Israeli Spying On US Unravels -
Franklin Sings Like Canary

By Youssef M. Ibrahim from Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The Washington Times - UPI
The latest spy tale in Washington, D.C., involving Larry Franklin, an intelligence analyst at the Defense Department, and some of Israel's most important lobbyists in America, is becoming deeper by the week.
Spy stories are always like that, but this one packs an intricate tale of a trusted ally betraying America, a White House intent on using the misstep to leverage its influence, and an American intelligence community that feels it has been made to wear horns.
Clearly, Israel has aroused the formidable bull and will be made to pay a price. One can speculate from what we already know.
It started in late July this year, when a Catholic Pentagon analyst, Franklin, telephoned a Jewish acquaintance of his who worked at a pro-Israel lobbying group, the very influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
The two men knew each other professionally. They spoke of U.S. policies on Iran and Iraq periodically. That call was monitored by American intelligence authorities who did not like what they heard, and it led to a chain of events including an investigation of passing secret intelligence information to Israel via intermediaries.
A report published by The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) last week asserts that matters have progressed to a point that a grand jury investigation is underway and may lead to the indictment of several prominent Jewish lobbyists in the United States on charges of passing secret information to Israel.
Other reports and leaks published in the U.S. media suggest that Franklin has been singing like a canary under questioning and has agreed to deliver facts and testimony against pro-Israeli lobbyist friends in return for some leniency.
Still more reports suggest that he was all along a plant, a tool, used by the American intelligence community to ensnare the Israelis and their network of spies among the vast community of 52 American Jewish organizations totally devoted to control American Middle East policies for the benefit of Israel.
The JTA report speaks of some serious damage already done. It states: "With senior officials at America's top pro-Israel organization facing the specter of federal indictments, staffers at other groups are beginning to waver in their support and are warning that the mounting legal scandal could damage the political credibility of the entire Jewish community."
You see, there is an iron-clad agreement that Israel shall never spy on its best friend and greatest financial backer in the world, America, particularly as American intelligence cooperates broadly with Israeli intelligence for free.
But whenever greed and hubris take over, Israelis have gotten themselves and their friends in trouble. With this particular White House of George W. Bush, which takes no prisoners, the price Israel may be forced to pay is make some concession to the Palestinians.
Immediately after his re-election, Bush said he had "accumulated enough capital" in his first term that he plans to use it in his second term to advance the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.
Among other things, he may indeed have been hinting, friends in the intelligence community tell me, at the "Franklin" affair.
Bush does not need to have an outcome to this investigation. He just needs to have a process whereby accusations keep hanging in the air, while he demands to cash in his capital. Bush is like that. He plays hard, even with friends. Even with Israel.
As usual, Israel is denying all charges, which is a mistake because in espionage and affairs of state, it is very important to manage a catastrophe once it has happened, not go into denial.
At the moment, the U.S. intelligence community -- including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and other counter-spying organizations -- are going for a kill, knowing their president needs to hold cards in hand against friends and foes.
For these guys this is also payback time, especially as the Israelis are once again caught with their hands inside American top-secret files.
The fierceness of their response was demonstrated back in 1985, when Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish American naval intelligence analyst, was arrested he was crying like a baby at the gate of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. Pollard had been an Israeli agent, meeting with Israeli handlers for years supplying super-secret documents from naval intelligence. When he was caught, and sought refuge with his wife, the Israelis would not even open the door for him in his hour of need. He was dragged away screaming and kicking, with his wife, to jail.
Pollard is now serving a life sentence without parole as a spy. Two American presidents, Bill Clinton and the current George Bush, have firmly rejected repeated Israeli and Jewish lobby requests to pardon him. The U.S. intelligence community has said, "No way." Scores of petitions and Web sites offering daily support and calls for a pardon have not made a dent in this seemingly iron will. And intelligence sources, to make sure Pollard stays in jail, periodically leak reminders to their media friends that he has done irreparable harm to the vital interests of the United States.
The real message to Israel and its supporters is: "Thou shall not spy against America." It seems to be the same message being delivered now over the Franklin affair to American Jewish Organizations.
But the episode also appears to have become a bargaining chip that the White House and the intelligence community will squeeze like a lemon to get Israeli concessions with the full support from a chastised American Jewish lobby. If no such support is forthcoming, the administration seems to signal more investigations, a trial, indictments, etc.
Stay tuned.
Youssef M. Ibrahim, a former Middle East correspondent for the New York Times and Energy Editor of the Wall Street Journal, is Managing Director of the Dubai-based Strategic Energy Investment Group. He can be contacted at



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