[JURIST] US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [official profile] and other senior administration officials should be exempt from testifying about whether they shared classified national defense information with two American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) [advocacy website] lobbyists, lawyers argued at a closed-door court session Thursday. Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, indicted [PDF text; JURIST report] in 2005 under the 1917 Espionage Act [18 USC 793 text] for allegedly conspiring to receive and disclose classified US defense information over a five-year period dating back to 1999, say that AIPAC helped write US foreign policy in the Middle East with the tacit endorsement of US officials; they have subpoenaed Rice and other US intelligence officials to testify to this. Assistant US Attorney Kevin DiGregory denied that Rice ever shared national defense information with the lobbyists.
In April, US District Judge T.S. Ellis refused a request to close portions of the espionage proceeding [JURIST report] because doing so would violate the defendants' right to an open trial. In August 2006, Rosen and Weissman asked Ellis to dismiss the charges, arguing that the law is unconstitutionally vague and violates their right to free speech. Ellis, however, later upheld the constitutionality [JURIST report] of the Espionage Act. AP has more.