Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The strategy behind the spy scandal

We can now get pretty close to an outline of what is really behind the odd Israeli spy story. From the - ahem - New York Times:

"The Pentagon official under suspicion of turning over classified information to Israel began cooperating with federal agents several weeks ago and was preparing to lead the authorities to contacts inside the Israeli government when the case became publicly known last week, government officials said Sunday.

The disclosure of the inquiry late on Friday by CBS News revealed what had been for nearly a year a covert national security investigation conducted by the F.B.I., according to the officials, who said that news reports about the inquiry compromised important investigative steps, like the effort to follow the trail back to the Israelis."

The line will be that the unfortunate leak has made it impossible to trace the connections back to Israel, and thus this whole investigation has to be abandoned. From the neocon point of view, the essential treasure to keep hidden is the extremely odd relationship between the military dictatorship that runs Israel and the military dictatorship that runs the United States. This is such an important secret to keep that it was worth creating a 'limited hangout', implicating a relatively minor functionary connected with the neocons and even temporarily embarrassing AIPAC. The whole thing is almost certainly fake, with Franklin having done nothing wrong. Already the story is being polished, with Franklin being described as 'naive' and 'strange'. His role in the Pentagon, and even his competence at his job, is also being denigrated. The spin will be that his stupidity may have led him to inadvertently disclose to AIPAC officials information which he did not realize was sensitive. The AIPAC officials will be said to have received this information innocently, and the whole incident will be shelved. As the FBI operation has been 'blown', any investigation of the deep issues will be dropped, with the added bonus that there will be no more wiretaps of AIPAC (I'd like to know which FBI official has such enormous balls that he would approve the surveillance of AIPAC in the political climate in the United States today). The investigation of the Office of Special Plans will be hobbled until Bush wins the election (the FBI is already "wrapping this thing up"), at which point it will quietly disappear. Franklin probably won't even be indited, and certainly nobody at AIPAC will feel the slightest pressure (an apology to AIPAC and to Israel is probably in the works). All in all, a very successful leak.


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