"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Two AIPAC employees are focus of Pentagon spy probe

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Investigators are focusing on two employees of the main pro-Israel lobbying group in a probe into whether a Pentagon analyst provided them with secret U.S. material on Iran that they funneled to Israel.
The two American Israel Public Affairs Committee employees involved are director of foreign policy issues Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, an Iran expert, said AIPAC attorney Nathan Lewin on Wednesday.
They were interviewed by the FBI on Friday -- the same day news first broke of the existence of the yearlong investigation -- but the interviews were halted after the men said they wanted a lawyer present before answering further questions, Lewin said.
"The FBI could resume the interview. We have not heard from the FBI," Lewin said.
Rosen and Weissman have hired lawyer Abbe Lowell to represent them. Lowell, who did not return a telephone message seeking comment, is a veteran Washington attorney who is perhaps best known as the Democratic House Judiciary Committee counsel during President Clinton's impeachment.
Investigators are trying to determine if Rosen and Weissman obtained classified Bush administration policy materials concerning Iran from a Defense Department analyst, Larry Franklin. Franklin works on issues involving Iran and the Middle East in the office of Defense Department policy undersecretary Douglas Feith.
No charges have been brought or arrests made in the case. Law enforcement officials have said prosecutors are weighing whether to charge anyone involved with the most serious offense of espionage or with lesser counts of mishandling classified documents.
AIPAC officials have said they are cooperating in the probe and have denied any wrongdoing, as has the Israeli government. Franklin has not responded to several telephone calls seeking comment.
Several friends and colleagues of Franklin said they doubted he would be involved in true espionage, suggesting that the case could involve a simple mistake or mixup.
"I think he was probably lured into thinking that it was OK or at least you could get away with doing something like this by the general atmosphere of very full cooperation with the Israelis in the (Pentagon policy) shop," said Patrick Lang, who formerly worked with Franklin at the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The FBI and Justice Department have briefed a number of high-level Pentagon, congressional and White House officials about the investigation. Secretary of State Colin Powell was briefed Sunday over the telephone by Deputy Attorney General James Comey, a State Department spokesman said.
A senior House Democrat, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, is calling for a Judiciary Committee investigation into the matter and said it should be expanded to include allegations that sensitive U.S. information may have been given to political opponents of now-deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, including Ahmed Chalabi.
"The fact that a rogue element of the United States government may have been working with a foreign government in possible contravention of current foreign policy is a grave matter that should be of concern to every American," Conyers, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said in a letter dated Tuesday to the panel's chairman, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
Meanwhile, a West Virginia college where Franklin teaches history courses is not planning any action regarding his status at the school while the investigation continues. For about five years, Franklin has been an adjunct professor of history at Shepherd University while living in nearby Kearneysville, said history department chairman Anders Henriksson.
Franklin "has been a real asset" to the school, Henriksson said. Franklin teaches freshman courses in world history and Asian traditions, he added. The school planned to provide extra security to prevent disruption of his Tuesday night course.

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Milton Frihetsson, 21:36


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