Harper on the Harman/AIPAC affair.

Harp Before commenting on the significance of the Harmon affair, I want to just spell out some relevant dates, to situate the actions of AIPAC, Harmon, etc. I think it is pretty clear that the NSA intercept occurred in late 2005. Here is a brief timeline.

May 26, 2005, Larry Franklin is indicted for passing classified material to Israeli agents.

August 4, 2005, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, both AIPAC employees, are indicted as part of the Franklin spy operation.

December 16, 2005, James Risen's story on the Bush Administration's warrantless-wiretaps appears in the New York Times.

January 20, 2006, Larry Franklin is sentenced to 12 years in prison, as part of a plea agreement, under which he promises to fully cooperate with Federal prosecutors on any investigation in which he may have material evidence.

According to Jeff Stein's CQ initial story of April 19, 2009, AG Gonzales intervened to quash the probe of Harmon, in return for her sounding off in defense of the Administration, when the Risen article came out. Clearly, Risen and his New York Times fact-checkers were calling into the Administration prior to publication, so the White House and AG Office knew it was coming.

So my guess is that the 2005 or 2006 conflicting reports on when the NSA wiretap of Rep. Harmon occurred is somewhat settled. It was most likely some time in late 2005, prior to the publication of the Risen story.

Now, for the meat of the matter. Israel was desperate to get its hands on Pentagon reports on U.S. posture towards Iran and Iran's nuclear weapons program, asymmetric operations in Iraq, etc. They wanted hard copy of a specific document, and the AIPAC boys went to Franklin to get it. Those facts are pretty clearly spelled out in the Franklin and Rosen/Weissman indictments. So this is not such a gray area case of simply getting verbal intelligence over lunch. This was cold, hard espionage.

And furthermore, a senior Mossad official, then "retired" from the official service, named Uzi Arad, was all over the Franklin case. After leaving Mossad, Arad became a top national security advisor to Bibi Netanyahu, and became head of one of the key think tanks in Israel at Herzliya. His outfit hosts an annual global security conference that is probably the biggest such event in Israel, almost parallel to the Wehrkunde annual event in Munich. Arad invited Larry Franklin to attend at least one of these Herzliya conferences, and Arad had at least two meetings with Franklin at the Pentagon cafeteria, in the period leading up to Franklin's indictment.

My assessment is that Arad was functioning as a spy handler for Israel, and was taking control of Franklin at the time the whole thing blew up. After being so badly burned by Pollard affair, Israel shifted some of its spy operations to "think tanks" which just happened to be run by "retired" Mossad case officers.

Late 2005 into 2006, the Pentagon neocon apparatus, Cheney's crew and Israeli rightwing were all agressively pushing war against both Syria and Iran, even though we were going through a very intense phase in Iraq. With Bush and Cheney in their camp, the Israelis were arrogant that they could do anything they wanted in Washington.

Franklin was, remember, a gopher for Feith, Wurmser, Luti, Rhode, Shulsky, Wolfowitz, Perle, Ledeen etal. Franklin had done two tours of duty as an assistant air attache (USAF) in Israel, and was booted out the second time for unauthorized contact with Israeli military and intelligence personnel. He was used by the hardcore neocons to run errands, like pass classified documents, through AIPAC, to Israel. I attended his sentencing, and he was a totally broken guy. His wife had serious medical problems, and she was threatened with jail, for her complicity in his passing classified materials to the Israelis.

So, who might have been the actual target of the NSA wiretap that snared Jane? Rosen and Weissman were already indicted, so it is doubtful they would have been directly involved in the call to Harmon. I am told by a senior U.S. intelligence source that the caller was an American, maybe a dual citizen. So that would tend to rule out Uzi Arad, although he is still a target of U.S. investigation, as evidenced by the fact that he had a hard time just this past week getting a visa to come to the U.S. as the national security aide to Bibi.

Was the caller Dennis Ross? As Col. Lang readers know, at the time, Ross was heading a front group for the Jewish Agency, an official arm of the Israeli government (one might even say that the Israeli government is an official arm of the Jewish Agency). He was working in think tanks financed by Haim Saben, and Saben's name has appeared as a peripheral figure in this sordid affair, through promises of big bucks to the Democrats for the 2006 midterm election. Martin Indyk is another name that fits the bill, and it may be that Indyk's failure to even get an honorable mention post with Obama is indication that he may have been the one.

What Jane Harmon agreed to do is a crime. The conversation, itself, is criminal, and this cannot be ignored. Judging from the reports from those who have read the transcript, by the end of the call, she had already realized she had gone over the edge, and tried to step back by saying "this conversation never existed," but she was already over the cliff, plunging down.

There are secondary issues of concern, including where to draw the line on NSA/FBI wiretapping of sitting Members of Congress, but that is something to be sorted out in proper time. Right now, the FBI is running a Jihad against targeted members of Congress–Abscam II–and that has to be dealt with, but that is a separate issue from this renewed scandal about Israeli spying and influence buying in Washington.

If there is a weakness in the Rosen/Weissman case, it is the failure of prosecutors to indict AIPAC as an organization, and to freeze their activities until the whole matter was adjudicated. Rosen and Weissman are even suing their former employer, AIPAC, for cutting them loose. AIPAC paid them to do exactly what they did, and it should be AIPAC's responsibility to prove otherwise.

We have reached a point where the divergence of national interests between the United States and Israel is widening, as never before. The Obama Administration policy is a just two-state solution. Israel's policy, especially under the current Netanyahu regime, is to exterminate the Palestinian National Movement, and create a bantustan, behind a wall for the Palestinians. It borders on being a concentration camp.

The stakes here are high, and I, for one, want to see a real reckoning. No coverup, no dropping of charges against Rosen and Weissman. Take the Uzi Arad matter to the public. And, in the course of determining who the NSA was targeting, when Jane took the wrong phone call, do not ignore the role, at that time, of the Pentagon and VP neocons, who were, sadly, let off the hook when Larry Franklin took the fall. This is a 30 year spy ring, going all the way back to Dr. Stephen Bryen's spying while Jimmy Carter was still President. It is time to pull the string that unravels the entire fabric, and maybe this Harmon scandal is the last best opportunity to do just that.  Harper

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26 Responses to Harper on the Harman/AIPAC affair.

  1. MRW. says:

    To think that indicted Steve Rosen had the temerity to crow six weeks ago that he brought down Chas Freeman’s nomination as chair of the National Intelligence Council. Truly outrageous.
    Harper: commenters on another Web site said that Franklin isn’t serving jail time because his name doesn’t come up in the Federal Bureau of Prisons database. Do you know anything about this? Was he hauled off to jail the day you were there for sentencing? Is he in a military jail?
    Another question: what precisely did Franklin get 12 years for? I thought it was for passing classified documents. Wasn’t it established that Israel asked for them via Rosen and Weissman?

  2. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Incisive analysis. Thanks.
    McNulty is probably the one that let AIPAC off the hook. One look at Wiki, and it is clear that McNulty fails to inspire. Key quote: “[McNulty] was appointed the U.S. attorney in Alexandria three days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. McNulty, who had no trial experience…”
    No trial experience? Odds are high he was a neoconservative political appointee and nothing more — hardly enough to motivate those in the office who work day and night investigating and prosecuting cases. Contra. Patrick Fitzgerald who would annihilate Addington.
    Re: Aipac trial. The administration of justice demands that prosecutors sometimes try a case, even it is not a slam dunk. As the metaphorical saying goes in the courthouse, you just fall on your sword, ego be damned. And in some ways, when the odds are stacked against you, trying the case is that much more interesting because you can take greater chances.
    I haven’t look closely at the underlying facts of the aipac case nor the legal proceedings, but, off hand, it looks triable to me. If I recall, the judge previously denied a motion to dismiss, so obviously a foundation to try to the case exists. Franklin’s testimony, plus carefully crafted jury charges, can overcome the judge’s prior ruling that was adverse to the prosecutors. The key, I suppose, is introducing evidence that the defendants actually knew that passing on the info was against US interests. Seems doable to me, at least to the point, where you can escape a directed verdict type motion. Can’t help but believe you’d see some fascinating pre-trial hearings that would determine the scope of Franklin’s testimony, and I can’t help but wonder what the honorable judge thinks about declarations against interest.
    The fact the case has taken so long to go to trial isn’t the end of the world. If things were to fall into place, a successful appeal becomes more difficult because the judge has protected the record. I know nothing about the judge but right now, my presumption is that he is tops. Then again, I still believe in the system and often find myself an apologist, generally speaking, for the federal judiciary.

  3. curious says:

    I am trying to find out when harmon was in Israel… haven’t find it yet.
    (May 31, 2005) Trip to Israel (meet and greet, can’t find detail.)
    anyway, more dates
    On Dec. 21, 2005, in the midst of a firestorm of criticism about the wiretaps, Harman issued a statement defending the operation and slamming the Times, saying, “I believe it essential to U.S. national security, and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities.”
    And thanks to grateful Bush administration officials, the investigation of Harman was effectively dead.
    So here’s what this looks like. In 2004, Gonzales makes notes of the March 10 meeting after it became clear Comey and friends might make legal trouble after Bush continued the program without DOJ authorization. He did so specifically to record the reactions of the Gang of Eight. Later that year, Jane Harman encourages the NYT to drop its story about Bush’s law-breaking.
    The following year, Gonzales’ DOJ has Jane Harman caught in what it considers “a completed crime.” Yet Gonzales declines further investigation and prosecution of that alleged crime, because he needs Harman to give cover to the Administration for its own “completed crime,” and he’s got a briefcase full of notes to ensure she will give that cover.
    In October 2006, it was reported that Harman was under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly (with the help of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee enlisting wealthy donors to lobby House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to retain Harman as the head Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. The investigation into the alleged campaign to support Harman for the leadership post began in mid-2005 after media reports said that Pelosi might name Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) to succeed Harman. In addition to investigating alleged calls made at Harman’s behest by wealthy Democratic Party contributors to Pelosi, the probe is also looking into whether, in exchange for help from AIPAC, Harman agreed to try to persuade the Bush Administration to go easy on AIPAC officials involved in a broader investigation. [1]

  4. An interesting book could be written on the close linkages and communications between the Eastern District of Virginia and its various US Attorneys and Assistants and so-called “Main Justice” and its politicals. Really in many ways just one organization when it comes to National Security issues and policies and cooperation and collaboration. Probably makes the US
    Attorney for the Easter District one of the most significant Presidential appointments (subject to Senate confirmation of course like all US attorneys.)

  5. Highlander says:

    What is with the harp? Like the Scottish Chiefs, do you have your own personal harpist? Are is the harp one of Congress person Harman’s interest?

  6. The beaver says:

    In this timeline:
    * May 2005 – Larry Franklin, a former employee of the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, is indicted for passing to lobbyists for AIPAC information about US policy on Iran.
    * Oct 2005 – Franklin pleads guilty to unauthorized disclosure of classified information, and is later sentenced to almost 13 years in prison.

  7. Cloned Poster says:

    Message for fnord from earlier thread:
    Harman is Jewish, that said, according to US News, she is one rich bitch.

  8. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    I think that the image of the harp is an acknowledgment of the poster, pseudonymously known as “Harper”.
    But then again, perhaps this is merely in keeping with Col. Lang’s practice of making ironic commentary through his choice of the images that accompany his posts, and could be construed as an oblique reference to the skill with which AIPAC plays the members of our political/pundit/media class. You know, like a harp…

  9. J says:

    Cloned Poster,
    How much of Ms. Harman’s wealth is perhaps ‘re-funneled’ (Israeli government laundering of U.S. tax dollars into special bank accounts and Congressional campaign donations through their special quislings ‘big donors’ to reward ‘their bought-n-paid-for’ Members of Congress under-the-table) U.S. economic loan dollars Congress authorizes each year to Israel? Just a question for thought.

  10. charlottemom says:

    As rich as they are the Harmons would be richer if Harmon Industries LBO by KKR and Goldman hadn’t collapsed with credit crisis

  11. fnord says:

    “Franklin was, remember, a gopher for Feith, Wurmser, Luti, Rhode, Shulsky, Wolfowitz, Perle, Ledeen etal. ”
    I think the correct term is fluffer, sir. If you excuse my guttertalk.
    Given this, and the JSF hack, and the Estonian & Georgian episodes “we” have to sit down and realize that we are lagging in cyber-conflict models. Its so easy to infiltrate systems these days using sleeperbots etc. that its like the old defensive/offensive-stationary/mobile matrice, if yknow what I mean. “We” really need to sit down and take that part seriously as well as the problems of the whole COIN model.

  12. fnord says:

    Cloned poster: just drop the Jew word, because it is inprecise, its like saying “muslim”. In Europe, it has a lot of connotations, it makes us react. Say what branch of Judaism she comes from. Be precise. Im old anti-fa.

  13. curious says:

    The F35 leak
    In October 2008, the DoD Inspector General removed its report about BAE, on the grounds that they lacked “sufficient appropriate evidence” that advanced technology and classified information may have been compromised. Now, a Wall Street Journal report maintains that:
    “Computer spies have broken into the Pentagon’s $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project…. intruders were able to copy and siphon off several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems…. Six current and former officials familiar with the matter confirmed that the fighter program had been repeatedly broken into. The Air Force has launched an investigation.
    ….The intruders compromised the system responsible for diagnosing a plane’s maintenance problems during flight…. [the] plane’s most vital systems—such as flight controls and sensors—are physically isolated from the publicly accessible Internet…. intruders entered through vulnerabilities in the networks of two or three contractors…”
    BAE Systems is one of the 3 biggest contractors in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, alongside Northrop Grumman and below program lead Lockheed Martin. Within the information accessible from the Internet, the Wall Street Journal adds that the crackers:

  14. curious says:

    btw, georgia is heating up again. This after russia say no on nato exercise, and asking why the MD is still on.
    This afternoon, the Eurasia Daily Monitor also noted the chatter in the region, and weighed in on the unfolding events.
    It is important that the Russian military acknowledges its mobilization and forward deployment of troops and ships. At present, it is impossible to know precisely how many additional army units have been moved within striking distance of Georgian territory. However, the composition of the naval force that disembarked from Sevastopol is not secret, since the Ukrainian authorities must be informed. It seems to be larger than the force that was deployed against Georgia last August. Four large amphibious landing craft left Sevastopol last week, while in August 2008 only two were reportedly deployed to insert a regiment of marines into Abkhazia in the small port of Ochamchira, close to the border with Georgia (Vlast, August 18). The marines were later deployed in the invasion of Western Georgia.
    Iran and middle east might come into play. and oil price.

  15. Tom Griffin says:

    I’ve done some background research on Uzi Arad as part of the Neocon Europe project I mentioned on a thread a while back. The resulting profile is still a bit of a mess, but there might be some interesting points in there:

  16. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    The ethnic press says:
    “Washington — Leaks of wiretap transcripts involving a member of Congress and a “suspected Israeli agent” have shone a rare light on the scope of suspicion the American intelligence establishment harbors toward Israel and its supporters…”
    One should conclude that counterintelligence pressure on Israel and its operations in and against the US must be increased.

  17. Bill Wade, NH, USA says:

    Justin Raimondo’s take on Harmon’s shamelessness:

  18. Fuuly agree with PL that AIPAC trial should continue to its bitter end! Reason is simple! It may be PL’s sought after thread but leading to unwinding of a large number of sweaters not just the influence of Israel on Executive Branch and Congress.

  19. zed says:

    About time this stays on the front page of the IHT politics page. AG Gonzo shold be strung up as well for keeping national interests exposed to hostile foreign entities knowingly.

  20. Cloned Poster says:

    Posted by: fnord | 23 April 2009 at 06:37 PM
    With all due respects fnord, I will not, there is a muslim extremists bullshit media msm hyper-play etc.
    so spare me your diplomatic language.

  21. curious says:

    But Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told the director of the agency, Porter J. Goss, to hold off on briefing lawmakers about the conversation, between Ms. Harman and an Israeli intelligence operative, despite a longstanding government policy to inform Congressional leaders quickly whenever a member of Congress could be a target of a national security investigation.
    One reason Mr. Gonzales intervened, the former officials said, was to protect Ms. Harman because they saw her as a valuable administration ally in urging The New York Times not to publish an article about the National Security Agency’s program of wiretapping without warrants.
    The accounts provided new details about tension between senior C.I.A. officials and the attorney general over what to make of the wiretapped conversations involving Ms. Harman, which the former government officials said first occurred in spring 2005. The involvement of both Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Goss in the case involving Ms. Harman was first reported by Congressional Quarterly, but the former officials provided new details.
    A person who is familiar with Mr. Gonzales’s account of the events said that the former attorney general had acknowledged having raised with Mr. Goss the idea that Ms. Harman was playing a helpful role in dealing with The Times.

  22. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Here is the Shah of Iran speaking – 1974

  23. charlottemom says:

    Any future discussion on torture and Harmon scandal will be sidelined by the latest global swine flu epidemic. This story will suck the oxygen out of all geo-political stories into the near future. Would love to see Col. Lang initiate a discussion on this new threat.

  24. Norman Birnbaum says:

    The credibility of all would be greatly increased by attention to not quite minor details like spelling of names (Harman, Saban, are correct)—-and it is surprising that Harman’s misadventures evoke so much indignation after the cases of figures like Abrams, Indyk,m Ross.
    Some of this rests on fraud in which excessively gullible political customers believe the claims of the American Jewish Committee, AIPAC, Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, to represent a large majority of American Jewry. The membership numbers are nowhere near that and the sentiments and ideas are divided. The fault lies in the reluctance of members of the Congress and the Senate (across all ethnic and religious affiliations)and the media to scrutinize these groups with a minimum of critical distance …..Norman Birnbaum

  25. zanzibar says:

    Feds drop charges in Israel Spy Case
    AIPAC wins another round! Steve Rosen is on a roll – first he kills the Chas Freeman appointment and then he gets the Feds to drop espionage charges against him. AIPAC activities continues to get shielded from public scrutiny.

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