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  • 18

    Is the Media Sabotaging the AIPAC Spy Trial?
    Political Correctness; Posted on: 2007-04-23 07:59:15 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Corporate media and the spies who "shouldn't be"

    by Grant F. Smith

    The Associated Press reported a major victory for defendants in the AIPAC espionage trial on April 17, 2007: "Prosecutors suffered a setback yesterday in their case against two former pro-Israel lobbyists accused of violating the 1917 Espionage Act when a federal judge rejected the government's proposal for conducting much of the trial in secret." The presiding judge, T. S. Ellis III underscored the gravity of the situation: "If the prosecution decline to submit any substitutions [for classified evidence] that you would ever make public, then maybe I have to decide whether to dismiss the indictment, if that's the case."

    As various elements of the Israel lobby trumpet the ruling as a victory for free speech, it is useful to review not only the involvement of mainstream corporate media in trafficking classified information in the AIPAC espionage case, but also their past record on secret evidence in other high-profile criminal cases.

    Mainstream media's formal legal foray into the AIPAC case was triggered by a government motion. On Feb. 16, 2007, federal prosecutors filed a Classified Intelligence Procedures Act (CIPA) motion with the contents sealed from public view. CIPA is an established process under which courts operate when classified information is expected to be used at trial. In response, defendants Rosen and Weissman filed a sealed motion to strike the CIPA requests and the government's motion to close the trial.

    On March 13, 2007, attorney Jay Ward Brown filed a motion to intervene and argue against the Department of Justice prosecutors' proposal to "limit public access to classified portions of the trial proceedings." Brown filed the motion on behalf of elite media clients, including the Newspaper Guild, Communications Workers of America, the Radio-Television News Directors Association, Reuters America LLC, the Society of Professional Journalists, Time Inc., the Washington Post, the Hearst Corp., the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, ABC, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Associated Press, Dow Jones & Company, and the Newspaper Association of America. The collective pressure and implicit threat brought to bear on Judge Ellis was implicit in the motion: Any attempt to introduce classified evidence or protect sources and methods with closed proceedings would be widely reported on as Soviet-era secrecy in a kangaroo court.

    Titled an "Emergency Motion for Leave to Intervene," the filing sought to keep the trial completely open, ostensibly in the interest of press coverage. The motion also subtly expresses mainstream media preconceptions about the trial, stating in the filing the case is worth coverage because of the "unusual factual circumstances that gave rise to their [Rosen and Weissman] indictment" and that the case involves an "unprecedented application of the Espionage Act." The court docket reveals this is only the latest skirmish in a legal battle that has been raging for well over a year and a half, though the trial is scheduled to begin on June 4, 2007.

    News Source: antiwar.com

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