Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Jerusalem Post | Kessler of the Washington Post Linked To Mossad

Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: "May. 19, 2005 3:25 | Updated May. 19, 2005 13:35
Probe of former AIPAC staffers centers around Iraq
By RON KAMPEAS AND MATHEW E. BERGER/JTA

WASHINGTON
(Continued from page 2 of 3)
Prosecutors seem likely to allege that the conversation with Kessler and the comment about an "Official Secrets Act" prove Rosen and Weissman knew the information was classified, according to sources familiar with the FBI interrogations.

That's where the conversation with Gilon comes in. While the simple receipt of classified information is hard to prosecute, relaying it to a foreign official may violate the 1917 Espionage Act, which deals with obtaining classified information "to the advantage of any foreign nation." It's not clear how truthful the information Franklin relayed in the Pentagon City meeting was, and Weissman and Rosen, to whom Weissman had relayed the information, have claimed they didn't know the information was classified.

Franklin later broke off cooperation with the FBI and was arrested earlier this month on charges of leaking classified information.

Franklin is due to appear at a preliminary hearing on May 27. His lawyer suggested he will plead not guilty.

Franklin's lawyer, Plato Cacheris, would not otherwise comment; neither would Weissman's lawyer, John Lassikas, or Lowell, Rosen's attorney.

The FBI declined comment, as did the office of Paul McNulty, the federal attorney in Virginia who is prosecuting the case against Franklin and who may indict Rosen and Weissman as early as next month, according to sources close to the case.

The New York Times reported Saturday that the FBI wanted to speak to four journalists who had information about the case, including one who worked for a major newspaper.

Kessler, who did not publish a story with the leaked information, declined to comment on his news gathering.

AIPAC also maintained its official silence. When the organization fired Rosen and Weissman last month it said it was because of "recently learned information and the conduct AIPAC expects of its employees." If the government does plan to pursue espionage charges against the two former AIPAC staffers, it could be a stretch, according to legal experts.

The language of the 1917 Espionage Act emphasizes solicitation – its first sentence describes a transgressor as someone who pursues "information with intent." Yet it was Franklin who allegedly told Weissman that he had new information and suggested the Pentagon City meeting. Sources say attorneys for the two men will argue entrapment.

A former close associate of Rosen confirmed that he routinely tells his sources that he doesn't want them to do or say anything that would risk their careers.

The Espionage Act also emphasizes injury to the United States, yet Gilon – the alleged recipient of the information from Rosen and Weissman – remains at his Washington post eight months after the case first made headlines when FBI agents raided AIPAC headquarters last August 27. The Israeli Embassy would not comment.

The initial conversation between Franklin, Rosen and Weissman in June 2003 – the one that apparently led the FBI to move in on Franklin – dealt overwhelmingly with an unclassified memo on the Bush administration's Iran policy, sources close to the case said.

In its charge sheet against Franklin, the FBI mentions top-secret information about a threat against US troops in Iraq. Sources close to the case say Weissman and Rosen have told investigators that they do not recall hearing that tidbit in their first meeting with Franklin, suggesting it could have been made in passing and was not their central interest.

The United States traditionally has been hesitant to prosecute those who receive classified information. The Nixon administration, after failing legally to prevent The New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers, reportedly considered prosecuting the paper after it published the classified documents relating to the Vietnam War. But it backed off because of First Amendment considerations."

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