Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

AIPAC/Likudnik Larry Franklin Arrested for Espionage on Behalf of Israel

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

AIPAC/Likudnik Larry Franklin Arrested for Espionage on Behalf of Israel

Article excerpt

The FBI arrested Pentagon Iranian analyst Larry Franklin on May 4 for illegally disclosing highly classified information about possible attacks on American forces in Iraq to Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC ), Israel's principal lobby in the United States. Rosen was AIPAC's director of foreign policy issues and Weissman was its senior Middle East analyst until they were recently fired when the FBI investigation got too close for AIPAC's comfort.

Franklin, 58, a reserve colonel in the Air Force, was released on $100,000 bond, and a preliminary hearing on the case was scheduled for May 27. If convicted, Franklin could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison. According to one of his lawyers, Franklin is not expected to plead guilty.

Since the FBI investigation of AIPAC came to light in August 2004, newspaper reports have left the impression that Franklin was the focus of the investigation. This, however, is incorrect. On june 26, 2003, the FBI had Rosen and Weissman under surveillance having lunch in an Alexandria, Virginia restaurant when Franklin unexpectedly joined them.

The question in everyone's mind is when Weismann and Rosen will be indicted and create a real crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations or whether they will be let off with a charge of "accepting" classified material. An indictment and trial would cut AIPAC down to a reasonable size and allow the United States to pursue policies in the Middle Bast that promote its own interests. The alternative would be a "slap on the wrist" for AIPAC, leaving the "800 pound gorilla" free to continue dominating American policy in the Middle East.

The investigation of AIPAC, and now Franklin's arrest, cast a shadow over the lobby. secretary of State Condeleezza Rice was scheduled to address the group's annual meeting in May despite the fact that one newspaper reported she had been informed of the FBI investigations early in George W. Bush's first administration, four years ago.

According to the May 5 New York Times, the investigation has proved awkward for some high level Pentagon conservatives (read neo con) such as former Deputy Defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, under secretary of defense for policy. Feith, under whom Franklin worked, and who reportedly is leaving his post by the summer, became infamous for creating the Office of Special Plans that cherrypicked outlandish bits of intelligence to "prove" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. …

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