[Mb-civic] Making sense of Israel spying on U.S.

ean at sbcglobal.net ean at sbcglobal.net
Sun Sep 12 19:08:24 PDT 2004

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Today's commentary:


ZNet Commentary
Israeli Mole in the Pentagon September 13, 2004
By  Mike Whitney 

The FBI's investigation into Pentagon official, Larry Franklin, on charges
of spying for Israel, has left many of us scratching our heads and
wondering, Why?

The relationship between the Bush Administration and the Sharon government
is so incestuous that is difficult to imagine that there are secrets of
any consequence that haven't already been fully shared.

Both the Pentagon and the Vice President's office feature a number of high
profile advisors whose connections to Israel have raised questions about
their loyalty.

Alleged spy, Franklin, was working directly under Douglas Feith who headed
the now infamous OSP (Office of Special Plans); the Pentagon's sausage
making unit, where intelligence was "cherry-picked" to make it look as
though Saddam was a greater threat than he was, and to create imaginary
links between Saddam and Al Qaida. Feith led the way in making
intelligence conform to policy.

He also collaborated in 1996 with David Wurmser (now working in VP
Cheney's office) on a policy paper for the Netanyahu government called, "A
Clean Break". The paper emphasized the importance of eliminating Saddam
Hussein to insure Israel's regional security. (The document also blasted
Oslo and the "land for peace" negotiations with the Palestinians which are
anathema to the vision of "Greater Israel". 

This may explain the dramatic departure by the Bush team from the policies
of previous administrations. The many Likud sympathizers in the
administration torpedoed the Road Map before it ever got off the ground.)

The obsession with toppling Saddam among Israeli loyalists in the Bush
Administration has become such a commonplace observation that it hardly
bears mentioning. Everyone from Pat Buchanan to the Nation magazine; from
General Zinni to Senator Hollings has commented on it at length.

In a recent Counterpunch article, former CIA analyst, Ray McGovern
summarizes the phenomenon this way: "The neo-cons have considerable
difficulty distinguishing between the strategic requirements of Israel and
those of the US. There are not enough US troops in Iraq to quell the
resistance, but there are enough to prevent any strategic threat to
Israel. And so, the Bush administration shows no intention of drawing down
US forces from Iraq anytime soon."

This judgment is becoming increasingly familiar as more people are
beginning to see the confluence of interests that led to the Iraq war.

So, how does this affect our understanding Larry Franklin's role?

Franklin is a mid-level official who specializes in Iranian affairs at the
Pentagon's policy branch. So far, it has been suggested that he was trying
to obtain information for Israel on Iran's nuclear program.Yuval Steinitz,
chairman of the Israeli Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
said, "Israel is very concerned that the Ayatolla's will acquire nuclear
weapons because this is an unpredictable regime with a close network to
terror organizations around the world." (CTV, News Staff)

No one could be more sympathetic to Israel's concerns than the Bush
administration; especially regarding Iran, where the objectives of both
countries seem to seamlessly merge.

Both countries want regime change, and both want to install a Western
friendly government that will allow access to Iran's prodigious natural

This communality of interests makes it more difficult to understand why
Franklin felt required to pilfer classified information and run the risk
of being caught. A Knight Ridder article reports that: "Two sources
disclosed that the information believed to have been passed to Israel was
the draft of a top-secret presidential order on Iran policy, known as a
National Security Presidential Directive. Because of disagreements over
Iran policy among President Bush's advisers, the document is not believed
to have been completed."

So, in fact, there were differences of opinion concerning Iran policy at
the highest levels of the Bush administration.

The Knight Ridder article continues: "Having a draft of the document would
have allowed Israel to influence U.S. policy while it still was being
made." But, how could merely having a "draft of the document" (provided by
Franklin) allow Israel to "influence" US policy?

If we consider a previous case, where the administration's policies may
have been altered by false intelligence (provided by Israel); we can see
how the process works. Following the invasion of Iraq, Israeli Brig.
General Shlomo Brom, who served in Israeli military intelligence for 25
years, and acted as the deputy chief of planning for the Israeli army,

"Israeli intelligence was a full partner with the U.S. and Britain in
developing a false picture of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction
capability. It badly overestimated the Iraqi threat to Israel and
reinforced the American and British belief that the weapons existed."
(Peter Enav, "Israeli General derides findings on Iraq" Ass. Press)

This shows how Israel provided false intelligence to the Bush
administration with the clear intention of affecting policy. (Although,
it's doubtful that Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld needed any further encouragement) 

Could Franklin's "top secret" information be used for the same purpose?

Although both the Bush and Sharon governments' are devoted to "regime
change", they may be miles apart on what that may involve.

Sharon would like to see an end to Iran's nuclear program and an
"Iron-fisted" secular ruler (friendly to Israel) installed in Tehran.
However, the Bush administration is probably wary of committing to another
full-blown occupation (Iran has a population of 70 million) after being
"mired" in Iraq for a year and a half.

If that's the case, then we can assume that Washington will limit its
aspirations to more realistic goals. That would suggest an attempt to
annex the prime territory around the Caspian basin, and forgoing another
massive occupation. This could be accomplished by inventing a pretext for
intervention, such as, the suspicion of terrorist camps in the region or
"alleged" Al Qaida activity.

Political analyst Noam Chomsky addressed this issue in his recent book
"Hegemony or Survival". In commenting on Israeli reconnaissance flights
along Iran's border Chomsky says:

"He (Robert Olson) suggests that these operations are part of a long term
effort to undermine and perhaps partition Iran, separating its northern
Azeri regions,"thus turning the country into 'an anemic geopolitical
entity' barred from access to the Caspian sea and Central Asia generally.

Olson also discusses one of the usual background concerns: to expedite
development of oil pipelines from the Caspian region to Turkey and the
Mediterranean, cutting out Iran." (Noam Chomsky; "Hegemony or Survival" p
159-160; Owl Books)Yes, Chomsky and Olson are probably right. 

The Bush administration may have reduced the scope of its plan and focused
instead on their primary goal, that is, the acquisition of 9% of the
world's oil, vast reserves of natural gas and crucial pipeline routes
along the Caspian Sea. 

This could be accomplished without a costly occupation of the entire
country. Unfortunately, for Sharon this veers dramatically from his scheme
and does nothing to increase Israeli security. A scenario such as this,
would force Tel Aviv to gather as much intelligence as possible in an
effort to change the administration's plans, even if it meant exposing a
high level agent to serious risk. ( by having him steal classified
documents and deliver them to an AIPAC courier)

After all, even if he's caught "red-handed" ( as he was, on video tape and
wire-tap) there's always a degree of "plausible deniability".

Deny Everything.

Following the report of Franklin's arrest an Israeli spokesman said, "We
categorically deny these allegations. They are completely false and


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