Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Speaking from the GUT 

Juan Cole links to Ken Henderson of The American Muckraker, who caught ex-spook Larry Johnson on MSNBC pushing what amounts to a Grand Unified Theory of current Bush administration scandals. All it's lacking is a ribbon on top:
[F]ormer CIA officer and NBC analyst Larry Johnson reported that for months he had been aware of an investigation that had led to tonight's revelation, one that had originally focused on the source of a forged document indicating that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger, presumably for making nuclear weapons. Johnson speculated that Israel may have been behind the forgery which was used by the administration to bolster its case for invasion. If so, he said, the espionage case could tie to an ongoing Justice Department criminal investigation into the outing of Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative by right-wing columnist Robert Novak. Johnson also said the FBI was furious that news of the espionage investigation had leaked. Johnson opined that the investigation could lead from DOD to the National Security Council, and that the timing of the leak just before the start of the Republican convention was not coincidental.
Cole adds some amusing commentary of his own:
It appears to be the case that someone in the Pentagon got wind that Larry Franklin had been flipped, and was terrified that the investigation might go on up the ladder at the Pentagon, in AIPAC, and with the Israelis. So they leaked news of the investigation to make sure that everybody clammed up and shredded everything.

The NYT piece today reflects continued efforts at the Pentagon to paint Franklin as a low-level desk grunt with little access to Paul Wolfowitz. This last is just a lie. In a conversation with me, Franklin indicated that he was in very close contact with Wolfowitz, and he offered to get me an audience. I said, "You don't read my web log, do you?"
Laura Rozen reports that, in addition to the Franklin/AIPAC investigation and the Feith/Ghorbanifar back-channel investigation, there is a third investigation underway. From the Boston Globe:
Another Near East policy official, F. Michael Maloof, was stripped of his security clearance a year ago after the FBI linked him to a Lebanese-American businessman under investigation by the FBI for weapons trafficking. A handgun registered to Maloof was found in the possession of Imad el Hage, a suspected arms dealer.

Investigators are seeking to learn whether Maloof's alleged contacts with Hage and a hard-line former Lebanese general, Michel Aoun, may have been part of a back-channel effort to destabilize Syria, which has occupied Lebanon for nearly two decades . . .

The official said he is trying to determine if some of the office's activities may have been prohibited by the Hughes-Ryan Amendment, which holds that all activity to undermine a foreign government must be approved by the president in a specific document approving such activity.

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