Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Boston.com / Michael LeDeen / Man of the World

Boston.com / News / Boston Globe / Ideas / Man of the World: "Man of the World
Michael Ledeen's adventures in history
By Jeet Heer and Dave Wagner | October 10, 2004

MICHAEL A. LEDEEN enjoys writing about intellectuals who are also adventurers, thinkers who test out their theories in the din of political battle: figures like Gabriele D'Annunzio, the "poet-warrior" who led an insurrectionary Italian militia that captured the Adriatic city of Fiume in 1919; James Jesus Angleton, the Yale-trained literary critic who became the head of counterintelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency; and, especially, Machiavelli, the political theorist and would-be adviser to the Borgia clan.

"Nobody else has dealt with the political and moral requirements of leadership with such brutal clarity as Machiavelli," Ledeen argues in his admiring book "Machiavelli on Modern Leadership" (1999). ". . . He spent most of his time in combat, on the battlefield or in the courtroom or the legislative chamber. He did not expect or desire to be carried off to scholarly libraries.

"The same combination of worldly and intellectual activity can be seen in Ledeen's controversial career. In addition to penning more than a dozen books, contributing countless articles to various journals, and holding court on foreign policy issues as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Ledeen has often come out from behind the writer's desk to participate in the rough-and-tumble of politics.

During the Reagan years, he served as an adviser to Secretary of State Alexander Haig and national security adviser Robert McFarlane, in which capacity he helped arrange meetings between the US government and Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar, thus becoming a minor figure in the Iran-Contra saga. These days, according to The Washington Post, he talks frequently with Bush strategy guru Karl Rove. In the current debate over "regime change" in Iran, Ledeen is a major voice for an aggressive US policy to overthrow the mullahs, which he sees as but one small part of his vision of an American-led "global democratic revolution."

It's an impressive resume for a man who spent the early part of his career scouring Italian archives to research several serious scholarly works on European fascism. But what's the link between Ledeen the historian and Ledeen the swashbuckling advocate of a hard-line foreign policy?

Born in Los Angeles in 1941 to an engineer father and schoolteacher mother, Ledeen credits his upbringing as the source of his scholarly interests. "A fairly religious Jewish person growing up in the `50s inevitably did a lot of thinking about the Holocaust," Ledeen noted in a recent e-mail interview. "I spent 15 years studying fascism, trying to understand how something so awful could have happened, and obviously, resolved to fight it and similar things in the future."

After getting an undergraduate degree from Pomona College in Claremont, Ca., in 1963, Ledeen enrolled in the history program at the University of Wisconsin, where he studied under George Mosse, a giant in the field of European cultural history. A refugee from Nazi Germany, Mosse studied the manner in which fascists won mass support not through their ideas but through mastery of public spectacle. In addition, he traced the roots of fascist culture deep into European history. At the heart of Mosse's methodology was a commitment to historical empathy, to "seeing fascism as it saw itself and as its followers saw it.""

Boston.com / Michael Ledeen / Man of the World Page 2 of 3

Boston.com / News / Boston Globe / Ideas / Man of the World: "Page 2 of 3 -- Ledeen adopted Mosse's methodology, but used it to draw a quite different conclusion. A lifelong internationalist and socialist, Mosse always looked at nationalism with an outsider's eyes. By contrast, Ledeen displayed an activist's interest in deploying sacred nationalist mythology for contemporary political purposes. For Ledeen, early 20th-century European mass politics, rooted in a half-millennium-old cultural legacy, could serve as a wellspring for reinvigorating contemporary middle-class nationalism, particularly in the United States.

In his first book, "Universal Fascism" (1972), based on his doctoral thesis, Ledeen drew a strong connection between two seemingly different intellectual currents: the fascist cult of youth and the attempt in the mid-1930s to form a fascist international. Both tendencies, he demonstrated, grew out of the disillusionment of younger intellectuals with the first decade of Mussolini's reign. Since the Duce had failed to radically transform Italian society, his more idealistic followers now dared to hope that the younger generation all across Europe would form a confederation of radical nationalists that would reject the virulent racism of German fascism.

Ledeen further explored the cultural dimension of politics in his best work of pure scholarship, "The First Duce: D'Annunzio at Fiume" (1977). Here, Ledeen describes how the Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio led a military coup to capture the port city of Fiume in 1919, which he feared would be handed over to Yugoslavia by the great powers in the diplomatic aftermath of World War I. Bringing romantic aesthetics to politics, D'Annunzio won the hearts of the city with a barrage of innovative rituals including "daily marches in the countryside, . . . speeches from the balcony . . . [and] dialogues with the crowd." Far from being a historical oddity, Ledeen argued, D'Annunzio helped invent modern politics: "D'Annunzian political style -- the politics of mass manipulation, the politics of myth and symbol -- have become the norm in the modern world."

Reviewing "The First Duce" in The New York Review of Books, the cultural journalist Luigi Barzini called Ledeen one of the best historians of modern Italy. But by then Ledeen had already abandoned academia for a career as a Washington journalist and political insider. He had also begun the now-familiar neoconservative trek from left -- he opposed the Vietnam War and voted for McGovern in 1972 -- to right. (Today, he rejects the label "conservative." "I have always thought of myself as a `liberal democrat' in the sense that Walter Lippmann used the word," he wrote via e-mail.)

An important way station on this journey was a curious formation called the Social Democrats, U.S.A. (SDUSA), an outgrowth of Norman Thomas's old Socialist Party that argued for strong labor unions at home and militant anticommunism abroad. A 1977 speech on democracy and human rights, reprinted in the SDUSA's journal, prefigured his subsequent calls for the United States to spread democracy across the globe."

Boston.com / Michael LeDeen / Man of the World Page 3 of 3

Boston.com / News / Boston Globe / Ideas / Man of the World: "Man of the World
October 10, 2004

Page 3 of 3 -- Any discussion of America and human rights must begin with the recognition that this country was created in a revolutionary period and that the democratic revolution -- of which America is but one element -- is, by its nature and of necessity, universal," Ledeen declared. ". . . It is crucial for us to remember that the 18th-century revolutionaries and statesmen who created this country recognized that it is impossible for [democracy] to flourish if it is limited to a small corner of the world. The revolution, in other words, must be exported."

These themes resonated in the 1980s, when many one-time members of the SDUSA (including Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Carl Gershman, current president of the National Endowment for Democracy) allied themselves with the Reagan administration. The call for the United States to be at the forefront of a global crusade to spread democracy became one of the defining features of neoconservative ideology, a heady brew of American nationalism and an internationalist crusade for democracy that transcended traditional left-right divisions.

But there is another, less ringing, strain in Ledeen's thinking. "To be an effective leader, the most prudent method is to ensure that your people are afraid of you," Ledeen wrote in "Machiavelli on Modern Leadership." "To instill that fear, you must demonstrate that those who attack you will not survive."

Ledeen is especially contemptuous of leaders he regards as weak and corrupt, such as Bill Clinton. In a 1999 article in the scholarly journal Society, he warned of dire consequences if Clinton were not impeached. "New leaders with an iron will are required to root out the corruption and either reestablish a virtuous state, or to institute a new one. . .," he wrote. "If we bask in false security and drop our guard, the rot spreads, corrupting the entire society. Once that happens, only violent and extremely unpleasant methods can bring us back to virtue."

In a March 2003 speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Ledeen dismissed worries that the American public would lose heart if there were too many casualties in the then-imminent Iraq war. "All the great scholars who have studied American character have come to the conclusion that we are a warlike people and that we love war. . .," Ledeen declared. "What we hate is not casualties but losing."

The Ledeen enigma -- extolling democracy while calling for iron political discipline -- can be traced back to what he has called "the usual Machiavellian paradox: Compulsion -- or necessity, as he terms it -- makes men noble, and enables them to remain free, while abundant choice is dangerous, leads to chaos, and leaves men at the mercy of their enemies." Ledeen fears that some elements of society have forgotten the virtue of such compulsion. "The generals, the businessmen, and the athletic coaches know this, but the political leaders and journalists often forget it."

Ledeen, however, claims his own politics are perfectly mainstream. "I think of myself as a fairly typical American," he claimed in the e-mail interview. "I hate tyranny, and I dread mass movements because they often produce the worst sort of tyrannies, the ones that genuinely inspire passionate followers. I love freedom and clearly have a strong anarchist streak, which I come by honestly. My uncle Izzy Brody was a Russian anarchist who came to America in search of freedom, and found it."

Jeet Heer is a regular contributor to the National Post of Canada and the Globe. Dave Wagner's latest book is "Hide in Plain Sight," a history of the Hollywood blacklist."

Larry Franklin's October Surprise- by Justin Raimondo

Larry Franklin's October Surprise- by Justin Raimondo: "Larry Franklin's October Surprise
This trick is no treat for either candidate
by Justin Raimondo
Amid the back-and-forth between the Bushies and the Kerry camp, one campaign season fusillade has gone largely unnoticed. Fundie nut-job Pat Robertson exposed the real heart and soul of his movement of moonbats the other day at a news conference in Jerusalem, where he threatened to withdraw his support from the GOP:

"'The President has backed away from [the road map], but if he were to touch Jerusalem, he'd lose all Evangelical support. Evangelicals would form a third party' because, though people 'don't know about' Gaza, Jerusalem is an entirely different matter."

It is an extraordinary sight: not since the leaders of the American Communist Party traveled to Moscow to pledge allegiance to the Comintern in the earlier half of the last century has such an open display of fealty to a foreign power been recorded. Together with 5,000 of his followers, the Rev. Robertson – whose 1988 presidential campaign galvanized "born again" Christians into a potent force within the GOP – toured the Holy Land, much as John Reed and his comrades toured Soviet Russia, painting a portrait of the regime in roseate pastels and calling on their countrymen to support the "workers' fatherland." And the similarities do not end there. Reed, like Robertson, was inspired by a theology, a faith in the inexorable forces of History. The fundies call this Prophecy.

Commies and fundies have a lot more in common than either are capable of imagining, but one common thread stands out in particular. The dispensationalist dogma that gives Israel a key role in bringing about the Second Coming is roughly analogous to Russia's stature in the minds of the post-1917 Left as the vanguard and harbinger of world revolution. The American adherents of both creeds basically transferred their primary loyalties to a foreign country. Just as the Communists functioned as Soviet Russia's fifth column in America, so Robertson's flock serves in a similar capacity on behalf of the Israeli government. And they do so openly, and proudly.

From the "Red Decade" of the 1930s up until the beginning of the cold war, the left was hardly ever called on their passionate attachment to a foreign regime, except by scattered groups of isolated anti-Communists. During World War II, at the height of the Roosevelt-Stalin alliance, all criticism of the Soviet Union was reviled as "reactionary" and even treasonous. It wasn't until the U.S. began to square off against their former allies that the crackdown began and the government moved to expose and break up the extensive espionage apparatus the Kremlin had been allowed to build up in this country. As we later learned, Russia's cheering section in America was the linchpin of this spy network.

In tracking the progress of Soviet espionage activities in the U.S., investigators – and not only Senator Joseph McCarthy – found that Soviet "front" organizations, such as the Institute for Pacific Relations (IPR), were key links in the Kremlin's spy apparatus, of which top U.S. government officials, such as Laughlin Currie, Owen Lattimore, and Alger Hiss were a part. Hiding behind the public face of numerous respectable front groups, a covert coven of pro-Soviet spies and fellow travelers inside the U.S. government stole our secrets and betrayed their country, not for money, but for ideology.

Every fifth column movement has an underground component, charged with passing information to its foreign masters, as well as aboveground institutions: thinktanks, media outlets, and most of all lobbying groups that openly protect the interests of the Mother Country. For reasons of security, the two wings keep their distance from each other, but there is always a certain amount of clandestine interaction – a vulnerability that exposes them to constant danger.

This same vulnerability seems to have tripped up Israel's fifth column, of which Robertson and his cohorts are the loudest (and largest) public adjunct. That the usually pro-Bush Robertson is fired up enough to threaten the President of the United States with dire political retribution if he dares violate the preacher's obscure theological fixation with Jerusalem is surely some kind of sign, if not from God, then from a more earthly power. Could the fierce tone of Robertson's fatwa have something to do with the recent ratcheting up of the case against Larry Franklin, a Pentagon analyst accused of passing classified documents to Israel?

Franklin was previously reported as having been "turned" by the FBI, giving them information in exchange for the promise of leniency when it comes time to file charges, but that now appears to have changed. According to the Los Angeles Times, Franklin has rejected a proposed deal in which he would plead guilty to some of the charges, dismissed his court-appointed lawyer, and is now represented by Plato Cacheris, who defended convicted spies Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames.

When Cacheris took up the case of Ana Belen Montes, Castro's top spy in the United States, neoconservative writer Ronald Radosh argued that he "seems to be the chosen counsel for most of the recent American spies for foreign powers." But this misses the real point to be made about the Washington super-lawyer: he specializes, not in espionage cases, but in high profile scandals, the kind that make mile-high headlines. From Watergate (he represented Attorney General John Mitchell) to Iran-Contra (he got Fawn Hall immunity in exchange for her testimony) to Lewinsky-gate (he was one of Monica's attorneys), one thing is clear: the spotlight is his natural habitat – yet another indication that the Franklin affair, which seems to have dropped into the black hole of journalistic memory, is going to resurface big time.

The Franklin case is a byproduct of a two-year investigation: law enforcement was routinely listening in on a conversation between two high-ranking AIPAC employees and Israeli officials when they stumbled on Franklin's treason. The story was deliberately leaked, not by the FBI, but by parties who were interested in prematurely forcing the whole investigation out into the open – giving the Israelis involved time to flee the country, and others an opportunity to destroy evidence and take cover. Franklin's stonewalling, and apparent decision to fight – "Any charge of espionage will be met with fierce resistance," says Cacheris – is a challenge to the FBI to either put up or shut up.

"It looks like there is going to be a battle," said a source cited by the Times. It can't be long now before charges are filed, and the story of how Israel infiltrated the highest echelons of the Pentagon's policy shop – where Franklin works as an Iran specialist – comes out in lurid detail.

With a month to go until the election, the exposure of AIPAC as the vital conduit through which Israeli moles in the government passed sensitive information to Israel is so politically explosive that it's no wonder the White House handed the case to a compliant political appointee and told investigators to "slow down," according to the Financial Times. But it looks like Franklin has single-handedly nixed that plan.

This is one "October surprise" that would benefit neither Bush nor Kerry – the former because of the laxness it reveals in the inner councils of his own administration, and the latter on account of his utter cowardice and unwillingness to even address the issue.

As we begin to ask questions about who lied us into war, and why; as we trace the fabrications, the forgeries, the phony "intelligence" back to the original source, in the context of the hardest-fought presidential election in recent memory – and a war that we appear to be losing – the implications of the Franklin-AIPAC espionage case are so hot as to be nearly radioactive. Neither candidate is willing to touch it. But Franklin, in an effort to save his own skin, may have forced the issue onto the table.

– Justin Raimondo"

Print Article-American Prospect Online

Print Article-American Prospect Online: "Cloak and Swagger
The Larry Franklin spy probe reveals an escalating fight over control of Iran policy.
By Laura Rozen and Jason Vest
Issue Date: 11.02.04

To Washington’s small and sometimes fractious community of Iran experts, it was becoming obvious: What to do about Iran and its fast-developing nuclear program was set to rival Iraq as the most pressing foreign-policy challenge for the person elected president in 2004. By the spring and early summer of this year, the city was awash in rival Iran task forces and conferences. Some recommended that Washington engage in negotiations with Tehran’s mullahs on the nuclear issue; they drew scorn from the other side, which preached regime change or military strikes.

In late July, as this debate raged, a Pentagon analyst named Larry Franklin telephoned an acquaintance who worked at a pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The two men knew each other professionally from their long involvement in the Washington Iran and Iraq policy debates. A Brooklyn-born Catholic father of five who put himself through school, earning a doctorate, as an Air Force reservist, Franklin had served as a Soviet intelligence analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency until about a decade ago, when he learned Farsi and became an Iran specialist. At their July meeting, Franklin told the AIPAC employee about his frustration that the U.S. government wasn’t responding aggressively enough to intelligence about hostile Iranian activities in Iraq. As Franklin explained it, Iran had sent all of its Arabic-speaking Iranian agents to southern Iraq, was orchestrating attacks on Iraqi state oil facilities, and had sent other agents to northern Iraq to kill Israelis believed to be operating there. Iran had also transferred its top operative for Afghanistan to the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad. The move, Franklin implied, signified Tehran’s intention to cause more trouble in Iraq.

A couple of weeks after this meeting, in mid-August, the AIPAC official was visited by two FBI agents, who asked him about Franklin. From the line of questioning, it wasn’t clear to the AIPAC official whether Franklin was being investigated by the FBI for possible wrongdoing or if he was simply the subject of a routine background investigation for renewal of his security clearance.

But on August 27, when CBS broke the story that the FBI was close to arresting an alleged “Israeli mole” in the office of the Pentagon’s No. 3 official, Douglas Feith, it became clear that Franklin was in trouble. News reports said that the FBI had evidence that Franklin had passed a classified draft national-security presidential directive (NSPD) on Iran to AIPAC. What’s more, reports said, the FBI wasn’t just interested in Franklin. For the past two years, it had been conducting a counterintelligence probe into whether AIPAC had served as a conduit for U.S. intelligence to Israel, an investigation about which National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was briefed shortly after the Bush administration came into office.

In the flurry of news reports that followed, the scope of the FBI investigation seemed potentially enormous. Citing senior U.S. officials, The Washington Post reported that “the FBI is examining whether highly classified material from the National Security Agency … was also forwarded to Israel,” and that the investigation of Franklin was “coincidental” to that broader FBI probe. Time magazine reported that Franklin had been enlisted by the FBI to place a series of monitored telephone calls (scripted by the FBI) to get possible evidence on others, including allies of Ahmad Chalabi, a favorite of Pentagon neoconservatives. Chalabi was alleged to have told his Iranian intelligence contacts that the United States had broken their communications codes -- a breach that prompted a break in U.S. support for Chalabi last spring -- and the FBI wanted to know who had shared that highly classified information with Chalabi. What’s more, an independent expert on Israeli espionage said he had been interviewed by the FBI in June and in several follow-up calls, and that the scope of the senior FBI investigators’ questioning was broad and extremely detailed.

In the wake of the first news reports, AIPAC strongly denied that any of its employees had ever knowingly received classified U.S. information. Israel also categorically denied that it had conducted intelligence operations against the United States since the case of Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who was convicted of spying for Israel in 1987.

At the time the CBS report aired in late August -- incidentally, on the Friday evening before the opening of the Republican national convention -- custody of the Franklin investigation was being transferred from the head of the FBI counterintelligence unit, David Szady, to U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty, a Bush appointee, in Alexandria, Virginia, as the case moved to the grand-jury phase.

And then, in mid-September, news of the Franklin investigation went dark.

* * *

The classified document that Franklin allegedly passed to AIPAC concerned a controversial proposal by Pentagon hard-liners to destabilize Iran. The latest iteration of the national-security presidential directive was drafted by a Pentagon civilian and avid neocon, Michael Rubin, who hoped it would be adopted as official policy by the Bush administration. But in mid-June, Bush’s national-security advisers canceled consideration of the draft, partly in response to resistance from some at the State Department and the National Security Council, according to a recent memo written by Rubin and obtained by The American Prospect. No doubt also contributing to the administration’s decision was the swelling insurgency and chaos of postwar Iraq.

Rubin, in his early 30s, is a relative newcomer to the neoconservative circles in which he is playing an increasingly prominent role. Once the Iraq and Iran desk officer in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans and later a Coalition Provisional Authority adviser in Iraq, these days the Yale-educated Ph.D. hangs his hat at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and serves as editor for controversial Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes’ magazine, The Middle East Quarterly.

In an article published in the Republican-oriented quarterly Ripon Forum in June, Rubin suggests that the administration resolve its Iran waffling by turning against the current regime. “In 1953 and 1979,” he wrote, “Washington supported an unpopular Iranian government against the will of the people. The United States should not make the same mistake three times.” In other words, President Bush should step up his public condemnation of the Iranian regime and break off all contact with it in hopes of spurring a swelling of the Iranian pro-democracy movement. In short, Rubin, like his fellow Iran hawks, urges the administration to make regime change in Iran its official policy.

This invocation of “moral clarity” has a long intellectual pedigree among neoconservatives. It’s the same argument they made to Ronald Reagan about the Soviet Union more than 20 years ago. “If we could bring down the Soviet empire by inspiring and supporting a small percentage of the people,” Michael Ledeen, a chief neoconservative advocate of regime change in Iran and freedom scholar at AEI, recently wrote in the National Review, “surely the chances of successful revolution in Iran are more likely.”

Was it to this end that Franklin was allegedly observed by the FBI passing the draft NSPD on Iran to AIPAC? Was he trying to inform AIPAC, or Israel, about the contents of the draft NSPD? Or rather, and perhaps more plausibly, was he trying to enlist the powerful Washington lobbying organization in advocating for a Iran-destabilization policy? In other words, is the Franklin case really about espionage, or is it a glimpse into the ugly sausage-making process by which Middle East policy gets decided in Washington and, in particular, in the Bush administration?

* * *

Arguably past the apogee of its power, AIPAC nonetheless remains one of Washington’s most influential organizations. Successor to the Eisenhower-era American Zionist Council of Public Affairs, AIPAC came into its own during the Reagan years, thanks largely to the efforts of former Executive Director Thomas Dine. When Dine assumed his post in 1981, the organization had an annual budget of a little more than $1 million, about two dozen employees, and 8,000 members; when he left in 1993, a budget of $15 million was being administered by a staff of 158, and the committee had 50,000 members.

An assiduous networker and fund-raiser, Dine also quickly became indispensable to the Reagan White House as a promoter of various neoconservative foreign-policy initiatives. He also forged alliances between AIPAC and other interests, including the Christian right. (Another former AIPAC executive director, Morris Amitay, has long been active in neoconservative ventures, as both a business partner to Feith and Richard Perle and co-founder, with Michael Ledeen, of the Coalition for Democracy in Iran.) By the mid-’80s, AIPAC had been a prime mover in the defeat or crippling of initiatives and legislators not to its liking, and the passage of billions in grants to Israel. It had also taken on an increasingly pro-Republican (and pro-Likud) tilt.

While many regarded AIPAC’s power as lessened during the Clinton administration, since 2001 AIPAC has been powerful enough that even the Bush administration couldn’t get the committee and its congressional allies to tone down language in a 2002 resolution in support of Israeli military actions against the Palestinians. AIPAC’s 2002 annual conference included 50 senators, 90 representatives, and more than a dozen senior administration officials; this year’s conclave boasted President Bush himself, plus House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and an array of State and Defense department officials.

But while AIPAC is a powerhouse, it is not clear that it would have been the perfect vehicle for the kind of Iran-destabilization lobbying that some in Washington have been pushing. There are a wide variety of Israeli positions on how to deal with Iran. Many of Washington’s Middle East hands who are pro-Israel believe destabilization will not likely succeed, and they fear it will not deal with what they consider the real threat from Iran: nuclear weapons.

“If you mean trying to promote the peaceful overthrow of the regime in Iran, I think the prospects for success are highly uncertain,” says Patrick Clawson, deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel think tank. Pro-Israel activists in Washington want to make sure that the United States considers Iran’s nuclear program first and foremost an American problem, the response to which could include, if necessary, air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran’s nuclear program, one such activist recently told the Prospect, “has to be seen as Washington’s problem.”

There are other competing positions within the Israel-policy community. One Israeli official in Washington this summer for diplomatic meetings discussed regime change in Iran with a reporter from The American Prospect on the condition that his identity not be disclosed. He believes that Iran is ripe for democratic revolution, that it has one of the most pro-Western populations in the region, and that Iranian opposition forces would be electrified by a vigorous show of U.S. presidential support. But he believes that any sort of military intervention in Iran would set back considerably these promising regime-change forces. Still another group of Israeli policy-makers seem more inclined toward a military option, as evidenced by Israel’s well-publicized purchase of 500 “bunker-buster” bombs from the United States in September and its failed efforts to launch a spy satellite to monitor Iran’s nuclear-program developments.

Yet another policy position became evident in Seymour Hersh’s article in The New Yorker in June, in which Hersh reported that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, sensing that the U.S.–created chaos in Iraq could leave an opening for anti-Israel efforts in Iran, was pursuing a “Plan B” that had Israeli operatives covertly training and equipping Kurds in Iraq, Iran, and Syria for possible future covert action to counter any such measures. As Hersh reported: “Israeli intelligence and military operatives are now quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish commando units and, most important in Israel’s view, running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria. … Some Israeli operatives have crossed the border into Iran, accompanied by Kurdish commandos, to install sensors and other sensitive devices that primarily target suspected Iranian nuclear facilities.”

The Israeli government insisted the story wasn’t credible, and that it was sourced by Turkey, which is panicked, as ever, about foreign designs on Kurdistan. But a source told the Prospect that Franklin expressed the conviction that the United States has intelligence that affirms Hersh’s report to be largely accurate. A second former U.S. diplomatic official who recently visited the area told the Prospect that there are Israeli intelligence officials operating in Kurdish Iraq as political advisers, and others under the guise of businessmen.

All of which raises questions, like what exactly was in the draft NSPD that Rubin wrote and Franklin allegedly shared with AIPAC? And does the destabilization plan pushed by neoconservatives in the draft NSPD in fact advocate that the United States or its proxies arm the Iranian opposition, including the Kurds, as part of its efforts to pursue regime change?

The public statements by the neoconservatives emphasize that regime change in Iran would not require U.S. military force. Then again, the neoconservatives’ inspiration for the Iran plan has its roots in Reagan-era NSPDs that, while providing nonmilitary support to Poland’s Solidary Movement, also had the CIA aggressively arming and training the Afghan mujahideen, the Nicaraguan Contras, and other anti-communist rebels. There’s also no denying that some of the chief advocates of the Iran regime plot come out of the Pentagon, America’s military command center. And some of those same Iran hawks have discussed the Iran regime-change issue, for instance, with Parisian-based Iran Contra arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar -- not exactly the kind of go-to guy for a nonviolent regime change plan, one might think.

* * *

Whatever the nuances, the neocons are facing one of their biggest challenges in Washington today: persuading the administration to adopt their regime-change policy toward Iran even while their regime-change policy in Iraq appears to be crumbling. Since the Iraq invasion, Feith’s office has come under the intense scrutiny of congressional investigators, investigative journalists, and Democratic critics for its two controversial prewar intelligence units, the Office of Special Plans and the Policy Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group. It was those units that had helped convince the Bush White House of an operational connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda -- a claim since disproved by the independent September 11 commission, among others. Those secretive intelligence units had also been among the administration’s strongest champions of Chalabi, who allegedly told Iranian intelligence agents that the United States had penetrated Iranian communications channels.

An FBI counterintelligence investigation of who had leaked this information to Chalabi was reportedly under way by spring 2004, and many of Chalabi’s neocon allies were incredibly anxious: Misjudgment about Chalabi’s virtues or postwar Iraq planning was one thing; passing secrets to another nation would be an accusation of an altogether graver magnitude.

All of these investigations put Franklin and other neoconservatives associated with Feith at the white-hot center of a raging controversy: What would any second-term Bush foreign policy look like? Would controversial neocon figures like Feith remain in power? Or would it mark the rise of pragmatists and realists? For the neoconservatives, the fight to clear Franklin and themselves has become a fight against their internal administration rivals. And they’re fighting it in classic neocon fashion: dirty and disingenuously.

Among intelligence professionals, it’s hardly a state secret that even nations whose relationships go beyond mere alliance and constitute friendship spy on one another. That’s one reason nations have counterintelligence capabilities as well. As such, investigations of espionage and mishandling of classified documents are not uncommon in Washington; the Bush administration’s Justice Department, for example, has opened investigations to probe allegations of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Saudi espionage, including ones that involve ranking officials at the FBI and State Department. With the investigations into AIPAC and Franklin, the Justice Department has renewed its interest in snooping by our ally, Israel.

Since the Pollard case, U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement sources have revealed to the Prospect that at least six sealed indictments have been issued against individuals for espionage on Israel’s behalf. It’s a testament to the unique relationship between the United States and Israel that those cases were never prosecuted; according to the same sources, both governments ultimately addressed them through diplomatic and intelligence channels rather than air the dirty laundry. A number of career Justice Department and intelligence officials who have worked on Israeli counterespionage told the Prospect of long-standing frustration among investigators and prosecutors who feel that cases that could have been made successfully against Israeli spies were never brought to trial, or that the investigations were shut down prematurely. This history had led to informed speculation that the FBI -- fearing the Franklin probe was heading toward the same silent end -- leaked the story to CBS to keep it in the public eye and give it a fighting chance.

But the pro-Israel lobby and some neoconservatives, fighting for their political lives, have turned the leak on its head. They claim that the AIPAC and Franklin investigations have nothing to do with the substance of the Iran-related leaks. Rather, they say, investigators are going after Jews. In the current probes of Franklin and AIPAC, Michael Rubin has led the strident charge. On September 4, during the media flap over the investigations, Rubin sent an e-mail memo -- obtained by the Prospect -- to a list of friendly parties targeting two of Washington’s more respected mainstream journalists, calling them key players in an “increasing anti-Semitic witch hunt.” The memo fingered Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as one likely source of the leaks about the investigation, and also urged that, if the accusations had any merit, the White House demand the evidence be made public. “I’m increasingly concerned about the leaks spinning off from the Franklin affair,” Rubin wrote. “It was bad enough when the White House rewarded the June 15, 2003, leak by canceling consideration of the NSPD. It showed the State Department that leaks could supplant real debate. … Bureaucratic rivalries are out of control.” Rubin’s memo showed up in a similar form almost a month later in the op-ed pages of The Washington Times under the byline of National Review staffer Joel Mowbray, and echoes of it can be seen in the pages of the neocon-friendly Jerusalem Post.

Meanwhile, Franklin was involved in some pushback of his own. In late August, the Franklin case was referred from Szady to U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty, a Bush-Ashcroft appointee who heads the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. A grand jury was seated on the case in September and had subpoenaed at least some witnesses to testify about Franklin. Then, on October 1, The New York Sun reported that Franklin had fired his court-appointed attorney (whom he had presumably retained for financial reasons), halting grand-jury proceedings while he found new counsel. On October 6, the Los Angeles Times reported that Franklin had stopped cooperating with the FBI entirely. He had hired a high-profile lawyer, Plato Cacheris (of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen fame), and had rejected a proposed plea agreement whose terms Franklin considers “too onerous,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Who pushed Franklin -- who for months seemed vulnerable -- to stop cooperating? And who is paying for his expensive new lawyer? At this writing, we do not know. Also unknown is the status of the larger FBI counterintelligence probe of alleged Israeli espionage into which Franklin stumbled. But we do know that his recent decisions would seem to immensely help any of the people against whom he could have testified. At least for now, that’s a round won by a clique intent on pushing freelance crypto-diplomacy to its limits.

Laura Rozen reports on foreign-policy and national-security issues from Washington, D.C. Jason Vest is a Prospect senior correspondent.

Copyright © 2004 by The American Prospect, Inc. Preferred Citation: Laura Rozen and Jason Vest, "Cloak and Swagger", The American Prospect Online, Nov 1, 2004. This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. Direct questions about permissions to permissions@prospect.org."

Behind the AIPAC Probe, Neocons Seen Battling Rivals (washingtonpost.com)

Behind the AIPAC Probe, Neocons Seen Battling Rivals (washingtonpost.com): "Behind the AIPAC Probe, Neocons Seen Battling Rivals

By Jefferson Morley
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 7, 2004; 10:30 AM

A high-level Washington power struggle over U.S. policy toward Iran is driving the espionage investigation of the powerful American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), according to international online observers.

On one side of the conflict are neoconservative officials in the Pentagon who favor bold U.S. action to bring down Iran's theocratic government. On the other side, some see intelligence officials who view the neocons as too close to Israel.

Americans, distracted by two political conventions, the Olympics and summer vacations, probably missed the news that the governments of Israel and Iran spent the summer trading threats to attack each other.

Iran, the most populous country in the Middle East, has been secretly seeking to develop nuclear weapons, according to international weapons inspectors, a charge Tehran denies. Israel, which has maintained an official stance of nuclear ambiguity, is long suspected of possessing a nuclear arsenal but has never accepted weapons inspections. It is, by all accounts, determined to prevent the emergence of another nuclear power in the Middle East. In 1982, Israeli jets destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor to prevent Saddam Hussein from developing nuclear weapons. Israeli officials have threatened to do the same in Iran.

In mid-August Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani upped the ante by telling al-Jazeera television that his government might launch preemptive strikes against Israel to protect its nuclear facilities, according to the China Daily.

On Aug. 27, CBS News broke the story that the FBI was investigating Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Lawrence A. Franklin for allegedly sharing sensitive U.S. documents on Iran policy with AIPAC. The Post then reported that the two-year-old probe was broader than just one person and that investigators are looking into whether other defense officials had given sensitive materials to AIPAC and Ahmed Chalabi, the former Iraqi dissident who enjoyed support in areas of the Pentagon before the war.

While the Post quoted sources as saying they were "puzzled" and "baffled" about the motivation of the AIPAC probe, many foreign observers show no such doubt.

The AIPAC scandal "stems from bureaucratic competition between neoconservatives and their opponents within the administration," according to columnist Avinoam Bar Yosef of the Jerusalem Post.

A commentator in a leading Arabic daily agreed.

The scandal "tells us less about Israeli spying efforts than it does about the existence of some serious disagreements within the Bush administration on how to deal with Iran," said columnist Helena Cobban in the London-based Dar al-Hayat.

In the immediate aftermath of the U.S. military victory in Iraq over Saddam Hussein's army in April 2003, Cobban writes that "many ranking members of the [Bush] administration started talking openly about the need to bring about a similarly violent 'regime change' in Iran and Syria as their next goal."

The AIPAC investigation, she says, is a challenge to their ambitions.

"More and more people in the U.S. military and the country as a whole have seen how hard it has been to achieve what they wanted in Iraq, alone, and how high the costs have been there," Cobban wrote.

The Economist magazine, in a piece reprinted in the Toronto Star, noted that Franklin worked for two of the leading advocates of "regime change" in Iran: Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, and Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary for policy.

Is there a 'rogue' operation in the administration waging an internal struggle over this policy?" The Economist asked. "If so, is it possible that Franklin's bosses at the Pentagon sent him to get input from the Israelis and the AIPAC to back up their policy position on Iran?"

In the view of Ze'ev Schiff, national security correspondent for the Israeli daily Haaretz, the AIPAC probe is part of the CIA's effort to wrest control of Middle East policy from the pro-Israeli officials at the Pentagon.

"The CIA sees Israel as disruptive in American efforts to improve its relations with the Arabs," he writes. "It's not surprising that the CIA was the first to charge that Israel has an agent in the Pentagon."

Schiff says that as early as 1997, CIA director George Tenet made "stinging" comments to Israeli officials saying Israel "had a spy" in the upper reaches of the U.S. government, Schiff says. No such Israeli spy ever surfaced, and Tenet later apologized to his Israeli counterpart for the remarks, according to Schiff.

Ed Blanche, writing for the Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon, blames "the permanent national security bureaucracy" in Washington for the AIPAC probe.

In his piece, Blanche quotes Duncan Clarke of the American University's School of International Service in Washington as saying Israeli economic espionage has long "infuriated the US intelligence community, especially the FBI and the Customs Service." Duncan goes on to say that Israeli spying on the United States has "left a legacy of distrust" in the U.S. intelligence community.

The net effect is that U.S. policy toward Iran seems more unsettled than ever.

In Iran one reformist journalist Mehran Karami says the AIPAC probe should show Iranians that America and Israel are not united against Iran.

"If there was no difference between the national interests of America and Israel . . . why would Israel conduct an act of espionage? We must accept that America is a superpower whose interests involve more than just Israel's interests in the Middle East region," he wrote in the Tehran daily Sharq.

"By accepting this, we can reconsider and establish independent ties with America away from Arab-Israel conflicts," he concluded.

But in Israel, the hardliners at Debkafile think the AIPAC probe "will be seen in Tehran as tying the Bush administration's hands in a way that will hamper its ability to take action against Iran's advancing nuclear weapons program."

As the AIPAC investigation continues, so will the struggle for control of U.S. policy toward Iran. "

CIA was the first to charge that Israel has an agent in the Pentagon

Behind the AIPAC Probe, Neocons Seen Battling Rivals (washingtonpost.com): ""The CIA sees Israel as disruptive in American efforts to improve its relations with the Arabs," he writes. "It's not surprising that the CIA was the first to charge that Israel has an agent in the Pentagon."

Schiff says that as early as 1997, CIA director George Tenet made "stinging" comments to Israeli officials saying Israel "had a spy" in the upper reaches of the U.S. government, Schiff says. No such Israeli spy ever surfaced, and Tenet later apologized to his Israeli counterpart for the remarks, according to Schiff.

Maariv International: FBI Stings AIPAC Traitors

Maariv International: "FBI initiated bogus entrapment operation against AIPAC

Classified information allegedly handed over to AIPAC available from other sources. No secret or sensitive documents ever handed over to AIPAC.
Maariv International

A senior Jewish source claims that the FBI investigation of AIPAC was, from the beginning, an improper sting operation aimed at targeting the organization. “The FBI was never investigating a potential threat to US national security interests, the entire operation was entrapment from its inception”, he said.

According to the source, Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin had come to the FBI’s attention during an investigation totally unrelated to AIPAC. During the course of this investigation, investigators discovered that he maintained a sporadic acquaintanceship with some senior AIPAC officials in Washington.

At some point he was pressured and perhaps even coerced into cooperating with an FBI sting operation against AIPAC, in return for leniency for some minor technical infractions he may have committed, such as careless and improper storage and handling of classified information.

According to a knowledgeable source, the FBI decided to see if information given to AIPAC from a US government source would end up in Israel. Franklin was asked to set up a meeting with the AIPAC official he occasionally met with, and wear a wire to the meeting.

During that meeting Franklin, on the instructions of FBI agents, told his AIPAC acquaintance that there was reliable information regarding kidnapping and murder threats to Israelis in northern Iraq. The information subsequently reached the Israeli media. The US intelligence community had no evidence of any such threat, other than general information that was far from limited to the FBI or any other US intelligence agency. “The bottom line is that the FBI, via Franklin, was deliberately trying to set AIPAC up by the use of bogus information”.

The source categorically claims that at no point were documents exchanged, and that it was not made clear that the information was classified. Under those circumstances, AIPAC saw no reason why it should not pass on what seemed to be genuine information of a serious threat to Israeli citizens.

As soon as the information appeared in the Israeli press, the FBI began an official investigation into AIPAC, the justification being that information it had received from a Pentagon analysts had been given to a foreign power.

The truth is that the information was neither classified nor sensitive, and there is no proof that AIPAC was the source, as it was available at the time from a variety of information sources.

Moreover, even if an AIPAC official did pass it on to Israel, that does not constitute any wrongdoing, since the information was never accompanied by a caveat that it was to be considered either classified or sensitive. The bottom line is that there never were bona fide grounds for an FBI investigation of AIPAC. “The entire case was a sting from the beginning, designed not to plug a dangerous security leak, but to embarrass and compromise AIPAC, and perhaps negatively impact Israeli-US relationships and the standing of American Jews working for US national security agencies”.

Franklin has since ceased cooperating with the FBI.

The FBI declined to respond, saying it did not comment or release information regarding ongoing investigations."