Feel the Tectonic Plates A-Rumblin...

CBS News | FBI Probes Pentagon Spy Case | August 27, 2004 22:15:19

News has leaked of a FBI investigation into an alleged Israeli spy inside the office of the Secretary of Defense. This person had ties to Wolfowitz and Feith, and was assigned to a "unit within the Defense Department tasked with helping develop the Pentagon's Iraq policy." The official now works in Feith's office, where the stovepipe originated.

This person appears to almost certainly be a Harold Rhode, a longtime Pentagon staffer who was recently a liason between the Defense Department and Ahmed Chalabi. The evidence? The New York Times says it was one of two who met with Manucher Ghorbanifar in Paris, and Atrios links to a MSNBC article which gives the names Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin who met Ghorbanifar in Rome, but only Rhode went to Paris.

Now Josh Marshall said on MSNBC that this was about the forged Niger documents. I'm staggered by the implications here. Do you need me to spell this out?

Remember, Saddam was helping to sponsor suicide bombers in Israel. Israel would have a huge motivation for wanting America to invade Iraq. And there's a agent of theirs working in the one office where intelligence information is being shuttled to the White House outside of the normal vetting process. He couldn't get the forged documents there on his own, yet he knew the kind of information that the White House wanted to see.

Seymour Hersch has suggested from his legwork that the documents were forged in an attempt to sting the stovepipe. But it's clear that the documents then took a life of their own, setting up a lot of sympathetic reports in various European intelligence agencies before finally getting (back) into American hands. Perhaps Israel didn't forge the documents themselves, but knew they were coming, and knew how to play the ace they'd been given.

The story by itself is going to strain US-Israeli ties. If what I've speculated turns out to be true, things are going to be really bad quickly. This is not going to be pretty.

UPDATE: People over at DU and other places have the spy pegged as Larry Franklin. I can't say I disagree with them.

Josh Marshall finally has his big story coming out in the Washington Monthly soon. He says this is going to be an Iranian story in the end. It's a big complex story with a lot of players, no doubt.