Franklin Met with Naor Gilon
The Israeli foreign ministry has confirmed that Lawrence Franklin, the Pentagon’s top Iran desk officer, met repeatedly in Washington with “Naor Gilon, head of the political department at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and a specialist on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
Gilon appears already to have been under surveillance by the FBI. At one point Franklin is said to have offered him a document, which he declined to take, but asked what it said and got an oral report. Gilon was unaware that he was being monitored and clearly thought he would be safe as long as he did not have any incriminating paper in his possession (conversations can be denied or spun, as long as they aren’t taped).
Franklin did succeed in giving a confidential draft presidential directive on Iran to AIPAC officials, who then passed it to someone at the Israeli Embassy, perhaps Gilon. It is telling that the official took hard copy from AIPAC, presumably because he trusted them implicitly, whereas Gilon had rejected it from Franklin.
That Gilon is a specialist in Iran’s nuclear weapons program suggests that Franklin wanted to consult with him about what the US should do about that issue. Gilon was “Director of the Division for Strategic and Military Affairs in the Center for Policy Research in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from 2000-2002.” Franklin harbors feelings of profound hatred for the regime in Tehran and wanted to see it destroyed.
Israeli government officials and people like Dennis Ross at the AIPAC-funded “Washington Institute for Near East Policy” keep saying that this case makes no sense, since if Israel wanted to know something about US policy toward Iran, they could just make a call. This line of defense doesn’t really help, though, since it suggests that there are no US government secrets to which Israel would be denied access on a simple request. That is an impossible proposition, and if it were true then it really would be the case that AIPAC runs the US government.
I continue to believe that Franklin was not seeking to give Israel information so much as he was soliciting input on the wording of the presidential directive on Iran. We have seen over and over again in the Bush administration how crucial it is to control key policy documents. Because Bush frankly is not a detail man, and cannot get his head around nuanced policy (he makes fun of the word), the ability of his smarter subordinates to control what paper is put in front of him is key to making things happen. Thus, the Neocons managed to put the false Niger uranium purchase story into the State of the Union address in 2003 despite the opposition of CIA director George Tenet, who knew by then that it was junk. Stephen Hadley, then the Neocon chief mole in the National Security Council, signed off on the insertion.
So, if you could work up a presidential directive on Iran that, e.g., threatened military action against the Iranian nuclear facilities at Bushehr, and could put it about the Pentagon that AIPAC and the Israelis had signed off on it, you might be able to make a US air attack on Bushehr happen. When the final draft was presented to Bush for his signature, Karl Rove (Bush’s campaign chief) could be assured that Bush would get brownie points (big money and votes) from AIPAC if he signed. That is, in my view, why Franklin was willing to risk sharing confidential Pentagon policy documents with AIPAC and the Israelis. He was cultivating them as a key constituency for the aggressive policies he was formulating. Having them on board before the directive had been finalized would allow him to argue that it had to be shaped in a particular way in order to please AIPAC and the Israelis. If he could privately assure his superiors that Gilon approved, that would help him get his way in a Neocon-dominated part of the Pentagon.
The Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO) has a front organization, the “National Council of Resistance” or NCR. The NCR has been a significant source of charges about the Iranian nuclear program, and probably spies on Iran for both the Pentagon and Israel. (I am reasoning back from AIPAC’s WINEP-associated “scholars” supporting the MEK, which is very odd unless there is a big quid pro quo). They probably exaggerate, playing a game similar to that of Ahmad Chalabi in Iraq. That would be another reason for which Franklin would try to stop its Iraq commanders being turned over to Iran by the US in return for top al-Qaeda leaders that Tehran holds.