Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

BELLACIAO - Alleged Pentagon Mole For Israel �Quietly Rehired� - Collective Bellaciao

BELLACIAO - Alleged Pentagon Mole For Israel �Quietly Rehired� - Collective Bellaciao: "Tuesday 19th April 2005 (06h26) :
Alleged Pentagon Mole For Israel ’Quietly Rehired’
By Tom Regan 4-1-5 http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0331/dailyUpdate.html
The ongoing investigation into allegations that a Pentagon staffer named Larry Franklin passed on classified government documents to two members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobby group, continues but with several new twists.

Over the past weekend, several Israeli papers carried a report by JTA, the Jewish news service, that top officials of the lobby group had appeared in front of a grand jury in "late January or early February," and that the two staff members who had contact with Franklin ñ Steve Rosen, of AIPAC’s research department, and Keith Weissman, AIPAC’s deputy director of foreign policy issues ñ have been placed on paid leave.

The same report also said that Mr. Franklin had been "quietly" rehired at the Pentagon over the "FBI’s objections." Franklin, however, was not given back his previous position in the Iran section, but instead placed in a "non-sensitive" area which the report didn’t specify.

The FBI’s investigations into Franklin’s actions became public last August when CBS reported that a "suspected mole" at the Pentagon had passed along government documents to AIPAC staffers. The "suspected mole" was later revealed to be Mr. Franklin.

Time reported last December that government sources said the investigations into AIPAC had been ongoing for about two years, looking into allegations that AIPAC was "obtaining sensitive data and passing it along to the Israeli government."

United Press International reported on December 9 that the initial investigations began when the FBI discovered "new, ’massive’ Israeli spying operations in the East Coast, including New York and New Jersey."

It was later reported in the Jerusalem Post that Franklin had agreed to help in an FBI sting. Ha’aretz reported that Franklin was told to tell the AIPAC staffers that "Iran was planning to attack Israelis operating in the Kurdish region in Iraq." The two men then "rushed to pass it on to Israeli diplomats, thereby falling into the FBI trap."

Franklin later stopped cooperating with the FBI, fired his public defender lawyer and hired one of Washington’s best known defense lawyers. The Washington Times reported that the FBI was "hopping mad" at this turn of events, and this was when the bureau decided to pursue a more agressive policy, including the subpeonas of top AIPAC officials.

Some media sources have said the entire Franklin affair illustrates some of the internal battles that have taken place over how the US should deal with Iraq. The document that Franklin is alleged to have given the two AIPAC staffers may have been a draft copy of a National Security Presidential Directive written by Pentagon neocons (who advocate a hard line towards Iran), which contained a proposal to destabilize Iran. The directive had apparently been turned down by the White House.

Ha’aretz reported last week that the case has reached a crossroads, where the investigators "must decide on the suspects in the case." Either Franklin would be charged with acting alone, or Franklin and the two AIPAC employees, Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman, would be charged, or "whether, on top of those three, the entire AIPAC organization has acted unlawfully."

Sources close to the investigation suggested recently that it would end in a plea bargain. Franklin would plead to a lesser crime of unauthorized transfer of information, Rosen and Weissman would be charged with receiving classified information unlawfully, and AIPAC would remain unstained. Franklin’s lawyer, Plato Cacheris, yesterday denied the reports, stating: "We have not entered any plea of defense with the Justice Department."

AIPAC refused to say anything about the possibility of a plea bargain.

Ha’aretz also reports that the FBI’s larger goal seems to be "an extensive examination of AIPAC itself." Since the investigation began seven months ago, AIPAC, one of the strongest lobbying groups in Washington, has been "struggling in two arenas": trying to resolve the allegations against its staff members, and more important, dealing with the "political change going on in Israel" in its relationship with the Palestinians.

’AIPAC is simply lagging behind developments,’ said a congressional staffer close to the issue. According to the staffer, the fact that most of the AIPAC board is hawkish on the Israel-Palestinian conflict makes it difficult for the lobby to accommodate itself to Israel’s new policies.