Something is bothering the FBI

By Ze'ev Schiff

It is a mistake to think the FBI has concluded its investigations after indictments were served against Pentagon employee Lawrence Franklin for leaking classified security material to people close to Israel. Franklin, an intelligence investigator and an expert on Iran, has been linked to Naor Gilon, a diplomat at the Israeli embassy, and to two senior officials in the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). Apparently the FBI investigations have widened, and are now focusing on another Pentagon official and his connections. All this is taking place against the background of the current debate in the United States, in which the FBI is being blamed for its failure to discover the terror attack by Osama bin Laden's men in time.

It is clear that something is disturbing those in charge of the FBI investigation regarding Israel and those close to Israel in the United States. Many of those being interrogated are Jews. The prosecution was cautious in its wording of the indictment sheet against Franklin and Israel was not accused of intelligence gathering in the United States, which can be defined as espionage. On the other hand, it mentions that Franklin had met with AIPAC representatives. There is also mention of the fact that Franklin received a gift certificate from Naor Gilon.

If this is not espionage, which is a groundless accusation, maybe the FBI is disturbed by the Israeli influence that is organized by a government body in Washington. Maybe that is how we can explain the "conversation" conducted by FBI investigators with former Mossad man Uzi Arad, who was also political adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu when he was prime minister. Some claim the most recent proceedings are tainted with a desire to undermine the group of neoconservatives in the Pentagon.

One doesn't have to be an expert detective to understand that some of the material against Franklin was also based on wiretapping of the Israeli embassy in Washington. This is especially obvious from a conversation conducted by Steve Rosen of AIPAC with the Israeli embassy, in order to transmit information that came from Franklin, regarding the intention of the Iranians to harm Israelis who are operating in Kurdistan, Iraq. This information was transmitted by Franklin, who was convinced by the FBI to participate in a "sting operation" against two AIPAC representatives.

The prosecution is now also being cautious about making accusations against AIPAC. The moment AIPAC declared it had severed itself from its two senior employees, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, who have not yet been indicted, AIPAC attorneys were told there is no accusation of the Israeli lobby. But even a relatively naive person will conclude that keeping track of senior AIPAC employees has been going on for several years, even before Franklin was suspected of contacts with them.

Why was it necessary to conduct a "sting operation" against the Jewish lobby that was designed to reveal not only how the information flows but that also included deliberate steps to trip up AIPAC? It is clear that the FBI is aiming to create conflict between Steve Rosen and the organization in which he has worked for some 23 years. Perhaps it hopes that Rosen, in his anger, will point to others, so that the FBI will be able to widen its investigations. The FBI has made an effort to talk with wealthy Jews as well, apparently in order to deter them from supporting Rosen financially.

If the Israeli security apparatus were to use FBI methods when it comes to the leaking of classified material to American representatives, indictments would have to be served against dozens of Israeli officials who feel themselves too free in their conversations with the representatives of Israel's greatest ally. The affair is far from the climax and it will certainly draw a great deal of attention, one reason being the future publication of books on this subject.