"Weapons of Mass Deception"


AIPAC/Likudnik Larry Franklin Arrested for Espionage on Behalf of Israel

By Andrew I. Killgore
The FBI arrested Pentagon Iranian analyst Larry Franklin on May 4 for illegally disclosing highly classified information about possible attacks on American forces in Iraq to Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel’s principal lobby in the United States. Rosen was AIPAC’s director of foreign policy issues and Weissman was its senior Middle East analyst until they were recently fired when the FBI investigation got too close for AIPAC’s comfort.

Franklin, 58, a reserve colonel in the Air Force, was released on $100,000 bond, and a preliminary hearing on the case was scheduled for May 27. If convicted, Franklin could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison. According to one of his lawyers, Franklin is not expected to plead guilty.

Since the FBI investigation of AIPAC came to light in August 2004, newspaper reports have left the impression that Franklin was the focus of the investigation. This, however, is incorrect. On June 26, 2003, the FBI had Rosen and Weissman under surveillance having lunch in an Alexandria, Virginia restaurant when Franklin unexpectedly joined them.
The question in everyone’s mind is when Weismann and Rosen will be indicted and create a real crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations or whether they will be let off with a charge of “accepting” classified material. An indictment and trial would cut AIPAC down to a reasonable size and allow the United States to pursue policies in the Middle East that promote its own interests. The alternative would be a “slap on the wrist” for AIPAC, leaving the “800 pound gorilla” free to continue dominating American policy in the Middle East.

The investigation of AIPAC, and now Franklin’s arrest, cast a shadow over the lobby. Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice was scheduled to address the group’s annual meeting in May despite the fact that one newspaper reported she had been informed of the FBI investigations early in George W. Bush’s first administration, four years ago.

According to the May 5 New York Times, the investigation has proved awkward for some high level Pentagon conservatives (read neo con) such as former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, under secretary of defense for policy. Feith, under whom Franklin worked, and who reportedly is leaving his post by the summer, became infamous for creating the Office of Special Plans that cherrypicked outlandish bits of intelligence to “prove” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

The FBI is anxious to take its long investigation of AIPAC all the way.
According to The New York Times of May 4, AIPAC has been advised by the government that the group “itself is not under investigation.” This seems to be a case of fancy semantics, however, since it leaves unanswered the question of just what the FBI has been investigating for the past four years. Nor does it explain the FBI raids on AIPAC’s Capitol Hill headquarters, from which documents and a computer hard drive were taken—or why high-ranking AIPAC officers had to appear for questioning before a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia.

A struggle of the titans may be going on inside the Bush administration, with the president’s legacy at issue. He has said that he wants to solve the Arab-Israeli problem on the basis of a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state, and seems to be serious. But even the president cannot achieve this goal unless AIPAC’s wings are seriously clipped. If President Bush really wants to resolve the Arab-Israeli problem, he cannot allow AIPAC to escape a grave charge of espionage against the United States.

The FBI obviously is anxious to take its long investigation of AIPAC all the way. The press has chronicled the agency’s disappointment and exasperation over several past cases involving Israeli espionage that ended up being handled by “diplomatic and intelligence” means. This time, the FBI hopes its four years of careful investigation will not be in vain.

For its part, AIPAC is pulling out its highest guns to avoid prosecution—such as the claim that AIPAC “itself” has not been under investigation. Another tactic is the inclusion in every newspaper article about Franklin’s arrest of Secretary of State Rice’s scheduled address to AIPAC’s annual conference in Washington. The Israel lobby is using the prestige of Rice’s name to “prove” it could not be guilty of espionage.
Is AIPAC grasping at a straw?

Andrew I. Killgore is publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

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Milton Frihetsson, 15:56


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