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Old 09-07-2004, 02:38 AM   #1
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Current administration soft on Espionage?


Spy Case Renews Debate Over Pro-Israel Lobby's Ties to Pentagon

Published: September 6, 2004

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 - It began like most national security investigations, with a squad of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents surreptitiously tailing two men, noting where they went and whom they met. What was different about this case was that the surveillance subjects were lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and one of their contacts turned out to be a policy analyst at the Pentagon.


Behind the scenes, however, the case has reignited a furious and long-running debate about the close relationship between Aipac, the pro-Israel lobbying organization, and a conservative group of Republican civilian officials at the defense department, who are in charge of the office that employs Lawrence A. Franklin, the Pentagon analyst.

Their hard-line policy views on Iraq, Iran and the rest of the Middle East have been controversial and influential within the Bush administration.

riends and associates of the civilian group at the Pentagon believe they are under assault by adversaries from within the intelligence community who have opposed them since before the war in Iraq. The Pentagon civilians, led by Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, and Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary for policy, were among the first in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks to urge military action to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, an approach favored by Aipac and Israel.

Mr. Wolfowitz and Mr. Feith were part of a larger network of policy experts inside and out of the Bush administration who forcefully made the case that the war with Iraq was part of the larger fight against terrorism.

The Pentagon group circulated its own intelligence assessments, which have since been discredited by the Central Intelligence Agency and by the independent Sept. 11 commission, arguing that there was a terrorist alliance between the Hussein regime and Al Qaeda.

The group has also advocated that the Bush administration adopt a more aggressive policy toward Iran, and some of its members have quietly begun to argue for regime change in Tehran. The administration has not yet adopted that stance, however, and the Pentagon conservatives have been engaged in a debate with officials at the State Department and other agencies urging a more moderate approach to Iran.


But leading critics of the Pentagon hard-liners have repeatedly argued that Mr. Wolfowitz, Mr. Feith and others have used the Sept. 11 attacks as a pretext to pursue issues that in some ways mirror the interests of Israel's conservative Likud government.

The paper argued: "Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq - an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right - as a means of foiling Syria's regional ambitions."

Among those who signed the paper were Mr. Feith; David Wurmser, who later worked for Mr. Feith at the Pentagon and now works for Vice President Dick Cheney; and Richard Perle, a leading conservative who previously served as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a group of outside consultants to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.
If it wasn't the NYTimes i'd call it conspiracy theories
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