Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Larry Franklin linked to Winifred Joshua

DOD spy's arrest imminent - (United Press International): "DOD spy's arrest imminent

By Richard Sale
UPI Intelligence Correspondent

New York, NY, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- The FBI is close to making an arrest of a Pentagon official on charges of improperly passing classified information to Israel, sources close to the investigation told United Press International. But the arrest may be delayed, pending ongoing legal negotiations that could make the official into a cooperative witness.

The official, Larry Franklin, allegedly gave classified information on U.S. policy on Iran, including a draft presidential directive on U.S. policy, to lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel organization, these sources said.

In a two-page public statement, AIPAC has denied any wrongdoing, saying: "Any allegation of criminal conduct by AIPAC or our employees is false and baseless."

"Nor had AIPAC or its employees ever received information they believed was secret or classified," the statement added.

A statement by Israeli Embassy spokesman, Daniel Spiegel, was more brief: "We deny these allegations. The United States is Israel's most cherished ally."

According to sources close to the case, Franklin will not be charged with spying for Israel, which is likely to be hard to prove, but is expected to be charged with improper exposure or mishandling of classified information, a felony. Or he may be exonerated, these sources said.

Franklin could not be reached for comment.

His arrest would end the first part of a year-long multi-phase federal probe into allegations that senior Pentagon officials gave classified information in Washington to the Israeli government and, possibly, in Iraq via officials working for the Coalition Provisional Authority, these sources said.

Franklin has been an Iran desk officer for the Office of Special Plans, an intelligence unit, that was set up by the No. 3 man in the Pentagon, Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, according to retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who was a staffer in the office from June 2002 through March 2003.

"The Office of Special Plans is and has been our chief object of interest," an FBI official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Stephen Green, author of two books on U.S.-Israeli relations and former CIA counter-terrorism chief, alleges that in March 1983 Feith was fired from the National Security Council by Judge William Clark after Feith was discovered to be the object of an FBI probe alleging that he had passed classified information to Israel.

Former CIA counter-terrorism chief Vince Cannistraro confirmed to UPI the firing of Feith in the 1980s.

Feith did not return repeated phone calls.

According to a federal law enforcement official, other Pentagon officials of initial interest included Bill Luti, a former Navy captain who ran the day-to-day office operations of OSP, and Harold Rhode, a prominent member of the Near East/South Asia office, a sister office of OSP.

According to sources who have been briefed on the case, the focus of the FBI probe finally settled on a meeting in Rome in December 2001, attended by Rhode and Franklin who met with an Iranian, Mansur Ghorbanifar, the notorious Iranian middleman in Oliver North's 1980s scheme to craft an arms-for-hostages deal, later named Iran Contra.

The head of Italy's military intelligence also attended, according to these sources.

At that meeting, Ghorbanifar offered to put the Bush administration in touch with "elements in Tehran who could mount a coup with U.S. help," one source close to the case said.

The meeting was brokered by Michael Ledeen, a major figure in the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-1980s, according to a source with close knowledge of the case.

The meeting allegedly took place with the knowledge of the White House, but White House officials denied that they had known Ghorbanifar was to be there, according to a recent Los Angeles Times account.

Other sources briefed on the case, however, said another meeting occurred in Paris in June 2002 when Rhode "accidentally" bumped into Ghorbanifar, a meeting attended by Franklin, Rhode and Ruel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA operative, now a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, and an assistant to Richard Perle, a former senior Defense Department official during the Reagan administration.

Sources close to the case also said that the meeting "was prearranged" and involved representatives of the Mujahedin al-Kahlq, an Iranian group of exiles, to discuss assistance to the MEK for the purpose of destabilizing the current government of Iran.

"According to a congressional investigative memo, these meetings were arranged by Gerecht and Ledeen. Ledeen denies this.

"The only meeting I knew about was the December meeting," he said. "I don't know about the others, if they in fact existed."

Ledeen denounced the Franklin case as "total bullshit and lies."

Gerecht did not return phone calls.

One source with close knowledge of the case said that the Franklin-Rhode- Gerecht meetings with the MEK, which is on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations was "served to undermine (Secretary of State) Colin Powell's effort to sustain dialogue with moderate elements within the Iranian government."

The MEK is still listed on the State Department's list of terrorist groups because they have killed American officials, according to a State Department official.

When questioned by congressional investigators, Luti "and other senior Defense officials denied that there was any serious consideration of using the MEK terrorists to destabilize the Iran regime," according to a source briefed on the case.

This source added, "Just such a proposal was raised by DoD officials at a meeting of the deputies -- or deputy secretaries of the National Security Council cabinet departments."

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice "was extremely agitated by the suggestion," this source alleged.

According to an account in The New York Times, when Secretary of State Colin Powell, heard of the June 2002 meeting, he called and complained to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, alleging that Feith's missions were "against U.S. policy."

An FBI source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told UPI, "This investigation of OSP has by no means ended."

A congressional source said, "We may be dealing with a rerun of Iran Contra with some of the original cast."

According to former colleagues, Franklin for many years was a Soviet expert at the Defense Intelligence Agency under the supervision of DIA Soviet specialist Winifred Joshua. Three years ago, he joined the NESA office of Luti as an expert on Iran who spoke Farsi, having changed his field in the 1990s.

As a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, Franklin served two short tours at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, in a liaison position. During one stay there, Franklin spent so much time with senior Israeli officials, that the embassy defense attaché sent Franklin home before his two week tour was up, a former senior DIA official said.

Although Franklin was described in one New York Times account as "only being a desk officer" of little influence, DIA sources told UPI that Franklin was always invited to the informal "brown bag" lunches with Doug Feith, Luti and the other senior OSP officials."