Early next September, the U.S. District court in Alexandria, Virginia will be the scene of a very interesting trial. One Lawrence Franklin will stand before a judge to defend himself against a six-count indictment accusing him of conspiring to disclose national defense and classified information to senior AIPAC officials -- who then passed it on to Israeli intelligence operatives.
AIPAC, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee is not an organization to be trifled with. Everybody in Washington understands that this Likudnik lobby can make and break politicians. Not only do they have a $30 million annual budget, but they have some very well placed fellow travelers in the mass media. Come election season, they can be counted on to stuff campaign war chests with funds from “independent” PACs that subscribe to their Israel First agenda. Their greatest strength is their ability to leverage their media muscle to defame and ridicule any politician who stands up to their pro-Israeli policies.
Aside from Lawrence Franklin, at least two senior members of AIPAC are involved in this conspiracy -- Steven Rosen, AIPAC’s chief of research and Keith Weissman, the deputy director of foreign policy issues. An unidentified Israeli official -- who was the ultimate recipient of the classified information -- played a central role in the affair.
The case involves the usual “spy thriller” elements -- smuggling secret Pentagon documents and faxing them to the private numbers of AIPAC officials -- meetings at Union Station -- moving from one restaurant to another to avoid detection -- a “retired” Israeli intelligence officer who for some reason has access to the Pentagon cafeteria. Several of the encounters took place at the Pentagon athletic club. Why do AIPAC officials have such ready access to the Pentagon cafeteria and athletic club?
Unless this show is canceled by the powers that be -- we should be in for some authentic drama. One of the most intriguing aspects of the case is that Franklin was apparently motivated by upward mobility. Ambitious men are a dime a dozen in Washington -- no news there. But Franklin thought that AIPAC could “put in a good word” for him. Steven Rosen discussed Franklin's chances of getting a job on the staff of the National Security Council. According to the indictment, Rosen told Franklin that he could land him a position that would place him “by the elbow of the president.”
Now, why would Franklin believe that Steven Rosen and AIPAC had the clout to actually move him up the food chain so he could graze by the elbow of George Bush? Here we have an ambitious senior Pentagon analyst, an Air Force Reserve colonel, who once worked for Douglas Feith, the neo-con hawk who played a major role in fabricating the intelligence that led to the war in Iraq. Which means he already had access to the third ranking senior official at the Pentagon. Franklin is a seasoned fifty-eight years old Pentagon insider -- no spring chicken. And yet he has reason to believe that a “private” citizen working for AIPAC had the clout to place him on the National Security staff.
It seems obvious that Franklin assumed -- perhaps correctly -- that Rosen and AIPAC had connections and influence that went above Douglas Feith who abruptly resigned after the FBI probe became public. So, who exactly was the AIPAC connection at the National Security Council? I am guessing it was Elliot Abrams.
AIPAC is already flexing its muscle to diminish the impact of the Franklin case. Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman were taken off the payroll. The New York Times and The Washington Post have made an executive decision that this espionage trial is unworthy of their attention. If you expect any bulletins on this story from CNN or FOX, don’t hold your breath. Most Americans don’t have a clue that another Pollard has been caught in the act of passing classified information to Israeli spies. In all, it is a very impressive display of AIPAC’s media clout.
There are only so many jobs next to the president’s anatomy. Access is everything. If Franklin hadn’t been caught, it is entirely plausible that he would now be serving “by the elbow of the president.” One has to assume that if AIPAC can land you that close to the president, they can place you as an ambassador or get you a senior job in Homeland Security or the Department of Agriculture. If you want to be a professional lobbyist for a foreign nation, they have an excellent trainee program. Want to be an over paid resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute or the Brookings Institute? Contact your AIPAC executive search consultant and send him a resume detailing your Likudnik credentials. For good measure, fax him a few classified Pentagon documents.
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