Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Sunday, August 29, 2004

JPost: Who is Larry Franklin?

Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: "Who is Larry Franklin?
By MATTHEW GUTMAN

The FBI is investigating whether a mid-level Pentagon official in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Larry Franklin, passed classified material regarding internal policy deliberations on Iran to two staffers at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), who in turn provided the information to Israel.

Franklin, a colonel in the US Air Force Reserve, served in the past as an attache at the US embassy in Israel, one source told The Jerusalem Post.

A US Embassy spokesman in Tel Aviv said, "the Embassy has no comment on this issue."

Sources in Jerusalem said it is quite possible that Larry Franklin, the alleged Pentagon informant, met with AIPAC officials as part of routine conversations lobbyists always have with officials, but that it is inconceivable this is something that could be construed as espionage.

The FBI's investigation of Larry Franklin began not long after it was leaked that the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans sent two Defense officials, one of them Franklin, to Paris to meet with a dissident Iranian arms trader.

The latter, Manucher Ghorbanifar, played a central role in the Iran-Contra affair – in which Israel had a major involvement – in the mid 1980's.

The purpose of the meeting with Ghorbanifar was to undermine a pending deal that the White House had been negotiating with the Iranian government. At the time, Iran had considered turning over five al-Qaida operatives in exchange for Washington dropping its support for Mujahadeen Khalq, an Iraq-based rebel Iranian group listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department.

Franklin met Ghorbanifar through Washington's neo-con guru Michael Ledeen. Ghorbanifar at the time (before the invasion of Iraq), had spun the Pentagon men with unsubstantiated allegations of Iraqi transfers of uranium to the Iranian nuclear weapons program, according to The Nation magazine.

Franklin, and a Pentagon Islam expert Harold Rhode, had also played a key role in establishing the Defense's Office of Special Plans, and feverishly pushed for an American invasion of both Iraq and Iran, said The Nation.

One Iranian dissident living in Paris who knows Ghorbanifar, Franklin and Rhode, said the "Franklin Affair," is "fishy." He said that the US relies on Israel for intelligence on Iran, and due to the "zigzagging" of US policy on Iran, wondered what Franklin could allegedly smuggled to Israeli officials."

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