Wednesday, August 10, 2005

On Really Keeping Secrets

If the brush fire over Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is wearing you down, then there is always the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the two ex-lobbyists who are now indicted.

This case appears to be just as complex as the Rove/Libby/Fleischer(?) leak case. I had heard that there is a slight twist to the leak of classified information that Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman passed on, that a key piece of intelligence was planted in their hands to find out if they would leak said information to intelligence sources in Israel. Federal agents wired Larry Franklin and then fed him information to dish to Rosen and Weissman. From an article which no longer appears on, titled 'Justice Dept. to indict two AIPAC staffers under U.S. Espionage Act' by Nathan Guttman:

"But suspicions against Rosen and Weissman focus on a meeting a year later, on July 12, 2004. Franklin was cooperating by then with the FBI, which had threatened him with an indictment after tracking his earlier meetings with the AIPAC men, discovering the alleged hand-over of secret information. He agreed to take part in a sting operation in which he would give the two information and the investigators would then follow them."

In essence, the information slipped to Rosen and Weissman was that the Iranian government was going to target or capture Israeli civilians who were supposedly working within Kurdistan inside Iraq at the time. What they were supposed to do was nothing. What they did was warn people inside the Israeli embassy in the United States of this information. Hence, blowing the secret information.

It reminds me of the case of Hermant Lakhani who was advanced aggressively as a Homeland Security success story in targeting terrorism. While Lakhani was touted as an arms dealer looking to score, others felt it was more the work of entrapment by U.S. and Russian agents on an unsuspecting middle-man in waiting. Can that really be qualified as a success?

Secret information is critical in making connections for those who are administering complex situations whether they be counter-terrorism operations or international relations. Legally speaking, Rosen and Weissman as well as Larry Franklin will face severe scrutiny for passing on top secret information in such a cavalier way. Yet it is a bit chilling to hear that the government succeeds in some of these cases by forcing the would-be criminal's hand in order to secure the conviction.

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