First, consider the timing. The news of an Israeli spy embedded deep in the Pentagon broke on a Friday, the eve of the Republican National Convention. The FBI isn’t exactly jumping for joy that their investigation was prematurely leaked – even before they filed charges or made an arrest. The New York Times reported on Aug. 30 that, “news reports about the inquiry compromised important investigative steps, like the effort to follow the trail back to the Israelis.”
This spy affair centers around one Lawrence A. Franklin, an associate of Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz, the Likudnik architects of the Gulf War. He is suspected of handing classified information to two lobbyists for AIPAC who passed it on to Israeli officials.
Franklin’s immediate superior at the Pentagon is William Luti who headed the Office of Special Plans which was tasked with engineering the “intelligence failure” that led to the Mess in Potamia. Luti reports to Douglas Feith who actually used to work as a consultant for the Likud. Feith has solid credential as a Likudnik extremist. His fingerprints are all over the place; from the Plame scandal to approving torture at Abu Ghraib to deliberately corrupting pre-war intelligence to selling Likudnik fantasies about post-war Iraq to approving no-bid contracts for Halliburton to messing up post-war planning.
It takes Feith’s resume to qualify as Tommy Franks’ number one nominee for the title of “the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth.”
Now, put aside Feith for a moment. Notice the coordinated media campaign to plea-bargain the charges down from an act of treason and espionage to a misdemeanor. It takes time to put together this kind of media blitz.
The three main themes of the cover-up launched by the Likudnik faithful were “Who needed Franklin?” - “who says that his information was really classified?” and “is that some kind of crime?”
What follows is a partial inventory of the ‘damage control’ arsenal that was prepared by the Israeli Lobby, a cult where Douglas Feith enjoys the rank of a high priest.
The Washington Post was among the first to join in Franklin’s defense. They quoted a “baffled” unidentified AIPAC employee. “I have a hard time figuring out what this is about. If the Israelis or their supporters want to know about deliberations in the Bush administration, all they have to do is take people to lunch.”
Dennis Ross, an Israeli lobbyist with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was also available for comment. “The Israelis have access to all sorts of people. They have access in Congress and in the administration.”
The Post also contacted Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute. “There is no American policy on Iran,” Ledeen said. “What is he telling them? What can there possibly be that is classified about American policy on Iran that we do not know about from the public debate?”
By Monday, August 30, 2004, the Post had rounded up Michael Oren, an Israeli historian who was kind enough to offer the opinion that Israel “would have very little to gain by spying on the United States because the relationship is so open and giving.” He also had this to say “the canard has been out there for a long time that Israel and Israel's supporters and the neo-conservatives in the Defense Department have manipulated U.S. foreign policy, especially on Iraq, to serve Israeli purposes, and this would tend to substantiate that canard.”
See, it’s all some kind of mistake resulting from a “canard” that the Likudniks in Washington – better known as neo-conservatives - orchestrated a campaign to market the invasion of Iraq. It should be noted that others subscribe to an even more incredible “canard” – that the Likudniks at the Washington Post, especially Charles Krauthammer, were major actors in promoting the march on Baghdad.
In Israel, Ha’aretz was also prepared for Franklin’s defense: “‘Sensitive’ data of this sort, or of an even more sensitive nature, is routinely conveyed during meetings between American officials and Israeli diplomats under the bright lights of upscale restaurants in the heart of Washington, D.C.” (Ha’aretz, Aug 30, 2004)
Even the Christian Science Monitor was in on fixing the “son of Pollard” scandal. They noted that “It is still not clear whether the charges will be serious (possibly espionage), or something more mundane (mishandling of documents), or whether there will be charges at all. FBI officials reportedly were tipped to a potential problem months ago by a series of email exchanges. The investigation recently ratcheted up to the point where Justice Department officials have begun briefing Pentagon officials.” Translation: the fox was advised that one of his hens had hatched a rotten egg and was advised to take appropriate measures to contain the stench.
JTA, which offers its readers “Global Jewish News,” parroted the party line. “To those who work with AIPAC in Washington, or have worked for the organization itself, the idea of information being passed from government officials to AIPAC staffers to Israelis seems almost commonplace. After all, these people see each other on almost a daily basis, at think-tank lunches and policy meetings throughout the capital. Information is exchanged and each participant tries to show his importance by touting what he knows and whom he has access to.” A certain Jon Alterman, identified as a former State department official was quoted as saying, “The easiest thing to learn in Washington is that no one likes to be surprised. AIPAC doesn’t like to be surprised and nobody wants to surprise AIPAC.”
Notice a common thread that indicates a well-rehearsed campaign. The narratives of Franklin’s defense team include lunch dates, dinner dates and upscale restaurants where classified information is casually exchanged between Israeli Lobbyists, Pentagon officials and Israelis. It creates an aura of sophisticated people conducting normal business. In the same picture frame you see bumbling FBI agents intruding on their privacy and possibly inflicting harm on the affairs of the nation.
What we have here is a pre-emptive strike against the FBI agents who made the mistake of holding a surprise party for AIPAC. At some point, the FBI wanted to be certain that they were not intruding on an operation that might have the approval of Franklin’s superiors at the Pentagon. They took the precaution of advising Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith that a certain employee in their inner circle was suspected of espionage. So, Feith and Wolfie took appropriate measures to contain any further damage to their country – Israel.
We shall see, over the course of the next few weeks, whether the Israeli Lobby can intimidate the FBI. The “Son of Pollard” story is already losing steam. Ashcroft is probably under a lot of pressure to reign in his ‘rogue’ agents and give them proper instructions on how to salute in the presence of AIPAC officials. Right about now, a few pissed off patriotic FBI investigators are getting real time lessons on Washington hierarchies.
It is easy enough to admire these agents for their courage, their tenacity and their respect for the law of the land. But you have to be very naïve to believe that they will get as fair a public hearing as Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz and Lawrence A. Franklin. Chances are that the fix on the “Son of Pollard” scandal was a done deal before the FBI put a foot in the ring.
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