Why Did Feith Resign?
- Could it have had something to do with the Larry Franklin spy scandal?
Why Did Feith Resign?
by Justin Raimondo
May 30, 2005
The headline of this New York Sun article by Eli Lake on the progress
of the case [.pdf] against Lawrence A. Franklin, a Pentagon analyst
accused of handing over sensitive information to Israel, has got to
take the cake for sheer gall: "Pentagon Analyst In Israel Spy Case Is
Called a 'Patriot'"!
You can't make this stuff up.
Franklin was recently arrested and charged with revealing top secret
information to two employees of the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee (AIPAC), who then informed Israeli officials. It turns out
that the person calling Franklin a "patriot" is none other than his
lawyer, the famed Plato Cacheris, whose clients have included Russian
spy Robert Hanssen, Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes, and Monica Lewinsky,
but even so: Come on!
Yeah, he's a "patriot" all right but on behalf of which country?
Surely not the United States of America.
As the Franklin spy scandal metastasizes from what his defenders were
earlier calling a "kerfuffle" into a major deal, the news of his
arrest bodes ill for Israel's amen corner in the U.S. In spite of a
lot of palaver about how AIPAC is weathering the storm, the lobby's
legendary power once touted as among the top five most powerful
lobbies in Washington is permanently crippled. Until recently, AIPAC
stoutly denied that any of their employees had engaged in illegal
activities: it was only when the apparent scope of the charges against
Steve Rosen, AIPAC's longtime policy director, and foreign policy
specialist [.pdf] Keith Weissman was made known to AIPAC's legal
counsel that they stopped denying the obvious and threw Rosen and
Weissman overboard. They still insist that AIPAC itself is not under
investigation, a delusion that may evaporate as quickly as their
protestations on behalf of their two former employees.
Even more damaging, however, is the revelation that Franklin was
maintaining a storehouse of top secret information in his West
Virginia home, the basis for a second charge for which he was
arraigned on May 27. We didn't hear much about that arraignment for
unlawful possession of 83 classified documents spanning three decades
38 of which were classified "top secret" but a few local news
outlets carried the story:
"The criminal complaint was based in part on the following six documents:
Terrorist Threat Integration Center, terrorism situation report top
secret/sensitive compartmented information (SCI), dated June 8, 2004.
Central Intelligence Agency document concerning Al-Qaida top
secret/SCI, dated June 9, 2004.
CIA document concerning Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaida secret/SCI,
dated Oct. 7, 2003.
CIA document concerning Al-Qaida secret, dated May 12, 2004.
CIA memorandum on Iraq secret, dated June 4, 2004.
CIA defense executive intelligence view concerning terrorists
secret, dated June 10, 2004."
In disdaining the severity of the charges against Franklin, neocon
ideologue David Frum described the information passed on to Israel via
AIPAC as something "which anyone, even the Israelis, can purchase a
copy of for 35 cents" the price for a single copy of the Washington
Post, which supposedly had revealed the contents of a policy paper on
Iran. It now turns out that the policy paper was the least of it. One
wonders if Frum is willing to reconsider his judgement. Somehow, I
tend to doubt it.
Similarly, Michael Ledeen, writing in the same formerly conservative
publication where else but National Review? screeched
"McCarthyism!" (an odd charge to issue from the pages of a magazine
whose founding editor authored a book defending Tailgunner Joe as
heroic, albeit misunderstood). Ledeen challenged the investigators:
"Put up or shut up."
Now that they have put up, it is Ledeen and his cohorts who have
apparently shut up. The usually loquacious defenders of Israel,
especially in the right-wing precincts of the "blogosphere," are
inexplicably silent, too. Or perhaps their having been suddenly struck
dumb is all too explicable: after all, what is there to say about
Franklin's treasure trove of American secrets except that it could not
be more incriminating? However, the question of who and what is being
incriminated here goes way beyond Franklin.
As Matt Yglesias points out, Franklin, even with his intelligence
background, would not have had access to highly sensitive
compartmented information: the material dealing with al-Qaeda would
certainly seem to fit into this category.
We have to ask: On whose behalf was Franklin storing a "terrorism
situation report" labeled "SCI" the second highest category of
classified information, several degrees above "classified," "secret,"
and "top secret" and, even more intriguingly, where did he get it?
The resignation of Defense Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith,
Franklin's boss, as investigators close in on the Israeli spy nest
embedded in his department now has to be seen in a new light. As
Professor Juan Cole pointed out back in January, when Feith's
departure was announced:
"Feith has been questioned by the FBI in relation to the passing by
one of his employees of confidential Pentagon documents to the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which in turn passed them to
the Israeli embassy. The Senate Intelligence Committee is also
investigating Feith. There seems little doubt that he operated in the
Pentagon in such a way as to produce false and misleading
'intelligence,' that he created an entirely false impression of Iraqi
weapons capabilities and ties to al-Qaeda, and that he is among the
chief facilitators of the US war in Iraq.
"Feith is clearly resigning ahead of the possible breaking of major
scandals concerning his tenure at the Department of Defense, which is
among the more disgraceful cases of the misleading of the American
people in American history."
Will the Franklin-Rosen-Weissman investigation implicate Feith or
someone higher up in the Washington food chain?
Get out the chips-and-dip, pull up a chair, and get ready for the
trial that is going to rock the War Party to its very foundations.
It's going to be quite a show. As a prelude, go and check out my
article on the Franklin affair in the June 20 issue of The American
Conservative: the editors have put up a link to give readers a preview
of what promises to be yet another blockbuster issue.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
For the real lowdown on the nature and extent of Israel's covert
activities in the U.S., get yourself a copy of my short book, The
Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection. Buy it, read it, and
then ask yourself: why would an Israeli spy want access to highly
sensitive U.S. intelligence regarding al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden?
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