Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Jeffrey Goldberg on Lawrence Franklin; Dahr Jamail's latest and Mike and David Corn on Plamegate

In the most recent New Yorker to grace my mailbox, Jeffrey Goldberg has an article entitled "Real Insiders: A pro-Israel lobby and an F.B.I. sting" (available online in full, I believe but I glanced quickly at the online version so I could be wrong) which addresses issues raised in the Lawrence Franklin case (he is charged with espionage). Here's an excerpt:

Franklin was not a high-ranking Pentagon official; he was five steps removed in the hierarchy from Douglas Feith, the Under-Secretary for Policy. For two years, though, he had been trying to change American policy. His efforts took many forms, including calls to reporters, meetings with Rosen and Weissman and with the political counsellor at the Israeli Embassy, Naor Gilon. According to Tracy O’Grady-Walsh, a Pentagon spokeswoman, he was not acting on behalf of his superiors: "If Larry Franklin was formally or informally lobbying, he was doing it on his own."
Franklin also sought information from Iranian dissidents who might aid his cause. In December of 2001, he and Rhode met in Rome with Michael Ledeen and a group of Iranians, including Manucher Ghorbanifar. Ledeen, who helped arrange the meeting, told me that the dissidents gave Franklin and Rhode information about Iranian threats against American soldiers in Afghanistan. (Rhode did not return calls seeking comment.) Franklin was initially skeptical about the meeting, Ledeen said, but emerged believing that America could do business with these dissidents.
Franklin's meetings with Gilon and with the two aipac men make up the heart of the indictment against him. The indictment alleges that Rosen--"CC-1," or "Co-Conspirator 1"--called the Pentagon in early August of 2002, looking for the name of an Iran specialist. He made contact with Franklin a short time later, but, according to the indictment, they did not meet until February of 2003. In their meetings, according to several people with knowledge of the conversations, Franklin told the lobbyists that Secretary of State Colin Powell was resisting attempts by the Pentagon to formulate a tougher Iran policy. He apparently hoped to use aipac to lobby the Administration.
The Franklin indictment suggests that the F.B.I. had been watching Rosen as well; for instance, it alleges that, in February of 2003, Rosen, on his way to a meeting with Franklin, told someone on the phone that he "was excited to meet with a 'Pentagon guy' because this person was a 'real insider.' " Franklin, Rosen, and Weissman met openly four times in 2003. At one point, the indictment reads, somewhat mysteriously, "On or about March 10, 2003, Franklin, CC-1 and CC-2"-- Rosen and Weissman--"met at Union Station early in the morning. In the course of the meeting, the three men moved from one restaurant to another restaurant and then finished the meeting in an empty restaurant."
On June 26, 2003, at a lunch at the Tivoli Restaurant, near the Pentagon, Franklin reportedly told Rosen and Weissman about a draft of a National Security Presidential Directive that outlined a series of tougher steps that the U.S. could take against the Iranian leadership. The draft was written by a young Pentagon aide named Michael Rubin (who is now affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute). Franklin did not hand over a copy of the draft, but he described its contents, and, according to the indictment, talked about the "state of internal United States government deliberations." The indictment also alleges that Franklin gave the two men "highly classified" information about potential attacks on American forces in Iraq.
In mid-August of 2002, according to the indictment, Franklin met with Gilon--identified simply as "FO," or "foreign official"--at a restaurant, and Gilon explained to Franklin that he was the "policy" person at the Embassy. The two met regularly, the indictment alleges, often at the Pentagon Officers' Athletic Club, to discuss "foreign policy issues," particularly regarding a "Middle Eastern country"--Iran, by all accounts--and "its nuclear program." The indictment suggests that Franklin was receiving information and policy advice from Gilon; after one meeting, Franklin drafted an "Action Memo" to his supervisors incorporating Gilon's suggestions. Gilon is an expert on weapons proliferation, according to Danny Ayalon, the Israeli Ambassador, and has briefed reporters about Israel's position on Iran. According to Lawrence Di Rita, a Pentagon spokesman, it is part of the "job description" of Defense Department desk officers to meet with their foreign counterparts. "Desk officers meet with foreign officials all the time, not with ministers, but interactions with people at their level," he said. The indictment contends, however, that on two occasions Franklin gave Gilon classified information.
The issue of Israel's activities in Washington is unusually sensitive. Twenty years ago, a civilian Naval Intelligence analyst named Jonathan Pollard was caught stealing American secrets on behalf of an Israeli intelligence cell--a "rogue" cell, the Israelis later claimed. Pollard said that he was driven to treason because, as a Jew, he could not abide what he saw as America's unwillingness to share crucial intelligence with Israel. Pollard's actions were an embarrassment for American Jews, who fear the accusation of "dual loyalty"--the idea that they split their allegiance between the United States and Israel. For Israel, the case was a moral and political disaster. And there are some in the American intelligence community who suspect that Israel has never stopped spying on the United States.

Dahr Jamail has something new up at Iraq Dispatches:

Just in the last few days, according to USA Today, a "propaganda video purportedly made by al-Qaeda-linked terror suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi" has been released showing suicide attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq supposedly inspired by or ordered by him. Since George Bush first mentioned him in October 2002 in a speech in Cincinnati as proof of an al-Qaeda presence in Iraq, and so of Saddam Hussein's essential al-Qaeda-ness, Zarqawi has moved ever more front and center as Iraq's main terrorist threat. He now has an enormous bounty on his head and is cited regularly by the President as well as other administration officials as our enemy of enemies in that land, proof positive that Iraq is "the central theater in the war on terror." In the U.S., he has come to personify the war in Iraq, his presence both a kind of instant why-we-fight explanation for our being there and a living justification for everything we are doing there.

The above is from an introduction to Dahr Jamail's latest piece "The Zarqawi Phenomenon" (you're going to The Nation's TomDispatch for the article in full):

A remarkable proportion of the violence taking place in Iraq is regularly credited to the Jordanian Ahmad al-Khalayleh, better known as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and his organization Al Qaeda in Iraq. Sometimes it seems no car bomb goes off, no ambush occurs that isn't claimed in his name or attributed to him by the Bush administration. Bush and his top officials have, in fact, made good use of him, lifting his reputed feats of terrorism to epic, even mythic, proportions (much aided by various mainstream media outlets). Given that the invasion and occupation of Iraq has now been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be based upon administration lies and manipulations, I had begun to wonder if the vaunted Zarqawi even existed.
In Amman, where I was recently based, random interviews with Jordanians only generated more questions and no answers about Zarqawi. As it happens, though, the Jordanian capital is just a short cab ride from Zarqa, the city Zarqawi is said to be from. So I decided to slake my curiosity about him by traveling there and nosing around his old neighborhood.
"Zarqawi, I don't even know if he exists," said a scruffy taxi driver in Amman and his was a typical comment. "He's like Bin Laden, we don't even know if he exists; but if he does, I support that he fights the U.S. occupation of Iraq."

Now we're going to note what Keith's e-mailed to highlight, David Corn's "Is Rove It?" (The Nation):

O'Donnell's comment and Isikoff's report set off a wave of reaction. I received numerous emails proclaiming "Rove is it, he's the [deleted] who revealed Plame's identity." But a careful reading of the available facts leads to this unsatisfying conclusion: not so fast.
The issue at hand is the identity of who told conservative columnist Robert Novak that Plame was an undercover CIA official working on counterproliferation (that is, anti-WMD) matters. On July 14, 2003, Novak published a piece that was essentially a conveyor belt for White House criticism of Joseph Wilson. A week earlier, Wilson had written a much-noticed op-ed piece in The New York Times that argued that George W. Bush had misled the nation in his January 2003 State of the Union speech by claiming that Iraq had been shopping in Africa for uranium to be used in a nuclear weapons program. In his article, Wilson revealed for the first time that he had been dispatched to Niger in February 2002 to investigate rumors of such Iraqi activity and had reported back that it was highly unlikely that Iraq was procuring weapons-related uranium there. Wilson's article--which followed his previous criticism of the administration for launching the war in Iraq--placed him in the line of fire. Republican and conservative allies of the White House blasted away. In the course of this attack, Novak wrote the piece that outed Wilson's wife and suggested that Wilson's trip to Niger had been a nepotistic junket of some sort.
Novak seemed to attribute his disclosure about Plame (which destroyed her career and perhaps threatened anti-WMD operations) to two unnamed "senior administration officials." (I use the word "seemed" because the attribution was technically indirect, though it appears clear these were Novak's sources.) Two days after Novak's column was published, I became the first journalist to write that these two Bush administration sources might have violated the Intelligence Identities Protection act of 1982, which makes it illegal for a government official (not a reporter) to reveal the identity of an undercover intelligence official. (It would not be until September 2003 that the CIA would ask the Justice Department to investigate this leak and an official inquiry would begin. ) Then on July 17, 2003, Time posted a piece by Matthew Cooper, Massimo Calabresi and John Dickerson headlined "A War on Wilson?"

Read the piece because Corn's been on the subject when no one cared and no one thought it was a story. (And for those who say, "You always praise Corn!" I've noted his work that he deserves credit for with regard to Valerie Plame and, as I've said all along, his book The Lies of George W. Bush is a strong one. If that's "always praising Corn" in someone's opinion, then I guess it's true. It's not in my book.)

Keith: He's making the same point so I hope you'll highlight it.

I believe Keith's referring to the point about it not being a crime for a reporter to out. If so, I'm sure David Corn's made that forever and I'm sure I've read him making it. (And this act was commented on in depth long before Novak or, for that matter, long before the Bully Boy became an oval office squatter). I do know that on the now cancelled Unfiltered (radio program from Air America, not the Tucker Carlson PBS show) it was made by Lizz Winstead, Rachel Maddow and a guest (who may have been Corn but I don't think so). Corn was on Randi Rhodes and he probably made the point there. Corn's been on the story forever, even those who don't like him (and some in the community don't) will hopefully give him credit for that. And read the article if you go to links. If you don't, note that Corn's been on this story forever and he's raising a hand and saying, "Not so fast."

[Note: Sam Seder has some big supporters in the community. He's filling in for Randi Rhodes tomorrow and Thursday. That's your head's up.]

And regarding the outing of Valerie Plame and Karl Rove, Mike's got some thoughts worth noting:

Right now, the way I understand, Karl's old defense was "I didn't leak." But he did say Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was "fair game." Sounds like maybe he might have confirmed a leak. So wouldn't that make him a leaker? If I'm reading Robert Novak's column outing Valerie Plame, I might just think, "Oh Mr. Bad Teeth is always getting something wrong." So if Karl confirmed it and only did that, I think it would still be just as bad.
But it's looking worse right now.
He was having contact with Matthew Cooper of Time and who knows who else?

And this isn't the planned entry. But it hit me on the way home that the planned entry might take some pulling together and so I'm posting this in case anyone's checking for something new.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.