The Real AIPAC Spy Ring Story - It Was All About Iran -
- By Doug Ireland; Direland; August 08, 2005
Here's what the stories in today's Washington Post and New York Times on the new indictments of the two AIPAC spies aren't telling you: their espionage was principally about helping to prepare an attack by Israel on Iran. And one of the Israeli embassy officials who knows all about AIPAC's role in helping plan the attack on Iran has been whisked out of the country and out of the reach of U.S. prosecutors, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reports this morning.
The neo-cons in the Pentagon had long been arguing for an attack on Iran to take out its nuclear facilities that had the potential to be converted for development of nuclear weapons. Wolfie's man Doug Feith had been particularly assiduous in pressing the case for a "forward strategy" against Iran. Feith's views are madly extremist and Jim Zogby collected them in an April profile of Feith that should scare the pants off of anyone rational. (Feith's been a major activist for years with the viciously anti-Arab crazies of the ZOA, the Zionist Organization of America).
When, for purely electoral reasons with the Iraq occupation going so disastrously, the White House decided against a direct attack by the U.S. on Iran, the neo-cons went to Plan B -- an attack on Iran by proxy, from Israel. The principal classified documents leaked to Israel through AIPAC -- the leaks that that began the investigation of the AIPAC spy ring, which has been going on now for over a year -- concerned Iran. They were leaked by Feith's deputy, Larry Franklin, also now under a five-count indictment for spying.
The plan for an Israeli attack on Iran has been long envisioned -- both in Washington and by Sharon's government -- but this attack is now in a highly advanced state of planning and could come as quickly as Sharon snaps his fingers to order it. Back on March 13, the London Times -- in a report that was largely ignored in the U.S. -- reported that: "The inner cabinet of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, gave 'initial authorization' for an attack at a private meeting last month on his ranch in the Negev desert.
The London Times went on to describe how:
"Israeli forces have used a mock-up of Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant in the desert to practice destroying it. Their tactics include raids by Israel's elite Shaldag (Kingfisher) commando unit and air strikes by F-15 jet from 69 Squadron, using bunker-busting bombs to penetrate underground facilities. The plans have been discussed with American officials who are said to have indicated provisionally that they would not stand in Israel's way if all international efforts to halt Iranian nuclear projects failed...." And, the Times added, "US officials warned last week that a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities by Israeli or American forces had not been ruled out should the issue become deadlocked at the United Nations."
Just a few weeks before that revelation of the concretization of Israeli plans for the Iran attack, Bush let the cat out of the bag in an off-the-cuff remark captured by London's Daily Telegraph, in a February 18 article headlined, "AMERICA WOULD BACK ISRAEL ATTACK ON IRAN." The Telegraph reported that Bush said: "Clearly, if I was the leader of Israel and I'd listened to some of the statements by the Iranian ayatollahs that regarded the security of my country, I'd be concerned about Iran having a nuclear weapon as well. And in that Israel is our ally, and in that we've made a very strong commitment to support Israel, we will support Israel if her security is threatened.")
Noting that Bush had gone off the reservations and failed to follow his handlers' briefing to stick to the agreed-on script, the Telegraph dryly noted: "His comments appeared to be a departure from the administration's line that there are no plans to attack at present and that Washington backs European diplomatic efforts. The remarks may have reflected Mr. Bush's personal thinking on an issue causing deep concern in Washington...." Bush's slip-of-the-tongue that revealed his real intentions was front-page news in Le Monde and other European dailies -- but got no attention in the stateside major media.
At the time Feith's deputy Franklin (and, today's indictments say, two other as yet unidentified Pentagon officials) were passing the classified documents on Iran to AIPAC for transmission to Israel, the White House had not yet given the green light to Sharon -- indeed, the Iran attack was in a holding pattern pending the outcome of negotiations over Teheran's nuke capacity being led by the European powers which, unlike the U.S., have diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Even so, U.S. fingerprints were all over the Israelis' Iran attack, which had long been envisioned by U.S. policy-makers. The respected Israeli daily Ha'aretz spelled it out last September 13, reporting: "The Clinton administration laid the foundation for that option [of attacking Iran] by giving the Rabin government the okay to purchase, with coupons, the F-15I (dubbed "Thunder" in Israel). The Bush administration will complete the task by agreeing to give Israel air-to-surface munitions that will breach the mysteries of the nuclear network in the depths of Isfahan and other sites, far more concealed than the reactor that is on worldwide display at Bushehr.
What the Americans are unable to do, because of European, United Nations and Congressional pressure, Israel will do."
The indictment of the two senior AIPAC staffers follows the indictment in may of Feith's footpad Larry Franklin. Franklin worked in the Office of Special Plans, run by then-Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, who reported to then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. The OSP functioned as a "shadow" intelligence service on Iraq, and provided much of the information to the White House that was used to justify the American invasion of Iraq. Some wags have called it "Feith-based intelligence", since much of that intelligence and information has now been proven to be utterly false. At the beginning of May, Franklin was arrested by the FBI for the passing of classified documents to two AIPAC staffers, who were then to pass them to Israel. The documents in question concerned Iran.
One of the two newly-indicted AIPACers isn't just anybody. Steve Rosen, 63, is the man who built AIPAC into the $40 million dollar Capitol Hill powerhouse it is today. Buried in a Washington Post profile of AIPAC from May 19 is the skinny on Rosen as the power behind the scenes at AIPAC. Said the Post:
"For more than two decades, Rosen has been a mainstay of AIPAC and the architect of the group's ever-increasing clout. Though Rosen was listed below Executive Director Howard Kohr on AIPAC's organizational chart, people familiar with AIPAC's history say that Kohr is a protege of Rosen's and got that job with his help. Kohr declined to be interviewed about Rosen. 'He [Rosen] is a quiet guy,' said M.J. Rosenberg, director of policy analysis for the Israel Policy Forum, another pro-Israel group, and a former AIPAC employee. 'But everyone knows he's the brains behind the outfit.'"
Now, just what is AIPAC, you may well ask? AIPAC is the enforcer of the knee-jerk support for the Israeli government which characterizes the political and governing classes in this country, -- Israel is the real third rail of American politics: touch it with criticism, no matter how carefully couched, and you die. Both the Democratic and Republican parties fall all over themselves to kiss AIPAC's boots -- because AIPAC and its well-filled war-chest helps make sure they toe the line on Israel, and has been responsible for the defeat of a significant number of politicians over the years who dared to criticize Israeli policies. Earlier this year, AIPAC played a major role in destroying the candidacy of Tim Roemer for chairman of the DNC. There's an in-depth, critical profile of AIPAC by RightWeb's Michael Flynn that gives an in-depth look at AIPAC's arm-and-leg-breaking political style. And the newly indicted Rosen is The Man Behind the Curtain. Even though he formally resigned from AIPAC, the organization is paying his legal bills, and Rosen is still pulling the strings.
The reason for putting some daylight between Rosen and AIPAC is that the puissant political arm-twister is deathly afraid it will be forced to register as a foreign lobby, as the Jewish weekly The Forward reported earlier this year. Americans don't like the sight of their elected officials pocketing campaign cash from foreign governments, and AIPAC fears being forced to register formally as a lobbyist for Israel would thus diminish their clout on Capitol Hill. Bush won't make AIPAC register, and the spineless Democratic Congressional leadership won't lead the charge to make them do so either. But today's indictments of string-puller Rosen and his AIPAC colleague for spying on the U.S. gives progressives who want to see a peaceful, two-state, land-for-peace solution between Israel and Palestine a strategic opening to press loudly for AIPAC's formal shil registration as a shil for the government that built the Israeli Wall of Shame. It's a measure long past due.
One of the Israeli diplomats the feds want to question about the activities of the AIPAC spy ring has been quietly spirited out of the country, Ha'aretz reports this morning. "The Israeli diplomat in Washington who met several times with Franklin has been identified as Naor Gilon head of the political department at the Israeli Embassy in Washington and a specialist on proliferation issues. Gilon returned to Israel a few days ago as part of a long-scheduled rotation according to an Israeli official in Washington. U.S. investigators want to question Gilon and other Israeli diplomats about their contacts with Franklin officials said.," according to the Israeli daily.