Will Administration Cover Up A Major Israeli Spy Scandal?

Last summer a flurry of

press reports
disclosed the FBI`s investigation of a
man named

Larry Franklin
who works in the Defense Department
under neo-conservative policy chief Douglas Feith. The
supposed reason for the

was espionage for Israel. The neo-con
buddies of Mr. Feith and Israel sounded off about the
anti-Semitism that was obviously driving the witchhunt,
and the reports soon faded from the


Now they`re back, at least partly,
but the focus of the probe no longer seems to be Mr.
Franklin. The focus is AIPAC—the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee
, the
principal arm of what is generally (but not too loudly)
called the "Israeli lobby." On Dec. 1, the FBI
raided the Washington offices of AIPAC and subpoenaed
four of its top officials.

This time almost no one paid any
attention except the Jewish Times and the

which have carried some very good
accounts of what`s going on. What is going on is
important for several reasons, in addition to the usual
interest in spy stories. Not the least of what`s
interesting is that Israel and its friends are supposed
to be allies of the United States, not spies on it.

Defenders of Israel will say (as
they said back when

Jonathan Pollard
was nabbed for espionage for Israel
in the 1980s) that friendly countries spy on their
friends all the time. Well, maybe they do, but I`ve
never heard of it in recent decades.

I have never heard that the United
States spied on Great Britain or France or Germany since
the end of World War II or those countries on us, nor
has there ever been any espionage case in this or other
countries involving Americans spying on them or their
spying on us. With the Pollard case, you can`t say that
about Israel.

As for AIPAC, the original interest
in the case was that Mr. Franklin was supposed to have
met with AIPAC officials and an Israeli intelligence
agent and handed over classified documents. What that
might mean is that Mr. Franklin was not acting for
himself but for his boss, Mr. Feith, or Mr. Feith`s
boss, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, both of
whom are known to be very pro-Israeli. And what that
might mean is that the whole neo-conservative cadre in
the Pentagon is and has been all along an Israeli
espionage operation.

So far nobody has suggested that
openly, and AIPAC itself insists it`s innocent. After
the Dec. 1 raid, it released a public statement that

read in part,
"Neither AIPAC nor any member of
our staff has broken any law. We are fully cooperating
with the governmental authorities. We believe any court
of law or grand jury will conclude that AIPAC employees
have always acted legally, properly and appropriately."

That`s swell, but AIPAC can`t
possibly say such a thing truthfully. How can its
leaders know that no "member of our staff" has
broken the law? The very issuance of a statement
impossible to substantiate is suspicious.

More recently, the Forward
reported that Mr. Franklin may have been acting as a
provocateur for the FBI in a sting operation, that the
target was never (or is no longer) Mr. Franklin but
AIPAC itself—as "an unregistered agent of a foreign
namely Israel.

AIPAC, it`s hardly a secret,
zealously and faithfully defends Israel, but it does so
ostensibly as the representative of American supporters
of Israel, not as the agent of Israel itself. If in fact
it is taking orders from the Israeli government, it has
a problem. To act as an agent of a foreign power without
registering as such with the government just happens to
be a

very serious federal felony
in this country. Many
foreign agents avoid such legal problems by registering.
AIPAC doesn`t.

As the Forward commented
last week,

"registering as a foreign agent would require AIPAC to
provide significantly more detailed information about
its aims and activities to the government—thereby
robbing the group of a key weapon, the ability to
operate behind the scenes."

But, also according to the
account, Mr. Franklin, as part of the FBI`s
sting operation,

involved in initiating contact with some neoconservative
defense experts, several of them Jewish, who supported

Ahmad Chalabi,
president of the Iraqi National
Congress. Chalabi had deep ties to Bush administration
officials." [See



There`s a grand jury investigation
of AIPAC going on right now, yet despite what has been a
long-term investigation by the federal government,
President Bush addressed an AIPAC meeting last May, and
Condoleeza Rice addressed an AIPAC affiliate in Florida
in October. That might suggest there`s no fire behind
the FBI`s smoke.

Then again, it might also mean this
administration is simply determined to smother the fire
before its flames burn up some of its key officials.



Sam Francis [email
him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection
of his columns,

America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The
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