THE AXIS OF
ISRAELI SPIES IN THE
By: Justin Raimondo
The death agony of the neoconservatives
is going to be a prolonged and quite ugly procedure, painful
not only for them but for the entire country which will
learn, to its chagrin and growing anger, how and by whom they
into war. It started late Friday, when Lesley
Stahl of CBS News reported that the FBI has "solid
evidence" that a spy, embedded in the top echelons of the
Pentagon's civilian leadership, handed over classified
documents, including the draft of a presidential directive on
U.S. policy toward Iran, to Israel. Such an investigation
would have been politically explosive in any case, but add to
this the news that Franklin had passed the documents to Tel
Aviv via AIPAC, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee,
one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, and the result
is political dynamite.
Within hours the
story had grown from focusing on a single individual, Lawrence
Franklin, described as a "mid-level desk officer," to
include an entire nest of spies ensconced in the top echelons
of the Pentagon, centered around the office of Douglas
Feith, the Director of Policy:
"An FBI probe into the handling of highly classified
material by Pentagon civilians is broader than previously
reported, and goes well beyond allegations that a single
mid-level analyst gave a top-secret Iran policy document to
Israel, three sources familiar with the investigation said
"The probe, which has been going on for more than two
years, also has focused on other civilians in the Secretary of
Defense's office, said the sources, who spoke on condition
they not be identified, but who have firsthand knowledge of
"In addition, one said, FBI investigators in recent
weeks have conducted interviews to determine whether Pentagon
officials gave highly classified U.S. intelligence to a
leading Iraqi exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, which
may in turn have passed it on to Iran. INC leader Ahmed
Chalabi has denied his group was involved in any
This Knight-Ridder report, by Warren Strobel, went on to
note that "the linkage, if any, between the two leak
investigations, remains unclear." But it couldn't be clearer
to those of us who have been following the various scandals
that have recently rocked the national security bureaucracy
Chalabi-gate, the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, the Niger
uranium forgeries, and now the Franklin affair. They all
involve the same cast of neoconservative characters: the
inhabitants of the "policy shop" presided over by Feith,
including the infamous Office
of Special Plans otherwise known as the Lie
Factory which produced a steady supply of utter
falsehoods to justify the rush to war. Former CIA analyst Larry
Johnson, commenting on MSNBC, said his sources were
telling him that the Franklin affair is also connected to the
Niger uranium forgery investigation. As I wrote a couple
of months ago:
"The other day FBI agents paid a visit to the Pentagon,
and subjected several top neocons to
lie-detector tests. They wanted to know where neocon
protιgι (and Iranian spy) Ahmed
got his hot little hands on highly valued U.S.
secrets. But what I want to know is this: How many
different teams of investigators have to go through the same
desks? Why not consolidate all these ongoing
investigations l'affaire Plame, the Niger
uranium forgeries, Chalabi-gate,
and the Abu Ghraib war crimes into one big investigation? We
can call it Neocon-gate."
That's what the Franklin affair shows every sign of turning
into: Neocon-gate. And it's about time. As regular readers of
column are aware,
it's been a long time
For over two years, the feds have put scarce law
enforcement resources into this investigation, and it hasn't
been for nothing: they've been watching and eavesdropping on
Israel's American fifth column for at least that long, as
Michael Isikoff And Mark Hosenball make clear enough in this
"It was just a Washington lunch one that the FBI
happened to be monitoring. Nearly a year and a half ago,
agents were monitoring a conversation between an Israeli
Embassy official and a lobbyist for American Israel Public
Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, as part of a probe into possible
Israeli spying. Suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, in the
description of one intelligence official, another American
"walked in" to the lunch out of the blue. Agents at first
didn't know who the man was. They were stunned to discover he
was Larry Franklin, a desk officer with the Near East and
South Asia office at the
FBI counterintelligence agents began tracking him, and at
one point watched him allegedly attempt to pass a classified U.S.
Policy document on Iran to one of the surveillance targets,
according to a U.S. Intelligence official. But his alleged
confederate was 'too smart,' the official said, and refused to take
it. Instead, he asked Franklin to brief him on its contents and
Franklin allegedly obliged. Franklin also passed information gleaned
from more highly classified documents, the official said. If the
government is correct, Franklin's motive appears to have been
ideological rather than financial."
Yes, but what ideology are we talking about here? Hosenball and
Isikoff don't say. However, unconditional support to Israel has
always been a
central tenet of neoconservative foreign policy doctrine, and
never more so than today. Feith was a co-author, along with several
prominent neocons, of "A Clean Break," a
1996 policy paper written for then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu that proposed the elimination of Saddam Hussein as a
primary goal: Baghdad was depicted as the gateway to Damascus, a
byway on the road to Teheran.
The strategic utility of invading Iraq as a means to combat
"terrorism" as represented by Al Qaeda has always baffled war
opponents, and even a few reluctant supporters,
because it was so strikingly counterintuitive. Osama was forgotten:
Saddam was the new demon figure, and Iraq, not Al Qaeda, the target.
The invasion and subsequent occupation created a terrorist
recruitment and training center in the Sunni triangle that soon
extended outward, to the Shi'ite south. Only two leaders have been
well-served by the American conquest, and George W. Bush is not one
of them. CIA analyst Michael
Scheuer, writing as "Anonymous," put it well in the opening
paragraph of his recent book, Imperial
"U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of
the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do
with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a
result, I think it is fair to conclude that the United States of
America remains bin Laden's only indispensable ally."
If bin Laden is the chief beneficiary of American policies in the
Middle East, then Ariel Sharon runs a close second. His government
has been given a free hand to do what it wills in the occupied
territories, including increased settlement-building,
increased state terrorism, and even U.S. acquiescence on the "Wall
of Separation." Israeli agents are swarming
over Kurdistan, fomenting rebellion, and threatening
Iran. The old Zionist dream of extending Israel's hegemony from
the Nile to the Euphrates suddenly seems close to realization.
Former Pentagon analyst Karen
Kwiatkowski, who has firsthand experience with Franklin and his
neocon comrades at the Office of Special Plans, described direct
contacts with top-ranking Israeli officials. Jason
Vest and Robert Dreyfuss also describe an Israeli component of
the OSP, working in collaboration with their American counterparts.
Stove-piping phony "intelligence," including forgeries such as the
Niger uranium papers, and passing them off as "evidence" of Iraq's
"weapons of mass destruction," what was essentially an Israeli
covert action succeeded in lying us into war. Franklin is just a cog
in a much bigger cabal.
We're not just dealing with an overzealous individual who somehow
got confused that he shouldn't share sensitive intelligence with a
good "ally" such as Israel. That's the line being put out by
Franklin's defenders, who are even now mobilizing
to support their new hero.
Franklin's defenders are moving quickly to downplay his
importance: he's a "mid-level desk officer," supposedly in no
position to make or even have much of an impact on American policy
in the Middle East. But others point to his status as a favorite of
his bosses, Feith and Paul Wolfowitz both of whom are no doubt of
interest to the FBI in the sense that they will be questioned. What
did Franklin's bosses know about their trusted underling's
activities? In any case, one official cited by Newsweek
described the Franklin inquiry as "the most significant Israeli
espionage investigation in Washington since Jonathan Pollard."
The raid on Chalabi's headquarters in Iraq was a first strike in
the war against the neocons. The coming arrest of Franklin, and
perhaps some of his confederates, rumored for this week, will bring
the war home.
The reaction of the Israelis, and their amen corner in the U.S.,
has been uniformly and unintentionally comic: Who,
us? Spy on America? It never happens, at least not since
But the reality of Israeli covert agents in America, far from
being something out of a cheap paperback spy thriller, is certainly
borne out by the Franklin affair. Not since Pollard? Tell that to
Carl Cameron of Fox News, whose four-part
on Israeli surveillance
of targets in the U.S., including Mohammed Atta and the 9/11
hijackers, cited anonymous law enforcement and government officials.
In Part I, broadcast on December 17, 2001, Cameron
"There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the
9/11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have
gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance and not shared
it. A highly-placed investigator said there are quote 'tie-ins.'
But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them,
saying quote evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is
classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered.
It's classified information.'"
At the time, Cameron's report and my columns on the
subject were derided as "conspiracy theories," and largely
ignored. When Cameron's sources leaked an interagency report
on the existence of an Israeli "art student" operation in the U.S.
that was clearly an intelligence-gathering tool, a Justice
Department spokeswoman described its thesis -that the Israelis had
launched a massive covert action in on U.S. soil as an "urban
myth," and the Israel First crowd took up the
cry. The respected German weekly newsmagazine, Die Zeit,
that Israeli agents were living "next door to Mohammed Atta," but
this, too, was ignored.
Now that we have uncovered a pro-Israeli cabal engaged in
espionage operating at the very highest levels of the U.S.
government, does it all seem so improbable? The whole story is told
in my short book, The
Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection, which
presciently concludes as follows:
"This burgeoning scandal underscores why the two-sided
Manichean view promoted by George W. Bush in his 'war on terrorism'
is fundamentally false. 'You're either with us,' he intoned, 'or
against us.' But what about the Israelis? When they were shadowing
the hijackers and learning their secrets, were they with us or
secret war against America which you could only read about
here, in this space, up until now is out in the open, exploding
into the headlines. The reason is because it looks like the
Americans, or at least some of them, are beginning to fight back.
The Franklin affair is already being compared to the Pollard spy
case, but a more apt historical analogy is the case of Alger
Hiss. Like Franklin, Hiss was a top U.S. government official who
didn't sell out for money, but because he was a true believer in the
cause. Hiss saw himself, and was seen by his numerous American
supporters, not as a traitor,
but as an idealist, the advocate of an ideology that would, in the
end, make for a better America a Sovietized America. Franklin and
his neocon comrades are no less committed to their vision of a
At this point we are lacking some essential information,
including the identities of the "two
or three" AIPAC employees involved. How far up in the
organization did knowledge of these illegal activities go? What else
have the feds got on AIPAC after an extensive investigation,
including electronic surveillance, ongoing for over two years?
We don't know the answers to these questions. But I do know that
if this had been an Islamic or Arab group, they would have been shut
down, their assets impounded,
and their headquarters bolted shut. Will
something even approaching that happen to AIPAC?
Of course not. But, if not, why not? Is Israel going to be
allowed to openly operate a spy nest in Washington with impunity?
It's an outrage, and it's time someone said so. Furthermore, those
politicians who have taken
money from AIPAC have a lot of 'splaining to do, especially if
they don't return the dough. As Israeli spies in Washington steal
our secrets, and feed us lies, our politicians are pigging out at
the trough of AIPAC campaign contributions, raking in cash while
their patrons take in classified documents.
When the American people find out what is going on, God help the
neocons, because they are going to need it. The arrest and trial of
Israel's fifth column in the Pentagon is going to unleash a lot of
anger, because it is going to make Americans understand the nature
and extent of the treason that entrapped them in Iraq. The very word
"neocon" will become a synonym for treason, like Quisling. Moreover,
the complexity of this war that we found ourselves in, as the smoke
from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon began to clear, will
perhaps begin to dawn on us.
The party line, coming out of Neocon Central, is that Israel has
a right to classified material, since
we're such good buddies and all: friends don't have any secrets
from each other, now do they? This is all just a matter of a faction
fight within the administration, between neocons and "old guard"
Republican realists in the State Department.
That may well be true, but it may also be true that one of the
factions has committed illegal acts espionage on behalf of a
foreign power. The "AIPAC kerfluffle," as the Jerusalem Post
smugly refers to it, is surely the result of an internecine struggle
within the Bush administration, but that doesn't rule out the
possibility that one side constitutes an axis of treason.
At any rate, grab some chips and dip, stock up on beer heck,
bring out the champagne! put your feet up and get ready for the
political trial of the new millennium, because it's going to be
quite an entertaining and instructive show.
Justin Raimondo is Editorial Director of
is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.
Justin Raimondo may be contacted at mailto:email@example.com
Published in the August 27, 2004 issue of Ether
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