WASHINGTON ”” A recent FBI interrogation of an Israeli defense expert may indicate that the Justice Department’s investigation into the contacts between America’s pro-Israel lobby and a Pentagon analyst is broader in scope than previously believed. The expert, Uzi Arad, head of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, said that two months ago FBI agents interviewed him about his contacts with the Pentagon Iran specialist, Larry Franklin. During the hour-long interview, he said, the FBI agents brought up the name of an American Jewish Committee official, Eran Lerman, who is a former senior official in Israeli military intelligence. Franklin was arrested and charged Wednesday with “disclosing classified information related to potential attacks upon U.S. forces in Iraq to individuals not entitled to receive the information.” The Justice Department did not name the individuals who allegedly received the classified information from Franklin, but media reports claim they are Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, two former officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who were recently dismissed by the pro-Israel lobbying organization.
Arad’s comments, an unusual disclosure of a small wrinkle in the otherwise ultrasecretive FBI investigation, may suggest that the FBI is investigating more than the alleged unlawful contacts between Franklin and Aipac officials. Franklin is the first person to be indicted in the FBI investigation. Rosen and Weissman have not been charged. Initially, press reports said that Rosen and Weissman’s alleged transfer of secret information by Israeli diplomats was the focus of the investigation. The questioning of Arad may confirm speculation by some in the Jewish community that the investigation is related to a larger inquiry into Israeli or pro-Israeli attempts to influence America’s security establishment and its policy in the Middle East. (MORE)