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Rogue Element Loose in the Pentagon

Simon W. Moon

DP Veteran
Apr 20, 2005
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This was originally published 2004-08-31. But I suspect that it's about to become relevant again in the coming months. So, here it is.

Rogue Element Loose in the Pentagon

Part of a two year long 'FBI probe' is a months old FBI investigation that was recently leaked and now Larry Franklin is being fingered as Israel's "mole". Apparently, some discussion among "Washington insiders" says that given the atmosphere in the Pentagon and its environs, Mr. Franklin may not have realized what he was doing was akin to espionage. If these insiders are to be believed, sharing top secret info with AIPAC personnel is such a routine event that Mr. Franklin may not have known he'd done wrong. Additionally, it's been suggested by those inside and outside of the affair that the info that was leaked, though top secret, may have been available to Israel through legitimate channels. If it's true that Mr. Franklin made a harmless mistake that's only technically illegal, where's the beef?

The more interesting contextual story is that Mr. Franklin appears to be part of a "rogue" element within the Pentagon that has been negotiating with Iranian "dissidents" not only behind the backs of the CIA and the State Dept but behind the back of the President himself. The goal of these negotiations being US backed regime change in Iran.

The meetings with representatives of the Pentagon's 'rogue element' and the Iranian dissidents were arranged through Manucher Ghorbanifar and former contract employee of the infamous Office of Special Plans, Michael Ledeen. Manucher Ghorbanifar put Ledeen and the 'rogue element' in contact with the dissidents. (Coincidentally, one of the dissidents happens to be a former member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Pasdaran, just like Aras Habib Karim one time head of the Iraqi National Congress' Information Collection Program, suppliers of Curveball and "deliberately misleading" pre-war intelligence on Iraq.)

Michael Ledeen, Larry Franklin along with Harold Rhode, former liaison between the DoD and the Iraqi National Congress, made unauthorized trips to talk with Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian middleman in U.S. arms-for-hostage shipments to Iran in the mid-1980s. (Were the phantom Libyan hit squads stalking Reagan really one of Ghorbanifar's bestselling stories?)
"They (the Pentagon officials) were talking to him (Ghorbanifar) about stuff which they weren't officially authorized to do," said a senior administration official. "It was only accidentally that certain parts of our government [State, CIA and White House] learned about it."
Pentagon hard-liners may be undercutting diplomacy with Iran
Fri, Aug. 08, 2003 Newsday​
Franklin and Rhode made these trips while working for Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith of Office of Special Plans fame. Michael Ledeen was one of the contract employees of the Office of Special plans. They went to discuss regime change in Iran which is not US policy (yet).

Part of these discussions is said to have been Ghorbanifar's story of the transfer of highly enriched uranium from Iraq to Iran. Mr. Ghorbanifar came to Mr. Ledeen with a story about a former Iraqi officer who had access to a cache of enriched uranium hidden by Hussein. This former Iraqi officer is supposed to have smuggled enriched uranium to Iran. Ledeen took this story to the Bush Admin in an effort to influence what is, as of yet, the unmade US foreign policy toward Iran. Mr. Ledeen is said to want our foreign policy for Iran to advocate US-backed regime change.

(Some may suppose that the rudimentary nature of the unfinished Iranian foreign policy directive underpins the phrasing of Mr. Ledeen's stammering yet eloquent negative pregnant defense of Mr. Franklin- "But. but, but, THERE IS STILL NO IRAN POLICY." The draft of this top-secret National Security Presidential Directive on the as of yet unmade Iran policy, is what Mr. Franklin is said to have passed on to the AIPAC members.)

Initially Mr. Ledeen went to the Pentagon with Ghorbanifar's story about the uranium, but the Pentagon sent him to the CIA. Mr. Ledeen was probably disappointed with the reception the tale of Iraqi uranium shipments to Iran received. The CIA was unwilling to meet with Ghorbanifar.
Mr. Ledeen feels that the CIA let the facts that Ghorbanifar failed lie detector tests, previously provided false information, is the subject of two 'burn notices' as "an intelligence fabricator and a nuisance", and is known "to peddle false information for financial gain," influence them too strongly in assessing the credibility Mr. Ghorbanifar's story.
Depending on exactly who Mr. Ledeen has had the pleasure of knowing, his assessment of Mr. Ghorbanifar's character may be somewhat different than the CIA's. He described Ghorbanifar as "one of the most honest, educated, honorable men I have ever known."
All the CIA was willing to do was meet with individuals who were said to be the source of Ghorbanifar's information. The CIA was not impressed with the answers provided by the source of the claims. The CIA asked for a sample of the enriched uranium. None was made available. Describing the CIA's investigation of the enriched uranium Ledeen says, "The CIA dropped the ball."

After one of these meetings Mr. Rhode sent a letter home to Pentagon officials that included these lines:
"...made contact with Iranian intelligence officers who anticipate possible regime change in Iran and want to establish contact with the United States government."
"A sizable financial interest is required"

CIA investigated tip on WMD from previously discredited source
Oct. 14, 2003 Knight Ridder Newspapers​
Not necessarily the work of a 'rogue element'.

Rumor is that USG protocol requires meetings between foreign intelligence agents and members of the USG be cleared with the CIA. And as Dr. Josh and his co-authors pointed out, not only were the meetings not cleared with the CIA, in early 2002, Stephen J. Hadley "sent word to the officials in Feith's office and to Ledeen to cease all such activities."
'Such activities' continued however. There was a meeting mid 2002. Hadley again told them to cease and desist. There was another meeting just months after that, then again a couple months after that one, and then again in mid 2003.
The 'element' in the Pentagon met with members of a foreign intelligence agency in violation USG protocols for such things, and continued to do so even after twice being told to stop by George W. Bush's Deputy National Security Adviser.
Mr. Ghorbanifar claims he "has had fifty meetings with Michael Ledeen since September 11th" and given him "4,000 to 5,000 pages of sensitive documents."

The conventional wisdom seems to be that the CIA would've objected to the meetings because it meant dealing with Ghorbanifar, and the State Dept would've objected because a meeting between American defense department officials and Iranian dissidents anticipating possible regime change in Iran may've antagonized Iran and hampered diplomatic efforts.

Speculation is that the 'rogue element' hoped the meetings between Iranian dissidents and American defense department officials would "antagonize Iran so that they get frustrated and then by their reactions harden US policy against them."

Some interesting things about Mr. Ghorbanifar. Albert Hakim a member of Savak, the Iranian secret police force formed with the guidance of American and Israeli intelligence officers. In 1985 he was "sometimes described as an advisor to Iran's Prime Minister." And, according to Oliver North, he was "an agent of...at least one of, if not more, of [Israel's] security services."
Reports from the histories of some key players in the 'rogue element':

"At least three former CIA officials told UPI that in 1998 Rhode had his clearances suspended, based on allegations he had given classified information to Israel.
...the Pentagon...downgraded [Michael] Ledeen's security clearances... in the mid-1980s, after an earlier boss, Noel Koch, the Principal Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, had urged the FBI to begin a probe of Ledeen... for passing classified materials to a foreign country, believed to be Israel.
...Ledeen "was carried in Agency files as an agent of influence of a foreign government: Israel,"...
...March 1983, Feith, then a Middle East analyst on the National Security Council, was fired by Judge William Clark...because Feith "had been the object of an inquiry into whether he had provided classified material to an official of the Israeli Embassy in Washington" and that the FBI "had opened an inquiry."

FBI probes DOD office
August 29, 2004 UPI

So, what we have here is a group of US DoD employees who've managed to get themselves suspected of helping Israel a little more than should. They've gone behind the backs of the CIA, State Dept and the White House to wheel and deal with an intelligence fabricator and nuisance who's linked to one (or more) of Israel's security services.
One of the reasons these DoD employees were wheeling and dealing with a known peddler of false information was to acquire information. After one of the meetings, made possible by the (former?) agent of "at least one" Israeli security service, one of these DoD employees calls home and asks for money, a "sizable financial interest".
The FBI seems to have good reason to be concerned about what's going on here.

These meetings between DoD personel and Iranian dissidents who are aniticpating regime change in Iran endangered the chances for the success of ongoing diplomatic endeavors regarding Iran. This may have been the intention of this 'rogue element' in the Pentagon.
The FBI seems to have good reason to be concerned about what's going on here too.

The diplomatic negotiations with Iran that were disrupted by the Pentagon's rogue element involved swapping Iran's al Qaeda detainees for ending US support for the Hussein's actual international terrorist organization, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq.

If it hadn't been for these ****tards, Abu Zarqawi (and possibly one or more of his legs) might be in US custody (again.)
"The purpose of the meeting with Ghorbanifar was to undermine a pending deal that the White House had been negotiating with the Iranian government. At the time, Iran had considered turning over five al-Qaida operatives in exchange for Washington dropping its support for Mujahadeen Khalq, an Iraq-based rebel Iranian group listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department."
Who is Larry Franklin?
Aug. 28, 2004 Jerusalem Post.​
© 2004 News Junkies Unanimous w/ permission
Keeping with the theme of blasts from the past soon to be relevant:

US Defense Intelligence Agency says Iran used INC to get US in Iraq

Agency: Chalabi group was front for Iran
May 21, 2004, 7:29 PM EDT

The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that a U.S.-funded arm of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress has been used for years by Iranian intelligence to pass disinformation to the United States and to collect highly sensitive American secrets, according to intelligence sources.

"Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein," said an intelligence source Friday who was briefed on the Defense Intelligence Agency's conclusions, which were based on a review of thousands of internal documents.

An administration official confirmed that "highly classified information had been provided [to the Iranians] through that channel."

Patrick Lang, former director of the intelligence agency's Middle East branch, said he had been told by colleagues in the intelligence community that Chalabi's U.S.-funded program to provide information about weapons of mass destruction and insurgents was effectively an Iranian intelligence operation.

Aras Karim Habib

The inquiries are focusing on allegations of corruption, kidnapping and robbery, and on a U.S. suspicion that one of Chalabi's closest advisers is a paid agent of the Iranian intelligence service, according to U.S., INC and Iraqi police officials. The adviser, Aras Habib, has a long working relationship with the Defense Intelligence Agency and is now a fugitive.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

Apparently, this ****'s rolling up hill toward Chalabi too.

Ahmad Chalabi's Fall From Grace
May 21, 2004

Meanwhile, Stahl reports that "grave concerns" about the true nature of Chalabi's relationship with Iran started after the U.S. obtained "undeniable intelligence" that Chalabi met with a senior Iranian intelligence, a "nefarious figure from the dark side of the regime - an individual with a direct hand in covert operations directed against the United States."
©MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc
Chalabi suspected of giving U.S. secrets to Iran
Friday, May 21, 2004 Posted: 9:57 PM EDT (0157 GMT)
Harris Whitbeck and David Ensor

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. intelligence officials on Friday said Ahmed Chalabi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council with ties to senior Pentagon officials, gave intelligence secrets to Iran so closely held in the U.S. government that only "a handful" of senior officials know them.
Meanwhile, government sources said the FBI is investigating who may have passed on the classified information to Chalabi.

© 2004 Cable News Network

Chalabi dumped over alleged Iran links
MAY 22, 2004 SAT
Administration officials believe his intelligence chief - named in an arrest warrant issued during a raid on Mr Chalabi's home and offices on Thursday - is an Iranian spy.
Intelligence chief Aras Karim Habib, 47, is a Shi'ite Kurd who ran a programme for the INC which the Pentagon funded to gather Saddam Hussein-era documents and provide informants until it abruptly dropped its support this month.
The Information Collection Programme had been receiving funding of US$340,000 (S$582,600) a month since October 2002.
© The Straits Times

Chalabi aide is suspected spy

Intelligence chief believed to be working for Iran ran a program that had its funding from the Pentagon abruptly cut off this month
By Knut Royce STAFF WRITER; Tom Brune of the Washington bureau contributed to this story.
May 21, 2004, 12:00 AM EDT

A U.S. intelligence source said information about Karim's activities came in part from a detainee at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters are being held.
Karim, according to a 2001 article in the respected Intelligence Newsletter, had been selected by Washington to help prepare for the overthrow of Hussein. He is the son of the former secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan.
Shortly after the Ayatollah Komeinei assumed power in Iran, Karim began espousing fundamentalist Shia ideas and fled Iraq to take refuge in Iran.

Some more about the INC's ICP:

Pentagon cuts off INC intel funds
By Pamela Hess
UPI Pentagon Correspondent
Published 5/18/2004 3:12 PM

Government officials tell UPI there is no doubt that since the war ended the ICP has proven extremely valuable. ICP members -- who generally speak Arabic as their first language -- conduct a large portion of interviews of Iraqi prisoners that have yielded actionable intelligence about Iraqi insurgents fighting U.S. troops. Approximately one-fifth of the verbal debriefings of sources in Iraq are carried out by the ICP, say administration officials and military documents.

"The INC/ICP provided the entire personnel list for the Iraqi Intelligence Service," a government official told UPI. "There's enough data that puts to rest the lie this program is not productive."

Copyright © 2001-2004 United Press International

cribbed from here

Despite having been presented with the PCTEG's info, Tenet remains skeptical of a signifigant relationship bewteen aQ and Hussein.
Pease note there was no need for the PCTEG to act as a "conduit" to the "intelligence community" for the INC's ICP.
Also note that the ICP had direct access to the ears of certain administration officials.

Officials: U.S. still paying millions to group that provided false Iraqi intelligence
Feb. 21, 2004
...Pentagon...$3 million [to] $4 million this year for the Information Collection Program of the Iraqi National Congress, or INC, led by Ahmed Chalabi...
INC's Information Collection Program..."designed to collect, analyze and disseminate information" from inside Iraq, according to a letter the group sent... the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The letter... said the information went directly to "U.S. government recipients" who included William Luti, a senior official in Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's office, and John Hannah, a top national security aide to Cheney.
...[DIA] has concluded...that defectors turned over by the INC provided little worthwhile information, and that at least one of them...was a fabricator.
...INC-supplied information...[in]...Bush administration's arguments for war... charges... Saddam was concealing illicit arms stockpiles and was supporting al-Qaida.
"To call all of it (INC intelligence) useless is too negative," said the defense official...
"We are heroes in error," [said] Chalabi..."As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants."
Rethinking the Chalabi Connection
Why the Pentagon cut off funding to the Iraqi National Congress
Updated: 12:55 p.m. ET May 20, 2004

Bush administration officials say the latest intelligence indicates he may have been supplying the Iranians with information on U.S. security operations in Iraq that could “get people killed.” Senior White House aides have been briefed on this information, officials said.

© 2004 Newsweek, Inc.
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