Publicity Derailed Pentagon Secrets Inquiry



The Pentagon official under suspicion of turning over
classified information to Israel began cooperating with federal agents
several weeks ago and was preparing to lead the authorities to contacts
inside the Israeli government when the case became publicly known last
week, government officials said Sunday.

The disclosure of the inquiry late on Friday by CBS News revealed what had
been for nearly a year a covert national security investigation conducted
by the F.B.I., according to the officials, who said that news reports about
the inquiry compromised important investigative steps, like the effort to
follow the trail back to the Israelis.

As a result, several areas of the case remain murky, the officials said.
One main uncertainty is the legal status of Lawrence A. Franklin, the
lower-level Pentagon policy analyst who the authorities believe passed the
Israelis a draft presidential policy directive related to Iran.

No arrest in the case is believed to be imminent, in part because
prosecutors have not yet clearly established whether Mr. Franklin broke the
law. But the officials said there was evidence that he turned the
classified material over to officials at the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group. Officials of the group are thought
to have then passed the information to Israeli intelligence.

The lobbying group and Israel have denied that they engaged in any
wrongdoing. Efforts to reach Mr. Franklin or his lawyer have not been
successful. Reporters who went to Mr. Franklin's residence in West Virginia
on Sunday were asked by a local sheriff not to approach the house. Friends
of Mr. Franklin's, like Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise
Institute, said the accusations against him were baseless..

 


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