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Spies In The Pentagon

How could you tell the difference between an Israeli spy on Doug Feith's staff and everyone else on Doug Feith's staff? A joke, yes, but only sort of. For that reason, I find these details more interesting:

The Pentagon analyst who officials said was under suspicion was one of two department officials who traveled to Paris for secret meetings with Iranian dissidents, including Manucher Ghorbanifar, an arms dealer. Mr. Ghorbanifar was a central figure in the Iran-contra affair in the 1980's, in which the United States government secretly sold arms to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages in Lebanon and to finance the fighters, known as contras, opposing the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

The secret meetings were first held in Rome in December 2001, were approved by senior Pentagon officials and were originally brokered by Michael Ledeen, a conservative analyst at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute who has a longstanding interest in Iranian affairs. It was not clear whether the espionage investigation was directly related to the meetings with Mr. Ghorbanifar. Nor was there immediate evidence of whether money had changed hands in exchange for classified information.

Now that is interesting. Israel, Iran, Rome, Michael Ledeen, the whole cast of characters reminds me of nothing so much as the Niger forgery and its accompanying Grand Islamic Alliance of Bad Guys forgery that tipped the CIA off. Proof that there's a connection? No. But if I weren't going to be on a train tomorrow, I'd be keeping close tabs on Marshall and Rozen who've been reporting out these forgeries for quite some time and apparently making headway, though evidently whatever they've got isn't fully ready for publication just yet.

UPDATE: Perhaps I should have just looked at Laura's site myself, which appears to confirm that this investigation is related to the Niger forgeries, since she stumbled onto the relevant sources while investigating that caper, but it's not clear from her reporting what the connection is. Knight-Ridder has the target of the investigation being looked into not only for dealings with Israel which apparently pertain to his status as a leading Iran hawk, and for his dealings with Ahmed Chalabi, who seems to be an Iranian spy. This cognitive dissonance among the neocons is, as readers will recall, something I've pointed to many times and something that Ledeen is at the center of.

August 28, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

I have long been annoyed by the apparent lack of interest it the Niger forgeries. There was all this discussion of the fall out from accepting those forgeries, but precious few people were asking who made them and what were their motives.

Maybe the lack of interest was only apparent with our government. We shall see. That is no excuse for the media, though. Forged documents make it into the reasoning in Presidential speeches, and reporters don't think to follow up on who did the forging? No soup for you, media!

Who knows where this goes, but the implications are rather terrifying.

At least the Israelis are our friends. Right? Right? I'd rather nominal friends were effectively spying on us than avowed enemies...

Posted by: Timothy Klein | Aug 28, 2004 3:26:45 AM

"How could you tell the difference between an Israeli spy on Doug Feith's staff and everyone else on Doug Feith's staff?"

Ain't it the truth.

I dislike Republicans, but I hate Likudniks.

Posted by: Petey | Aug 28, 2004 5:41:00 AM

People, people, if this story gets big enough you'll just have to wait a week or two for Krauthammer to explain how this didn't really happen and if it did happen it's not that bad and if it is that bad look at the French and the UN.

Posted by: WeSaferThemHealthier | Aug 28, 2004 6:27:08 AM

A spy or two doesn't mean much. I bothers me however that so many pro-Likudist, from Perle to Wormser, Wolfowitz and Feith, all with active, known ties to Israel, were able to assume command at the Pentagon, and have become the effective filters for intelligence reaching hte president and congress.

This has to be a first stage in a much bigger deal. The whole Friday night, CBS, aspect sounds stagey as heck. Maybe Karl Rove has decided the necons were not such a positive asset after all.

Posted by: steve kohler | Aug 28, 2004 8:30:20 AM

Wow. I myself have long thought that the Italian angle on the Niger forgeries pointed to Ledeen.
IIRC Ledeen didn't have much to say in public during the run-up to the Iraq war. Neocon apologists usually offer this up as proof that there was no party line about the war on their side (and, hence, implicitly, no organized sub rosa effort to make it happen). The truth, as usual, could be much more interesting.

Posted by: El Gringo Loco | Aug 28, 2004 8:37:52 AM

A spy is never a good thing, but let's be honest: planning [1] for the invasion of Iraq began in early 2001, a few weeks after the Bush Administration took office. The presence of a spy or agent proveturer had no influence on that decision.

Cranky

[1] Political planning. The DoD of course has plans ready to invade just about anything, although the Iraq plans had to be dusted off and finished up.

Posted by: Cranky Observer | Aug 28, 2004 10:35:38 AM

Michael Ledeen wrapped up in an Israeli/Iranian spy story? Please oh please let it be true. Faster please.

Posted by: cynical joe | Aug 28, 2004 11:06:19 AM

Cynical Joe-- "Faster please."

That's pretty funny.

Posted by: Laura | Aug 28, 2004 11:40:06 AM

This must be some mistake. There is no reason whatsoever for the Israelis to spy on the US, they already get everything they want, all they have to do is ask.

Oftentimes they get stuff they don't even ask for and have no use for, like that recent "we support Israel no matter what" congressional proclamation that forgot to mention a Palestinian state - passed 405-9 (or something like that).

This spy thing is probably nothing; perhaps they just needed to hire someone's lover or brother-in-law at the Pentagon and didn't have a position for him (all those "third deputy of the second assistant" positions were already taken), so they had to create a new position and called it "official Israeli spy at the Pentagon" - just for laughs.

Posted by: abb1 | Aug 28, 2004 11:48:22 AM

People, people, if this story gets big enough you'll just have to wait a week or two for Krauthammer to explain how this didn't really happen and if it did happen it's not that bad and if it is that bad look at the French and the UN.

This parallels conservative reasoning on global warming going back 10 years or more: it's not happening, no matter what the evidence says; even if it's happening, we can't do anything about it; and if it's really happening, it's actually a Good Thing.

Posted by: S. Anderson | Aug 28, 2004 1:53:41 PM

Ledeen has been rather vocal in attacking Josh Marshall for 'smears', in a way that seems more consonant with background research than anything that has appeared in print. Methinks the neocon protests too much.

And yes, please please please please let it be both true and indictment-worthy. Though 'more haste, less speed' here.

Posted by: ahem | Aug 28, 2004 1:57:14 PM

Judith Miller of the NYTIMES received a supoena as part as the Plame investigation. She did not report on Plame so it seemed odd at the time, but somehow it's all related.

Posted by: JL | Aug 28, 2004 2:01:10 PM

Anti-semite jokes now? Shame on you. So this is where rabid partisanship leads you. (I'm not Jewish and not a particular supporter of Israel, just thoroughly disgusted when I saw this).

Posted by: JK | Aug 28, 2004 3:23:28 PM

It's not an anti-semitic joke, wingnut. Much of the staff has ties to AIPAC and its more Likudnik spin-offs. I recommened reading Juan Cole's post on the topic:

http://www.juancole.com/2004_08_01_juancole_archive.html#109368172121878771

Posted by: barry | Aug 28, 2004 3:37:41 PM

Just as I was returning to MY's site to post the following, I saw JK's comment.

If this gets a substantial amount of play, get ready to hear accusations of anti-Semitism a plenty. See, there was this Dreyfus guy in FRANCE and he was accused of treason only because he was Jewish, Hitler also talked a lot about back-stabbing. You can be a traitor, you can be Jewish, but you can't be both at the same time.

Isn't it time we admitted that many individuals ( Armenian, Irish, Turk, Japanese, Martian, whatever ) think in tribal terms ( Kohlberg's 3rd stage of moral development perhaps? ), and that the conduct of those individuals is liable to be seriously influenced by factors such as their ethnicity/nationality? E.i.: If you put an Irishman who cares very much about being Irish in a position that influences the Irish, you're likely to end up with leaks/warped analysis/ decisions that serve Ireland/are too hard on Britain ).

Just in case I have to make this clearer, I am positively not saying this about all members of any ethnicity. Peter Singer and Fred Kaplan, to name two, seem to be able to look past genetics as a source of loyalty.

Posted by: WeSaferThemHealthier | Aug 28, 2004 3:43:40 PM

Who said that the spy guy is Jewish? Aldrich Ames isn't Russian.

Posted by: abb1 | Aug 28, 2004 4:04:51 PM

"Who said that the spy guy is Jewish? Aldrich Ames isn't Russian."

According to my information, the spy is a guy called Franklin out of OSD in the Pentagon. Christian Reconstructionist type, like Bolton and Miller and Ashcroft and Cheney and Bush

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 28, 2004 4:37:18 PM

The Washington Post also names Franklin today. It's surprising to me that the press would so blithely blow up an ongoing criminal investigation, but I guess I can't keep track of which leaks are good and which are bad.

Posted by: Tom T. | Aug 28, 2004 4:40:47 PM

Bob,

I thought Reconstructionist Christians were racists/intolerant all around and ( therefore ) very unlikely to work under Feith. I'm not sure at all Cheney and Bush are Reconstructionists. Freaks, yes, but Reconstructionists are *really* freaky.

Note that many Christians will align themselves with the Likud because they feel theologically closer to Judaism than Islam, also tribal mentality, in the same way that many Muslims will excuse anything Hamas does because it's Muslim too.

Posted by: WeSaferThemHealthier | Aug 28, 2004 4:49:01 PM

"I'm not sure at all Cheney and Bush are Reconstructionists. Freaks..."

Joke. Hyperbole. A flat-out slander of good moderate men. I take it all back. Iraq is incomprehensible, our foreign policy establishment looks like a bad LeCarre novel, in New York bikers are throwing beer cans at cops and black helicopters are zooming toward Marching Mothers and the media is giving me Swift vets and Bush saying the rich are gonna cheat anyway, so why tax them. I am starting to feel fried.

Juan Cole today discusses how he views the Fundie/Likud nexus.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 28, 2004 5:08:19 PM

I've just been in an online exchange of comments with Michael Ledeen over at Roger L. Simon's weblog, with a summary here:

http://www.needlenose.com/node/view/231

He says it's all much ado about nothing. Really. Trust him.

In my last reply, I mentioned the Niger uranium forgeries. I'm curious if his response to that will be as even-tempered.

Posted by: Swopa | Aug 28, 2004 5:33:23 PM

Can we have the OSD spy arrested the day before Bush's convention speech and the Plame indictments the day after, please?

Posted by: aenglish | Aug 28, 2004 6:48:34 PM

Can we have the OSD spy arrested the day before Bush's convention speech and the Plame indictments the day after, please?

The fools at the National Review should have inoculated the GOP by speculating about this four weeks ago ...

Posted by: Swopa | Aug 28, 2004 7:16:53 PM

Bob, a lot of us depend on you for your calmness and assurance. Don't abandon us now.

Matt's Nazi skinhead years have been systematically covered up by the Dalton School Consolidated Rosicrucian - Knights of Malta gangsta posse, but they left a deep imprint on his attitude toward Israel.

Posted by: Zizka | Aug 29, 2004 12:41:04 AM

Flashing, zizka, it's all come back up out of the buried recesses of my chemically-rotted brain. Peace-marchers, a bad war, Cointelpro and enemies lists, pictures of long haired viet vets in front of Congress, clandestine meetings in Paris with shady Iranians, Ollie taking the Oath, Eliott Abrams, 1970 and 1986 and 2003 seem to be blending all together and the trails and the walls are breathing, man. The horror.

Marx was definitely right. First time tragedy, second time farce.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 29, 2004 2:32:21 AM

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