Archive for July 29th, 2009

Britain, U.S. at cross-purposes?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Britain, U.S. at cross-purposes?

Arnaud de Borchgrave

At the beginning of 2009, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the new Centcom commander, assumed command of a huge theater that stretches from the Horn of Africa to Saudi Arabia , the Persian Gulf, Iraq , Iran , Afghanistan and Pakistan , right up to the Indian border.

The surge he crafted for Iraq appears to have delivered an almost clean slate to the Iraqi government, with U.S. forces now bivouacked outside the main cities. The second part of the hat trick is Afghanistan . There things are hard to read, but still heading south.

A year ago, when reminded that most NATO allies wanted out from Afghanistan by the end of 2011, Gen. Petraeus responded that “the Brits will be with us even if it takes another five to 10 years.”

This week, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called for a strategy change in Afghanistan , urging the Afghan government to engage in diplomacy with “moderate” Taliban. In a speech at NATO headquarters in Brussels , Mr. Miliband said military commanders should work with the Kabul government “to separate hard-line ideologues, who are essentially irreconcilable and violent and who must be pursued relentlessly, from those who can be drawn into domestic political processes.”

As he spoke, Mr. Miliband already knew the Afghan government had struck its first cease-fire with Taliban insurgents in remote northwestern Badghis province near the border with Turkmenistan . It wasn’t long before Taliban used the truce to ambush local cops in Badghis.

Gen. Petraeus does not think there are moderate Taliban elements and thinks negotiations with the enemy would undermine the entire NATO effort. But the Brits have little choice in the matter. The home front is crumbling. Prime Minister Gordon Brown was groggy and barely limping along after a humiliating by-election defeat and more grim economic news. Government revenues are down 8.2 percent in June from a year ago while social security benefits rose 9.7 percent.

The outgoing commander of the British contingent, Gen. Mark Carleton-Smith, told the London Sunday Times recently and unequivocally that a military victory over Taliban was “neither feasible nor supportable.” A German Der Spiegel correspondent caught the drift of military and diplomatic talk at an embassy dinner in Kabul ‘s Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood. The guests were envoys and generals of participating countries. If there was an upbeat remark, Der Spiegel’s Susanne Koelbl didn’t catch it.

“Talks about talks” were started by King Abdullah Sept. 24 through 27 when the Saudi monarch held a private dinner in Mecca for several key Afghan players — President Hamid Karzai’s brother Abdul Qayum; former Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Mutawakil, who spent two years in a U.S. prison at Bagram Air Base near Kabul before being freed unconditionally; Mullah Mohammad Tayeb Agha, Mullah Omar’s former spokesman; and the former Afghan ambassador in Islamabad, Mullah Abdul Salem Zaeef, a daily global television fixture during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, who later did time at the Bagram jail.

The Afghan war is now President Obama’s war, and anything that could provide an honorable exit, short of the democracy all now concede is an opium pipe dream, would be embraced eagerly by U.S. allies.

With a new defense budget of almost $700 billion, health plan reform that is expected to add many more billions to an almost $2 trillion deficit, and an economy in the doldrums at least through the end of 2009, Mr. Obama cannot afford an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan .

The catalyst for last September’s secret talks was Nawaz Sharif, the former Pakistani prime minister ousted by then army chief Pervez Musharraf in 1999. Mr. Sharif is now waiting for the collapse of President Asif Ali Zardari’s tottering government before returning to power with a hefty financial assist from the Saudis, who hosted him during his seven years in exile.

Mr. Sharif presumably can bring a little more Saudi funding to Pakistan ‘s depleted treasury than the paltry $1.5 billion a year the U.S. Congress has been arguing about for months. Since 2001, Afghanistan has benefited from global munificence to the tune of $38 billion from the United States and $50 billion from the rest of the world, including Japan and the European Union. Pakistan , a nuclear power fighting homegrown Taliban extremists, is understandably upset by the stingy short shrift it gets in a U.S. capital besieged by acute financial and economic problems.

Afghanistan is unwinnable as long as Taliban and al Qaeda can keep privileged sanctuaries in Pakistan ‘s FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) along the Afghan border. The Pakistani army was about to launch a major offensive in FATA when their own domestic Taliban terrorists resurfaced in the Swat Valley whence they had been rooted out six weeks ago. They had reinfiltrated by hiding among some 2 million refugees returning to their homes in the valley.

Now Pakistani generals are telling their U.S. opposite numbers that their Afghan operations are driving Taliban into Baluchistan in Pakistan proper, where they have long felt secure. They also say they urgently need helicopters and drone technology before they can undertake what would be their second major offensive in FATA. The last one in 2006 cost Pakistan 1,400 killed and 4,000 wounded. The Pakistanis then withdrew to their base camps inside the tribal areas.

Among Pakistani soldiers, rumors persist the United States ordered Pakistani generals to ramp down the number of soldiers permanently deployed on the Indian front, thus facilitating New Delhi ‘s future conquest of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir . Below army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and intelligence chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha, there is little trust in U.S. intentions.

Just back from a month in Afghanistan, where he served on the U.S. Strategic Assessment Team to assess the overall situation, Anthony H. Cordesman, a leading strategic thinker at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote, “NATO/ISAF and U.S. forces cannot win this kind of military victory on their own … this will be determined in large part by how well and how quickly they build up a much larger and more effective” Afghan national army and police.

This means doubling current numbers, Mr. Cordesman concluded. Easier said than done as Afghan volunteers are frequently Taliban agents provocateurs who can fend for themselves when the colons return to claim their properties.

Speaking privately, a high-ranking former official in the administration of President George H.W. Bush (No. 41), said, “Either Obama wrestles Afghanistan to the mat by this time next year, or he’s toast in November’s midterm elections, losing one house, possibly both.”

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of United Press International and of The Washington Times.


Mullen cannot see end of Afghan war:


Afghanistan like Vietnam

“Operation in Afghanistan is rooted in Israel”:


 The US was tragically attacked at the World Trade Center in 1993 and on 9/11 because of US support for Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinians (look up ‘Israel as a terrorist’s motivation’ in the index of James Bamford’s ‘A Pretext for War’ book and take a look at the ‘What Motivated the 9/11 Hijackers?’ youtube linked on the upper right of http://NEOCONZIONISTTHREAT.COM ) with the US then invading Afghanistan and Iraq as a result of such!: 

U.S.-Israel gap on Iran narrows

U.S.-Israel gap on Iran narrows

Obama’s War Signals: Iran in the crosshairs (for AIPAC & Israel of course!):

Cohen: Fear of Iran tops Middle East’s wrath against Israel

Seems like Cohen is laying the ‘foundation’ for a coming Israeli attack on Iran which of course would get US involved in another war for Israel yet again!

Cohen: Fear of Iran tops Middle East’s wrath against Israel


Obama’s War Signals: Iran in the crosshairs (for AIPAC & Israel of course!):

Israeli attack on Iran ‘catastrophe’, says Sarkozy:

USAF Colonel (Ret) Karen Kwiatkowski (who is mentioned in James Bamford’s ‘A Pretext for War’ book) conveyed via the youtube linked at the following URL that Iran is no threat to the USA:

The ‘Superpower’ Conceit

The ‘Superpower’ Conceit

It’s nothing but trouble

EXCLUSIVE: Defense analyst in (AIPAC) spy case was FBI double agent

Breaks silence after guilty plea to spying for Israel


AIPAC Spy Figure Larry Franklin Describes Mafia-Style Murder Threat:

AIPAC Spy Figure Larry Franklin Describes Mafia-Style Murder Threat

AIPAC Spy Figure Larry Franklin Describes Mafia-Style Murder Threat


By Jeff Stein | July 1, 2009 9:47 PM


Somebody wanted Larry Franklin out of the way. In court documents filed last week, a sketchy tale surfaced suggesting that someone wanted Franklin, the former Pentagon analyst who had agreed to testify against two pro-Israel activists on charges of espionage, dead. In a Tuesday, June 30 interview, Franklin and his attorney Plato Cacheris, the famed criminal defense lawyer, elaborated on the shadowy incident. “Somebody approached Larry and suggested it would be good if Larry could disappear and fake a suicide,” Cacheris said, “and this person would assist him in doing that.” Franklin didn’t take it that way: It was more like a page out of The Sopranos, which would end with him disappearing — forever. “Larry listened to him and called me,” Cacheris continued: “And I said, ‘You’ve got to report this to the Bureau.'” He did. It would seem a simple crime, something that could be made public, with an arrest warrant issued. But now it’s entangled in national security. Franklin and Cacheris are prohibited from identifying the person who made the “offer.” “It’s under seal,” said Cacheris, who is representing Franklin free of charge. “There’s some sort of investigation going on” by the FBI, Cacheris said. “There’s something going on that they’re doing that we don’t know about.” Franklin, whose 13-year sentence was eventually suspended because of his cooperation with the government in the celebrated spy case involving the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, spoke publicly about the incident for the first time in an interview with SpyTalk earlier this week. A man approached him at work, he said. It was sometime after 2005, when he was charged with providing classified information to AIPAC employees Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, and their trial on espionage charges, which was repeatedly delayed by legal jousting over the past few years. The charges against Rosen and Weissman were finally dropped in May, with the government saying the federal judge presiding over the case had set an impossibly high bar to prove the two intended to harm the national security of the United States. But for four years, Franklin was slated to be the government’s key witness against them. In an interview on Tuesday, June 20, Franklin described the incident for the first time. He was prohibited from naming the man who approached him. “It was in West Virginia. I was parking cars at the time. He came to see me at the Charles Town Race Track. He said, ‘Let’s go to lunch and talk about raising money for my defense.’ “And we talked about all these rich people,” Franklin continued. “But first I had to agree to a scheme… “I was going to go somewhere, and it was going to be arranged that I could occasionally meet my wife. It was supposed to be on a bridge.” In Israel? “No,” he said. “Florida.” Who was the man who approached him? “Well, the guy was definitely a Zionist,” Franklin said. “And he was a true believer. And like a lot of true believers, he’s beyond good and evil. They’re not subject to the laws the rest of us are.” Like laws against murder. “I felt this isn’t real. This is a set-up,” Franklin said. “As I was saying to someone recently, I grew up on the streets of New York, and when you fake a suicide — Well, if you’re dead to everyone else, it’s a lot easier to get rid of you.” “He wouldn’t be a witness,” Cacheris said. “Did I let him know I took it that way?” Franklin added. “No. Did I take it that way? Internally, yes.” “He wouldn’t be a witness,” Cacheris said. The FBI won’t say anything about the Franklin case. “There are some pending issues” with the Justice Department and federal court, a bureau spokesman said. “We won’t be able to comment.” But to Franklin, it’s open and shut: murder. “Did I let him know I took it that way?” Franklin added. “No. Did I take it that way? Internally, yes.”




Israel ‘Spy Scandal’ Figure Larry Franklin Breaks Silence

By Jeff Stein | July 1, 2009 7:24 PM


He insists he did it for his country, to head off a disastrous U.S. invasion of Iraq. But instead, Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin found himself charged with giving classified information to suspected agents of Israel. In 2006 he was sentenced to almost 13 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, later reduced to probation and 10 months house arrest for cooperating with the feds. Today, the former Iran specialist is mopping floors at a Roy Rogers near his home in West Virginia and serving a 100 hour community service sentence at a halfway house for abused children Now, breaking silence for the first time since he became entangled in the Israel-spy-ring-that wasn’t, Franklin says he gave sensitive information to a pro-Israel lobbyist in hopes that it would be passed on to the White House. He also admitted telling an Israeli official “that the Iranians were planning to kill Americans in Iraq.” The information was a “mosaic” of Iran’s secret preparations for combating U.S. troops in Iraq, Franklin said, including the names and locations of Iran’s secret agents and safe houses in Iraq. He didn’t think it was classified, he says. Now he realizes at least some of it was. He pled guilty in 2006. But back in 2003, with the invasion of Iraq only weeks away, he was desperate to persuade the White House to put on the brakes. So when Steven J. Rosen, an official with the American-Israel Public affairs Committee (AIPAC), told Franklin that he was friendly with Elliott Abrams, head of the Middle East desk in the White House National Security Council, Franklin said he “jumped at the chance” to get the information to him. As it turned out, however, the FBI had an open investigation of Israeli espionage in Washington, going back to the 1990s. Franklin, Rosen and Keith Weissman, another AIPAC official with whom he had been meeting, had just walked into it. On May 2005, all three were charged with violations of the 1917 Espionage Act. Only later, Franklin said, did he find out that “two tics” (items) on his list were considered classified. Critics complained loudly that a conviction would criminalize the routine exchange of information among officials, journalists and think tanks. Exactly four years later the charges were dropped. The government said the judge set too high a bar for the government to prove that the defendants had conspired to harm the national security of the United States. Last week, Franklin, 62, said he was ready to talk. “I have been silent for five years …” he said by e-mail. “The release will be therapeutic.” We met at the Dupont Circle office of his attorney, famed criminal defense lawyer Plato Cacheris. Looking tired and disheveled, Franklin sounded like he could use some therapy. Once a top Iran expert at the Pentagon, holder of a PhD in Asian Studies, Franklin has found only odd jobs since being confronted by the FBI in 2004: ditch digger, church janitor, cleaning sewers, parking lot attendant at Charles Town Race Track, and so on. His wife is wheelchair-bound with a spinal disease. A teenage son was traumatized by the FBI investigation, he says. Over an hour-long interview with Cacheris at his side, however, Franklin was more than happy to discuss a range of topic that had fascinated national security journalists since the case broke in 2004. Among them: his leaks to AIPAC officials; details of a secret meeting he attended in Rome in December 2001 with the legendary Iranian conspirator, Manucher Ghorbanifar; and reports that someone had encouraged him to fake his suicide to avoid testifying against the AIPAC defendants. Franklin also had bitter complaints about the FBI, which tapped his phone and forced him to wear a wire during a meeting in which he offered Rosen a phony classified document that the bureau had prepared. All through that 10-week period, he and Cacheris said, the FBI never advised him he could be arrested himself and should get a lawyer. *** Franklin says he was desperate in early 2003 to get his information about Iranian preparations to kill Americans in Iraq into the hands of a White House policy-maker. The problem was, he didn’t know anyone close to White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Even though he worked for two of the most powerful officials in the Pentagon, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and the undersecretary for policy, Douglas Feith, “I was just a little guy,” he insisted. He says he was worried that the Bush administration had “no policy on Iran,” much less a plan for dealing with Iranian subversion when U.S. troops entered Iraq. “By that time I was underwhelmed by the Bush-Rice team,” he said. Even Wolfowitz and Feith, leading neoconservative hawks, Franklin said, “thought Iran could be part of the solution in Iraq and not part of the problem, that they would see a common interest with us in getting rid of Saddam, and that by shock-and-awe we would scare them into ground-level neutrality.” (“That’s not at all an accurate rendering of my thinking,” Feith responded by e-mail.) Franklin said he was “entirely convinced” that the invading Americans would be “coming home in body bags in bunches,” as a result of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, about which the administration knew nothing. “They were preparing an entrapment for us, to get us in and never let us out,” Franklin maintained, and the Bush administration had “no policy” to deal with it. “Larry was frustrated because U.S. policy was contradictory,” Hillary Mann Leverett, a national security council official who dealt with Franklin, recalled in a telephone interview. On the one hand, Pentagon neoconservatives were pressing for “regime change,” said Leverett, who was the NSC’s director of Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs in 2002-2003. On the other, White House and State Department officials were arguing for continuing discreet talks with Iran over Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, The gridlock prevented the administration from producing a concensus National Security Policy Directive, on Iran. “My impression was that we didn’t have a policy,” said another Bush White House official who worked on Middle East issues, “the principals were way too polarized. In that sense, it’s correct to say we didn’t have a policy.” So when AIPAC official Rosen intimated that he had good White House contacts, Franklin “jumped at the chance” to get his report into the right hands, he said. “Rosen boasted of his contacts in the NSC and the State Department – he was dropping all these names that I recognized — he dropped the name of Elliott Abrams, head of Middle East policy for the national security staff,” Franklin said. “When Rosen dropped his name, among others, I seized upon that … If I could get [Abrams] to slow things down, maybe I could get Rice – Condoleezza Rice, to pause and say, ‘Hey, maybe we really do need a foreign policy on Iran before we invade the country next door.'” Rosen assured him he would get his Iran information to Abrams, Franklin said. “But he didn’t do that. He went to The Washington Post and the political officer at the Israeli embassy.” (Rosen’s indictment spelled out those acts.) “He was duped — he was duped real, real good,” said a senior law enforcement official involved in the case. Another said, “My feeling was that they took advantage of him.” Franklin shook his head. “No…this was my initiative. I was not directed by him,” he said. Why, I asked didn’t he just call Abrams or somebody else at the NSC himself? Surely they would know who he was – or he could quickly inform them. Franklin turned up a palm. “Again, I was just – even though I had access to Wolfowitz and could go up to his office, I was just a little guy.” “I should have done a lot of things,” he added. “I mean, I made some stupid decisions. Yeah, that would’ve been the better thing to do.” What’s next? A book, of course.




Once Labeled An AIPAC Spy, Larry Franklin Tells His Story In an Exclusive Interview, Talk of Antisemitism and Betrayal

By Nathan Guttman

Published July 01, 2009, issue of July 10, 2009.

Washington — Former Pentagon Iran analyst Larry Franklin recently quit his job cleaning the restrooms at his local church in West Virginia. He still keeps his weekend job, mopping the floors at a nearby Roy Rogers restaurant. In recent years, Franklin also has gained experience in parking cars, digging trenches and cleaning cesspools. In between, he has been searching for a publisher for his book — a manual for saving America from the Iranian threat. NATHAN GUTTMAN Speaking Out: Larry Franklin, the former Pentagon analyst at center of AIPAC case, tells his side of the story to the Forward. On June 30, Franklin marked the fifth anniversary of his meeting with FBI agents, in which he first learned he was a suspect in what would later be known as “the AIPAC case,” referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Along with Franklin, two of the Washington lobby’s senior officials were charged with violating the seldom-used federal Espionage Act of 1917. Although charges against the two other key players, former lobbyists Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, were ultimately dropped in May, Franklin pleaded guilty early on as part of a plea agreement and is preparing to serve his reduced sentence of 100 hours of community service and 10 months in a halfway house. Franklin’s narrative of his ordeal, which started off with him being described on national news as the “Israeli mole” in the Pentagon, reflects a mixture of naiveté, frustration with government bureaucracy and a deep belief that his views must be heard, even if it meant breaking the rules. In retrospect, it was a practice in humility for the devout Catholic military analyst. “I’ve learned a lot by crawling on the ground,” the 62-year-old father of five said in his first interview since the affair began in 2004. The lessons that Franklin has learned from his experience include the capacity by his colleagues and partners for — as he sees it — betrayal, and the persistence, he has concluded, of deep-rooted antisemitic sentiment in certain quarters of America’s intelligence community. “I was asked about every Jew I knew in OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense], and that bothered me,” Franklin said. His superiors at the time were both Jewish: Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, and Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, whom Franklin believes was a target of the investigation. “One agent asked me, ‘How can a Bronx Irish Catholic get mixed up with…’ and I finished the phrase for him: ‘with these Jews.’” Franklin answered, “Christ was Jewish, too, and all the apostles.” “Later I felt dirty,” he added. Bound until recently by a plea agreement that barred him from speaking to the press, Franklin has refrained until now from telling his side of the story. But in the Washington office of his attorney, Plato Cacheris, Franklin seemed eager to share his experience. Cacheris, who took on Franklin’s case pro bono, intervened time and again to warn his client against revealing information that is either classified or under a seal imposed by the court. Franklin was quick to agree, calling Cacheris his “angel” who saved him from prison. In exchange for his cooperation with federal prosecutors, Franklin was initially sentenced to 12.5 years in prison as part of his plea agreement. But before entering his plea in 2005, he was approached by two people who suggested he fake his suicide and disappear to avoid testifying in court. At the request of the FBI, to which he immediately reported the encounter, Franklin had several follow-up conversations on the phone with one of them. “I thought I was in a movie,” Franklin said of the episode. Details of the event are still under court seal, and Franklin declined to identify the individuals who approached him or to offer further details. Franklin, who speaks seven languages and holds a doctorate in East Asian studies, tends to weave historical references easily into his discourse, from ancient Greece to the modern days. His concern is intense. Some in the government, he believes, “had some fantasy of a conspiracy” that had continued, unabated, after the 1985 arrest and 1987 conviction of Pentagon intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard on charges of spying for Israel. According to Franklin, the investigators he dealt with believed “that Pollard had a secret partner, a mole, probably in the OSD.” This quest to expose the mole, Franklin said, was, in part, “energized by a more malevolent emotion — antisemitism.” In part, it was also fed by a deep suspicion toward Israel. “In the intelligence community,” he said, “you refer to Israelis as ‘Izzis’ and it doesn’t have a pleasant connotation. They can’t get away with kikes, so they say Izzis.” This suspicion became clear to Franklin as he learned of the way investigators viewed activists of the pro-Israel lobby. He said it was made clear to him by the FBI that Rosen, then AIPAC’s foreign policy director, was the target of the investigation and had been followed by the FBI for years. “The bureau told me Rosen was a bad guy,” he said. Believing that he himself had “done wrong,” Franklin agreed to cooperate with the FBI investigation. This cooperation culminated in a June 26, 2003, meeting at an Italian restaurant in Arlington, Va., where Franklin was sent by the FBI to carry out a sting operation against the AIPAC lobbyists. Before his meeting with Weissman, agents wired Franklin with microphones and transmitters and provided him with a fake classified document alleging there was clear life-threatening danger posed to Israelis secretly operating in Iraq’s Kurdish region. Passing on the information would help seal the case against the AIPAC staffers. “At the time, I believed they were guilty,” Franklin said of Weissman and Rosen. Yet he still came to the meeting with mixed feelings. He put the document on the table, but hoped Weissman would not reach out for it. “And when he did not take the document, I did breath a silent sigh of relief,” he recalled. In retrospect, Franklin sees that moment as “one I am not proud of.” Though Weissman didn’t take the document, he read its content, which was allegedly classified, and the sting operation succeeded. Weissman hurried back to AIPAC headquarters with the supposedly classified information disclosed it to Rosen, who subsequently relayed it to an Israeli diplomat. Even without Weissman taking the actual paper, prosecutors, who were wiretapping all the players, felt they had enough of a case to press charges against both Rosen and Weissman for communicating national defense information. Franklin said he felt betrayed by the two former AIPAC staffers. He believed that he was sharing information with them so that they could pass it to other government officials, and was disappointed to learn they conveyed it to Israeli diplomats and to the press. “I do think they crossed a line when they went to a foreign official with what they knew was classified information,” Franklin said. Rosen told the Forward in response: “Franklin did not expect us to warn the Israelis that they would be kidnapped and killed? That’s like telling officials of the NAACP that there is going to be a lynching, but don’t warn the victims, because it is a secret.” For Franklin, ties with Rosen and Weissman were instrumental. He had grown frustrated with decisions made by his Pentagon bosses on Iraq and Iran, believing that regime change in Iran was the course America should pursue. Franklin warned that Americans “would return in body bags” from Iraq because of Iranian intervention, and called for a preliminary show of force against Iran before invading Iraq, but got no response. Viewing the AIPAC lobbyists as well connected, Franklin bypassed his superiors and asked Rosen to convey his concerns on Iran to officials at the National Security Council, to whom he believed the influential lobbyist had access. “I wanted to kind of shock people at the NSC,” he said, “to shock them into pausing and giving another consideration into why regime change needed to be the policy.” Franklin’s attempt to reach out over the heads of his bosses was unsuccessful and eventually got him in trouble. In the June 11 sentencing session at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Judge T.S. Ellis showed little sympathy for Franklin’s explanation of the reasons that led him to disclose the information. “Secrets are important to a nation. If we couldn’t keep our secrets, we would be at great risk,” Ellis said.



‘I am not a spy’

By Yossi Melman


Tags: AIPAC, espionage, israel news

 He was arrested, subjected to humiliating interrogations, accused of spying for Israel, lived under the specter of a 13-year prison term and sold everything he owned to pay for his legal defense. But Lawrence Franklin, 63, a former senior officer in the U.S. Air Force, an intelligence expert, university professor and senior official in the U.S. administration, did not crack. A devout Catholic, he accepted his bitter fate submissively and saw it as a test from heaven, as a means of achieving salvation. This is not just rhetoric. In order to support his family – his disabled wife and their five children – Franklin took a job cleaning restrooms at a West Virginia church, washed the floors in the local Roy Rogers restaurant and even dug cesspools. While making his way through that vale of tears, he arrived at an insight: that some of the agencies of the U.S. administration, and in particular the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are tainted by anti-Semitism. “I learned a lot from crawling on the floor,” he says in a special interview with Haaretz. Franklin is not yet entirely free to talk about his ordeal: The details of the case remain classified, and the trial was held behind closed doors. He has not yet begun carrying out the community service to which he was ultimately sentenced. Any incautious remark on his part is liable to stir the wrath of the FBI and stoke what he sees as its desire for revenge. Every word he uttered in the interview was examined under the magnifying glass of his lawyer, Plato Cacheris, a former Marine officer, who is defending Franklin pro bono. Franklin worked in the Pentagon, in the secretary of defense’s bureau, as a senior policy analyst on Iran, Iraq, and Hezbollah. His superiors were Jews: Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, and Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy. Franklin believes these two senior officials were the actual, main targets of the FBI investigation, which, he says, wanted to incriminate them through him on a charge of spying for Israel. Advertisement Franklin replies cautiously when asked about anti-Semitism in the administration in general and in the FBI in particular: “I don’t want to go into details on this. I find it embarrassing to admit to a foreign journalist that highly passionate prejudices and biases like these still exist in an organization that is so respected and admired by the majority of Americans. I was asked about every Jew I knew in the [defense] secretary’s bureau and had left, and that disturbed me very much.” Five years ago Franklin had a dramatic encounter with FBI agents, who informed him he was suspected of being a mole for the Israeli defense and intelligence establishments, in the heart of the U.S. administration. Those accusations spawned the “AIPAC affair,” involving suspicions and investigations against Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, senior officials in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby in Washington. Another name that cropped up in the investigation was that of Naor Gilon, currently the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s chief of staff and at the time the liaison with Congress in the Israeli embassy. Similarly, Dr. Uzi Arad, now the policy adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the head of the National Security Council, was questioned by the FBI within the framework of the Franklin investigation and until recently was barred from entering the United States. In fact, anyone who had contact of any kind with Franklin, Weissman and Rosen was automatically a suspect in this affair. Indeed, in the early stages of the undercover investigation, FBI agents probably wiretapped the suspects’ phones. Some of the people questioned, including American journalists, underwent encounters that bordered on harassment and were subjected to implicit threats. Recently the affair ended, like a leaky balloon. The U.S. Department of Justice dropped the charges against Rosen and Weissman; Arad, who holds a diplomatic passport by virtue of his position, is again free to enter the United States. But the scars of the five-year affair, which damaged relations between the two countries and made it particularly difficult for AIPAC to operate, have yet to heal. The most painful scars are borne by Franklin, the chief victim. Viable weapons Lawrence (Larry) Franklin spent more than 30 years in military service and in the U.S. defense establishment. In the course of his career, he also studied history, political science and Asian studies at three different universities and obtained three academic degrees, including a Ph.D. He speaks six languages in addition to English: Mandarin, Russian, Farsi, Arabic, Spanish and French. He reached the rank of colonel in the air force, in which he engaged chiefly in intelligence and anti-terror warfare. He began working for the administration more than 35 years ago, in 1973, in the Drug Enforcement Agency, and later in the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s intelligence and research unit. He also worked as a professor at several universities. Franklin’s worldview can be described as conservative American patriotism tinged with religious faith. It is thus natural for him to support Israel, to identify with its struggle and with what it represents to him – a country that is doing battle on the frontline of Western civilization – and to be familiar with the country and its defense establishment. He first visited here more than 20 years ago on an exchange program between the Israeli army and the Pentagon. Franklin’s ties with Israel deepened in 1998, when he was appointed U.S. Air Force attache to Israel, a post he held until 2004. He declines to say whether he operated from the Tel Aviv embassy, and reveals only that he visited Israel seven or eight times. He admits exchanging a few comments in Farsi with then chief of staff, Persian-born Gen. Shaul Mofaz. (Franklin says he is currently trying to improve his skills by translating President Barack Obama’s recent Cairo speech into Farsi.) Upon returning to Washington, Franklin kept up his ties with Israeli diplomats and with visiting defense and intelligence personnel. He also met, albeit infrequently, with AIPAC lobbyists. These meetings were sanctioned by his superiors at the Pentagon, particularly on the Iranian desk and in a special unit established by then-secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld. One of the unit’s tasks was to assemble the “Iraqi file”; preparing information that would validate the decision to invade Iraq on the grounds that Saddam Hussein’s regime was linked to Al-Qaida and had developed weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. With the encouragement of President George W. Bush, a group of neoconservatives formed around Rumsfeld. The group did not trust other bodies in the administration – the Central Intelligence Agency, in particular – and left them in the dark with respect to its activity, which at times seemed to be of questionable legality. Two of the leading neocons were Franklin’s direct superiors, Feith and Wolfowitz, and the unfolding affair involving them was rife with intimations of anti-Semitism and an anti-Israel stance. Critics of the Bush administration’s policy pointed out that the leading figures in the neocon group were pro-Israel Jews, and intimated that Israel and its supporters in the administration, the majority of whom were naturally Jews, had pushed the United States into the war in Iraq. The controversial methods which the group employed were revealed in the wake of a leak to the media, long after the fact, about a secret meeting at which Franklin was present. At the end of 2001, he, along with Harold Rhode, his colleague in the Pentagon and on the Iranian desk, and Michael Ledeen, an independent consultant who was involved in Irangate in the 1980s, were sent secretly to Rome to meet with Iranian representatives. The meeting was organized – and attended – by Manucher Ghorbanifar, a merchant, middleman and former officer in the Savak, the shah’s notorious security service. Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Ghorbanifar switched sides and became close to the Revolutionary Guard, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and National Security, and to various officials in the Tehran government. In the mid-1980s he was the central figure in the Irangate scandal and was the liaison to Yaakov Nimrodi, Al Schwimmer and Dave Kimche, who acted on behalf of Israel to strike a deal involving the sale of arms to Iran in return for the release of American hostages held by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Already then, Israel’s Mossad espionage agency and the CIA reached the conclusion that Ghorbanifar was a dubious character who was probably working for Iranian intelligence. That, however, did not stop Franklin from meeting with him. For his part, Franklin maintains the meeting was important and produced concrete results. “Ghorbanifar’s info was on target,” he recalls. “The sources he brought must remain nameless for their protection. One piece of info saved American soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan from an Iranian-inspired and sponsored assassination squad. I relayed the details in a most direct and timely fashion. While I did not endorse Ghorbanifar’s operational suggestions on how to shake the foundations of the Iranian regime, the information provided by his sources was corroborated by other source material I had access to as the [Pentagon’s] Iran desk officer.” Didn’t the CIA detest Ghorbanifar? “There was a no-contact order by the CIA on Ghorbanifar because of the agency’s past unsatisfactory relationship with him. However, our mission was approved by the NSC. Moreover, we worked for the secretary of defense and were not subject to CIA authority. The CIA viewed us as [being] ‘in their lane.’ I invited the Defense Intelligence Agency to join us, as well as military intelligence representatives in Europe. They declined, fearful of the CIA’s no-contact order.” Franklin now plans to write a book entitled “Clash” explaining in detail how he believes the United States (and the world) can be saved from the Iranian threat. Attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities will be like falling into a trap, he notes: “The Israeli government’s intelligence agencies must do everything short of attacking Iranian territory to disrupt the rule of Iran’s military theocrats. To take the bait and bomb Iran’s known nuclear facilities will gain some time, but it will unite Iranians behind a despised regime. Propaganda, cyberwar, sabotage all are viable weapons [in this struggle].” ‘Kikes’ and ‘Izzis’ Larry Franklin says he has never made a secret of his feelings for Israel. “When I was the senior political-military Soviet analyst at the Pentagon, I had Natan’s picture on my wall [referring to former Soviet refusenik and later Israel cabinet minister Natan Sharansky, now chairman of the Jewish Agency]. He was and remains a hero of mine. It was okay then, and no one said anything about the picture. But,” he adds bitterly, “when I was arrested and interrogated, the FBI agents took another picture, of Natan and I together, from my home – then it was not okay anymore.” Franklin also finds many similarities between Israel and his homeland: “Israel, like America, is an idea that is ever-becoming. Israel, like America, is not just another country with borders, a flag and an anthem. Like America, Israel is a place of refuge for the refused. It is a society that sheds the generous light of a second chance on those who are not welcome in their native land. You see, even a Martian can become an American if he or she embraces the principles promulgated in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Israel and America have welcomed both Christians and Jews; Christians who have been harassed into exile from the Arab Middle East, and Sephardim who have experienced their own ‘nakba’ [catastrophe]” (the Palestinians’ term for what befell them in 1948). What in particular do you admire about Israel? “One aspect of Israeli society that I admire as a free citizen is how Israel, despite an omnipresent, existential threat has protected the liberties of the individual. After 9/11 we [in America] upset the balance between liberty and security. The current administration is working to reset that tenuous balance. We just need to call to mind Benjamin Franklin’s wise counsel not to seek security at the price of liberty. Athens must learn to fight like Sparta without becoming like it.” Your comments on Israel sound like preaching. “As a Catholic Christian, it was spiritually uplifting as I walked late at night along the shores of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus fished and preached. But I am not an ‘end-of-time evangelical’ who sees the significance of Israel only in an apocalyptic setting. I look upon Israelis and Jews in general as the late Pope John Paul II spoke of them: as ‘our elder brothers.'” The investigators apparently became suspicious of Franklin because of his meetings with Naor Gilon. It follows that Gilon, like other Israeli diplomats, was probably under constant surveillance or that his phone was tapped. It is no secret that Israel’s envoys in the United States – from the Foreign Ministry, the Israel Defense Forces, the intelligence community and the Defense Ministry – operate on the assumption that their phones and computers are being tapped. Franklin: “For years, as part of my work in the Pentagon, I met with military attaches of U.S. allies. The meetings were almost on a weekly basis and were for exchanges of information and assessments. When I moved to the unit in the office of the secretary of defense, I was told that because of the civilian nature of the position, it would be best if I stopped meeting with army personnel and focused on contacts with diplomats. That is how I was introduced to Naor Gilon. My superiors, both military and civilian, knew about the meetings. I used to meet with Gilon from time to time on Friday mornings over a milkshake after working out. They were innocent meetings between two allies, but it was inflated by those who were looking for a bigger fish than me to fry. I was just the bait.” (Gilon, Arad and Sharansky declined to comment.) But Franklin’s troubles with U.S. law-enforcement agencies sprang not only from his actions and his close ties with Israel. In this writer’s opinion, they are the result of something deeper – the FBI’s constant and unwavering suspicion that Israel is a treacherous state which, unsatisfied with the generous aid it receives from its American ally, systematically and unscrupulously connives to spy and steal information and technology in the United States. Those suspicions, which became an obsession, were reinforced in 1985 with the affair of the civilian navy analyst Jonathan Pollard, who was discovered to be spying for Israel. From its investigation of Pollard, the FBI concluded that Israel had another spy deep within the administration – someone even more senior than Pollard, sometimes nicknamed by the FBI as Mr. X. The agency initially thought it was Franklin. “There were some in the administration,” he explains, “who developed and cultivated the fantasy of a conspiracy,” which continues to exist since Pollard’s conviction in 1987. Franklin’s impression was that his interrogators believed Pollard had a secret partner, a mole, probably in the office of the secretary of defense. “The pursuit to uncover the mole was fed by a malevolent anti-Semitic passion. In the intelligence community, Israelis are called ‘Izzis,’ which has an unpleasant odor to it. They can’t say ‘kikes’ nowadays, so they resort to ‘Izzis.'” ‘Naive fool’ After being arrested and threatened that he would be charged with aggravated espionage and possibly even treason – leading to a lengthy prison term – Franklin agreed to cooperate with the FBI. “I was a naive fool,” he admits. “My whole sin was that occasionally I took documents home to work on. I also told Rosen and Weissman orally about power struggles and bureaucratic differences in the administration over Iran. I never gave anyone a secret or classified document.” Because he felt he had never done anything wrong or illegal, he agreed to act as bait for the FBI. In addition to their burning desire to discover damning information about Franklin’s superiors, the agents used his services to incriminate Steve Rosen, who was then in charge of foreign policy in AIPAC. “They told me Rosen was a bad guy,” he says. Franklin’s impression was that Rosen had been under FBI surveillance for years. The height of his cooperation with the investigation came on June 23, 2003, when Franklin met with Rosen and Weissman – who was in charge of the “Iranian file” in AIPAC – at an Italian restaurant in Arlington, Virginia. The FBI initiated the meeting, briefed Franklin and wired him with transmitters. Undercover agents aldocumented the event. “It was one of the moments I am not proud of,” he says now. It was a full-fledged sting operation. The FBI had provided Franklin with a fabricated secret document containing information to the effect that Israelis working secretly in Iraqi Kurdistan were in clear and immediate danger from Iranian agents. As instructed by the FBI, Franklin placed the document on the table and went to the restroom. The FBI agents hoped that Rosen or Weissman would take advantage of the opportunity to read the document. However, they did not. In retrospect, Franklin says, he had hoped ardently that the AIPAC men would not pick up the document and was relieved when they did not. Afterward, though, Rosen and Weissman passed on what they had heard verbally from Franklin to personnel in the Israeli embassy and to selected journalists, who immediately published it. After cooperating with the investigation, Franklin reached a plea bargain with the FBI and the Department of Justice, under which he was not charged with espionage but only with the unauthorized disclosure of classified information. Judge T.S. Ellis from the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced him to 12 and a half years in prison and a fine of $100,000. Later, the sentence was reduced to 10 months in a halfway house and 100 hours of community service, which Franklin will soon begin to carry out in the form of talks to high-school students about how important it is for civil servants not to break the law. Franklin discloses that, not long before the plea bargain was concluded, when it appeared certain he would have to testify against the AIPAC lobbyists, he was approached by two men who offered to help him fake his suicide and disappear, to obviate the need to testify in court. Franklin refuses outright to reveal the identity of the two men, explaining that parts of the affair are still under a gag order. However, the impression gleaned from other sources in Washington is that the two were not from AIPAC, but are very pro-Israel and supporters of the lobby, who approached Franklin with the dramatic offer at their own initiative. Franklin felt that Rosen and Weissman had betrayed him. At the meeting in the restaurant, he says, he shared the information with them in the hope that they would pass it on to other senior officials in the administration, particularly in the Pentagon and the NSC. He did not expect they would convey it to Israeli government representatives and then leak it to the media. “I believe they crossed a forbidden line,” he says, and emphasizes, “I had no contact with AIPAC. I was in contact with Rosen as someone who bragged about having connections in the administration and especially in the NSC. I saw it as an opportunity to present, through him, the position of the special office in the Pentagon about what U.S. policy on Iran should be, as it had not yet been articulated in a presidential directive. I thought it was essential to make it clear to Iran that we would not allow them to intervene in Iraq. We very much needed to formulate policy on Iran before invading its neighbor, Iraq.” Franklin does admit, however, that he broke the law: “Indeed, I unlawfully told Rosen about internal rivalries within the administration. The idea was for him to convey my concerns to Elliot Abrams, who headed the Middle East desk in the NSC. Instead, he went to the media and to the Israeli embassy.” (In response to this allegation, which was also published earlier this month in the Forward, a Jewish magazine published in the States, Rosen said: “Franklin did not expect us to warn the Israelis that they would be kidnapped and killed? That’s like telling officials of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] that there is going to be a lynching, but don’t warn the victims, because it is a secret.”) How do you see the power of AIPAC and the lobby’s influence on the administration? “AIPAC is a powerful lobby but reports of its overweening influence on U.S. policy are exaggerated. Less visible but more powerful are the many instruments of Saudi Arabia’s influence over U.S. policy. Even if Rosen and Weissman were guilty of some infraction of national security law, it is far better for the health of our American republic that they went free and were not charged.” Could it be that for years your close ties with Israel led you to provide Israel with information you were not authorized to convey? “I am a veteran of several programs of inter-governmental exchanges of information, particularly in military affairs. In years of cooperation against common enemies, I shared in developing cordial relations with a number of Israelis. We are allies. They placed their trust in me and in return I trusted them. Is that so strange?” Did your acquaintance with Shaul Mofaz come up in the interrogations? “No. Neither Mofaz’s name nor the names of any other Israelis were mentioned in my interrogations.” Did the investigators suspect that you had Israeli handlers and that Uzi Arad was one of them? “I don’t know what the FBI thinks about Uzi Arad. I did not have a handler. I am not a spy. The FBI is well aware of that.” W

Schwarzenegger signs $85B California budget into law


US states like California go broke, but there is always funding for Israel: