt at iafrica.com
Sat Nov 3 11:05:04 GMT 2007
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 03, 2007
8:15 MECCA TIME, 5:15 GMT
Bush aides face spy case summons
Lawrence Franklin was sentenced to 12 years in prison for spying [AP]
Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, and some of president
George Bush's top foreign policy advisers must testify in a case of
alleged spying involving a pro-Israeli lobby group, a US judge has ruled.
Stephen Hadley, the White House national security adviser, and 13 other
officials can also be summoned, according to court documents.
Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, former employees of the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), face charges of conspiracy to pass
secret US defence information to Israel while they worked for the
powerful lobby group.
Rosen, Weissman and Lawrence Franklin, a department of defence official,
were charged in 2005 with conspiracy to communicate national defence
information following a lengthy FBI investigation.
US officials alleged that between 1999 and 2004, Franklin passed secrets
to Israel using Aipac as a conduit.
At the time, Rosen was the lobby's policy director and Weissman an
analyst on Iran.
The court documents are also said to contain the alleged recording of 57
acts, involving a mishandling of secrets, including meetings and
telephone calls, passing the information with both US and foreign nationals.
The intelligence involved terrorist activities in central Asia, US
intelligence and policy regarding Middle Eastern countries and
information on al-Qaeda.
Rosen and Weissman hope the officials' testimony will support their
defence that they were not engaged in spying.
The defendants claim that evidence from the officials will show nothing
more than "a well-established official Washington practice of engaging
in 'back-channel' communication," said a statement from Friday's ruling
in Alexandria, Virginia.
Franklin, a former assistant to Douglas Feith, who was once the US
undersecretary of defence, previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced
in January 2006 to 12 years and seven months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Rosen and Weissman maintain that the secrets were not closely held by
the US government and their disclosure did no damage to the country.
The case is expected to go to trial next January.
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