AIPAC Spy Nest Exposed
- New indictments implicate unnamed government officials and reporters
AIPAC Spy Nest Exposed
by Justin Raimondo
August 5, 2005
The other shoe has finally dropped in the case of the spy scandal
involving the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In
addition to five espionage-related charges filed against former
Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin, two counts of conspiracy to
communicate classified information to a foreign power have been lodged
against former AIPAC foreign policy director Steve Rosen, and a single
count of conspiracy against Rosen's assistant, former AIPAC Iran
specialist Keith Weissman. The latest indictment [.pdf] reads like a
spy thriller, and, while some of the elements were already known,
there is much that is surprising, including the information that Rosen
has apparently been under surveillance since at least 1999.
On April 13, 1999, Rosen had a conversation with someone identified as
"Foreign Official 1" (FO-1): the AIPAC director told FO-1 that he
(Rosen) had "picked up an extremely sensitive piece of intelligence"
described by Rosen as "codeword protected intelligence." According to
the indictment, "Rosen then disclosed to FO-1 national defense
information concerning terrorist activities in Central Asia."
While the identity of "Foreign Official 1" is not yet known, there is
no doubt about what foreign country we're talking about: it is Israel,
and without doubt the individuals being observed were officials of the
Israel embassy. One of these has already been identified in the media
as Naor Gilon, the embassy's chief political officer, recently
recalled home; the FBI is seeking to interview him, and other Israeli
officials who may have been part of the spy cell. Three are mentioned
in the indictment.
What is striking is that the FBI or whoever was hot on the trail
of AIPAC and "FO-1" even at this early date, listening in on their
phone calls and following them around as they met for lunch over
spilled beans. Yet in order to get authorization for wiretaps,
especially of an American citizen, law enforcement must go to a
federal judge for authorization and, remember, this was before 9/11,
when the legal bar was set far higher. So they had a good reason to be
listening in on Israeli officials and their American sock puppets, and
shadowing their movements. The discovery that AIPAC officials were in
possession of highly classified top-secret information procured from
U.S. government officials was apparently part and parcel of an ongoing
investigation but into what? Sparked by what?
We don't yet know the answers to those questions, but what we do know
is this: the idea, floated by some writers on this subject, that the
investigation was initiated by Condoleezza Rice in response to Israeli
efforts to stop a proposed meeting between President George Bush and
Yasser Arafat, is flat out wrong. The roots of this probe go much
deeper. As I wrote in The American Conservative in June:
"Like a dorsal fin poking just above the water, the Franklin spy trial
promises us a glimpse of a creature much larger than appears at first
However, not even I imagined the monstrous scale of this submerged
giant: the earliest I could trace its movements was back to just
before 9/11, based on the reporting of UPI's Richard Sale. But 1999?
Who woulda thought? And it isn't just the timeline that's disturbing:
it seems that a number of apparently senior U.S. government officials
are about to be dragged into this imbroglio of trouble and treason.
AIPAC was pretty busy that summer, particularly Rosen and Weissman;
not only were they picking up "codeword protected" intelligence and
passing it on to Israeli officials, but the latter was also telling
"FO-1" about a "secret FBI, classified FBI report" (the indictment
cites snippets of wiretapped conversations throughout) about the
Khobar Towers bombing. Weissman was boasting to his Israeli handler
that he had gotten the information from "three different sources,
including United States government officials."
The indictment fails to name names, but at the trial if it comes to
that all will be revealed. These officials will be "outed," and
perhaps face charges themselves. The only question now is: how far up
the totem pole will the indictments go?
The indictment outlines a series of meetings between Rosen, Weissman,
and U.S. government officials ("USGO-1" and "USGO-2") about
"classified United States strategy against a Middle Eastern country"
and top-secret intelligence regarding al-Qaeda, which the AIPAC
officials related to various individuals identified as "a foreign
national" and "Foreign Official 2 (FO-2)." These meetings spanned a
time frame from the winter of 2000 to the winter of 2002.
Much of the timeline related in this superseding indictment was
detailed in the first indictment [.pdf], but there is much new
material, such as the information that the Rosen-Weissman spy team was
dealing with at least two Israeli embassy officials, not just Gilon.
These interactions are fascinating, as they give an inside account of
the relationship between AIPAC and Israeli embassy personnel, with the
former as the foot soldiers doing reconnaissance and the latter as
generals directing the action behind the scenes.
The indictment describes a March 13, 2002, breakfast meeting between
Rosen and "Foreign Official 2" in which Rosen disclosed information
about a classified U.S. government internal document on U.S. policy
toward Iran which had been provided courtesy of Franklin. After that
breakfast, Rosen called "FO-1" the Big Cheese "who was from the
same embassy as FO-2." Rosen asked FO-1 if he had heard, from FO-2,
"the interesting report" about the draft policy document. Rosen then
discussed the specifics of the document, and the two of them talked
about "whether a specific United States government official was aware
of this information and how the deliberations would proceed."
This was all about factional warfare going on inside the
administration over U.S. policy toward Iran, and "how the
deliberations would proceed" was and still is of vital interest to the
Israelis. Pushing the Americans toward a confrontation with Tehran,
Israel and its American amen corner could care less how many laws they
have to break in order to make sure they prevail. Trading in
classified information, and leaking to "reporters for a national news
organization" and even "a senior fellow at a Washington, D.C.,
thinktank," was all part of the game, and no doubt still is: what none
of them realized, however, was that the feds were listening in on the
Israel's fifth column in Washington acted as a two-way transmission
belt, vacuuming up tidbits of classified information, including
top-secret documents (which Franklin stored in his home and office)
and leaking information to the media in order to score whatever
Brownie points were to be toted up that day. These methods are
becoming familiar to us as the media's role in the Rove-gate affair
and particularly the role played by New York Times reporter Judith
Miller comes to light. They used the media not only to strike out at
their enemies, but also to launder their stolen secrets. The
indictment relates an incident that took place on May 21, 2004, in
"Verbally provided to reporters from a national news organization Top
Secret/SCI national defense information concerning meetings involving
two Middle Eastern officials."
This was followed by a news report detailing the meetings, quoting
Franklin as an anonymous source specifying that the U.S. government
"had obtained intelligence pertaining to these meetings" and reporting
such details as had been related by Franklin. Franklin, a committed
neoconservative ideologue, didn't care if he betrayed our sources and
methods, and possibly endangered agents in the field, and neither did
his handlers at AIPAC: all they cared about was giving some advantage
to Israel, and if that had to be gained at America's expense, well
The authorities gave Franklin enough rope to hang himself with, and
then quietly reeled him in in mid-July 2004, when they confronted
him and got him to cooperate in the investigation. They wired him up
and sent him on his way. He met with Rosen and Weissman and emphasized
the top secret nature of the information he imparted, explicitly
warning them not to use it. Whereupon they blabbed it all over town,
including to members of the media.
The FBI then contacted Rosen and Weissman, both blithely unaware of
their former cohort's betrayal. They denied having received any
classified information from Franklin. Incredibly, this very strong
indication that the feds were on to their game did nothing to deter
the AIPAC spy cabal from continuing to spill U.S. secrets to further
Israel's agenda. On Aug. 20, 2004, less than two weeks after being
visited by the FBI, Weissman got in touch with "another member of the
media and disclosed to that person classified national defense
information obtained on July 21, 2004, from Franklin. Weissman," the
indictment continues, "further advised that he was trying to arrange a
meeting between Franklin and another member of the media." The AIPAC
gang is nothing if not brazen.
However, as Labor Day weekend 2004, drew near, they started to panic:
Rosen got in touch with his Israeli superiors and, declining to talk
about the specifics over the phone, indicated the need for an urgent
meeting. The authorities were listening to every word as the spy ring
scrambled to cover its tracks, following their targets through the
streets of the Beltway, as they met outside the train station, and in
one day changed restaurants three times in order to evade any possible
surveillance. You can almost hear The Man From U.N.C.L.E. theme song
in the background...
The new indictment adds more serious charges to those already lodged
against Franklin, including conspiracy to communicate classified
information to an agent of a foreign government, a violation of this
statute as well as this one. He could wind up with a 50-year sentence.
Rosen is charged with two counts, good for 20 years, and Weissman is
hit with one count that carries a 10-year maximum, but the unindicted
co-conspirator here is AIPAC itself.
What emerges from this indictment is AIPAC's role as an organization
that functioned as a lot more than a mere Washington lobbying group,
but rather one whose primary objective is intelligence-gathering on
behalf of Israel. Rosen, the man who more than anyone else embodied
AIPAC, had served as its foreign policy director and main spark plug
since 1982, and it is clear from the indictment that the FBI's
counterintelligence crew has been watching him since at least 1999. If
that doesn't make AIPAC an accessory to Rosen's crimes, then one
wonders what would.
Rosen used AIPAC's resources, both financial and political, to carry
out a sophisticated spy operation inside the Pentagon, involving not
only Franklin but an entire subterranean network of informants and
other assets, government officials who regularly provided information
and pushed Israel's agenda inside the administration. AIPAC
functioned, in effect, as an organized conspiracy on behalf of a
foreign power, a funnel that not only poured money into pro-Israel
candidates in both major parties and lobbied furiously on behalf of
Tel Aviv, but also operated as a virtual clearinghouse of classified
information, laundering it through the media and, of course,
funneling it back to their Israeli handlers.
As the issue of Iran's alleged push to procure nuclear weapons takes
center stage, AIPAC's efforts to sway U.S. policy including stealing
and leaking U.S. secrets in the service of their pro-Israel agenda
could not have been exposed at a more opportune time. Franklin's trial
is scheduled for Sept. 6, although this new indictment could delay
matters, but one thing is clear: When these people are finally brought
to trial, it is the War Party that will be put in the dock. All those
mysterious government officials, not identified by name in the
indictment, will be called to testify under oath: the same goes for
reporters who laundered Franklin's ill-gotten secrets. The whole
network of Israel Firsters will be pulled up by its roots, and you can
expect the high-pitched screams to start shortly.
One can safely ignore outlandish claims that it's
Kristallnacht-on-the-Potomac, and I wouldn't put too much credence in
the conspiracy theory that attributes these indictments to a cabal of
neo-Nazis inside the Justice Department and the FBI. Instead, I'm
getting out the popcorn, laying out some serious guacamole and chips,
and settling down for a good, long soap-operatic trial. I can hardly
wait to find out who "GO-1" and "GO-2" turn out to be! Will Franklin's
Israeli handlers be extradited and hauled into court? Can we expect
more charges, more indictments, and possibly a few more defendants?
UPDATE: Via Joshua Marshall, this news just in: the Jewish Telegraphic
Agency is reporting:
"A source close to the defense said that one of the U.S. officials
involved, who has not been indicted, was recently appointed to a
senior Bush administration post. The source, who asked not to be
identified, would not name the official."
Could it be this guy? [Bolton] Or this guy? [Flory] The suspense is
killing me! Inquiring minds need to know.
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