FBI Steps Up AIPAC Probe



An FBI investigation into alleged Israeli espionage against the United
States and the possibility a pro-Israel lobby group was involved in passing
classified U.S data to Tel Aviv has intensified because a confessed
Pentagon spy has stopped cooperating with federal law enforcement
officials, U.S. government sources said.

Larry Franklin, a Pentagon analyst in the Near East and South Asia office
who worked for the Defense Department's Office of Special Plans confessed
last August to federal agents he had held meetings with a contact from the
Israeli government during which he passed a highly classified document on
U.S. policy toward Iran, these sources said. The document advocated support
for Iranian dissidents, covert actions to destabilize the Iranian
government, arming opponents of the Islamic regime, propaganda broadcasts
into Iran, and other programs, these sources said.

The FBI was also interested in finding out if Franklin was involved or
could name any Pentagon colleagues who were involved in passing to Israel
certain data about National Security Agency intercepts, these sources said.

Franklin was caught quite by accident last summer as part of a larger
investigation, these sources said.

In 2001, the FBI discovered new, "massive" Israeli spying operations in the
East Coast, including New York and New Jersey, said one former senior U.S.
government official. The FBI began intensive surveillance on certain
Israeli diplomats and other suspects and was videotaping Naor Gilon, chief
of political affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, who was having
lunch at a Washington hotel with two lobbyists from the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee lobby group. Federal law enforcement officials
said they were floored when Franklin came up to their table and sat down.

The FBI confronted Franklin in August 2004, and there seemed to be progress
on the case, but after Franklin hired Washington lawyer Plato Cacheris,
Franklin's cooperation abruptly ceased, federal law enforcement officials
said. The turnabout apparently infuriated the FBI, former federal law
enforcement officials said. Franklin could not be reached for comment.

Vince Cannistraro, a former CIA counter-terrorism chief, who has good ties
with law enforcement officials said, "The FBI was extremely displeased."

An FBI consultant told United Press International: "The FBI were hopping
mad. The FBI had been kicked very hard in their macho. They are very, very
macho."

On Dec. 1, FBI agents visited the AIPAC offices in Washington and seized
the hard drives and files of Steven Rosen, director of research, and Keith
Weissman, deputy director of foreign policy issues.

The FBI also served subpoenas on AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr,
Managing Director Richard Fishman, Communications Director Renee Rothstein,
and Research Director Raphael Danziger.

All are suspected of having acted as "cut outs" or intermediaries who
passed highly sensitive U.S. data from high-level Pentagon and
administration officials to Israel, said one former federal law enforcement
official

 


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