Larry Franklin, implicated in Israeli spy affair, breaks silence

Franklin

Franklin

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Lawrence Anthony Franklin, the former US Defense Department analyst whose 12-year prison sentence was suspended last month, has finally broken his silence. Franklin, who was accused by the US government of handing classified US military information to two American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbyists, has told Jeff Stein of SpyTalk that he handed out the secret information “in hopes that it would be passed on to the White House”. He said he was “worried” the Bush administration pursued a schizophrenic policy on Iran and had not calculated the Iranian reaction to a possible US invasion of Iraq. He therefore decided to pass on the classified information, which included “the names and locations of Iran’s secret agents and safe houses in Iraq”, to AIPAC lobbyists Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, who claimed they had senior contacts in the Bush administration. Franklin also said that, while awaiting his trial, he met with a man who “was definitely a Zionist” at a West Virginia racetrack. The man, who volunteered to help Franklin raise funds for his legal defense, apparently told the former US Defense Department analyst that several “rich people” would help him out financially, if he agreed to “disappear and fake a suicide”. Franklin and his lawyer refused to publicly identify the man, but said that they reported this to the FBI and that he Bureau is currently conducting “some sort of investigation” in the matter. Finally, Larry Franklin shed some light on the infamous December 2001 meeting in Rome between Bush administration representatives and notorious Iranian arms merchant Manucher Ghorbanifar. According to Franklin, who (along with Harold Rhode and Michael Ledeen) was one of three authorized American participants in the encounter, said the meeting took place with the full support of several Bush administration officials, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, of the US Department of Defense, as well as William Luti and John Hannah, close aides to then Vice President Dick Cheney. This was despite the fact that Ghorbanifar, who was the principal mediator in the Reagan administration’s Iran-Contra affair, was considered unreliable and had been placed on a “no-contract list” by the CIA. Franklin now claims that the meeting focused on a plan by Ghorbanifar to topple the Iranian government, centered on a fake truck drivers’ strike (Chile, anyone?), for which he would require $5 million from the US government. Franklin says he thought the plan was “amateurish and would’ve gotten people killed and America embarrassed. And we would be out $5 million, while he would be $5 million richer”. But when he returned from Rome, he found out that several Bush administration officials “liked the idea” and were “wondering why [he] didn’t support Ghorbanifar”. Jeff Stein’s account of his interview with Larry Franklin is available here, here and here.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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