'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Israeli Spy Thing 

Don't have much to add about the whole Larry Franklin story ... except to say that I too believe this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg and would like to flag Juan Cole's excellent and frightening post on the subject, which mostly just sheds light on the AIPAC's role in American politics. I agree with other commentators (and/or wild speculators, as the case may be) that the most likely reason that this story has suddenly sprung into the media spotlight is to put heat on Franklin perhaps to "flip him", as they say on the Sopranos, for use in a broader investigation.

Oh, yeah, I'd also like to point out that the last time this Mr. Larry Franklin made an appearance in our newspapers, it was in a somewhat interesting context. Serveral years ago, he was secretly sent by the Pentagon as an American envoy to Iran-contra personality and shady arms dealer, Manucher Ghorbanifar. Here's a little of the Post's coverage from last August:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld acknowledged yesterday that Pentagon officials met secretly with a discredited expatriate Iranian arms merchant who figured prominently in the Iran-contra scandal of the mid-1980s, characterizing the contact as an unexceptional effort to gain possibly useful information.

[ ... ]

Last night, a senior defense official disclosed that another meeting with the Iranian arms dealer, Manucher Ghorbanifar, occurred in June in Paris. The official said that, while the first contact, in late 2001, had been formally sanctioned by the U.S. government in response to an Iranian government offer to provide information relevant to the war on terrorism, the second one resulted from "an unplanned, unscheduled encounter."

A senior administration official said, however, that Pentagon staff members held one or two other meetings with Ghorbanifar last year in Italy. The sessions so troubled Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, the official said, that he complained to Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser.

Powell maintained that the Pentagon activities were unauthorized and undermined U.S. policy toward Iran by taking place outside the terms defined by Bush and his top advisers. The White House instructed the Pentagon to halt meetings that do not conform to policy decisions, said the official, who requested anonymity.

The Defense Department personnel who met with Ghorbanifar came from the policy directorate. Sources identified them as Harold Rhode, a specialist on Iran and Iraq who recently served in Baghdad as the Pentagon liaison to Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi, and Larry Franklin, a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst.

Don't know if this is relevant or not -- I'm just throwing it out there...

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