"Weapons of Mass Deception"


FBI says Pentagon analyst gave secrets to Israel via AIPAC

By Nathan Guttman

WASHINGTON - The FBI is investigating whether an analyst connected to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's office gave classified documents to Israel via the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington.

No legal action has so far been taken against the official and the FBI has not decided whether there will be arrests in the case. Israel has categorically denied operating Larry Franklin, a desk officer in the Defense Department's Near East and South Asia Bureau, who was named yesterday as the target of the FBI probe. The report that a federal investigation was underway, was first carried by CBS on Friday.

Administration sources said yesterday that at this point all options were open, from arrest on suspicion of espionage to disciplinary action for improper handling of classified documents.

The investigation has been going on in secret for a year into the activities of Franklin, who works for defense undersecretary Douglas Feith. The FBI suspects he passed secret information from high-level discussions in the administration about Iran and Iraq to two members of AIPAC, who then passed the information to Israeli government officials. AIPAC denies the allegations.

The CBS report quoted FBI sources who said they had clear evidence from surveillance and wiretaps over several months. The sources said Franklin had transmitted information from sensitive deliberations on Iran policy at a time when the administration stand on the issue had not yet been fully formulated. It was also claimed that other classified documents were passed on in addition to the report on the secret discussions.

Classified information on Iran transmitted at this point could ostensibly have given Israel an opportunity to influence the administration's decision-making process, because Israel would allegedly have been aware of the considerations guiding policy-makers.

Israel has raised the issue of Iran's nuclear capability to a high place on its agenda in relations with the U.S. AIPAC has also been making efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program and has been working energetically on relevant legislation.

FBI counter-espionage agents apparently secretly photographed the transfer of documents to AIPAC officials. Larry Franklin, a veteran Defense Department official, served in various intelligence functions over the years and took up his present post recently.

Franklin's department, presided over by Feith, was central in planning the war in Iraq. Feith was responsible for making contact with Iraqi opposition figures, who were a source of much of the information on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

Pentagon sources said Franklin, as a mid-level analyst, had no responsibility for determining policy. Franklin was not available for comment over the weekend.

The affair touches a particularly sensitive nerve because critics of Israel in the U.S. have charged more than once in the past two years that a small group of Jewish officials in the Pentagon were behind the decision to go to war in Iraq, among them Feith and deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz.

They also charge that these individuals pushed for war to help Israel. Franklin is not Jewish. The Pentagon made only a short statement on Friday that an investigation was underway against a staffer and that it was cooperating fully.

Sources in Washington who deal daily with Israel's relationship to the administration yesterday said it's not impossible the Franklin matter was a "gray area" that had been blown out of proportion by people trying to harm President George Bush on the eve of the Republican National Convention.

The sources say talks between AIPAC and administration officials are nothing out of the ordinary and it is accepted that friendly countries like Israel receive sensitive information.

The FBI has asked AIPAC for information on the activities of its two functionaries who were in contact with Franklin and allegedly got the secret data. Among questions that will be asked in this context is whether the AIPAC people knew the information was secret and whether AIPAC acted lawfully when it allegedly transmitted the information to Israelis.

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Milton Frihetsson, 16:58


Please review
Plamegate and AIPAC / Franklin, Israeli spies in the Pentagon are highly related events, same characters.
Anonymous Steve Francis, at 11:09 AM  

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