Several high-profile FBI investigations, in which substantial progress has been made, may well have been put on hold by the Bush administration for political reasons. That is, it has been alleged to me that the White House may have leaned on the FBI – not to drop the investigations but to postpone some key arrests until after the November elections.
The first such case is the investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity as a covert CIA agent to the press as a way to undermine the credibility of her husband, Joe Wilson, who had gone public about his warnings to the administration that the story about the Iraqi purchase of uranium from Niger was bogus.
Warning: The text below will use the word “neoconservative.” In my lexicon, a neoconservative is a person from a social group that typically voted Democrat before 1968 but now votes Republican. Neoconservatives include all the white southern Christian denominations, such as the Southern Baptists, that emigrated from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party as a result of the Nixon strategy, as well as the Reagan Democrats (largely working-class Catholics) and Jewish Americans who trod the same path. Neoconservatives tend to be far-right Zionists in the Jabotinsky tradition, whether they are Jews or Christian Zionists, and they are associated with a desire to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from the West Bank or at least to so circumscribe their existence there as to render them nonentities. The latest neoconservative to enlist in the cause is Zell Miller, and he typifies the anger, recklessness and disregard for open, democratic values that characterize the movement.
Neoconservatives have gained allies for themselves from some right-wing "realists," such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, to the extent that it may well be that the latter two have been converted to the neoconservative ideology, which is distinctive because of its historical origins on the right of the old Democratic Party, and in some cases on the far left (Christopher Hitchens is another example). Some have attempted to argue that the very term “neoconservative” is a code word for derogatory attitudes toward Jews. This argument is mere special pleading and a playing of the race cared, however, insofar as only a tiny percentage of American Jews are neoconservatives, and only a tiny percentage of neoconservatives are Jews. The neoconservative movement is an example of what social scientists call cross-cutting cleavages, which are multiple loyalties and identities typical of complex urban political societies.
We now know that the Niger story involved the forgery of documents by a man with ties to Italian military intelligence, and that, moreover, Italian military intelligence has ties to Michael Ledeen, Harold Rhode and Lawrence Franklin, pro-Likud neoconservatives, two of whom had high-level positions in the Pentagon and all three of whom were tightly networked with the American Enterprise Institute. Franklin (a neoconservative Catholic) is being investigated for spying on the U.S. for Israel. The nexus of Italian military intelligence, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and the neoconservatives in the Pentagon suggests a network of conspiracy aimed at dragging the U.S. into wars against Iraq and Iran. The Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq after the war was in some significant part staffed by young people who had initially applied to work at the American Enterprise Institute as interns.
Joe Wilson was sent to Niger by the CIA in response to a request by Dick Cheney that they investigate the story of the Iraq uranium purchases, and he came to the (correct) conclusion that the whole idea was implausible given the structure of the industry in Niger, which was heavily under the control of European companies. The neoconservatives around Dick Cheney, including Scooter Libby and John Hannah, were highly committed to the Niger uranium story as a casus belli against Iraq, and were furious when Wilson revealed that he had shown it false in spring of 2002. They were convinced that the CIA was behind this strike at their credibility, and that Valerie Plame had been the one who managed to get Wilson sent. That is, in their paranoid world, Wilson’s honest reportage of the facts was a CIA plot against the Iraq War and perhaps against the neoconservatives around Cheney and in the Pentagon.
It has been being leaked for many months now that the FBI believes the leak came from persons in Cheney’s circle, possibly John Hannah and/or Scooter Libby. The FBI could well be ready to move in the case. But I have been told that it has orders from the White House to back off until later this fall.
There has likewise been no arrest of Franklin, though one was expected by now. This is not, as the neoconservatives and their supporters in the press are beginning to allege, because the case against Franklin is weak. Rumors are flying in Washington that the FBI found a whole cache of classified documents in his house. If this is true, it was illegal for him to keep them there. We know that the evidence against Franklin was so airtight that Franklin was turned by the FBI, and was attempting to gather incriminating evidence against other neoconservatives on their behalf. At some point the FBI as a courtesy let Franklin’s boss, Douglas Feith, know of their investigation, and apparently soon after the story was leaked to the press.
Is it possible that Franklin hasn’t been charged yet not because the case is weak, but because the White House does not want to anger the powerful AIPAC lobbying organization just before an election, and does not want to risk alienating neoconservative voters in swing states like Florida? Indeed, isn’t it likely that the Franklin investigation was leaked to the press by persons in the Pentagon who feared they were under investigation, and who knew very well that such a story leaked in late August before the election would get the investigation squelched or much delayed?