WASHINGTON - Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin was reinstated a few weeks ago, after sitting at home for half a year and being barred from returning to his job on the Iranian desk in the Department of Defense's policy division. Franklin was at the center of a lengthy FBI investigation after suspicions arose that he transfered classified information about U.S. policy on Iran to members of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). In the seven months since the affair made headlines on the CBS evening news, the investigation has been kept under tight wraps, but its ramifications are already being felt.
While Franklin is back at work, and, say well-placed sources, is expected to reach a plea bargain, the spotlight has moved to the AIPAC officials - two senior members were suspended for the duration of the case and four other senior officials were forced to testify at length before the special investigative jury in Virginia (whose proceedings are classified) appointed for the case. Even if the investigation is nowhere near completion, it has definitely reached a crossroads, at which investigators must decide on the suspects in the case - Larry Franklin alone; Franklin and two AIPAC officials, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman; or whether, on top of those three, the entire AIPAC organization has acted unlawfully.
Sources close to the investigation suggested recently that it would end in a plea bargain. Franklin would plead to a lesser crime of unauthorized transfer of information, Rosen and Weissman would be charged with receiving classified information unlawfully, and AIPAC would remain unstained. Franklin's lawyer, Plato Cacheris, yesterday denied the reports, stating: "We have not entered any plea of defense with the Justice Department." AIPAC refused to say anything about the possibility of a plea bargain. (MORE)