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Courtroom Drama: Starring Condi Rice and Abbe Lowell?

Washington courtroom junkies have been without a fix since the Scooter Libby trial ended last spring. But the shakes are subsiding now that they have Spygate on the horizon and the specter of Condoleezza Rice on the witness stand.

The trial of two former lobbyists accused of leaking classified information to Israel is expected in March or April. And Rice is one of more than a dozen Bush administration officials who, according to a ruling by the judge in the case, must testify in court. (Unless incoming Attorney General Michael Mukasey caves to media pressure -- a Wall Street Journal OpEd piece (subscription required) being the latest example -- and drops the case.)

But if the show goes on, Rice will be forced, under oath, to answer questions about her dealings with the defendants, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman. Both former officials for AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, are charged with receiving classified information from a top Defense Department official and passing it on to the media and Israel.

It would be an extraordinary thing to have the secretary of state on the witness stand actually answering questions, unable to do the bob-and-weave as she can with reporters. Rest assured, the media stakeout scene at the courthouse would be A LOT crazier than it was during Plamegate -- and, yes, that was a total zoo.

Besides Rice, others who have been subpoenaed to testify include: White House deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams; former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz; former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, former undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith; and national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley. A once-in-a-lifetime courtroom cast of Cabinet officers and senior administration officials swearing to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Defense attorney Abbe Lowell, won't try to predict what will happen or say much of anything else about the case. But he did tell the Sleuth: "As a result of the judge's ruling, 15 high-level government officials, including the secretary of state, have to show up in an open courtroom and answer questions under oath and will not be able to hem and haw and use political double talk as if they were at a press conference."

In other words Lowell is psyched as all get out about the prospect of a Washington courtroom saga and getting to grill Condi.

(He missed his last chance at a big Beltway courtroom drama because his client, the former super lobbyist Jack Abramoff, wound up pleading guilty, throwing dozens of lawmakers and their aides under the bus.)

By Mary Ann Akers  |  November 12, 2007; 1:08 PM ET
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No U.S. district judge is going to outmaneuver the White House, especially not when this play's been successfully run before. Expect assertion of executive privilege sometime in mid to late February.

Posted by: Tim B | November 12, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

"Hail, hail, the gengg's all here...!"

Posted by: sawargos | November 12, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

According to the book, "Foreign Agents", this case will never go to trial.

1. The "protection of reporters" legislation advancing in Congress will set them free;
2. The prosecutors will not be able to declassify enough evidence;
3. Mukasey will quash the prosecution;
4. White House will claim "executive privilege" and the judge will dismiss.

When you get to the level of Libby, Rich, Rosen, Weissman, you've made it into the strata of "above US law".

The only good thing that will come out of this is that the American people will see how rigged the so-called "justice" system really is.

Posted by: AIPAC observer | November 12, 2007 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Not mentioned in the article were Mr. Franklin/OASD/ISA who actually leaked the papers to Israeli agents through the two AIPAC operatives you name and his AIPAC boss Peter Rodman, then ASD/ISA. If Mukasey "caves" it won't be to media pressure, but to AIPAC pressure. Could be one of the primary reasons that the AIPAC Senator from NY (Schumer) upstaged Sen Leahy, in hastely announcing Democrat support for Mukasey's confirmation and then why he and his fellow AIPAC Senator from California (Feinstein) broke with the Democrats when they found the issue of "water boarding" as a new reason to rally against Mukasey's confirmation.

Posted by: Sam | November 13, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Regardless of how one feels about AIPAC, Sam's comment has the scent of anti-semitism. Clearly, he has substituted the term "AIPAC Senator" for "Jewish Senator."

As a result, Sam's point is obscured. Is it all Jews he's against or only those who support AIPAC? It's possible, after all, to be Jewish and oppose Israeli government policies and AIPAC's support for those policies.

Posted by: SW | November 13, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Sam made several incoherent points, but I lost any desire to respond when I saw his use of "Democrat" where "Democratic" was clearly called for. That minor choice of words is a surprisingly effective indicator of whether or not to take the speaker/author seriously, or to dismiss him or her as a hack who dismisses waterboarding as a non-issue. (No wonder Bush started using it too)

Posted by: Tim B | November 13, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

You're right SW. Heck, its as predictable as a Swiss watch. If two non-Jewish Democrats broke with their party on a vote, you would never hear such nonsense. But since its Schumer and Feinstein, we're treated to this ridiculous conspiracy theory that they're really "AIpac" agents who supported Mukasey so he could come in and quash the AIPAC prosecution.

The boring but true fact is, the prosecutors will drop the case if - when push comes to shove - they realize they don't have the evidence to convict, and don't want to embarrass themselves.... which is why prosecutions are dropped all over the country.

Posted by: APS | November 14, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

A Nov. 15 2007 AP story indicates Chevron was fined $30M by the SEC for bribing Saddams's thugs in the "oil for food" deal and that Chevron may face tax evasion charges later. The bribes were in the millions so someone pretty high up at Chevron had to sign off on the payments. Unfortunately the AP story did not mention Dr. Condoleezza Rice the Chevron board member and the chairman of the "Public Policy Committee" which is responsible for making sure this kind of activity does not happen.

The Chevron website says the committee's purposes include "identifying, evaluating and monitoring social, political and environmental trends, issues and concerns", "analyzing how public policy trends could impact business activities and performance". Dr. Rice never discussed the Iraqi bribes on the record (not in the minutes) at company meetings. That should not surprise anyone who is familiar with her lack of response to 911 warnings.

President Clinton put sanctions on Iraq. Actions by Chevron and Rice clearly violated those sanctions and amount to treason. I urge our new Attorney General Michael Mukasey and California Attorney General Jerry Brown determine who at Chevron authorized the millions in bribes.

Ellis Goldberg
Danville CA

Posted by: ELLIS GOLDBERG | November 16, 2007 3:45 AM | Report abuse

Ahhh, Ellis, you're a master of innuendo. "Unfortunately the AP story did not mention Dr. Condoleezza Rice...". "Dr. Rice never discussed the Iraqi bribes on the record (not in the minutes) at company meetings." Since you tell us what was not revealed or what she did not do, please tell us what she did. I'm sure you can, then her testimony won't be required, they can just subpoena you.

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