A federal judge on Friday ordered Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, to be ready to testify as defense witnesses at the trial of two former pro-Israel lobbyists accused of receiving secret national security information.
The judge, T. S. Ellis III of Federal District Court in Alexandria, Va., agreed with defense lawyers that Ms. Rice, Mr. Hadley and several other government officials could be subpoenaed because they might help the defendants demonstrate that they were engaged in traditional “back channel” lobbying — not in espionage — in their contacts with the government over Middle East policy.
Justice Department officials who are overseeing the prosecution had no immediate comment on the judge’s ruling or on whether they might appeal the decision. The State Department also declined to comment. The trial in the case is scheduled to begin in January, although a delay is considered likely. [complete article]