The Real AIPAC Spy Ring Story -- It Was  All About Iran

by Doug Ireland

08/0/05 "Direland"  -- -- Here's what the stories in today's  Washington
Post and New  York Times on the new indictments of the  two AIPAC spies
aren't telling you: their  espionage was principally about helping to
prepare an  attack by Israel on Iran. And one of the Israeli embassy
officials who knows all about AIPAC's role in helping plan  the attack on
Iran has been whisked out of the country and  out of the reach of U.S.
prosecutors, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz  reports this morning.

The neo-cons in the Pentagon had long  been arguing for an attack on Iran to
take out its nuclear  facilities that had the potential to be converted for
development of nuclear weapons. Wolfie's man Doug Feith  had been
particularly assiduous in pressing the case for a  "forward strategy"
against Iran. Feith's views  are madly extremist, and Jim Zogby collected
them in an  April profile of Feith that  should scare the pants off of
anyone rational. (Feith's  been a major activist for years with the
viciously  anti-Arab crazies of the ZOA, the Zionist Organization of

When, for purely electoral reasons with  the Iraq occupation going so
disastrously, the White House decided against a direct attack by the U.S. on
Iran, the  neo-cons went to Plan B -- an attack on Iran by proxy,  from
Israel. The principal classified documents leaked to  Israel through AIPAC
-- the leaks that that began the  investigation of the AIPAC spy ring, which
has been going  on now for over a year -- concerned Iran. They were leaked
by Feith's deputy, Larry Franklin, also now under a  five-count indictment
for spying.

The plan for an Israeli attack on Iran  has been long envisioned -- both in
Washington and by  Sharon's government -- but this attack is now in a highy
advanced state of planning and could come as quickly as Sharon snaps his
fingers to order it. Back  on March 13, the London Times -- in a report that
was largely ignored in the U.S. -- reported that:  "The inner cabinet of
Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime  minister, gave 'initial authorisation' for
an attack at a  private meeting last month on his ranch in the Negev

The London Times went on to  describe how "Israeli forces have used a
mock-up of  Iranšs Natanz uranium enrichment plant in the desert to
practise destroying it. Their tactics include raids by  Israelšs elite
Shaldag (Kingfisher) commando  unit and airstrikes by F-15 jets from 69
Squadron, using  bunker-busting bombs to penetrate underground facilities.
The  plans have been discussed with American officials who are  said to have
indicated provisionally that they would not  stand in Israelšs way if all
international  efforts to halt Iranian nuclear projects failed...."  And,
the Times added, "US officials warned last week  that a military strike on
Iranian nuclear facilities by  Israeli or American forces had not been ruled
out should  the issue become deadlocked at the United Nations."

Just  a few weeks before that  revelation of the concretization of Israeli
plans for the  Iran attack, Bush let the cat out of the bag in an
off-the-cuff remark captured by London's Daily  Telegraph, in a February 18
Telegraph reported that Bush said:  "Clearly, if I was the leader of Israel
and I'd  listened to some of the statements by the Iranian  ayatollahs that
regarded the security of my country, I'd  be concerned about Iran having a
nuclear weapon as well.  And in that Israel is our ally, and in that we've
made a  very strong commitment to support Israel, we will support  Israel if
her security is threatened."

Noting that Bush had gone  off the reservations and failed to follow his
handlers'  brefing to stick to the agreed-on script, the Telegraph  dryly
noted: "His comments appeared to be a departure  from the administration's
line that there are no plans to  attack at present and that Washington
backs European diplomatic efforts. The remarks may  have reflected Mr Bush's
personal thinking on an issue  causing deep concern in Washington...."
Bush's  slip-of-the-tongue that revealed his real intentions was  front-page
news in Le Monde and other European dailies --  but got no attention in the
Stateside major media.

At the time Feith's deputy  Franklin (and, today's indictments say, two
other as yet  unidentified Pentagon officials) were passing the  classified
documents on Iran to AIPAC for transmission to  Israel, the White House had
not yet given the green light  to Sharon -- indeed, the Iran attack was in a
holding  pattern pending the outcome of negotiations over Teheran's  nuke
capacity  being led by the European powers which, unlike the U.S., have
diplomatic relations with the  Islamic Republic of Iran.

Even so, U.S. fingerprints  were all over the Israelis'  Iran attack, which
had  long been envisioned by U.S. policy-makers. The  respected Israeli
daily Ha'aretz spelled it out  last September 13, reporting: "The Clinton
administration laid the foundation for that option  [of attacking Iran] by
giving the Rabin government the  okay to purchase, with coupons, the F-15I
(dubbed  "Thunder" in Israel). The Bush administration  will complete the
task by agreeing to give Israel  air-to-surface munitions that will breach
the mysteries of  the nuclear network in the depths of Isfahan and other
sites, far more concealed than the reactor that is on  worldwide display at
Bushehr. What the Americans are  unable to do, because of European, United
Nations and  Congressional pressure, Israel will do."

The indictment of the two  senior AIPAC staffers follows the indictment in
may of  Feith's footpad Larry Franklin. Franklin worked in the  Office of
Special Plans, run by then-Undersecretary of  Defense for Policy Douglas
Feith, who reported to  then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. The
OSP functioned as a "shadow" intelligence service on  Iraq, and provided
much of the information to the White  House that was used to justify the
American invasion of  Iraq. Some  wags have called it "Feith-based
intelligence",  since much of that intelligence and information has now
been proven to be utterly false. At the beginning of  May, Franklin  was
arrested by the FBI for the passing of classified  documents to two AIPAC
staffers, who were then to pass  them to Israel. The documents in question
concerned Iran.

One of the two  newly-indicted AIPACers isn't just anybody. Steve Rosen,
63, is the man who built AIPAC into the $40  million  dollar Capitol Hill
powerhouse it is today. Buried in a  Washington Post profile of AIPAC from
May 19 is the  skinny on Rosen as the power behind the scenes at AIPAC.
Said the Post:

"For more than two decades, Rosen  has been a mainstay of AIPAC and the
architect of the  group's ever-increasing clout. Though Rosen was listed
below Executive Director Howard Kohr on AIPAC's organizational chart, people
familiar with AIPAC's history  say that Kohr is a protege of Rosen's and got
that job  with his help. Kohr declined to be interviewed about  Rosen. 'He
[Rosen] is a quiet guy,' said M.J. Rosenberg,  director of policy analysis
for the Israel Policy Forum,  another pro-Israel group, and a former AIPAC
employee.  'But everyone knows he's the brains behind the  outfit.'"

Now, just what is AIPAC, you may well  ask? AIPAC is the enforcer of the
knee-jerk support for  the Israeli government which characterizes the
political  and governing classes in this country, -- Israel is the real
third rail of American politics:   touch it with criticism, no matter how
carefully couched,  and you die. Both the Democratic and Republican parties
fall all over themselves to  kiss AIPAC's boots -- because AIPAC and its
well-filled  war-chest helps make sure they toe the line on Israel, and  has
been responsible for the defeat of a significant  number of politicians over
the years who dared to  criticize Israeli policies. Earlier this year, AIPAC
played a major role in destroying  the candidacy of Tim Roemer for chairman
of the DNC. There's an in-depth,  critical profile of AIPAC by RightWeb's
Michael Flynn that gives an in-depth look at AIPAC's  arm-and-leg-breaking
political style. And the newly  indicted Rosen is The Man Behind the
Curtain. Even though  he formally resigned from AIPAC, the organization is
paying his legal bills, and Rosen is still pulling the  strings.

The reason for putting some daylight  between Rosen and AIPAC is that the
puissant political  arm-twister is deathly afraid it will be forced to
register as a foreign lobby, as the Jewish weeily The  Forward reported
earlier this year. Americans don't  like the sight of their elected
officials pocketing  campaign cash from foreign governments, and AIPAC fears
being forced to register formally as a lobbyist for Israel would thus
diminish their clout on Capitol Hill. Bush  won't make AIPAC register, and
the spinless Democratic  Congressional leadership won't lead the charge to
make  them do so either. But today's indictments of  string-puller Rosen and
his AIPAC colleague for spying on  the U.S. gives progressives who want to
see a peaceful,  two-state, land-for-peace solution between Israel and
Palestine a strategic opening to press loudly for AIPAC's  formal shil
registration as a shil for the government that  built the Israeli Wall of
Shame. It's a measure long past  due.

One of the Israeli diplomats the feds  want to question about the activities
of the AIPAC spy  ring has been quietly spirited out of the country,
Ha'aretz  reports this morning. "The Israeli diplomat in Washington who met
several times with Franklin has been  identified as Naor Gilon head of the
political department  at the Israeli Embassy in Washington and a specialist
on  proliferation issues.  Gilon returned to Israel a few  days ago as part
of a long-scheduled rotation according to  an Israeli official in