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May 6, 2005
AIPAC Got Top Secret/Codeword Information

Michelle Malkin has been following the case of Larry Franklin, who had been accused of stealing classified information on Iran from his post at the Office of Special Plans and passing it to AIPAC, a pro-Israeli group. This case has received little fanfare from the media and the blogosphere, probably in part because of the Sandy Berger case and the strange unwillingness on the part of the government to aggressively pursue Berger's violations, especially before the election.

However, Michelle points out a Newsday report from yesterday which shows why the Franklin case should be making more of a splash. It turns out that not only was the material classified, it actually had one of the highest possible classifications -- Top Secret/Compartmentalized, also known as Codeword classification, meaning that the information directly impacts the national security of the United States:

An analyst in a controversial Pentagon intelligence office was charged yesterday with passing top-secret information to two staff members of a pro-Israeli lobbying group here.

Charged was Larry Franklin, an Iran specialist who worked in the Office of Special Plans, established by Pentagon Undersecretary Douglas Feith in order to give Pentagon civilians an independent source of intelligence that could bolster the case for war with Iraq.

He was charged with passing highly classified information about potential attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq to two individuals identified by sources as staff members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in June 2003, shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

It was not clear yesterday whether the information was passed on to Israel. Intelligence sources said the classification - Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information - was often used to protect information from electronic surveillance where disclosure might tip off a foreign government that its communications were being monitored.

But the involvement of Feith's intelligence office and the public affairs committee - the premier pro-Israel lobbying group here and one of the city's largest lobbies - made the charges particularly sensitive.

I don't care if the documents were leaked by a Medal of Honor winner to Tony Blair himself -- releasing TS/C information to any outside source is by definition espionage and should result in the strongest possible government response. In this case, it appears that Franklin followed the path of Jonathan Pollard, who passed along highly classified information to Israel. Pollard's rightly serving a life sentence for carrying out his own notion of foreign policy. Even if the information never went any further than AIPAC, Franklin committed a clear and jaw-dropping crime, if these allegations can be proven.

Those of us who were outraged by Berger's destruction of top-secret documents should be just as outraged over these developments in the Franklin case. Anyone who works with classified information at any level understands the consequences of unauthorized transmission; for those who work at spook-level with codeword classifications, those consequences are continually reiterated. If guilty, Franklin knew exactly what he was doing, and deserves no mercy or sympathy on the premise of helping out an ally of the US. Only the people Constitutionally in charge of the government (IOW, the President) makes those decisions.

Keep up with this story at Michelle's blog as it develops, but don't let hers be the only voice calling for immediate action against everyone involved in this security breach.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 6, 2005 6:49 AM

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I've mentioned here before that I'm employed as a contractor to various government agencies that, shall we say, take the confidentiality of their information extremely seriously. I'm cleared to view and work with information at some rather high level... [Read More]

Tracked on May 6, 2005 9:53 PM

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