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 Pentagon.
Franklin soon became a subject of the FBI investigation as well. Now he may
face charges, accused of divulging to Israel classified information on U.S.
government plans regarding Iran, officials say. While some U.S. officials
warned against exaggerated accusations of spying, one administration source
described the case as the most significant Israeli espionage investigation
in Washington since Jonathan Pollard, an American who was imprisoned for
life in 1987 for passing U.S. Navy secrets to the Israelis. The FBI and
Justice Department are still reviewing the evidence, but one intelligence
source believes Franklin may be arrested shortly