Two AIPAC employees are focus of FBI’s Pentagon spy probe
September 1, 2004
WASHINGTON (AP) – Two employees of the main pro-Israeli lobbying group are the focus of an FBI investigation into whether a Pentagon employee provided them with classified material about Iran that was passed on to Israel.
U.S. government officials, speaking Wednesday on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, confirmed the identities of the two American Israel Public Affairs Committee employees as director of foreign policy issues Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, an Iran expert.
The FBI interviewed both men on Friday, the same day that news first surfaced about the investigation of the Defense Department analyst, Larry Franklin. Franklin works on issues involving Iran and the Middle East in the office of Defense Department policy undersecretary Douglas Feith.
No charges have been brought or arrests made in the case. Law enforcement officials have said prosecutors are weighing whether to charge anyone involved with the most serious offense of espionage or with lesser counts of mishandling classified documents.
AIPAC attorney Nathan Lewin did not immediately return a telephone call Wednesday about the FBI interviews with the group’s two employees. AIPAC officials have said they are cooperating in the probe and have denied any wrongdoing, as has the Israeli government. Franklin has not responded to several telephone calls seeking comment.
The FBI and Justice Department have briefed a number of high-level Pentagon, congressional and White House officials about the investigation. Secretary of State Colin Powell was briefed Sunday over the telephone by Deputy Attorney General James Comey, a State Department spokesman said.
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Meanwhile, a West Virginia college where Franklin teaches history courses is not planning any action regarding his status at the school while the investigation continues. For about five years, Franklin has been an adjunct professor of history at Sheperd University while living in nearby Kearneysville, said history department chairman Anders Henriksson.
Franklin “has been a real asset” to the school, Henriksson said. Franklin teaches freshman courses in world history and Asian traditions, he added. The school planned to provide extra security to prevent disruption of his Tuesday night course.
Associated Press writer Erik Schelzig in Charleston, W.Va., contributed to this story.