Today's Washington Times has a fascinating expose,
of how far the anti-Israel cabal in the FBI went when they double crossed Defense Analyst Larry Franklin. Bill Gertz, Washington Times Intelligence beat columnist,was granted an exclusive interview with Franklin. You may recall that Federal Judge T.S. Ellis, III in the Eastern Virginia District Court in May dramatically reduced his sentence against the objections by Federal prosecutors who withdrew the malformed case against AIPAC senior staffers, Keith Weissman and Steve Rosen after a Richmond Federal Appeals Court dismissed the government's evidentiary motions. We have posted on this murky and unsettling episode for nearly four years,originally here, and more recently, here.
Here are revelations from the Exclusive Washington Times interview with Larry Franklin:
On being doubled by the FBI
Larry Franklin, the former Pentagon analyst convicted of revealing classified information, says he worked undercover as an FBI double agent to gather information on the pro-Israel lobby in the United States before the bureau turned on him and pressured him to plead guilty to spying for Israel.
Talking to a U.S. newspaper for the first time since his arrest five years ago, Franklin told The Washington Times that he wore a portable recording device for the FBI to capture conversations between Keith Weissman, a lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and Israeli Embassy official Naor Gilon and that he cooperated on other matters during a 10-week period in 2004.
He said he never sought to spy for Israel and felt betrayed when the same FBI agents whom he had assisted suddenly told him to get an attorney and threatened to send him to prison for disclosing classified information to AIPAC officials and the Israeli Embassy.
"I cooperated without a lawyer because I thought we were on the same side," Franklin said in a wide-ranging interview with The Times last week at the office of his attorney, Plato Cacheris. "And I was dumbfounded. I had no money, I told them, for a lawyer. They assigned me a lawyer who was paid by the government who wanted me to sign something that was anathema to me, an abomination."
FBI Assistant Director John Miller declined to comment on the case or Franklin's cooperation.
The Iran Iraq War connection and painting AIPAC Officials as the 'bad guys'
Franklin said the FBI first pressed him about working undercover in an investigation into alleged Israeli spying in the United States in May 2004, after he had become a subject of investigation into whether he provided sensitive information to reporters at CBS News on Iraqi exile leader Ahmed Chalabi's relations with Iran.
He said his FBI handlers convinced him that AIPAC analysts Steven Rosen and Mr. Weissman were "bad people" and that the agency needed his help in making a criminal case against the pro-Israel lobby officials. The two AIPAC officials were eventually indicted, but this spring -- after years of legal wrangling -- the government reversed course and dropped all charges against them.
Franklin Views on Iran involvement in Iraq War and alleged "betrayal' by AIPAC's Weissman and Rosen
Senior Pentagon officials, he said, mistakenly thought the United States could "persuade Iran to be part of the solution and not part of the problem" in Iraq. However, Franklin was convinced that Iranian officials would not cooperate and that Tehran remembered U.S. support to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988.
"So I wanted to delay and shock the National Security Council staff into convincing [National Security Adviser] Condoleezza Rice and others that, hey, maybe we ought to think this out a little more because there was so little time," Franklin said.
His plan was to use Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman to relay his concerns to the National Security Council (NSC) staff. Instead, the AIPAC officials, without telling Franklin, took his information, some of which was classified, to Mr. Gilon at the Israeli Embassy and to a Washington Post reporter.
I felt betrayed by Rosen and Weissman because I had risked everything for what I had thought were the interests of our republic," he said. "And, yeah, second of all, I felt very disappointed in the FBI."
AIPAC Lawyer Rebuts Franklin
Abbe Lowell, the lawyer who successfully represented Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman, disputed Franklin's account about his interests in talking to the AIPAC officials.
Franklin, Mr. Lowell said, sought AIPAC's help, through Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman, beyond the effort to reach the NSC as part of an "ideological war with the Department of State."
"His request of them was to try to get AIPAC to weigh in on his side of the group at [the Department of] Defense," Mr. Lowell said. "It was not singularly focused on the NSC."
Mr. Lowell said Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman had no immediate comment on the case. Spokesmen for AIPAC and the Israeli Embassy also declined to comment.
How Franklin got tripped up- "taking home Pentagon documents"
"I didn't do anything morally wrong," Franklin said. "I was totally motivated by love of this republic and knowingly risked my job, my clearance and the welfare of my family because I thought it was important to do."
Franklin also illegally kept 83 classified documents at his house in West Virginia but said he did so "because I needed to keep up my expertise that both the secretary and deputy secretary [of defense] -- that is [Donald] Rumsfeld and [Paul] Wolfowitz -- depended upon.
"I never showed a document, never gave a document to anyone ever," he told The Times. "The only other illegality I performed was I talked -- blurted out on May 20, 2004, over a phone call from CBS, from "60 Minutes." They were doing a show on Chalabi, and I said: 'Don't ask me for any good news about Chalabi 'cause he had just met with a nefarious Iranian who was guilty of killing Americans.' "
Mr. Cacheris, Franklin's attorney, said that the FBI sought the guilty plea from Franklin because the Bureau hoped to use his testimony in its case against AIPAC and that it did not make any promises to him in exchange for the cooperation.
"Unfortunately, Larry wasn't astute enough to find out during the time of his cooperation what was going to happen," Mr. Cacheris said.
Franklin said he agreed to the plea deal because he hoped it would keep him out of jail so he could take care of his seriously ill wife. He thanked Mr. Cacheris for coming to his rescue in the case.
Ken Timmerman in his book, "Shadow Warriors" had divulged the strong arm methods the FBI used to euchre Franklin into serving as a double agent. We believe that the FBI cabal was lead by former Associate Director David Szady who had let it be known that the national law enforcement agency was intent on finding an Israeli mole inside the US government, based erroneously, as it turned out in the disastrous AIPAC case. Federal Prosecutors relied heavily on the thin reed of a 90 year Sedition law, questionable evidentiary standards in filed court motions and sought a 'closed court' proceeding, which ultimately was quashed by the Richmond Federal Appellate court dismissal rulings. Messrs. Weissman and Rosen were simply doing what Washington journalists, including Gertz, have done which is revealing ex parte conversations with official sources, who don't want to go on record; i.e., 'leaking'. However, the Federal judiciary saw through this blatant attempt by the FBI and federal prosecutors effectively stopped the failed AIPAC case in its tracks, relieving former AIPAC seniors officials Weissman and Rosen from standing trial, and reduced Franklin's prior sentence under a plea bargain.