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The following story is archived from where it appeared on September 3, 2004 in accordance with "fair use" provisions of the copyright law when used for scholarly, educational, and research needs.

Wider FBI Probe Of Pentagon Leaks Includes Chalabi

By Robin Wright and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 3, 2004; Page A01

FBI counterintelligence agents are investigating whether several Pentagon officials leaked classified information to Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, according to a law enforcement official and other people familiar with the case.

Senior White House officials, including national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, have been apprised that Chalabi is part of the investigation, according to a senior U.S. official. The inquiry is part of the larger counterintelligence probe that was disclosed last week -- the scope of which is not yet clear.

Initially, news reports revealed that the FBI was investigating whether Lawrence A. Franklin -- a mid-level analyst specializing in Middle East issues in the Pentagon office of Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy -- had passed a draft presidential directive on Iran to AIPAC, and whether the group had passed the information to Israel. AIPAC is an influential lobbying group with close ties to the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The FBI probe is actually much broader, according to senior U.S. officials, and has been underway for at least two years. Several sources familiar with the case say the probe now extends to other Pentagon personnel who have a particular interest in assisting both Israel and Chalabi, the former Iraqi dissident who was long a Pentagon favorite but who has fallen out of favor with the U.S. government.

The sources and others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is highly sensitive and involves classified information.

There appears to be at least two common threads in the multi-faceted investigation. First, the FBI is investigating whether the same people passed highly classified information to two disparate allies -- Chalabi and a pro-Israel lobbying group. Second, at least some of the intelligence in both instances included sensitive information about Iran.

The broader investigation is also looking into the movement of classified materials on U.S. intentions in Iraq and on the Arab-Israeli peace process, sources added.

U.S. officials said the alleged transfer of classified intelligence to Chalabi has been part of the FBI investigation at least since a raid in May by Iraqi officials on the Baghdad compound of Chalabi's party, the Iraqi National Congress. Classified U.S. intelligence material was found in that raid, a senior official said.

This spring, U.S. officials alleged that Chalabi and a senior Iraqi National Congress official had passed critical intelligence to Iran, including extremely sensitive information about recent U.S. intercepts of official communications within the Iranian government. The intelligence allegedly shared by Chalabi's group with Tehran also included information on how the United States had deciphered encrypted Iranian messages, U.S. officials said.

As a result of that leak, the U.S. intelligence community has been forced to undertake costly and extensive repairs to U.S. signal capabilities, another senior U.S. official said.

Francis Brooke, an American aide to Chalabi's organization, vigorously denied that any classified data had been leaked to the organization. "The sooner they get finished with the investigation, the happier we'll be," he said. "No classified information flowed from the United states to the Iraqi National Congress. That's not the nature of the program."

John Markham, an attorney for Chalabi, added that he had sent two letters to the Justice Department and to the FBI months ago offering to have Chalabi discuss the issue with investigators.

"We have heard absolutely nothing from anybody," Markham said. "We've offered to make him available, and they've ignored us." He said that is inconsistent with how he saw federal investigators operate during several years he spent as a prosecutor.

An early part of the inquiry focused on the activities of a U.S. military reservist who was serving at the U.S. Embassy in Israel, a senior intelligence official said. It could not be determined last night if that reservist was Franklin, who has served for about two decades in the Air Force Reserve and has done some short tours at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Israel and AIPAC have strongly denied any involvement in espionage activities against the United States.

Bryan Whitman, a senior Pentagon spokesman, said that "it would be inappropriate for the Defense Department to comment on an ongoing Justice Department investigation."

The revelation that Franklin was under investigation has focused attention on the policy branch of the Pentagon, which is overseen by Feith. His office has long rankled other parts of the U.S. foreign policy community, where it is seen as pursuing its own agenda.

One former CIA officer who has helped formulate U.S. policy on the Middle East complained that a number of officials in the Defense Department have difficulty distinguishing between U.S. interests and the goals of Chalabi and Israel.

Another official, an ideological ally of Feith's, said, however, that the investigation is part of an effort by some in the intelligence community to discredit Pentagon hawks. "This is part of a civil war within the administration, a basic dislike between the old CIA and neoconservatives," the official said.

Feith did not return a call seeking comment yesterday. Franklin, who officials say is cooperating with authorities, has also declined to comment.

Staff writers Dan Eggen and Walter Pincus contributed to this report.

The following story is archived from where it appeared on September 3, 2004 in accordance with "fair use" provisions of the copyright law when used for scholarly, educational, and research needs.

Pentagon Office in Spying Case Was Focus of Iran Debate

Published: September 2, 2004

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 - The Pentagon's policy office, where a lower-level analyst is under suspicion of passing secrets to Israel, was deeply involved in deliberations over how the United States should deal with Iran, its conservative Islamic government and its nuclear weapons ambitions - all issues of intense concern to Israel as well.

The analyst, Lawrence A. Franklin, a Farsi-speaking specialist on Iran in the office, participated in a secret outreach meeting with an Iranian opposition figure, had access to classified intelligence about Iran's nuclear program and was one of many officials involved in drafting a top-secret presidential order on Iran. 

The authorities say that Mr. Franklin, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, passed to lobbyists from a pro-Israel group a draft of the presidential order, known as a National Security Presidential Directive. But President Bush has not yet approved a final version because many of the policy questions themselves remain under intense debate.

"We have an ad hoc policy that we're making up as we go along," said a government official involved in the internal debate. "It is to squeeze Iran, using international pressure, to get them to rid themselves of their nuclear program." 

The shifting, unresolved nature of the administration's policy toward Iran may have led Israel or the lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which seeks to influence United States policy, to seek a window into the administration's decision-making process, even if it was through a relatively low-level analyst like Mr. Franklin, Pentagon officials said.

A lawyer for the committee said Tuesday that Steven Rosen, the group's director of foreign policy issues, and Kenneth Weissman, an expert on Iran, were interviewed last week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No charges have been brought and no arrests have been made in the case.

Israeli officials were intently interested in both Washington's policy debates and in the intelligence about the progress Iran is making in its nuclear program, a former Bush administration official said. Israeli officials have made it clear, a former senior American diplomat said recently, that if Iran passes some undefined "red lines" in its nuclear program, Israel will consider attacking the sites, much as it attacked Iraq's main nuclear plant 23 years ago.

"What the Israelis really want," the former diplomat said, "is as much detail as they can get about how close the Iranians are getting."

The Defense Department's policy office is a miniature State Department contained within the Pentagon bureaucracy. It is headed by an under secretary of defense, Douglas J. Feith, and employs more than 1,500 policy makers, analysts and other specialists, including Mr. Franklin. Its work centers primarily on regional strategic planning like deliberations on what positions the government should take in dealing with other countries. In doing so, it works closely with the State Department and National Security Council. 

For more than a year, a major debate over Iran policy has divided the administration. Hard-liners at the Pentagon, including some in the policy office, and, to some extent, in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, have advocated a policy of threatening confrontation with the government in Tehran, and supporting opposition groups and student demonstrations, government officials said. 

"We know that there is widespread unhappiness in the country about the failures of the clerical regime," Mr. Feith said of Iran at a Pentagon news conference on June 4, 2003. "The president has expressed his sympathy with the aspirations of the Iranians to have a free country." 

One former senior official in the administration said that a small group of officials, especially in the Defense Department, had talked periodically about pursuing a policy of "regime change" in Iran, but that the debate had proved sterile. "How do you do it?" the former official asked. "There's no military option. The reformers want the bomb as much as the mullahs want it. You have no choice but to engage." 

Last May, one proposal advocated by some lower-level Pentagon officials advocated covert support for Iranian resistance groups to destabilize Iran's powerful clergy. Some officials even raised the prospect of air strikes against an Iranian nuclear site at Natanz if Iran's nuclear program proceeded. 

The following story is archived from where it appeared on September 3, 2004 in accordance with "fair use" provisions of the copyright law when used for scholarly, educational, and research needs.

Alleged Pentagon leaks may be connected to Iran policy


Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Pentagon civilians in the office in which analyst Larry A. Franklin worked lobbied for a hawkish policy toward Iran and tried to have those views inserted into a highly classified presidential document that's a focus of an FBI espionage investigation, current and former U.S. officials said.

Investigators are trying to determine whether Franklin shared the document with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the main pro-Israel lobby, in an attempt to enlist Israeli support for their proposals.

Policy-makers in the office of Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith argued that the United States should explore ways to overthrow the Iranian regime and should contemplate military strikes on Tehran's nuclear program if it came close to producing a nuclear weapon, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter is under investigation.

The Pentagon met fierce resistance from the State Department, the CIA and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Those agencies opposed the Pentagon's willingness to cooperate with an Iraq-based Iranian opposition group that the State Department has designated a terrorist organization.

The Bush administration's bitter internal battle over how to deal with Iran - a country President Bush included in his "Axis of Evil" and that's thought to be edging closer to developing nuclear weapons - has been known for some time. But new light is being shed on it after the disclosure of the FBI investigation.

Israel sees Iran as its No. 1 adversary and might have been able to influence U.S. policymaking if it had access to confidential high-level planning documents.

The Israeli government and AIPAC have denied the allegations, and Franklin, an Iran expert, hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing.

Several U.S. officials and law enforcement sources said Thursday that the scope of the FBI probe of Pentagon intelligence activities appeared to go well beyond the Franklin matter.

FBI agents have briefed top White House, Pentagon and State Department officials on the probe in recent days. Based on those briefings, officials said, the bureau appears to be looking into other controversies that have roiled the Bush administration, some of which also touch Feith's office.

They include how the Iraqi National Congress, a former exile group backed by the Pentagon, allegedly received highly classified U.S. intelligence on Iran; the leaking of the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame to reporters; and the production of bogus documents suggesting that Iraq tried to buy uranium for nuclear weapons from the African country of Niger. Bush repeated the Niger claim in making the case for war against Iraq.

"The whole ball of wax" was how one U.S. official privy to the briefings described the inquiry.

In the Franklin matter, the FBI has interviewed two top AIPAC staffers - foreign policy director Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, an Iran specialist - about their contacts with the Pentagon analyst.

Rosen and Weissman have hired prominent Washington lawyer Abbe Lowell to represent them. Lowell's firm, Chadbourne & Park, had no comment Thursday.

In a statement, AIPAC said "we have yet to be told by the authorities what the nature of their inquiry into the activities of AIPAC or its employees actually are."

The FBI probe is more than two years old. The lobby group said suggestions of disloyalty were refuted by the fact that, during that period, Bush addressed the group's annual policy conference and "scores" of executive branch and congressional officials had spoken "regularly and candidly with AIPAC officials."

Officials at the State Department, the CIA and other U.S. government agencies long have suspected that the Pentagon has pursued its own Middle East policy, aimed at overthrowing hostile regimes.

"Policy officials in the Pentagon repeatedly bypassed the normal interagency process, and there are questions about whether they also may have tried to mobilize Israel's political influence in Washington to lobby for some of their proposals, especially on Iraq and Iran," one of the administration officials said.

A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment Thursday on Feith's policy proposals.

"Policy-making is like sausage-making. What matters, though, is the sausage," the spokesman said, citing unified concern across the Bush administration about Iran's nuclear program.

Defense officials referred other questions related to the Franklin matter to the Justice Department, which had no comment.

Officials outside the Pentagon have questions about still-unexplained meetings that Franklin and Defense Department official Harold Rhode had in December 2001 in Rome with Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms dealer who played a role in the Iran-Contra affair.

The first meeting was intended to put U.S. officials in contact with Iranian dissidents who claimed to have information about threats to American forces in Afghanistan, according to former Reagan administration official Michael Ledeen, who helped broker it.

Officials in Feith's office also argued for maintaining contacts with an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, that's dedicated to overthrowing the theocracy in Tehran.

The administration official said Pentagon aides and contractors tried to conceal some of their contacts with Ghorbanifar and the Mujahedeen Khalq from the State Department and the CIA. He stressed that doing so isn't new or necessarily wrong, and that the CIA itself does that to other agencies routinely.

In a June 2003 news conference, Feith and his deputy, William Luti, disputed reports that the Pentagon wanted the U.S. government to ally with the Mujahedeen Khalq.

"There never was such a plan," Feith said. "We will not do that."

A former senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon also tried to kill a dialogue between the United States and Iran that began around the time the United States invaded Afghanistan. Washington eventually broke off the dialogue after terrorist bombings in Saudi Arabia were traced to Iran-based al-Qaida operatives.

The Washington infighting over Iran policy was so severe that the presidential policy document was never completed.

(Knight Ridder correspondents John Walcott and Jonathan S. Landay contributed to this report.)

The following story is archived from where it appeared on September 3, 2004 in accordance with "fair use" provisions of the copyright law when used for scholarly, educational, and research needs.

ADL calls for probe of Pentagon 'mole' leak 

By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent 

NEW YORK - The Anti-Defamation League, one of the largest Jewish organizations in North America, has called on the Bush administration to immediately appoint a special counsel to investigate the circumstances of leaks to the American media regarding suspicions of an alleged Israeli "mole" in the Pentagon. 

"The one clear fact that can be agreed upon is that there was a malicious and targeted leak that is more damaging than the actual allegations of Israeli spying - allegations that in all likelihood are baseless," Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL, told Haaretz.

"We will demand appointing a commission of inquiry to make every effort in identifying which official or officials are behind the leak," said Foxman, who is known to have close ties with administration and White House officials.

"A leak directed against a friendly country like Israel causes grave damage, and the current suspicions of spying damaged Israel, the local Jewish community, and relations between the two countries," Foxman said.

Foxman maintains that an official within the administration is responsible for the leak.

"Someone in the hierarchy is trying to ruin relations between Israel and the administration, and between Israel and the Jewish community," he said. 

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