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AIPAC's Overt and Covert Ops

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  • World View
    AIPAC s Overt and Covert Ops by Juan Cole http://www.antiwar.com/cole/?articleid=3467 CBS is reporting that a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst detailed to
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 3, 2005
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      AIPAC's Overt and Covert Ops
      by Juan Cole
      http://www.antiwar.com/cole/?articleid=3467


      CBS is reporting that a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst detailed
      to Undersecretary of Defense for Planning Douglas Feith's Office of
      Special Plans is under FBI investigation for spying for Israel. The
      person passed to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
      confidential documents, including those detailing Bush administration
      policy toward Iran, and AIPAC then passed them to Israel. There are
      wiretaps and photographs backing up the FBI case (the FBI agents
      involved are extremely brave to take this on).

      But this espionage case is too narrow. Consider what journalist Jim
      Lobe wrote about Feith's Office of Special Plans (OSP) and the
      Pentagon Near East and South Asia (NESA) office:


      "[K]ey personnel who worked in both NESA and OSP were part of a
      broader network of neoconservative ideologues and activists who worked
      with other Bush political appointees scattered around the
      national-security bureaucracy to move the country to war, according to
      retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who was assigned to NESA from May
      2002 through February 2003. The heads of NESA and OSP were Deputy
      Undersecretary William Luti and Abram Shulsky, respectively. Other
      appointees who worked with them in both offices included Michael
      Rubin, a Middle East specialist previously with the neoconservative
      American Enterprise Institute (AEI); David Schenker, previously with
      the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP); and Michael
      Makovsky; an expert on neocon icon Winston Churchill and the younger
      brother of David Makovsky, a senior WINEP fellow and former executive
      editor of pro-Likud Jerusalem Post. Along with Feith, all of the
      political appointees have in common a close identification with the
      views of the right-wing Likud Party in Israel."

      Karen Kwiatkowski was an eyewitness in NESA, and Lobe reports:

      "[S]he recounts one incident in which she helped escort a group of
      half a dozen Israelis, including several generals, from the first
      floor reception area to Feith's office. 'We just followed them,
      because they knew exactly where they were going and moving fast.' When
      the group arrived, she noted the book which all visitors are required
      to sign under special regulations that took effect after the Sept. 11,
      2001 attacks. 'I asked his secretary, "Do you want these guys to sign
      in?" She said, "No, these guys don't have to sign in."' It occurred to
      her, she said, that the office may have deliberately not wanted to
      maintain a record of the meeting."

      The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is a lobbying group that
      used to support whatever government was in power in Israel, and used
      to give money evenhandedly inside the U.S. My perception is that
      during the past decade AIPAC has increasingly tilted to the Likud in
      Israel, and to the political Right in the United States. In the 1980s,
      AIPAC set up the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as a
      pro-Israeli alternative to the Brookings Institution, which it
      perceived to be insufficiently supportive of Israel. WINEP has largely
      followed AIPAC into pro-Likud positions, even though its director,
      Dennis Ross, is more moderate. He is a figurehead, however, serving to
      disguise the far right character of most of the position papers
      produced by long-term WINEP staff and by extremist visitors and
      "associates" (Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer are among the latter).

      WINEP, being a wing of AIPAC, is enormously influential in Washington.
      State Department and military personnel are actually detailed there to
      "learn" about "the Middle East"! They would get a far more balanced
      "education" about the region in any Israeli university, since most
      Israeli academics are professionals, whereas WINEP is a "think tank"
      that hires by ideology.

      I did some consulting with one U.S. company that had a government
      contract, and they asked me about WINEP position papers (many of them
      are just propaganda). When I said I would take them with a grain of
      salt, the guy said his company had "received direction" to pay a lot
      of attention to the WINEP material! So discipline is being imposed
      even on the private sector.

      Note that over 80% of American Jews vote Democrat, that the majority
      of American Jews opposed the Iraq war (more were against it than in
      the general population), and that American Jews have been enormously
      important in securing civil liberties for all Americans. Moreover,
      Israel has been a faithful ally of the U.S. and deserves our support
      in ensuring its security. The Likudniks like to pretend that they
      represent American Jewry, but they do not. And they like to suggest
      that objecting to their policies is tantamount to anti-Semitism, which
      is sort of like suggesting that if you don't like Chile's former
      dictator Pinochet, you are bigoted against Latinos.

      As can be seen by Lobe's list, WINEP supplies right-wing intellectuals
      to Republican administrations, who employ their positions to support
      Likud policies from within the U.S. government. They have the
      advantage over longtime civil servants in units like the State
      Department's Intelligence and Research division, insofar as they are
      politically connected and so have the ear of the top officials.

      So, passing a few confidential documents over is a minor affair.
      Pro-Likud intellectuals established networks linking Defense and the
      national security advisers of Vice President Dick Cheney, gaining
      enormous influence over policy by cherry-picking and distorting
      intelligence to make a case for war on Saddam Hussein. And their
      ulterior motive was to remove the most powerful Arab military from the
      scene, not because it was an active threat to Israel (it wasn't) but
      because it was a possible deterrent to Likud plans for aggressive
      expansion (at the least, they want half of the West Bank, permanently).

      It should be admitted that the American Likud could not make U.S.
      policy on its own. Its members had to make convincing arguments to
      Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush himself. But they were able to make those
      arguments, by distorting intelligence, channeling Ahmed Chalabi junk,
      and presenting Big Ideas to men above them that signally lacked such
      ideas. (Like the idea that the road to peace in Jerusalem ran through
      Baghdad. Ha!)

      It was these WINEP and AIPAC-linked U.S. Likud backers in the Defense
      Department who had the Iraqi army dissolved as soon as Saddam was
      overthrown. This step threw Iraq into chaos and led to the deaths of
      nearly a thousand U.S. servicemen so far, since an Iraq without an
      army would inevitably depend on the U.S. military. But with the Iraqi
      army gone, and with Egypt and Jordan neutralized, Syria was left the
      only country anywhere near Israel that could make active trouble for
      Sharon if he completely screwed over the Palestinians. And Syria was
      now weak and isolated. So Sharon has had a free hand in his
      expansionist aggression. And, because the U.S. public has been
      preoccupied with Iraq, the Likud could pursue its annexation of West
      Bank land and its expropriation of even more Palestinians without
      anyone over here even noticing. It is the best of all possible worlds
      for the heirs of Ze'ev Jabotinsky.

      The Likud policies of reversing Oslo and stealing people's land and
      making their lives hell has produced enormous amounts of terrorism
      against Israel, and the Likudniks have cleverly turned that to their
      political advantage. Aggression and annexation is necessary, they
      argue, because there is terrorism. Some of them now openly speak of
      ethnically cleansing the Palestinians, using the same argument. But
      when the Oslo peace process looked like it would go somewhere,
      terrorism tapered off (it did not end, but then peace had not been
      achieved).

      The drawback for the U.S. in all this is that U.S. government backing
      for Sharon's odious policies makes it hated in the Muslim world. (Note
      that Muslims who oppose Israeli aggression are often tagged as
      "terrorists" by the U.S. government, but right-wing Jews who go to
      Palestine to colonize it, walking around with Uzi machine guns and
      sometimes shooting down civilians, are not "terrorists.") This lack of
      balance is one big reason that bin Laden and al-Zawahiri hit the U.S.
      on Sept. 11. In fact, bin Laden wanted to move up the operation to
      punish the U.S. for supporting Sharon's crackdown on the second Intifada.

      Likud apologists have carefully planted the false story that al-Qaeda
      did not care about Palestine, but that is absurd. Bin Laden always
      complained about the occupation of the three holy cities (Mecca,
      Medina and Jerusalem, the first two because of U.S. troops in Saudi
      Arabia, and the third under Israeli occupation). When bin Laden came
      back from Afghanistan to Jidda in 1989, his first sermon at the local
      mosque was about the Israeli repression of Palestinians during the
      first Intifada.

      Now the U.S.' occupation of Iraq is making it even more hated in the
      Muslim world. It is a policy hatched in part by AIPAC, WINEP, and
      their associated "thinkers." The cynical might suggest that they
      actively want the U.S. involved in a violent struggle with Muslims, to
      make sure that the U.S. remains anti-Palestinian and so will permit
      Israeli expansion.

      All this can happen because there is a vacuum in U.S. political
      discourse. A handful of special interests in the United States
      virtually dictate congressional policy on some issues. With regard to
      the Arab-Israeli conflict, the American Israel Public Affairs
      Committee and a few allies have succeeded in imposing complete
      censorship on both houses of Congress. No senator or representative
      dares make a speech on the floor of his or her institution critical of
      Israeli policy, even though the Israeli government often violates
      international law and UN Security Council resolutions (it would
      violate more such resolutions, except that the resolutions never got
      passed because only one NSC member, the U.S., routinely vetoes them on
      behalf of Tel Aviv.) As the Labor Party in Israel has been eclipsed by
      the Likud coalition, which includes many proto-fascist groups, this
      subservience has yoked Washington to foreign politicians who privately
      favor ethnic cleansing and/or aggressive warfare for the purpose of
      annexing the territory of neighbors.

      On the rare occasion when a brave member of Congress dares stand up to
      this unrelenting AIPAC tyranny, that person is targeted for unelection
      in the next congressional campaign, with big money directed by AIPAC
      and/or its analogues into the coffers of the senator's or
      congressman's opponent. Over and over again, AIPAC has shaped the U.S.
      Congress in this way, so successfully that no one even dares speak out
      any more.

      AIPAC is not all that rich or powerful, but politics in the U.S. is
      often evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Because many
      races are very close, any little extra support can help change the
      outcome. AIPAC can provide that little bit. Moreover, most Americans
      couldn't care less about the Middle East or its intractable problems,
      whereas the staffers at AIPAC are fanatics. If some congressman from
      southern Indiana knows he can pick up even a few thousand dollars and
      some good will from AIPAC, he may as well, since his constituents
      don't care anyway. That there is no countervailing force to AIPAC
      allows it to be effective. (That is one reason that pro-Likud American
      activists often express concern about the rise of the Muslim-American
      community and the possibility that it may develop an effective lobby.)
      Moreover, AIPAC leverages its power by an alliance with the Christian
      Right, which has adopted a bizarre ideology of "Christian Zionism." It
      holds that the sooner the Palestinians are ethnically cleansed, the
      sooner Christ will come back. Without millions of these Christian
      Zionist allies, AIPAC would be much less influential and effective.

      The Founding Fathers of the United States deeply feared that a foreign
      government might gain this level of control over a branch of the
      United States government, and their fears have been vindicated.

      The situation has reached comedic proportions. Congress is always
      drafting letters to the president, based on AIPAC templates, demanding
      that lopsided U.S. policy in favor of Israel be revised to be even
      more in favor of Israel. U.S. policy recently changed to endorse the
      expansion of Israeli colonies in Palestinian, West Bank territory.

      Where Israel is in the right, this situation obviously is innocuous.
      The United States should protect Israel from aggressive attack, if
      necessary. United Nations members are pledged to collective security,
      i.e., to protecting any member nation from aggression at the hands of
      another. But given that Israel is a nuclear power with a vast arsenal
      of weapons of mass destruction; given that Egypt and Jordan have
      long-lived peace treaties with Israel; and given that Syria and
      Lebanon are small, weak powers, there is not in fact any serious
      military threat to Israel in its immediate neighborhood. In contrast,
      Israel launched wars against neighbors in 1956, 1967, and 1982 (all of
      which it won so easily as to bring into question the necessity for the
      wars in the first place if they were defensive), and has since 1967
      been assiduously colonizing Palestinian land that it militarily
      occupied – all the while attempting to avoid becoming responsible for
      the Palestinian populations on that land. This latter policy has
      poisoned the entire world.

      AIPAC currently has a project to shut up academics such as myself, the
      same way it has shut up Congress, through congressional legislation
      mandating "balance" (i.e., pro-Likud stances) in Middle East programs
      at American universities. How long the U.S. public will allow itself
      to be spied on and pushed around like this is a big question. And,
      with the rise of international terrorism targeting the U.S. in part
      over these issues, the fate of the country hangs in the balance.

      If al-Qaeda succeeds in another big attack, it could well tip the
      country over into military rule, as Gen. Tommy Franks has suggested.
      That is, the fate of the Republic is in danger. And the danger comes
      from two directions, not just one. It comes from radical extremists in
      the Muslim world, who must be fought. But it also comes from radical
      extremists in Israel, who have key allies in the U.S. and whom the
      U.S. government actively supports and against whom influential
      Americans are afraid to speak out.

      If I had been in power on Sept. 11, I'd have called up Sharon and told
      him he was just going to have to withdraw to 1967 borders, or face the
      full fury of the United States. Israel would be much better off inside
      those borders, anyway. It can't absorb 3 million Palestinians and
      retain its character, and it can't continue to hold 3 million
      Palestinians as stateless hostages without making itself inhumane and
      therefore un-Jewish. And then I'd have thrown everything the U.S. had
      at al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and frog-marched Bin Laden off to justice,
      and rebuilt Afghanistan to ensure that al-Qaeda was permanently denied
      a base there. Iraq, well, Iraq was contained.

      Fomenting a War on Iran

      Here is my take on the Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal in the
      Pentagon.

      It is an echo of the one-two punch secretly planned by the pro-Likud
      faction in the Department of Defense. First, the United States would
      take out Iraq, and then Iran. David Wurmser, a key member of the
      group, also wanted Syria included. These pro-Likud intellectuals
      concluded that 9/11 would give them carte blanche to use the Pentagon
      as Israel's Gurkha regiment, fighting elective wars on behalf of Tel
      Aviv (not wars that really needed to be fought, but wars that the
      Likud coalition thought it would be nice to see fought so as to
      increase Israel's ability to annex land and act aggressively,
      especially if someone else's boys did the dying).

      Franklin is a reserve Air Force colonel and former Defense
      Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst. He was an attaché at the U.S.
      embassy in Tel Aviv at one point, which some might now see as
      suspicious. After the Cold War ended, Franklin became concerned with
      Iran as a threat to Israel and the U.S., and learned a little Persian
      (not very much – I met him once at a conference and he could only
      manage a few halting phrases of Persian). Franklin has a strong
      Brooklyn accent and says he is "from the projects." I was told by
      someone at the Pentagon that he is not Jewish, despite his strong
      association with the predominantly Jewish neoconservatives. I know
      that he is very close to Paul Wolfowitz. He seems a canny man and a
      political operator, and if he gave documents to AIPAC it was not an
      act of simple stupidity, as some observers have suggested. It was part
      of some clever scheme that became too clever by half.

      Franklin moved over to the Pentagon from DIA, where he became the Iran
      expert, working for Bill Luti and Undersecretary of Defense for
      Planning, Douglas Feith. He was the "go-to" person on Iran for Deputy
      Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and for Feith. This situation is
      pretty tragic, since Franklin is not a real Iranist. His main brief
      appears to have been to find ways to push a policy of overthrowing its
      government (apparently once Iraq had been taken care of). This project
      has been pushed by the shadowy eminence grise Michael Ledeen for many
      years, and Franklin coordinated with Ledeen in some way. Franklin was
      also close to Harold Rhode, a longtime Middle East specialist in the
      Defense Department who has cultivated far right pro-Likud cronies for
      many years, more or less establishing a cell within the Department of
      Defense.

      The UPI via Dawn reports that "another under-investigation official,
      Mr. Rhode, 'practically lived out of [Ahmed] Chalabi's office.'
      Intelligence sources said that CIA operatives observed Mr. Rhode as
      being constantly on his cell phone to Israel, discussing U.S. plans,
      military deployments, political projects and a discussion of Iraq assets."

      Josh Marshall, Laura Rozen and Paul Glastris have just published a
      piece in the Washington Monthly that details Franklin's meetings with
      corrupt Iranian arms dealer and con man Manucher Ghorbanifar, who had
      in the 1980s played a key role in the Iran-contra scandal. (For more
      on the interviews with Ghorbanifar, see Laura Rozen's weblog). It is
      absolutely key that the meetings were attended also by Rhode, Ledeen
      and the head of Italy's military intelligence agency, SISMI, Nicolo
      Pollari, as well as Rome's Minister of Defense, Antonio Martino.

      The right-wing government of corrupt billionaire Silvio Berlusconi,
      including Martino, was a big supporter of an Iraq war. Moreover, we
      know that the forged documents falsely purporting to show Iraqi
      uranium purchases from Niger originated with a former SISMI agent.
      Watch the reporting of Josh Marshall for more on this
      SISMI/Ledeen/Rhode connection.

      But journalist Matthew Yglesias has already tipped us to a key piece
      of information. The Niger forgeries also try to implicate Iran.
      Indeed, the idea of a joint Iraq/Iran nuclear plot was so far-fetched
      that it is what initially made the Intelligence and Research division
      of the U.S. State Department suspicious of the forgeries, even before
      the discrepancies of dates and officials in Niger were noticed.
      Yglesias quotes from the Senate report on the alleged Iraqi attempt to
      buy uranium from Niger:


      "The INR [that's State Department intelligence] nuclear analyst told
      the Committee staff that the thing that stood out immediately about
      the [forged] documents was that a companion document – a document
      included with the Niger documents that did not relate to uranium –
      mentioned some type of military campaign against major world powers.
      The members of the alleged military campaign included both Iraq and
      Iran and was, according to the documents, being orchestrated through
      the Nigerien [note: that's not the same as Nigerian] Embassy in Rome,
      which all struck the analyst as 'completely implausible.' Because the
      stamp on this document matched the stamp on the uranium document [the
      stamp was supposed to establish the documents bona fides], the analyst
      thought that all of the documents were likely suspect. The analyst was
      unaware at the time of any formatting problems with the documents or
      inconsistencies with the names or dates."

      Journalist Eric Margolis notes of SISMI:

      "SISMI has long been notorious for far right, even neo-fascist,
      leanings. According to Italian judicial investigators, SISMI was
      deeply involved in numerous plots against Italy's democratic
      government, including the 1980 Bologna train station terrorist bombing
      that left 85 dead and 200 injured. Senior SISMI officers were in
      cahoots with celebrated swindler Roberto Calvi, the neo-fascist P2
      Masonic Lodge, other extreme rightist groups trying to destabilize
      Italy, the Washington neocon operative, Michael Ledeen, and the
      Iran-Contra conspirators. SISMI works hand in glove with U.S., British
      and Israeli intelligence. In the 1960s and 70s, SISMI reportedly
      carried out numerous operations for CIA, including bugging the
      Vatican, the Italian president's palace, and foreign embassies.
      Italy's civilian intelligence service, SISDE, associated with Italy's
      political center-left, has long been a bitter rival of SISMI. After
      CIA rejected the Niger file, it was eagerly snapped up by VP Dick
      Cheney and his chief of staff, Lewis Libby, who were urgently seeking
      any reason, no matter how specious, to invade Iraq. Cheney passed the
      phony data to Bush, who used it in his January 2003 address to the
      nation in spite of warnings from CIA. . . ."

      So Franklin, Ledeen, and Rhode, all of them pro-Likud operatives, just
      happen to be meeting with SISMI (the proto-fascist purveyor of the
      false Niger uranium story about Iraq and the alleged Iran-Iraq plot
      against the rest of the world) and corrupt Iranian businessman and
      would-be revolutionary Ghorbanifar in Europe. The most reasonable
      conclusion is that they were conspiring together about the Next
      Campaign after Iraq, which they had already begun setting in train,
      which is to get Iran.

      But now The Jerusalem Post reveals that at least one of the meetings
      was quite specific with regard to an attempt to torpedo better US/Iran
      relations:

      "The purpose of the meeting with Ghorbanifar was to undermine a
      pending deal that the White House had been negotiating with the
      Iranian government. At the time, Iran had considered turning over five
      al-Qaeda operatives in exchange for Washington dropping its support
      for Mujahadeen Khalq, an Iraq-based rebel Iranian group listed as a
      terrorist organization by the State Department."

      The neoconservatives have some sort of shadowy relationship with the
      Mujahadeen-e Khalq Organization, or MEK. Presumably its leaders have
      secretly promised to recognize Israel if they ever succeed in
      overthrowing the ayatollahs in Iran. When the U.S. recently
      categorized the MEK as a terrorist organization, there were howls of
      outrage from "scholars" associated with the Washington Institute for
      Near East Policy, such as ex-Trotskyite Patrick Clawson and Daniel
      Pipes. MEK is a terrorist organization by any definition of the term,
      having blown up innocent people in the course of its struggle against
      the Khomeini government. (MEK is a cult-like mixture of Marx and
      Islam). The MEK had allied with Saddam, who gave them bases in Iraq
      from which to hit Iran. When the U.S. overthrew Saddam, it raised the
      question of what to do with the MEK. The pro-Likud faction in the
      Pentagon wanted to go on developing their relationship with the MEK
      and using it against Tehran.

      So it transpires that the Iranians were willing to give up 5 key
      al-Qaeda operatives, whom they had captured, in return for MEK members.

      Franklin, Rhode and Ledeen conspired with Ghorbanifar and SISMI to
      stop that trade. It would have led to better U.S.-Iran relations,
      which they wanted to forestall, and it would have damaged their
      protégés, the MEK.

      Since high al-Qaeda operatives like Saif al-Adil and possibly even
      Saad bin Laden might know about future operations, or the whereabouts
      of bin Laden, for Franklin and Rhode to stop the trade grossly
      endangered the United States.

      The FBI has evidence that Franklin passed a draft presidential
      directive on Iran to AIPAC, which then passed it to the Israelis. The
      FBI is construing these actions as espionage or something close to it.
      But that is like getting Al Capone on tax evasion. Franklin was not
      giving the directive to AIPAC in order to provide them with
      information. He was almost certainly seeking feedback from them on
      elements of it. He was asking, "Do you like this? Should it be changed
      in any way?" And, he might also have been prepping AIPAC for the
      lobbying campaign scheduled for early in 2005, when Congress will have
      to be convinced to authorize military action, or at least covert
      special operations, against Iran. AIPAC probably passed the directive
      over to Israel for the same reason – not to inform, but to seek input.
      That is, AIPAC and Israel were helping write U.S. policy toward Iran,
      just as they had played a key role in fomenting the Iraq war.

      With both Iraq and Iran in flames, the Likud Party could do as it
      pleased in the Middle East without fear of reprisal. This means it
      could expel the Palestinians from the West Bank to Jordan, and perhaps
      just give Gaza back to Egypt to keep Cairo quiet. Annexing southern
      Lebanon up to the Litani River, the waters of which Israel has long
      coveted, could also be undertaken with no consequences, they probably
      think, once Hizbullah in Lebanon could no longer count on Iranian
      support. The closed character of the economies of Iraq and Iran,
      moreover, would end, allowing American, Italian and British companies
      to make a killing after the wars (so they thought).

      Franklin's movements reveal the contours of a right-wing conspiracy of
      warmongering and aggression, an orgy of destruction, for the benefit
      of the Likud Party, of Silvio Berlusconi's business in the Middle
      East, and of the neoconservative Right in the United States. It isn't
      about spying. It is about conspiring to conscript the U.S. government
      on behalf of a foreign power or powers.

      *********************************************************************

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    • World View
      AIPAC s Overt and Covert Ops by Juan Cole http://antiwar.com/cole/?articleid=3467 CBS is reporting that a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst detailed to
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 14, 2008
      • 0 Attachment
        AIPAC's Overt and Covert Ops
        by Juan Cole
        http://antiwar.com/cole/?articleid=3467


        CBS is reporting that a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst detailed
        to Undersecretary of Defense for Planning Douglas Feith's Office of
        Special Plans is under FBI investigation for spying for Israel. The
        person passed to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
        confidential documents, including those detailing Bush administration
        policy toward Iran, and AIPAC then passed them to Israel. There are
        wiretaps and photographs backing up the FBI case (the FBI agents
        involved are extremely brave to take this on).

        But this espionage case is too narrow. Consider what journalist Jim
        Lobe wrote about Feith's Office of Special Plans (OSP) and the
        Pentagon Near East and South Asia (NESA) office:

        "[K]ey personnel who worked in both NESA and OSP were part of a
        broader network of neoconservative ideologues and activists who worked
        with other Bush political appointees scattered around the
        national-security bureaucracy to move the country to war, according to
        retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who was assigned to NESA from May
        2002 through February 2003. The heads of NESA and OSP were Deputy
        Undersecretary William Luti and Abram Shulsky, respectively. Other
        appointees who worked with them in both offices included Michael
        Rubin, a Middle East specialist previously with the neoconservative
        American Enterprise Institute (AEI); David Schenker, previously with
        the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP); and Michael
        Makovsky; an expert on neocon icon Winston Churchill and the younger
        brother of David Makovsky, a senior WINEP fellow and former executive
        editor of pro-Likud Jerusalem Post. Along with Feith, all of the
        political appointees have in common a close identification with the
        views of the right-wing Likud Party in Israel."

        Karen Kwiatkowski was an eyewitness in NESA, and Lobe reports:
        "[S]he recounts one incident in which she helped escort a group of
        half a dozen Israelis, including several generals, from the first
        floor reception area to Feith's office. 'We just followed them,
        because they knew exactly where they were going and moving fast.' When
        the group arrived, she noted the book which all visitors are required
        to sign under special regulations that took effect after the Sept. 11,
        2001 attacks. 'I asked his secretary, "Do you want these guys to sign
        in?" She said, "No, these guys don't have to sign in."' It occurred to
        her, she said, that the office may have deliberately not wanted to
        maintain a record of the meeting."

        The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is a lobbying group that
        used to support whatever government was in power in Israel, and used
        to give money evenhandedly inside the U.S. My perception is that
        during the past decade AIPAC has increasingly tilted to the Likud in
        Israel, and to the political Right in the United States. In the 1980s,
        AIPAC set up the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as a
        pro-Israeli alternative to the Brookings Institution, which it
        perceived to be insufficiently supportive of Israel. WINEP has largely
        followed AIPAC into pro-Likud positions, even though its director,
        Dennis Ross, is more moderate. He is a figurehead, however, serving to
        disguise the far right character of most of the position papers
        produced by long-term WINEP staff and by extremist visitors and
        "associates" (Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer are among the latter).

        WINEP, being a wing of AIPAC, is enormously influential in Washington.
        State Department and military personnel are actually detailed there to
        "learn" about "the Middle East"! They would get a far more balanced
        "education" about the region in any Israeli university, since most
        Israeli academics are professionals, whereas WINEP is a "think tank"
        that hires by ideology.

        I did some consulting with one U.S. company that had a government
        contract, and they asked me about WINEP position papers (many of them
        are just propaganda). When I said I would take them with a grain of
        salt, the guy said his company had "received direction" to pay a lot
        of attention to the WINEP material! So discipline is being imposed
        even on the private sector.

        Note that over 80% of American Jews vote Democrat, that the majority
        of American Jews opposed the Iraq war (more were against it than in
        the general population), and that American Jews have been enormously
        important in securing civil liberties for all Americans. Moreover,
        Israel has been a faithful ally of the U.S. and deserves our support
        in ensuring its security. The Likudniks like to pretend that they
        represent American Jewry, but they do not. And they like to suggest
        that objecting to their policies is tantamount to anti-Semitism, which
        is sort of like suggesting that if you don't like Chile's former
        dictator Pinochet, you are bigoted against Latinos.
        As can be seen by Lobe's list, WINEP supplies right-wing intellectuals
        to Republican administrations, who employ their positions to support
        Likud policies from within the U.S. government. They have the
        advantage over longtime civil servants in units like the State
        Department's Intelligence and Research division, insofar as they are
        politically connected and so have the ear of the top officials.

        So, passing a few confidential documents over is a minor affair.
        Pro-Likud intellectuals established networks linking Defense and the
        national security advisers of Vice President Dick Cheney, gaining
        enormous influence over policy by cherry-picking and distorting
        intelligence to make a case for war on Saddam Hussein. And their
        ulterior motive was to remove the most powerful Arab military from the
        scene, not because it was an active threat to Israel (it wasn't) but
        because it was a possible deterrent to Likud plans for aggressive
        expansion (at the least, they want half of the West Bank, permanently).

        It should be admitted that the American Likud could not make U.S.
        policy on its own. Its members had to make convincing arguments to
        Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush himself. But they were able to make those
        arguments, by distorting intelligence, channeling Ahmed Chalabi junk,
        and presenting Big Ideas to men above them that signally lacked such
        ideas. (Like the idea that the road to peace in Jerusalem ran through
        Baghdad. Ha!)

        It was these WINEP and AIPAC-linked U.S. Likud backers in the Defense
        Department who had the Iraqi army dissolved as soon as Saddam was
        overthrown. This step threw Iraq into chaos and led to the deaths of
        nearly a thousand U.S. servicemen so far, since an Iraq without an
        army would inevitably depend on the U.S. military. But with the Iraqi
        army gone, and with Egypt and Jordan neutralized, Syria was left the
        only country anywhere near Israel that could make active trouble for
        Sharon if he completely screwed over the Palestinians. And Syria was
        now weak and isolated. So Sharon has had a free hand in his
        expansionist aggression. And, because the U.S. public has been
        preoccupied with Iraq, the Likud could pursue its annexation of West
        Bank land and its expropriation of even more Palestinians without
        anyone over here even noticing. It is the best of all possible worlds
        for the heirs of Ze'ev Jabotinsky.

        The Likud policies of reversing Oslo and stealing people's land and
        making their lives hell has produced enormous amounts of terrorism
        against Israel, and the Likudniks have cleverly turned that to their
        political advantage. Aggression and annexation is necessary, they
        argue, because there is terrorism. Some of them now openly speak of
        ethnically cleansing the Palestinians, using the same argument. But
        when the Oslo peace process looked like it would go somewhere,
        terrorism tapered off (it did not end, but then peace had not been
        achieved).

        The drawback for the U.S. in all this is that U.S. government backing
        for Sharon's odious policies makes it hated in the Muslim world. (Note
        that Muslims who oppose Israeli aggression are often tagged as
        "terrorists" by the U.S. government, but right-wing Jews who go to
        Palestine to colonize it, walking around with Uzi machine guns and
        sometimes shooting down civilians, are not "terrorists.") This lack of
        balance is one big reason that bin Laden and al-Zawahiri hit the U.S.
        on Sept. 11. In fact, bin Laden wanted to move up the operation to
        punish the U.S. for supporting Sharon's crackdown on the second Intifada.

        Likud apologists have carefully planted the false story that al-Qaeda
        did not care about Palestine, but that is absurd. Bin Laden always
        complained about the occupation of the three holy cities (Mecca,
        Medina and Jerusalem, the first two because of U.S. troops in Saudi
        Arabia, and the third under Israeli occupation). When bin Laden came
        back from Afghanistan to Jidda in 1989, his first sermon at the local
        mosque was about the Israeli repression of Palestinians during the
        first Intifada.

        Now the U.S.' occupation of Iraq is making it even more hated in the
        Muslim world. It is a policy hatched in part by AIPAC, WINEP, and
        their associated "thinkers." The cynical might suggest that they
        actively want the U.S. involved in a violent struggle with Muslims, to
        make sure that the U.S. remains anti-Palestinian and so will permit
        Israeli expansion.

        All this can happen because there is a vacuum in U.S. political
        discourse. A handful of special interests in the United States
        virtually dictate congressional policy on some issues. With regard to
        the Arab-Israeli conflict, the American Israel Public Affairs
        Committee and a few allies have succeeded in imposing complete
        censorship on both houses of Congress. No senator or representative
        dares make a speech on the floor of his or her institution critical of
        Israeli policy, even though the Israeli government often violates
        international law and UN Security Council resolutions (it would
        violate more such resolutions, except that the resolutions never got
        passed because only one NSC member, the U.S., routinely vetoes them on
        behalf of Tel Aviv.) As the Labor Party in Israel has been eclipsed by
        the Likud coalition, which includes many proto-fascist groups, this
        subservience has yoked Washington to foreign politicians who privately
        favor ethnic cleansing and/or aggressive warfare for the purpose of
        annexing the territory of neighbors.

        On the rare occasion when a brave member of Congress dares stand up to
        this unrelenting AIPAC tyranny, that person is targeted for unelection
        in the next congressional campaign, with big money directed by AIPAC
        and/or its analogues into the coffers of the senator's or
        congressman's opponent. Over and over again, AIPAC has shaped the U.S.
        Congress in this way, so successfully that no one even dares speak out
        any more.

        AIPAC is not all that rich or powerful, but politics in the U.S. is
        often evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Because many
        races are very close, any little extra support can help change the
        outcome. AIPAC can provide that little bit. Moreover, most Americans
        couldn't care less about the Middle East or its intractable problems,
        whereas the staffers at AIPAC are fanatics. If some congressman from
        southern Indiana knows he can pick up even a few thousand dollars and
        some good will from AIPAC, he may as well, since his constituents
        don't care anyway. That there is no countervailing force to AIPAC
        allows it to be effective. (That is one reason that pro-Likud American
        activists often express concern about the rise of the Muslim-American
        community and the possibility that it may develop an effective lobby.)
        Moreover, AIPAC leverages its power by an alliance with the Christian
        Right, which has adopted a bizarre ideology of "Christian Zionism." It
        holds that the sooner the Palestinians are ethnically cleansed, the
        sooner Christ will come back. Without millions of these Christian
        Zionist allies, AIPAC would be much less influential and effective.

        The Founding Fathers of the United States deeply feared that a foreign
        government might gain this level of control over a branch of the
        United States government, and their fears have been vindicated.
        The situation has reached comedic proportions. Congress is always
        drafting letters to the president, based on AIPAC templates, demanding
        that lopsided U.S. policy in favor of Israel be revised to be even
        more in favor of Israel. U.S. policy recently changed to endorse the
        expansion of Israeli colonies in Palestinian, West Bank territory.

        Where Israel is in the right, this situation obviously is innocuous.
        The United States should protect Israel from aggressive attack, if
        necessary.. United Nations members are pledged to collective security,
        i.e., to protecting any member nation from aggression at the hands of
        another. But given that Israel is a nuclear power with a vast arsenal
        of weapons of mass destruction; given that Egypt and Jordan have
        long-lived peace treaties with Israel; and given that Syria and
        Lebanon are small, weak powers, there is not in fact any serious
        military threat to Israel in its immediate neighborhood.. In contrast,
        Israel launched wars against neighbors in 1956, 1967, and 1982 (all of
        which it won so easily as to bring into question the necessity for the
        wars in the first place if they were defensive), and has since 1967
        been assiduously colonizing Palestinian land that it militarily
        occupied – all the while attempting to avoid becoming responsible for
        the Palestinian populations on that land. This latter policy has
        poisoned the entire world.

        AIPAC currently has a project to shut up academics such as myself, the
        same way it has shut up Congress, through congressional legislation
        mandating "balance" (i.e., pro-Likud stances) in Middle East programs
        at American universities. How long the U.S. public will allow itself
        to be spied on and pushed around like this is a big question. And,
        with the rise of international terrorism targeting the U.S. in part
        over these issues, the fate of the country hangs in the balance.

        If al-Qaeda succeeds in another big attack, it could well tip the
        country over into military rule, as Gen. Tommy Franks has suggested.
        That is, the fate of the Republic is in danger. And the danger comes
        from two directions, not just one. It comes from radical extremists in
        the Muslim world, who must be fought. But it also comes from radical
        extremists in Israel, who have key allies in the U.S. and whom the
        U.S. government actively supports and against whom influential
        Americans are afraid to speak out.

        If I had been in power on Sept. 11, I'd have called up Sharon and told
        him he was just going to have to withdraw to 1967 borders, or face the
        full fury of the United States. Israel would be much better off inside
        those borders, anyway. It can't absorb 3 million Palestinians and
        retain its character, and it can't continue to hold 3 million
        Palestinians as stateless hostages without making itself inhumane and
        therefore un-Jewish. And then I'd have thrown everything the U.S. had
        at al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and frog-marched Bin Laden off to justice,
        and rebuilt Afghanistan to ensure that al-Qaeda was permanently denied
        a base there. Iraq, well, Iraq was contained.

        Fomenting a War on Iran

        Here is my take on the Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal in the
        Pentagon.

        It is an echo of the one-two punch secretly planned by the pro-Likud
        faction in the Department of Defense. First, the United States would
        take out Iraq, and then Iran. David Wurmser, a key member of the
        group, also wanted Syria included. These pro-Likud intellectuals
        concluded that 9/11 would give them carte blanche to use the Pentagon
        as Israel's Gurkha regiment, fighting elective wars on behalf of Tel
        Aviv (not wars that really needed to be fought, but wars that the
        Likud coalition thought it would be nice to see fought so as to
        increase Israel's ability to annex land and act aggressively,
        especially if someone else's boys did the dying).

        Franklin is a reserve Air Force colonel and former Defense
        Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst. He was an attaché at the U.S.
        embassy in Tel Aviv at one point, which some might now see as
        suspicious. After the Cold War ended, Franklin became concerned with
        Iran as a threat to Israel and the U.S.., and learned a little Persian
        (not very much – I met him once at a conference and he could only
        manage a few halting phrases of Persian). Franklin has a strong
        Brooklyn accent and says he is "from the projects." I was told by
        someone at the Pentagon that he is not Jewish, despite his strong
        association with the predominantly Jewish neoconservatives. I know
        that he is very close to Paul Wolfowitz. He seems a canny man and a
        political operator, and if he gave documents to AIPAC it was not an
        act of simple stupidity, as some observers have suggested. It was part
        of some clever scheme that became too clever by half.

        Franklin moved over to the Pentagon from DIA, where he became the Iran
        expert, working for Bill Luti and Undersecretary of Defense for
        Planning, Douglas Feith. He was the "go-to" person on Iran for Deputy
        Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and for Feith. This situation is
        pretty tragic, since Franklin is not a real Iranist. His main brief
        appears to have been to find ways to push a policy of overthrowing its
        government (apparently once Iraq had been taken care of). This project
        has been pushed by the shadowy eminence grise Michael Ledeen for many
        years, and Franklin coordinated with Ledeen in some way. Franklin was
        also close to Harold Rhode, a longtime Middle East specialist in the
        Defense Department who has cultivated far right pro-Likud cronies for
        many years, more or less establishing a cell within the Department of
        Defense.

        The UPI via Dawn reports that "another under-investigation official,
        Mr. Rhode, 'practically lived out of [Ahmed] Chalabi's office.'
        Intelligence sources said that CIA operatives observed Mr. Rhode as
        being constantly on his cell phone to Israel, discussing U.S. plans,
        military deployments, political projects and a discussion of Iraq assets."

        Josh Marshall, Laura Rozen and Paul Glastris have just published a
        piece in the Washington Monthly that details Franklin's meetings with
        corrupt Iranian arms dealer and con man Manucher Ghorbanifar, who had
        in the 1980s played a key role in the Iran-contra scandal. (For more
        on the interviews with Ghorbanifar, see Laura Rozen's weblog). It is
        absolutely key that the meetings were attended also by Rhode, Ledeen
        and the head of Italy's military intelligence agency, SISMI, Nicolo
        Pollari, as well as Rome's Minister of Defense, Antonio Martino.

        The right-wing government of corrupt billionaire Silvio Berlusconi,
        including Martino, was a big supporter of an Iraq war. Moreover, we
        know that the forged documents falsely purporting to show Iraqi
        uranium purchases from Niger originated with a former SISMI agent.
        Watch the reporting of Josh Marshall for more on this
        SISMI/Ledeen/Rhode connection.

        But journalist Matthew Yglesias has already tipped us to a key piece
        of information. The Niger forgeries also try to implicate Iran.
        Indeed, the idea of a joint Iraq/Iran nuclear plot was so far-fetched
        that it is what initially made the Intelligence and Research division
        of the U.S. State Department suspicious of the forgeries, even before
        the discrepancies of dates and officials in Niger were noticed.
        Yglesias quotes from the Senate report on the alleged Iraqi attempt to
        buy uranium from Niger:

        "The INR [that's State Department intelligence] nuclear analyst told
        the Committee staff that the thing that stood out immediately about
        the [forged] documents was that a companion document – a document
        included with the Niger documents that did not relate to uranium –
        mentioned some type of military campaign against major world powers.
        The members of the alleged military campaign included both Iraq and
        Iran and was, according to the documents, being orchestrated through
        the Nigerien [note: that's not the same as Nigerian] Embassy in Rome,
        which all struck the analyst as 'completely implausible.' Because the
        stamp on this document matched the stamp on the uranium document [the
        stamp was supposed to establish the documents bona fides], the analyst
        thought that all of the documents were likely suspect. The analyst was
        unaware at the time of any formatting problems with the documents or
        inconsistencies with the names or dates."

        Journalist Eric Margolis notes of SISMI:

        "SISMI has long been notorious for far right, even neo-fascist,
        leanings. According to Italian judicial investigators, SISMI was
        deeply involved in numerous plots against Italy's democratic
        government, including the 1980 Bologna train station terrorist bombing
        that left 85 dead and 200 injured. Senior SISMI officers were in
        cahoots with celebrated swindler Roberto Calvi, the neo-fascist P2
        Masonic Lodge, other extreme rightist groups trying to destabilize
        Italy, the Washington neocon operative, Michael Ledeen, and the
        Iran-Contra conspirators. SISMI works hand in glove with U.S., British
        and Israeli intelligence. In the 1960s and 70s, SISMI reportedly
        carried out numerous operations for CIA, including bugging the
        Vatican, the Italian president's palace, and foreign embassies.

        Italy's civilian intelligence service, SISDE, associated with Italy's
        political center-left, has long been a bitter rival of SISMI. After
        CIA rejected the Niger file, it was eagerly snapped up by VP Dick
        Cheney and his chief of staff, Lewis Libby, who were urgently seeking
        any reason, no matter how specious, to invade Iraq. Cheney passed the
        phony data to Bush, who used it in his January 2003 address to the
        nation in spite of warnings from CIA. . . ."

        So Franklin, Ledeen, and Rhode, all of them pro-Likud operatives, just
        happen to be meeting with SISMI (the proto-fascist purveyor of the
        false Niger uranium story about Iraq and the alleged Iran-Iraq plot
        against the rest of the world) and corrupt Iranian businessman and
        would-be revolutionary Ghorbanifar in Europe. The most reasonable
        conclusion is that they were conspiring together about the Next
        Campaign after Iraq, which they had already begun setting in train,
        which is to get Iran.

        But now The Jerusalem Post reveals that at least one of the meetings
        was quite specific with regard to an attempt to torpedo better US/Iran
        relations:

        "The purpose of the meeting with Ghorbanifar was to undermine a
        pending deal that the White House had been negotiating with the
        Iranian government. At the time, Iran had considered turning over five
        al-Qaeda operatives in exchange for Washington dropping its support
        for Mujahadeen Khalq, an Iraq-based rebel Iranian group listed as a
        terrorist organization by the State Department."

        The neoconservatives have some sort of shadowy relationship with the
        Mujahadeen-e Khalq Organization, or MEK. Presumably its leaders have
        secretly promised to recognize Israel if they ever succeed in
        overthrowing the ayatollahs in Iran. When the U.S. recently
        categorized the MEK as a terrorist organization, there were howls of
        outrage from "scholars" associated with the Washington Institute for
        Near East Policy, such as ex-Trotskyite Patrick Clawson and Daniel
        Pipes. MEK is a terrorist organization by any definition of the term,
        having blown up innocent people in the course of its struggle against
        the Khomeini government. (MEK is a cult-like mixture of Marx and
        Islam). The MEK had allied with Saddam, who gave them bases in Iraq
        from which to hit Iran. When the U.S. overthrew Saddam, it raised the
        question of what to do with the MEK. The pro-Likud faction in the
        Pentagon wanted to go on developing their relationship with the MEK
        and using it against Tehran.

        So it transpires that the Iranians were willing to give up 5 key
        al-Qaeda operatives, whom they had captured, in return for MEK members.

        Franklin, Rhode and Ledeen conspired with Ghorbanifar and SISMI to
        stop that trade. It would have led to better U.S.-Iran relations,
        which they wanted to forestall, and it would have damaged their
        protégés, the MEK.

        Since high al-Qaeda operatives like Saif al-Adil and possibly even
        Saad bin Laden might know about future operations, or the whereabouts
        of bin Laden, for Franklin and Rhode to stop the trade grossly
        endangered the United States.

        The FBI has evidence that Franklin passed a draft presidential
        directive on Iran to AIPAC, which then passed it to the Israelis. The
        FBI is construing these actions as espionage or something close to it.
        But that is like getting Al Capone on tax evasion. Franklin was not
        giving the directive to AIPAC in order to provide them with
        information. He was almost certainly seeking feedback from them on
        elements of it. He was asking, "Do you like this? Should it be changed
        in any way?" And, he might also have been prepping AIPAC for the
        lobbying campaign scheduled for early in 2005, when Congress will have
        to be convinced to authorize military action, or at least covert
        special operations, against Iran. AIPAC probably passed the directive
        over to Israel for the same reason – not to inform, but to seek input.
        That is, AIPAC and Israel were helping write U.S. policy toward Iran,
        just as they had played a key role in fomenting the Iraq war.

        With both Iraq and Iran in flames, the Likud Party could do as it
        pleased in the Middle East without fear of reprisal. This means it
        could expel the Palestinians from the West Bank to Jordan, and perhaps
        just give Gaza back to Egypt to keep Cairo quiet. Annexing southern
        Lebanon up to the Litani River, the waters of which Israel has long
        coveted, could also be undertaken with no consequences, they probably
        think, once Hizbullah in Lebanon could no longer count on Iranian
        support. The closed character of the economies of Iraq and Iran,
        moreover, would end, allowing American, Italian and British companies
        to make a killing after the wars (so they thought).

        Franklin's movements reveal the contours of a right-wing conspiracy of
        warmongering and aggression, an orgy of destruction, for the benefit
        of the Likud Party, of Silvio Berlusconi's business in the Middle
        East, and of the neoconservative Right in the United States. It isn't
        about spying. It is about conspiring to conscript the U.S. government
        on behalf of a foreign power or powers.

        *********************************************************************

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