[Mb-civic] Israel diplomat identified in spy probe
barbarasiomos38 at webtv.net
Fri Sep 3 12:39:29 PDT 2004
Israel diplomat identified in spy probe, 2 Americans in pro-Israeli
lobby also questioned.
Sept. 1: NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports the focus of an FBI espionage
investigation involving a Pentagon official is an Israeli diplomat who
may have had ties to an Israeli lobby group.
WASHINGTON - NBC News sources confirmed Wednesday that Naor Gilon, a
political adviser to the Israeli Embassy in Washington is suspected of
receiving U.S. secrets, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reported.
Gilon was already under surveillance by the FBI when he was reportedly
spotted at a meeting with Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin, who is under
investigation for possibly passing classified information to the
Israeli's on the Bush administration's policy debate over Iran.
At least two members of a pro-Israel lobby group, are also under
The two American Israel Public Affairs Committee employees involved are
director of foreign policy issues Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, an
Iran expert, said AIPAC attorney Nathan Lewin on Wednesday.
They were interviewed by the FBI on Friday - the same day news first
broke of the existence of the yearlong investigation - but the
interviews were halted after the men said they wanted a lawyer present
before answering further questions, Lewin said.
"The FBI could resume the interview. We have not heard from the FBI,"
The FBI also seized documents and email records from AIPAC headquarters
in Washington last week.
Rosen and Weissman have hired lawyer Abbe Lowell to represent them.
Lowell, who did not return a telephone message seeking comment, is a
veteran Washington attorney who is perhaps best known as the Democratic
House Judiciary Committee counsel during President Clinton's
Why spy on the United States?
Israel and the United States share a concern over Iran's recent
announcement that it was resuming uranium enrichment, and its potential
to produce nuclear weapons.
But experts say Israel is concerned that, ultimately, the United States
won't take tough measures to halt weapons production by Tehran.
"If Iran gets nuclear weapons, Israel feels its existence can be
threatened. Its very existence. The U.S. doesn't feel that way," said
David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International
Security. "And so it may want to conduct espionage just to hedge its
No charges have been brought or arrests made in the case. Law
enforcement officials have said prosecutors are weighing whether to
charge anyone involved with the most serious offense of espionage or
with lesser counts of mishandling classified documents.
AIPAC officials have said they are cooperating in the probe and have
denied any wrongdoing, as has the Israeli government. Franklin has not
responded to several telephone calls seeking comment.
Several friends and colleagues of Franklin said they doubted he would be
involved in true espionage, suggesting that the case could involve a
simple mistake or mix-up.
"I think he was probably lured into thinking that it was OK or at least
you could get away with doing something like this by the general
atmosphere of very full cooperation with the Israelis in the (Pentagon
policy) shop," said Patrick Lang, who formerly worked with Franklin at
the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Call for expanded probe
The FBI and Justice Department have briefed a number of high-level
Pentagon, congressional and White House officials about the
investigation. Secretary of State Colin Powell was briefed Sunday over
the telephone by Deputy Attorney General James Comey, a State Department
A senior House Democrat, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, is calling for a
Judiciary Committee investigation into the matter and said it should be
expanded to include allegations that sensitive U.S. information may have
been given to political opponents of now-deposed Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein, including Ahmed Chalabi.
"The fact that a rogue element of the United States government may have
been working with a foreign government in possible contravention of
current foreign policy is a grave matter that should be of concern to
every American," Conyers, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary
Committee, said in a letter dated Tuesday to the panel's chairman, Rep.
James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
Meanwhile, a West Virginia college where Franklin teaches history
courses is not planning any action regarding his status at the school
while the investigation continues. For about five years, Franklin has
been an adjunct professor of history at Shepherd University while living
in nearby Kearneysville, said history department chairman Anders
Franklin "has been a real asset" to the school, Henriksson said.
Franklin teaches freshman courses in world history and Asian traditions,
he added. The school planned to provide extra security to prevent
disruption of his Tuesday night course.
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