Key Figure in AIPAC Spy Scandal Interrupts Sentence to Call for Regime Change in Iran
Last week, it was John Bolton advocating — or kinda-sorta advocating — a nuclear first strike on Iran at a GOP-affiliated conference on “ensuring peace.” This week, the ironic-crazy continues with Larry Franklin — the former defense official who pled guilty to 3 counts of criminal conspiracy for handing classified documents to Israeli officials and representatives of AIPAC — arguing for regime change in Iran in the prestigious pages of Foreign Policy magazine.
Franklin was working in the Pentagon‘s infamous Office of Special Plans under Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith at the time he was busted. He and his defenders say he was just trying to circumnavigate the DoD bureaucracy when he gave the documents to AIPAC officials — that he thought they could get his “concerns” about what he thought was the Bush administration’s soft touch on Iran to Elliot Abrams, a fellow-traveller at the National Security Council. So while prosecutors said Franklin knew that the classified info he disseminated “could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation,” the AIPAC-approved party-line is that he was a victim of his ideological opponents’ “criminalization” of the kind of horse-trading in tidbits of information that’s routine in DC foreign policy circles.
Even if one accepts that account — recall that he also slipped info to an Israeli official directly — it says quite a bit about our foreign policy establishment when a Pentagon employee would think a lobbyist for AIPAC was the best conduit he had to his superiors in the White House.
Anyway, now he takes to the pages of one of the country prestigious foreign policy journals to claim that the months of turmoil following the Iranian elections somehow vindicates his actions. “Still serving my 10-month sentence,” he writes, “I take little solace in the knowledge that my concerns were justified.” (Sounds dramatic, but Franklin, who faced up to 25 years behind bars, got a slap on the wrist — 13 months in jail which were later reduced to 10 months under house arrest.)
It’s also unclear why the events of recent months absolve him of his crimes. Franklin says his goal was to “shake the foundations of Iran’s mullahcracy,” but all parties in the disputed election support the basic structure of Iran’s “mullahcracy.” And if he’s just saying that the tainted vote proved the regime in Tehran to be generally cruel or corrupt, it’s not like it enjoyed a good reputation in DC foreign policy circles at the time anyway.
But of course, the larger point of the column is to urge us all to finally follow his advice and overthrow the damn regime already …
I urged the United States to recognize a government in exile, perhaps in a nearby Central Asian country with a Persian heritage. I proposed a sophisticated propaganda offensive, planting stories both true and otherwise in the Persian-language media to undermine Iranians’ confidence in their leaders. I urged that we highlight Iran’s human rights record by focusing attention on at least one victim of the regime every day of the year, and that we expose the regime’s “gulag archipelago” of prisons. And I proposed the selective declassification of documents that would embarrass Iran on the world stage.
I also called for our financial specialists to compile and publish a list of foreign-based bank accounts, properties, and businesses owned by key regime leaders, and suggested we disrupt the Islamic Republic’s monetary transactions, for example, blocking its attempts to secure loans and grants from international lending institutions.
Finally, I suggested we make the same commitment to Iran’s people as we did to Solidarity in Poland: to help train an entire generation of free unionists and political activists to surreptitiously exit and re-enter Iran.
So, a bundle of “public diplomacy” — because our propaganda efforts in the region have been wildly successful so far. And a U.S.-backed, neocon-approved government in exile — because that worked so well with Iraq. I guess we can credit him with having the sanity to oppose a military strike.
Interestingly, Franklin doesn’t mention that as part of its investigation into his activities, the FBI had taken a hard look at his attendance at a series of meetings with Iranian dissidents — including shady arms dealers — organized by Michael Ledeen, AEI’s resident neocon crank to establish just such a government-in-exile.
Although he has an academic background, it’s pretty amazing that a guy like this gets a serious, widely-read and respected platform like FoPo to make a case for overthrowing a foreign government, whatever one thinks about that proposition otherwise. Franklin writes: “I was not an ideologue, and I spoke Farsi. I was steeped in Islamic culture and history.” But back when he was sentenced an unnamed defense official told Newsweek‘s Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball that Franklin’s motive for passing on the classified documents “appears to have been ideological rather than financial… For whatever reason, the guy hates Iran passionately.”
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