Saturday, September 04, 2004

MSNBC - Maloof Quits, AIPAC's Rosen Demands Lawyer

MSNBC - Secrets: Classified Info: Springing a Leak: "Secrets: Classified Info: Springing a Leak

Ron Edmonds / AP
Were they spying? Bush addresses AIPAC in May
By Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff
NewsweekSept 13 issue - One measure of how seriously the Feds are pursuing an investigation into whether a Pentagon analyst leaked secret information to a pro-Israel lobbying group is the fact that FBI agents showed up unannounced at the offices of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington late on the morning of Aug. 27 armed with a search warrant. The bureau could only have obtained the warrant by demonstrating probable cause that AIPAC's offices contained evidence of a crime. Investigators searched the office, took away documents and downloaded data from the computer of Steve Rosen, AIPAC's top foreign-policy expert; they questioned Rosen until he asked to consult a lawyer. AIPAC said it was cooperating with the investigation. But the group said none of its employees received or passed along information they "believed" to be classified.

Law-enforcement sources indicated early last week that arrests in the case might be imminent. But officials later said the U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria, Va., decided to hold up action to review the politically sensitive investigation. The FBI is trying to determine whether Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin, a veteran defense intelligence expert on Iran who later joined a controversial Pentagon policy office that helped plan and manage the Iraq war, passed info about confidential Bush administration policy deliberations on Iran to two AIPAC officials who happened to be under FBI surveillance. Franklin did not respond to requests for comment from NEWSWEEK.

Intelligence and law-enforcement sources said the investigation was the latest in a series of inquiries going back several years into officials associated with the Pentagon policy bureaucracy headed by Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith. One recently departed Pentagon official, Michael Maloof, whom Feith assigned after 9/11 to set up a two-man team to look for evidence the CIA and other intelligence agencies overlooked connections between Al Qaeda and various states, including Iraq, was investigated for years for security leaks, and eventually lost his top-secret security clearance. Officials in Feith's office also supported the politician Ahmad Chalabi in his machinations to succeed Saddam Hussein; Chalabi's ambitions hit the wall last spring after White House and senior Pentagon officials were briefed on intelligence suggesting that Chalabi had leaked highly confidential info to the Iranian government on U.S. electronic eavesdropping, causing Iranian intelligence to change its secret codes. Chalabi denied the charges. He and other friends of the neocons who staff Feith's office say the AIPAC raids are more evidence of a long vendetta by the CIA and other agencies against Bush loyalists who have questioned the agencies' judgments."

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