Thursday, June 30, 2005

Larry Franklin, lone nut

There is an interesting article in the New Yorker by Jeffrey Goldberg about the AIPAC spy investigation. It is interesting in that it is massively slanted to protection of AIPAC and Israel from the effects of the scandal. Goldberg's basic argument is to blame the whole thing on Larry Franklin:

  1. Larry Franklin is a Pentagon employee with an odd and loony fetish about the danger of Iran ('sweet, bumbling Larry' on 'Planet Franklin');

  2. He tried to interest members of the Bush Administration about this but was too lowly an employee to get anybody to listen to him; so

  3. He talked to AIPAC and an Israeli official hoping that AIPAC and Israel would use their pull to get the Administration to pay attention to the problem.

This is so backasswards it is actually funny. The Bush Administration is not interested in the dangers of Iran? AIPAC and Israel need Larry Franklin to alert them to the supposed dangers of Iran? AIPAC and Israel need Larry Franklin to goad them into bringing this matter up with the Bush Administration? Larry Franklin is described as if he were some nut AIPAC and Israel met on the subway talking about how the CIA planted a bug in his dentures, and are now being blamed solely because they politely listened to the nut. Goldberg plays up the official Israeli spin that the whole matter is just an FBI sting operation, and the idea that what AIPAC did was just ordinary-course-of-business Washington lobbying, and doesn't mention the fact that the only reason the FBI found out about Franklin is that they were already monitoring AIPAC as part of some wider investigation which has not yet seen the light of day.

Goldberg was the fellow who did the interview with Feith, and the fact Feith consented to talk to him should have made us suspicious. Gary Leupp writes about Goldberg:

"Goldberg in 2002 published an article in the New Yorker praised by former CIA director and leading Iraq war enthusiast James Woolsey as a 'blockbuster' providing a better rationale for an Iraq attack than what could then be culled from the cautious CIA intelligence reports. He claimed that al-Ansar, a group variously described as mostly Kurdish or mostly Arab and generally shrouded in mystery, was producing weapons of mass destruction on the Iranian border. The area was so pummeled by U.S. bombing that there can be no verification of the pre-war claims. Woolsey stated at the time that the CIA "got beat on this story by the New Yorker and Jeff Goldberg." I asked at the time: "How likely is that, and who is likely to be feeding whom here - the CIA Mr. Goldberg, or Mr. Goldberg the CIA?"

Goldberg is thus one of the first propagandists to tie Saddam to al Qaeda, a fact which should color our reading of everything else he comes up with.

The New Yorker, through years of publishing the truth that others are afraid to touch, has become the preeminent American magazine. If they publish much more laughable crap like this, their hard-won reputation is going to go down the toilet. Larry Franklin is being set up as a patsy, with AIPAC and Israel completely off the hook. Franklin's only hope is to do a deal with the prosecutors, telling them the whole story about his dealings with AIPAC and Israel, the real story of his meetings with Rhode, Ledeen and Ghorbanifar, and the dark secrets of how Feith cooked the intelligence to feed lies from Sharon's office through the Office of Special Plans to fool Americans into the disastrous attack on Iraq (we know about the role of the Office of Special Plans in large part from the work of Hersh published in the New Yorker!). To do that deal Franklin needs a lawyer independent of Ledeen, AIPAC, and Israel. This article, if nothing else, should alert him to the seriousness of the danger he is in.