Spies in Pentagon Ignored
CIA Told Top Brass Of Israeli Spooks Over Six Years Ago
Recent revelations of a year-long FBI probe into
Pentagon insider Larry Franklin, a Defense Intelligence Agency official, have
startled the United States, revealing evidence that a mid-level official passed
classified documents about Iran to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
(AIPAC), a powerful lobbying group in Washington.
However, warnings about an Israeli spy in the
Pentagon are not new. They were voiced in 1998 by then CIA Director George
Tenet, but quickly ignored.
Tenet at the time was concerned that the Israeli
intelligence service, Mossad, had a mole deep in the Pentagon and a concerted
effort was needed to root out the traitor.
The CIA chief’s recommendation fell on deaf ears
despite the fact there was information showing that Israel had stolen America’s
nuclear secrets and in the mid 1980s had acquired U.S. naval nuclear codes.
Both the Israeli government and the committee have
dismissed espionage charges, arguing that the information was not classified
and it is regularly shared informally.
AIPAC, which boasts a membership of 65,000, is one
of the most powerful lobbying groups in D.C. with allies in both the Democratic
and Republican parties.
Earlier this year, President George W. Bush
praised AIPAC for highlighting the most dangerous and “greatest challenges of
our times” and praised its role in exposing Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Nonetheless, the FBI probe raises important issues
of how much U.S. policy is shaped publicly and perhaps secretly by Israel and
its neo-conservative supporters in Washington.
Franklin is a former Air Force colonel who spent
two periods of duty as a Defense Department staffer at the U.S. embassy in Tel
Aviv. Before the latest Iraq war, he acted as a liaison officer during meetings
between Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and leading Iraqi clerical
Franklin’s supporters say that he is a mid-level
Pentagon officer working on policy deliberations that are often widely reported
in the media and therefore not secret. Some of those deliberations center
around arguments about whether the United States should finance Iranian
dissidents in order to weaken the rule of the clerical leadership in Teheran.
In that capacity he works under Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense
As AFP has consistently reported, Feith, Wolfowitz
and Richard Perle, former chairman of the Defense Policy Board, calculatingly
shaped a pro-Israel agenda in national security circles in Washington.
These neo-conservatives, among other things,
promoted Ahmed Chalabi, the now disgraced former head of the Iraqi National
In December 2001, Franklin, the man at the center
of the latest espionage claims, had a secret meeting in Rome in December 2001
with Manucher Ghorbanifer, an Iranian with a complex history.
Ghorbanifer is a former agent of the late Shah of
Iran’s notorious SAVAK secret police, which was infamous for its use of
In 1985, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Iran
was losing its war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Ghorbanifer became a tool of the
Israelis. At that time, Israeli policy advocated by David Kimche, a former head
of Mossad, was to secretly supply Iran with weapons. Despite Israel’s distaste
for Khomeini and his clerical leadership, Israel wanted to keep Iran in the war
with Iraq in order to weaken both its Islamic neighbors. As for the United
States, the Reagan administration was fixated with getting hostages released
from the clutches of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization in
Kimche saw an opportunity to get the United States
secretly involved in an arms-for-hostages deal with the Iranian government,
even though the United States was providing support to Saddam.
HIDE REAGAN’S ROLE
It was not difficult for Israel to seduce the
Reagan administration into a deal with Khomeini’s regime, but a cut-out
mechanism was needed to protect the U.S. weapons supply line and to hide the
role of the Reagan administration.
The cutout mechanism was provided by Kimche and
Mossad in the form of a colorful cast of characters. Among them was
Ghorbanifer, as well as Saudi arms dealer, Adnan Khashoggi, a
petro-billionaire, and Ya’atov Nimrodi, who had run agents for AMAN, the
Israeli military intelligence agency, during his time as a military attaché in
Teheran while the shah was in power.
Robert McFarlane, Reagan’s national security
advisor, did not approve of Ghorbanifer and the other cutout characters and
threatened to tell Reagan to pull the plug on the operation. As history has
shown, it went ahead and became a political disaster when it was revealed how
the United States had been suckered by Israel into negotiating with Iran.
It later emerged that Ghorbanifer had been used by
the Israelis to convince the United States that his impeccable knowledge of
Iran and his contacts within the leadership had shown a deal could be done for
the release of the Beirut hostages. As it turned out, Iran took the weapons,
and the hostages remained in Beirut.
Khashoggi later asserted that he had lost millions
when the arms-for-hostages project collapsed. He had, he revealed, borrowed
heavily from BCCI, the international bank that went bankrupt after it was
discovered that it had been a vehicle for money launderers, drug dealers,
intelligence services, terrorists, arms dealers and even Khomeini’s
Revolutionary Guard in Iran, as well as both the CIA and Israel’s Mossad—an
unusual conglomeration to say the least.
The question remains as to why Franklin, the
mid-level Pentagon official at the center of an FBI probe, secretly met
Ghorbanifer. Was it a meeting organized by Israeli intelligence?
Khashoggi’s name also surfaced before the latest
gulf war after it was revealed that he had lunch with Perle in France. With
them was Harb Saleh al-Zuhair, a billionaire Saudi industrialist. Perle later
explained that the meeting was in his capacity as an executive of a company
that provided defense and security services.
It has therefore come as no surprise to
intelligence experts that Israel has been keen to track and secretly influence
U.S. policy on Iran.
For Israel, Iran poses the greatest threat to its
survival because of its determination to become a nuclear nation with nuclear
weapons to rival Israel’s arsenal.
Israel needs the United States to take a harder
line with Iran and to encourage European allies to do likewise. If that
requires an Israeli mole within the Pentagon to track and influence U.S. policy
on Iran, every effort will have been made, and probably is being made, to