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THIS IS A MIRRORED REPORT:

The Israeli spying accusation: big questions!
Helena Coban
Just World News
August 28, 2004

Such interesting news yesterday about the FBI "investigating a mid-level Pentagon official who specializes in Iranian affairs for allegedly passing classified information to Israel..."

That WaPo account there names the chief suspect as Larry Franklin, described as a desk officer in the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia Bureau, which is run by neo-con William J. Luti.

(The NYT doesn't name the suspect, and says he worked for the Pentagon's #3 guy, Douglas Feith. Feith and Luti are strongly pro-Likud figures who were both heavily involved in creating the "alternative intel universe" that produced the "justifications" for launching the invasion of Iraq. Feith is more senior that Luti.)

The accusation is that Franklin handed Israel classified assessments of Iran's nuclear capabilities. Much more stunning than that: un-named "law enforcement officials" (presumably from the FBI) told the WaPo and other media that the documents were handed to Israel via AIPAC, the hitherto unassailable "armored bulldozer" of pro-Israeli influence in US political life.

There are at least four intriguing aspects to this story:

(1) That the suspect works in such a strategically sensitive and politically controversial shop in the Pentagon, and was presumably under the protection there of an extremely politically powerful boss-- whether Feith, or Luti. Is someone trying to "get at" one of those two more powerful figures by taking down his protégé first?

(2) That-- given the already existing, extremely close links at all levels up to the very highest between the national-security policymakers in this administration and in Sharon's Israel -- Israel would have felt the need to do any extra-curricular spying at all! Israel security officials already have the virtually free run of the whole Pentagon! To put it bluntly: why would they need to suborn Larry Franklin when they already have Dougie Feith in their pocket (with the full permission of Feith's superiors)?

(3) That people in the FBI are willing to publicly finger AIPAC. That takes guts! They must, presumably, have some extremely conclusive evidence. Otherwise, expect to see the FBI's budget shut down completely with a single snap of AIPAC's fingers in next year's budget, should AIPAC decide to counter-attack.

(4) That the government has apparently given Franklin and his associates a few days more leisure between announcing their intention to arrest them, and actually doing so. The WaPo piece says: "arrests in the case could come as early as next week, officials at the Pentagon and other government agencies said."

This last aspect of the case is truly mind-boggling!
 

Can you imagine if a Pentagon official at a similar level were suspected of illegally handing strategic secrets over to any other government at all, that the suspects would graciously be given a few days clear before their arrests to dispose of incriminating evidence, work on coordinating their cover stories, etc?

In fact, there are so many weird aspects of this case that I am still trying to get my head around it.

Possibility #1: Franklin really was doing a bit of extra-curricular spying, and passing stuff to Israel through AIPAC, as alleged: Okay, if this were the case given the extremely close relations between the Sharon and Bush administrations, wouldn't it all have been dealt with internally and a few wrists have been discreetly slapped? Why go so public about it?

Possibility #2: Someone wants to punish AIPAC, for some other reason, and this whole accusation is the vehicle for it.... But then, I can't imagine anyone at all in this administration who would ever want to "punish" a lovely organization like AIPAC [irony alert there, folks] for anything. Unless AIPAC's done something very, very wrong--perhaps connected to the upcoming election--and Karl Rove decided it needed to have its wrists slapped?

Nah, hard to believe that... What could AIPAC have done wrong (from Karl Rove's point of view)?? I've watched that organization fairly closely ever since I started living in Washington DC in 1982... It's big. It's very powerful, smart, and well-organized.

AIPAC claims to "represent" most Jewish Americans on Israel-related issues-- but in fact, what it represents is the views and priorities of the sitting government in Israel. Just like the so-called "Conference of Presidents of the Major American Jewish organizations": the policies of both organizations turn on a dime whenever the government in power in Israel changes. It's sometimes quite an amusing spectator sport to watch that happen.

(If AIPAC truly "represented" the views of Jewish Americans on Israel it would be far more responsive to the trends in those views, which have their own dynamic and momentum over time separate from the large shifts that take place at the political level in Israel, than to the shifts in Israel. Specifically, over the past 3-4 years, it would have represented a political consensus among US Jews that is significantly to the left of Sharon's positions on the Palestinian issue.)

Possibility #3: That someone wants to get at Luti, or more significantly Feith, through Franklin? (As mentioned above.) This one might fit the facts known so far. If I were the FBI, of course I'd be watching all of Franklins' moves very closely right now, now that he's been publicly named. Who does he try to contact? What are feith and Luti up to meanwhile, etc? There might well be a hope to squeeze Franklin to get more info on his superiors...

But then, who in the administration would want to take on Luti or Feith? Actually, quite a lot of people if Karen Kwiatowski is to be believed--and I do tend to believe her. But up until now, no-one's dared to take on either those two or any of the other closely pro-Likud figures who have dug themselves so deeply into this administration. And then, if it's only to try to "get" Feith or Luti, why make things more complex by going public with the accusation against AIPAC at the same time??

(Hey do you think they're having a big shredding party at AIPAC HQ this weekend? Do you hope, as I do, that the Fibbies are watching for that, too?)

Possibility #4: Something else that's so big that the Franklin/AIPAC accusations are just the tip of it. I must say I'm inclining toward this explanation, given all those politically weird factors I listed at the top of this.

What might this "something big" be? I haven't the foggiest. But I can tell you this: Now that the accusations have been publicly voiced, this is evidently not a story that's going to go away. I'm hoping that newshounds with the big, well-supported media (unlike my humble self) can really get to work hard on the story. In which case, I have no doubt we'll learn more in the days ahead...
 

Posted by Helena at August 28, 2004 09:26 AM | TrackBack
 

original report located at
http://justworldnews.org/archives/000857.html#more

Comments
Re: Douglas Feith, The Unready Ethelrede File: Election 2004

Helena: This report can be dumped be dumped by you as soon as the “spy” is identified. However, it may involve either the Jordanian accused felon Chalabi or the Shiite Alavid Reformer Sistani.
Seymour at The New Yorker already told us where it hurts:

In the office of Douglas Feith,
,
The F.B.I. is probably investigating a Pentagon official on suspicion of making an out of "stovepipe" but customary and usual Shin Bet contact in Israel. I would ask General Zinn for his (her) name, since this is the Bush season for such outings.
The bureau has evidence that the Pentagon official has given the Israelis a sensitive report about American policy toward Iran, but you can count on it when a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, David Siegel,issues the usual enthymeme, "...completely false and outrageous." The unstated premise is that "we really did it". Findow
 

Posted by: Findow C. Heck at August 28, 2004 11:37 AM
the government has apparently given Franklin and his associates a few days more leisure between announcing their intention to arrest them, and actually doing so. The WaPo piece says: "arrests in the case could come as early as next week, officials at the Pentagon and other government agencies said."

Which leads to possibility #5: that the FBI was investigating Franklin and didn't yet have anything conclusive enough to make arrests, but someone leaked the story early and they now have to cover themselves. (The fact that this broke on a Friday night, which is the last time any government agency would plan to announce a successful espionage investigation, suggests that the FBI wasn't yet ready to go public.) This could turn out to be another Felix Bloch story rather than another Pollard.

Also, while you argue that nobody in the Bush administration would want to attack Feith or AIPAC, this is only true of the political appointees at cabinet level or just below. As shown by the repeated criticisms of the Bush administration by retired diplomats and civil servants, there's a lot of discontent in the middle ranks, and one or more staffers might have leaked the investigation in order to embarrass either AIPAC or the administration as a whole.

Then again, it could be the real thing. I'll be watching.
 

Posted by: Jonathan Edelstein at August 28, 2004 02:42 PM
The latest from Laura Rozen, who broke the story, at www.warandpiece.com/:

"The FBI Investigation Continued.

Key Update: Here's my latest thought on this: As I understand, Franklin wasn't motivated to pass the information to Aipac to give it to the Israelis. He wanted our own government to act. He wanted to get it to the NSC and the White House.

I'm not joking. From what I understand from my sources, Franklin was desperately trying to get the US government to act on this intelligence. Aipac was just a tool for getting influence in Washington and the White House."

Posted by: Peter Hofmann at August 28, 2004 03:22 PM
With all the neocons infesting the Pentagon and the White House, Franklin has to leak material via AIPAC?--sorry, something sounds fishy about this explanation, unless Franklin is a total dolt.

The timing of this is rather exquisite. The news breaks on Friday but with no name attached to the suspect, leaving the newspapers and websites to speculate. Then talk that arrests might come next week, which just happens to be the week of the RNC.

Could be happenstance. Or something that's being beautifully stage-managed.

Posted by: James Wolcott at August 28, 2004 04:18 PM

original report located at
http://justworldnews.org/archives/000857.html#more
 


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copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human
rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted
material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on
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published by tusk36: Altoona, Pennsylvania, U.S.A
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