Ashcroft Nixes Arrests in Israeli Spy Probe

The neoconservative New York Sun is reporting that Attorney General John Ashcroft halted arrests in the Israeli spy case last Friday. From the Sun:

"According to sources familiar with the investigation, the U.S. district attorney in charge of the probe, Paul McNulty, has ordered the FBI not to move forward with arrests that they were prepared to make last Friday when the story broke on CNN and CBS. ‘He put the brakes on it in order to look at it,’ a source familiar with the investigation told the Sun. ‘To see what was there. Basically the FBI wanted to start making arrests and McNulty said "Woa, based on what? Let’s look at this before you do anything."’ . . .

"Mr. McNulty was only assigned the case by Attorney General Ashcroft last Friday when federal agents came to AIPAC’s offices in Washington to request files and hard drives. ‘Ashcroft wanted to make sure this case was being handled properly,’ the source familiar with the probe said. ‘I would not expect any action on this for at least three weeks.’ This source added that a grand jury is now being selected, but it was likely the charges, initially reported as espionage, would be scaled back to the mishandling of classified information."

The Sun‘s owners, who include Conrad Black, described the paper’s outlook as "certainly neoconservative" when they launched it in early 2002.