Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Jerusalem Post | Indictments expected in AIPAC spy case (Continued from page 1 of 3)

Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: "Jun. 18, 2005 12:39 | Updated Jun. 18, 2005 12:59
Indictments expected in AIPAC spy case

(Continued from page 1 of 3)
Prosecutors let Franklin turn himself in, and they intend to make the same allowance for Weissman, the sources said.

The notion that Iranian agents planned to kidnap, torture and kill Israelis and American agents in northern Iraq allegedly was fed to Weissman on July 21, 2004, by Franklin as part of an apparent FBI sting of Rosen and Weissman.

The crux of the government's case, defense sources say, is the conversation Rosen and Weissman allegedly had the same day with Gilon. Prosecutors are likely to say that conversation violated the 1917 Espionage Act, which could be interpreted as banning the relaying of classified information to a foreign power.

Rosen and Weissman will claim that they did not realize at the time that the information was classified, defense sources say.

Sources say Kohr did not know that Rosen and Weissman called Gilon and Glenn Kessler, the State Department correspondent for the Washington Post, subsequent to Kohr's meeting with the two staffers and his receipt of the e-mail summarizing the information on Iraq. Sources close to the defense contend that such contacts with the media and Israeli diplomats were routine.

AIPAC officials say they have been assured by the government that investigators aren't targeting the organization or any current staffer, including Kohr.

"We now know directly from the government that neither AIPAC, nor any of its current employees, is or ever has been the target of this investigation," Kohr said in a May 22 speech at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington.

Franklin is accused of relaying classified information to Rosen, Weissman and Gilon in 2002 and 2003. By July 21, 2004, he was cooperating with the FBI.

He later suspended that cooperation, which led the FBI to reinstate its case against him.

Jewish organizational leaders are asking tougher questions about the investigation, which first came to light when FBI agents raided AIPAC offices on Aug. 27, 2004, but which apparently had been under way since at least September 2001 and intensified after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when the government took more vigorous action to stop leaks.

The ADL's Foxman raised a number of concerns about the government's case: Why target the pre-eminent Jewish lobby? Why, after years of tracking Rosen and AIPAC, did the government need to resort to a "sting" designed to appeal to Rosen and Weissman's "higher motives" — i.e., a desire to save Israeli lives?

Foxman said he believes Rosen and Weissman eventually will be vindicated, but that the vigorous prosecution could chill the effectiveness of Jewish organizations that deal with the government.

Defense sources say if the indictments against Rosen and Weissman come down, some of their other contacts with Franklin will also be raised, but the July 21 sting is the core of the government's case.

Weissman allegedly called Franklin early on the morning of July 21 after months of no contact between the two men, part of a routine that included cold-calling multiple sources inside government. Franklin allegedly said he had urgent information and asked to meet Weissman outside a department store at the Pentagon City mall in Arlington, Va., a subway stop away from the Pentagon.

Franklin allegedly told Weissman that intelligence agencies were suppressing the Iranian plot to kill the Israelis and Americans, and he asked Weissman to relay it to Elliott Abrams, then an assistant national security adviser at the White House.

According to this reasoning, Abrams was likelier to listen to one of Washington's premier lobbying groups than to a mid-level analyst at the Pentagon."


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