Iran-Contra II

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

Iran-Contra II commenced August 27, 2004, when CBS News broke the story that Defense Intelligence Agency Iranian policy analyst Larry Franklin was under investigation for allegedly spying for the state of Israel. [1]

Franklin allegedley offered highly classified draft documents regarding the United States policy towards Iran to two members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The two AIPAC Iran analysts, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, have retained a well known criminal defense attorney, Abbe Lowell, for counsel.[2]

Attorney General John Ashcroft assigned highly partisan Republican U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty to the espionage case. Charges of espionage were expected to be downgraded to charges of mishandling classified information.

Franklin's security clearance was revoked in June 2004.


Secret Meetings with Iran-Contra Arms Dealers

Beginning in December 2001, Franklin and Harold Rhode (Douglas Feith's top specialist on the Middle East) held secret meetings in Rome, and "subsequently in Paris," with Iran/Contra arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar. These meetings were arranged by longtime Republican operative Michael Ledeen. "The Paris meeting was not approved by Pentagon officials." [3]

The Washington Monthly claimed the intent of these meetings was clear: "regime change" in Iran, a member of President George W. Bush's axis of evil:

"The DoD-Ghorbanifar meetings suggest the possibility that a rogue faction at the Pentagon was trying to work outside normal US foreign policy channels to advance a 'regime change' agenda not approved by the president's foreign policy principals or even the president himself."
"According to U.S. government sources, both the State Department and the CIA eventually brought the matter to the attention of the White House -- specifically, to Condoleezza Rice's chief deputy on the National Security Council, Stephen J. Hadley...Hadley sent word to the officials in Feith's office and to Ledeen to cease all such activities.

An anonymous senior administration official quoted by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service said that the immediate objective of the Pentagon hawks appeared to be to "antagonise Iran so that they get frustrated and then by their reactions harden U.S. policy against them."

UPI Report, August 29, 2004

"The FBI is investigating senior members of what was formerly known as the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans on suspicion that one of them passed highly classified US military information to Israel," the UPI reported August 29, 2004. [4]

  • It also reported that:
  • "at least two senior Pentagon officials, former chief of OSP Bill Luti and Harold Rhode of the Near East and South Asia Bureau have been interviewed by the FBI."
  • another bureau official, Larry Franklin, who worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency "before moving to the Pentagon's policy branch three years ago and is nearing retirement" was identified.
  • "another under-investigation official Mr Rhode 'practically lived out of (Ahmad) Chalabi's office'. Intelligence sources said that CIA operatives observed Mr Rhode as being constantly on his cell phone to Israel, discussing US plans, military deployments, political projects and a discussion of Iraq assets."
  • "In 1982, Mr Feith went to work for Pentagon official Richard Perle, a prominent neo-conservative and one of the key planners of the Bush administration's current Middle East policy, including the plan to invade Iraq. Mr Perle has since left the Pentagon. Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, also a neo-conservative member of the Bush administration, played a 'large role in hiring Mr Feith for his current job', the report said."
  • Additionally, UPI reported on information carried by New York's Newsday:
  • "an aide to Defence Undersecretary Douglas Feith was a possible suspect but did not name him. The aide, the newspaper said, was an advocate for the Iraq war and had close ties to Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi."
  • "Mr Feith's aide allegedly gave information to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a lobbying organization, which then handed it on to Israel."
  • "the investigation is at least a year old and involves claims that other members of Mr Feith's staff gave information to Israel, including details of US plans for the invasion of Iraq."

Connecting the Dots to Valerie Plame?

Juan Cole reported August 30, 2004, that "In a later broadcast on MSNBC, former CIA officer and NBC analyst Larry Johnson reported that for months he had been aware of an investigation that had led to tonight's revelation, one that had originally focused on the source of a forged document indicating that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger, presumably for making nuclear weapons. Johnson speculated that Israel may have been behind the forgery which was used by the administration to bolster its case for invasion. If so, he said, the espionage case could tie to an ongoing Justice Department criminal investigation into the outing of Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative by right-wing columnist Robert Novak. Johnson also said the FBI was furious that news of the espionage investigation had leaked. Johnson opined that the investigation could lead from DOD to the National Security Council, and that the timing of the leak just before the start of the Republican convention was not coincidental. In a post on the dailykos weblog, one contributor noted that 'when Tom Clancy and [Gen.] Zinni were running around flogging their book, they were on Deborah Norville. [During the show, Norville] asked Clancy of his impression of Wolfowitz. 'Is he working for our side?' [Clancy] replied." [5]

Criminal Charges

On May 3, 2005, the FBI filed criminal charges against Lawrence Anthony Franklin.

"The complaint alleges that, at a June 26, 2003 lunch, Franklin disclosed classified national defense information related to potential attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq to two unnamed individuals. (According to media reports, the two individuals are Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, who were employed by AIPAC at the time). The complaint also alleges that Franklin disclosed classified information to 'a foreign official and members of the media', and that a search of Franklin's home found approximately 83 classified documents.

"Franklin appeared in court on May 4. He was released on $100,000 bond. Franklin's lawyer said he will plead not guilty." [6]

Indictment

On May 26, 2005, the Indictment with six separate charges was filed against Lawrence Anthony Franklin.

  • Count 1: Conspiracy to communicate national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it.
  • Counts 2-4: Conspiracy to communicate national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it.
  • Count 5: Communication of classified information to persons not authorized to receive it.
  • Count 6: Conspiracy to communicate classified information to agent and representative of foreign government without specific authorization.

National defense information included that "about potential attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. ... None of the charges involves espionage. An FBI agent's affidavit that accompanied the criminal complaint against Franklin last month did not suggest that the disclosure endangered U.S. troops, but it said intelligence sources could have been compromised." [7]

"The indictment lists two unindicted co-conspirators, identifying them only as 'CC1' and 'CC2', but we know from numerous news accounts that they refer to Steve Rosen, AIPAC's longtime public policy director, and Keith Weissman, the lobby's Iran specialist. For two years, the indictment charges, Franklin 'did unlawfully, knowingly, and willingly conspire, confederate, and agree, together with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to communicate, deliver, and transmit information relating to the national defense to CC-1 and CC-2, persons not entitled to receive such information, with reason to believe that such information could be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation.'" That "foreign nation" is Israel, Justin Raimondo wrote June 15, 2005. [8]

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links

General Background

Undated

2003

2004

Neocon-Israel Ties,"] antiwar.com, September 1, 2004.

2005

Larry Franklin and AIPAC Statement of Facts http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae/ArchivePress/OctoberPDFArchive/05/20051005franklinsof.pdf Franklin Plea Agreement http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae/ArchivePress/OctoberPDFArchive/05/20051005franklinpa.pdf
Guilty on 1 & 5 ,will cooperate in further investigations.