Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Washington Jewish Week: FBI has been seeking "Mr. X" since the Jonathan Pollard spy scandal in the 1980s

Washington Jewish Week Online Edition: "New charges in AIPAC case; Rosen expects indictment

by Ron Kampeas and Matthew E. Berger
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Criminal charges against a Pentagon analyst, for allegedly leaking classified Iraq war information to two top officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, raise questions about whom the FBI is targeting and whether the case could harm the pro-Israel powerhouse.

Lawrence Franklin, who turned himself in for arrest last week, was accused in an FBI criminal complaint of disclosing classified information "related to potential attacks on United States forces in Iraq" to two U.S. civilians over lunch in an Arlington restaurant on June 26, 2003.

Franklin's interlocutors, identified in the document as "U.S. Person 1 and U.S. Person 2," are Steve Rosen, AIPAC's policy director, and Keith Weissman, its senior Iran analyst, JTA has established. AIPAC fired the two last month in an apparent bid to distance itself from the case.

Rosen, meanwhile, expects to be indicted as soon as June, according to sources who know the case. He has vowed that if he is indicted, he will go to trial in an effort to clear his name.

Rosen expects that a trial could begin as early as next January and already is preparing for a long defense, according to multiple sources.

Still, the headlines could hinder AIPAC's efforts to project a "back-to-business" face to grassroots supporters and Washington powerbrokers weeks before its annual policy conference. The news also comes at a time when the group is trying to build support for Israel ahead of the country's planned summer withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

The policy conference is AIPAC's annual show of strength, culminating in a dinner expected to draw some 5,000 people, including dozens of members of Congress and Cabinet officials -- nearly 200 last year. A significantly lower showing this year could embarrass the group.

Franklin, an Iran analyst who lives in Kearneysville, W. Va., was released on a $100,000 bond after appearing at U.S. District Court in Alexandria. A preliminary hearing was set for May 27.

"He intends to plead not guilty" and expects to be vindicated at trial, said his attorney, John Thorpe Richards.

But special agent Catherine Hanna said, "The information Franklin disclosed relating to potential attacks upon U.S. forces in Iraq could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign country."

The damage, she said, could arise from "jeopardizing the viability of the sources and methods." The information was from a document classified as "top secret," Hanna said.

Other charges deal with Franklin's leaks of classified information to journalists and to an unidentified "foreign official," and the three decades' worth of classified information he kept on his computer hard disk at home.

Reports have suggested that Franklin also met with an Israeli Embassy official. The reference to a "foreign official" might point in that direction.

However, the FBI has not gotten in touch with the Israeli Embassy, representatives say, and Israeli officials maintain that they would never take part in illicit information gathering in the United States.

"Israel does not carry out any operation in the United States that would be liable, God forbid, to harm its closest ally," Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Television. "Therefore, all the brouhaha around this matter has nothing to do with the state of Israel."

Last week's arrest lends support to the theory that Franklin had been the target of a probe that reportedly was at least a year old by that lunch meeting at Arlington's Tivoli restaurant.

Franklin's tough line against Iran had drawn the attention of colleagues in the Pentagon. JTA previously has reported that Franklin had been under scrutiny since he allegedly met in December 2001 with former Iranian spy and arms merchant Manucher Ghorbanifar, who was on a CIA "burn list" of people who could not be contacted, intelligence sources say.

Rosen has vehemently denied violating federal law, and denied that he knowingly transmitted classified information. In one of two instances in which Franklin allegedly spoke with AIPAC staffers, this one in a Virginia mall, Rosen was not even present, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the encounter.

Rosen's attorney, Abbe Lowell, has issued a statement saying, "Steve Rosen never solicited, received or passed on any classified documents from Larry Franklin, and Mr. Franklin will never be able to say otherwise."

Neither Rosen nor Lowell would comment on the record for this story.

Rosen has told contacts that he is convinced the government is still looking for "Mr. X" or "Agent X" -- an alleged Israeli master spy in the United States. Jewish communal officials have said they believe the FBI has been seeking a "Mr. X" since the Jonathan Pollard spy scandal in the 1980s.

Rosen has confided to contacts that he believes he still is under surveillance by the FBI, both in his home and in public places.

"The government's strategy is to pressure Franklin into wrongfully implicating Keith" Weissman, "and to pressure Keith into wrongfully implicating me," Rosen said, according to sources, adding, "It won't work."

Edwin Black contributed to this article."

Chickenhawk Draft Dodgeing Republicans

Lancaster Online.com: Letters to the Editor : Check their references: "Check their references

Published: May 07, 2005 11:59 PM EST

Speaking of draft dodgers, as Larry Bickel did in his intemperate letter to the editor April 24, I have no quarrel with them for avoiding war. I am opposed to war myself on at least two grounds: One, it is morally inferior; and two, it is an incredibly bad investment, except for a “lucky” few.

I do, however, have a bone to pick with draft avoiders who, from the safe position of power, hypocritically throw other people’s sons, daughters, mothers and fathers into an unjustified, unending battle of ideologies.

In Iraq, they added insult to injury by deliberately misleading soldiers about the reasons for their sacrifice, insufficiently equipping and reinforcing them, and, then, sin of sins, cutting their veterans’ benefits in the proposed federal budget.

The lineup of the current Chickenhawk Gang includes, but is not limited to, high-profile members of the Bush administration, Congress, and the media: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush, John Bolton, John Ashcroft, Trent Lott, William Kristol, Michael Ledeen, George Will, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, Mitch McConnell, Dennis Hastert, Roy Blunt, Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer, Andrew Card, Elliott Abrams, Pat Robertson, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes (CEO of Fox), Tedd Nugent, Jerry Falwell and Alan Keyes.

So, next time you hear the call to defend the country against terrorists in, say, Venezuela, Syria, Iran or North Korea, check the trumpeters’ references.

Jane Shull, Lancaster

Al Jazeera: Israel's espionage game - Spying On The US

Al Jazeera: "Israel's espionage game
5/8/2005 8:00:00 AM GMT

The Pentagon official Lawrence A. Franklin, recently accused of espionage for Israel, brings to mind the case of Jonathan Pollard, an American intelligence analyst, who in 1985 was arrested and convicted of spying for Israel too.

Of course, the U.S. is the closest friend to Israel, and the main funds’ backer which finances the Israeli machine, as everybody knows. Yet, these facts seemingly do not prevent the Israelis from spying and blackmailing the “most cherished friend and ally”, as M. David Siegel (Israeli ambassador to Washington) depicted the relationship.

Franklin is not Jewish, but he is accused by the FBI of passing classified information to the Israeli government, related to American policy toward Iran. At the time of his arrest he was working in the Pentagon’s policy offices, under the orders of M. Douglas Feith under-secretary of defense for policy, and involved with regional strategic planning.

For months, FBI officials have been investigating whether Franklin’s connections with the Israelis were of a nature that pushed him to pass some sensitive information, since it was known how anxious the Israelis have grown about the Iranian nuclear business.

Franklin may be of a particular interest to them in this context.

He participated, for example, in secret meetings with Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian who had acted as an arms deal middleman in the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration. According to the New York Times the “secret meetings were first held in Rome in December 2001 and were brokered by M. Ledeen. He said he arranged the meetings to put the Bush administration in closer contact with Iranian dissidents who could provide information in the “war on terrorism”.

With Iranian affairs having recently grown to be important issues in the struggle between Democrats and Republicans, as are also usually the relations with Israel, then some political aspects should be considered.

1 – Franklin works under the responsibility of Feith who has been a target of Democrat’s criticism since, as an element of a study group of American Conservatives in the mid-1990s, he had urged then Israel’s Prime Minister, B. Netanyahu, “to abandon the Oslo peace and reject the basis for them”. More recently, the Democrats accused Feith of trying to manipulate intelligence to improve the Bush administration’s case for war against Iraq but the House and Senate intelligence Committee investigators found no evidence for the accusations.

2 – During the presidential campaign, Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards charged the Bush administration of abdicating responsibility for the Iranian nuclear threat to the Europeans. John Kerry first outlined the idea of providing nuclear fuel to Iran in a speech in June – a proposal reportedly favoured by many Europeans- but Edwards, who twice described the concept as a bargain, was more explicit in suggesting the Kerry administration would actively try to reach an agreement with the Iranians.

This is the political context of the Franklin’s case. A context apparently marked by an important debate inside the USA, as well as in Europe and in Israel about how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program.

What this background suggests is that Larry Franklin is just a scapegoat in a game that bypasses him. Nevertheless, there are other cases making his own not that amazing for the investigators and the public as well. A little memory’s refreshing would perhaps help the understanding:

In 1985, U.S.-Israeli relations were rocked by two spy cases. Richard K. Smyth was indicted in California for illegally exporting 800 Krytons to an Israeli company. Israel claimed that it was not aware of needed export licenses for the devices. Smyth jumped bail in 1985 but was arrested by Spanish authorities in July 2001 and extradited to the U.S. in November 2001, where he pleaded guilty in December and was sentenced to 40 months in prison in April 2002.

On November 21, 1985, Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. naval intelligence employee, and his wife Ann Pollard were charged with selling classified documents to Israel for $2,500 per month over an 18-month period. The Israeli government said the spy network, headed by former Israeli intelligence officer Raphael Eitan, was a renegade operation. Four Israelis were also indicted, including Israeli Air Force Col. Aviem Sella.

Israel promoted both Sella and Eitan, although Sella’s command of a major air base and promotion were rescinded after negative U.S. reactions. Israelis continue to complain that Pollard received an excessively harsh sentence. It should also be noted that Israel sought Pollard’s release as part of the 1998 Wye negotiations with the Palestinians.

Now, would the FBI dare to charge an American official without evidence? This is the important question. The investigators have even interviewed the under-secretary of state, Douglas Feith as well as Paul Wolfowitz. Would they really make both men waste their time without a sound argument?

Despite that, there are still strong defenders of Larry Franklin, not only his stunned colleagues, but also personalities like Dennis Ross, special envoy on the Arab-Israeli peace process in the first Bush administration and the Clinton presidency. He said: “The Israelis have access to all sorts of people. They have access in Congress and in the administration. They have people who talk about these things...”

While Yval Steinitz, the chairman of the foreign and defense committee in Parliament, is “100 percent confident – not 99 percent, but 100 percent- that Israel is not spying in the United States”. And this is, of course, what Sharon 's office says also. Thus, the agreement is quite complete and harmonious between Steinitz and the Israelis.

The fact is that he is perhaps not mistaken, since the activity of Aipac is quite legitimate whereas its connections to the Mossad cannot be ignored.

Espionage is precisely an illegitimate activity. Thereupon, how can we possibly reconcile between what is legitimate and what is illegitimate? And since Franklin is suspected and charged of passing sensitive classified information about U.S. policy toward Iran to AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby group, which in turn is thought to have provided it to Israeli intelligence, then the American justice Department should logically suspend – first - the activity of Aipac as being not conformed with the law, so that the espionage charge becomes possible on these grounds. Otherwise, even if it is true that Larry Franklin provided Aipac with classified information, what makes Aipac innocent and he guilty?

Source: Libertyforum.org"