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Saturday, April 5, 2008

U.S. Government tries to block testimony in AIPAC officials trial

This from Shmuel Rosner:
Government trying to block witness in AIPAC trial
Back in mid March, it was reported that "Two former directors of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) are expected to testify for the defense in the controversial trial of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who are charged with unlawful receipt and transmission of classified information".
href="" target=_blank _base_target="_top">The Secrecy News blog labeled this readiness of the two to testify for the defense "a blow to Justice Department prosecutors". The ISOO - Information Security Oversight Office - is the agency charged with oversight of the entire documents classification system

But will he realy testify?

Well, not so fast. The prosecutors are now trying to prevent one of the former government official, J. William Leonard, from testifying in this case.

"The applicable ethics laws prohibit Mr. Leonard from serving as an expert witness for the defense in this matter", agrue the prosecutors. "Employees of the executive branch are permanently restricted from making any communication or appearance in any United States court on behalf of any other person, on any matter in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest~ in which the employee participated personally and substantially as such officer or employee and which involved a specific party or parties at the time of such participation."

The legal document declares that "The United States, by its Undersigned counsel, respectfully submits this Opposition to Defendants' Motion for an Order Authorizing the Expert Witness Testimony of recently retired and now special government employee J. William Leonard".

And it argues that "The defendants' motion provides no basis, grounds or authority for this Court to issue an extraordinary Order essentially granting Mr. Leonard an exception to the applicable ethics laws".

This will be yet another interesting legal battle between the government and the defense, as "The fact that" the two officials were ready to terstify for the defense "is a startling indication that the prosecution's case has strayed far beyond any consensus view regarding the proper protection of classified information" - as the Secrecy News opined a month ago.

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