Friday, August 05, 2005

NYT: "Israel Lobbyists Facing Charges in Secrets Case" (David Johnston)

Two former officials of a pro-Israel lobbying group were charged in an indictment filed Thursday with illegally conspiring to gather and disclose classified national security information to journalists and an unnamed foreign power that government officials identified as Israel.
The indictment accused Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, formerly senior staff members at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, with improperly disclosing national security information beginning in April 1999. The group dismissed the two men last April.
As the committee's director of foreign policy issues, Mr. Rosen was a highly visible figure in Washington who helped the organization define its lobbying agenda on the Middle East and forged important relationships with powerful conservatives in the Bush administration. Mr. Weissman was a senior Middle East analyst.

The above is from David Johnston's "Israel Lobbyists Facing Charges in Secrets Case" in this morning's New York Times.

We'll round out the above by (again) noting Jeffrey Goldberg's "REAL INSIDERS: A pro-Israel lobby and an F.B.I. sting" (The New Yorker) on the same topic:

AIPAC is a leviathan among lobbies, as influential in its sphere as the National Rifle Association and the American Association of Retired Persons are in theirs, although it is, by comparison, much smaller. (AIPAC has about a hundred thousand members, the N.R.A. more than four million.) President Bush, speaking at the annual AIPAC conference in May of 2004, said, "You've always understood and warned against the evil ambition of terrorism and their networks. In a dangerous new century, your work is more vital than ever." AIPAC is unique in the top tier of lobbies because its concerns are the economic health and security of a foreign nation, and because its members are drawn almost entirely from a single ethnic group.
AIPAC's professional staff--it employs about a hundred people at its headquarters, two blocks from the Capitol--analyzes congressional voting records and shares the results with its members, who can then contribute money to candidates directly or to a network of proIsrael political-action committees. The Center for Responsive Politics, a public-policy group, estimates that between 1990 and 2004 these pacs gave candidates and parties more than twenty million dollars.
[. . .]
The person who, in essence, ended Rosen's career is a fifty-eight-year-old Pentagon analyst named Lawrence Anthony Franklin, who is even more preoccupied with Iran than Steven Rosen. Franklin, until recently the Pentagon's Iran desk officer, was indicted last month on espionage charges. The Justice Department has accused him of giving "national-defense information" to Rosen and Weissman, and classified information to an Israeli official. Franklin has pleaded not guilty; a tentative trial date is set for September. If convicted, he will face at least ten years in prison.
I first met Franklin in November of 2002. Paul Wolfowitz, then the Deputy Secretary of Defense, was receiving the Henry M. (Scoop) Jackson award from the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a conservative-leaning group that tries to build close relations between the American and Israeli militaries. In the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at Pentagon City, a shopping mall, were a number of American generals and the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon.
Franklin, a trim man with blond hair and a military bearing, is a colonel in the Air Force Reserve who spent several years as an analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has a doctorate in Asian studies and describes himself as a capable speaker of Farsi. In addition, he was a Catholic in a largely Jewish network of Pentagon Iran hawks.
Franklin was particularly close to the neoconservative Harold Rhode, an official in the Office of Net Assessment, the Pentagon's in-house think tank. Franklin was also close to Michael Ledeen, who, twenty years ago, played an important role in the Iran-Contra scandal by helping arrange meetings between the American government and the Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar. Ledeen, now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is one of the most outspoken advocates in Washington of confrontation with the Tehran regime.
[. . .]
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.

Remember, the scheduled topic for today's Democracy Now! is:

Fri, August 5:
*Saturday is the 60th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima. We bring you the stories of reporters who documented the horrors of the atomic bomb,and those who stayed silent in the face of U.S. government pressure.
*Activists around the country are taking part in national days of remembrance and action. We'll get a round-up from sites central to the U.S.nuclear arsenal -- Los Alamos National Laboratories, Livermore Nuclear Labs, the Y-12 Nuclear Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and the Nevada test site.

Also note that Amy Goodman will be in Northampton tomorrow:

* Amy Goodman in Northampton, MA:
Sat, August 6
10th Annual Grassroots Radio Conference, and Prometheus' Eighth Radio Barnraising
John M Greene HallSmith College
For more information, visit
On Saturday, August 6th, join Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman for a live broadcast celebrating local community media.
During this public event, part of Prometheus Radio's Grassroots Radio Conference and Radio Barnraising, Amy Goodman will interview:
* Martin Espada, the Poet Laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts
* Former SNCC field secretary, Ekwueme Michael Thelwell
* Sut Jhally, founder of the Media Education Foundation
* Long-time war tax resister and civil rights activist, Juanita Nelson
* John Nichols, co-founder of the media reform group, Free Press and other local writers and activists.
Democracy Now! Live, at John M. Greene Hall, Smith College, begins at 8 pm on Saturday, August 6th. Doors open at 7 pm. Tickets available at the door.

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