The Franklin case /
More strain is coming to U.S.-Israeli relations
June 16, 2005
Monday of a federal indictment against former Pentagon analyst Lawrence
A. Franklin may unfortunately be the start of another long case
of Israeli spying against the United States.
who will go to trial Sept. 6, pleaded not guilty to the six-count
grand jury filing. If the charges turn out to be true, the result
could be even more painful for U.S.-Israeli relations than the Jonathan
Pollard case. Pollard, a U.S. Navy intelligence officer convicted
in 1987 of spying for Israel in return for money, is still serving
a life sentence. The sensitivity of the Pollard case to this day
was underscored by Israelis who demonstrated for his release during
First Lady Laura Bush's visit to Jerusalem in May.
is accused of passing classified information not only to an officer
of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, but also to the American-Israel
Political Action Committee. The Pollard case did not involve AIPAC.
identifies two former AIPAC lobbyists as co-conspirators with Mr.
Franklin. They are not named in the filing, but government officials
say they are Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman. Both were dismissed
by AIPAC after news of the Franklin case broke. By doing so, AIPAC
has sought to demonstrate disapproval of their suspected involvement,
as well as to disassociate itself from the storm that may come with
that Mr. Franklin is accused of having passed to the Israeli Embassy
and AIPAC concerns Iranian nuclear testing, a sensitive subject.
Israel and the United States have both threatened military action
against Iran over its nuclear program. There have been indications
that the United States, stretched thin militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan,
might be thinking of giving the Israelis a green light to attack
Iran's nuclear facilities, as they did Iraq's in 1981. Such action
would risk setting off a major regional war between Israel and Iran,
with the United States inevitably drawn in -- which is what makes
the information that Lawrence Franklin is accused of passing so
What is especially
disappointing about what we know so far in the Franklin case, as
well as the earlier Jonathan Pollard case, is that they take place
against a background of intelligence cooperation between the United
States and Israel that is -- and has been for many years -- deep
and extensive. If the charges against Mr. Franklin turn out to be
true, given the relationship between the two countries it is hard
to understand why the Israeli government or AIPAC would feel the
need to try to obtain classified information through an American
and AIPAC must be aware not only of the bad public relations fall-out
of such activities when exposed, but also of the erosion of confidence
between the two countries that inevitably ensues in a case of espionage.
The Israeli Embassy and AIPAC both needed to tell Lawrence Franklin
to get lost and even report him to his government if he approached
PG Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.