During the period of November 2008 to January 2009, when Barack Obama was still a President-Elect and George W. Bush was the lamest of lame ducks, speculation was rampant that Scooter Libby would top the list of last minute pardons. I didn't put much stock in such predictions because it seemed so pointless: the sentence had already been commuted, Libby would never serve a day for his crimes. The one felon I was certain would get a pardon was Larry Franklin. It seemed to me Bush had the most to lose from not pardoning him. To review:
Lawrence Anthony Franklin is a former U.S. Air Force Reserve colonel who has pleaded guilty to passing information about U.S. policy towards Iran to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the foremost pro-Israel lobbying organization in the U.S, while he was working for the Defense Department. He claims this was an attempt to get the information to the United States National Security Council, which he was not able to do through regular Pentagon channels. Two former employees of AIPAC (Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman) also faced charges (that would later be dropped) that they assisted him in the AIPAC espionage scandal and passing classified national defense information to an Israeli diplomat Naor Gilon. On January 20, 2006, Judge T.S. Ellis, III sentenced Franklin to 151 months (almost 13 years) in prison and fined him $10,000.
I assumed Bush had everything to gain from pardoning a loyal neo-con who had been rotting in prison since January 20, 2006. There was one problem with this assumption that I discovered recently while investigating the revelations that Sibel Edmonds has provided on this scandal reported by Luke Ryland: LARRY FRANKLIN IS NOT IN JAIL!
One other interesting part of the interview, highlighted by Mizgin, is that indicted spy Larry Franklin was working with Richard Perle and Douglas Feith at the ATC way back in 1994. According to Sibel, Franklin was "one of the top people providing information and packages during 2000 and 2001." Despite many media reports to the contrary, Larry Franklin is not currently in jail,(emphasis added) and it is not clear what will happen to him if the trial of Rosen & Weissman from AIPAC doesn't proceed as planned in June.
I clicked on the link where I boldprinted and this came up:
Inmate Locator - Locate Federal inmates from 1982 to present
Name Register # Age-Race-Sex Release Date
1. LAWRENCE ANTHONY FRANKLIN 70425-083 62-White-M UNKNOWN NOT IN BOP CUSTODY(emphasis added)
Where the hell could he have disappeared to?! I kept investigating and today I came across this revelation: LARRY FRANKLIN IS STILL A FREE MAN!
In this interview at antiwar.com, CQ's Jeff Stein - who broke the new allegations about U.S. Rep. Jane Harman's alleged involvement in seeking leniency for Rosen and Weissman - says that the Pentagon leaker at the heart of the affair, Larry Franklin, is in jail, doing 12.5 years and moreover, the sentence is relatively lenient, only because Franklin is expected to cooperate at trial.
That might have come as a surprise to Franklin, who was seen last week hanging around the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, sporting camouflage pants and boots (the weather has been very weird in DC of late. And he is a former Air Force colonel.) I mean, the Ronald Reagan Building is less than inspiring, it's true, but a prison it's not.
(Jeff's not the only one who's made this mistake - just the latest. I keep hearing references to Franklin being in jail.)
Franklin was sentenced to just over 12.5 years, it is true - and that was by all accounts not a lenient sentence - but his time was deferred until after he testifies at the Rosen and Weissman trial. I heard from sources at the time that prosecutors would recommend a reduction to three years should he cooperate, and that Judge T.S. Ellis was likely to take the deal.
But that was over three years ago. And now the case might not even go to trial. And if it does, I've heard that prosecutors are reluctant to use him.
This, I've heard, is remarkable; prosecutors pull key witnesses only if they've done serious damage to their credibility while awaiting trial (for instance, a repentant mob hitman who just can't break the habit.) Franklin's abided by the conditions of his sentencing, including avoiding reporters like the plague.
So why not use him? His outbursts during his allocution when he pleaded guilty might be illustrative: The promise of the crux of the government case shouting out "it wasn't classified and isn't classified" when he's on the stand must be giving prosecutors the willies.
So what does this mean for Franklin? His crimes are not unserious: He swore to keep the secrets he leaked not only to Rosen and Weissman, but to Naor Gilon (the Israeli diplomat coming soon to an international incident near you.) (all emphasis mine)Franklin's unhappy profile as a prosecution witness might not necessarily mean he isn't "helpful" - just truthful.
But 12.5 years, especially after being held in limbo for more than three years?
And a deal's a deal, right?
We'll soon find out.
Unfortunately, though it almost slipped under the radar, we soon found out that the charges against Rosen and Weissman were dropped:
WASHINGTON — A case that began four years ago with the tantalizing and volatile premise that officials of a major pro-Israel lobbying organization were illegally trafficking in sensitive national security information collapsed on Friday as prosecutors asked that all charges be withdrawn.
While Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman trafficked in facts, ideas and rumor, they had done so with the full awareness of officials in the United States and Israel, who found they often helped lubricate the wheels of decision-making between two close, but sometimes quarrelsome, friends.
The investigation of Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman also surfaced recently in news reports that Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat long involved in intelligence matters, was overheard on a government wiretap discussing the case. As reported by Congressional Quarterly, which covers Capitol Hill, and The New York Times, Ms. Harman was overheard agreeing with an Israeli intelligence operative to try to intercede with Bush administration officials to obtain leniency for Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman in exchange for help in persuading Democratic leaders to make her chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Over government objections, Judge Ellis had also ruled that the defense could call as witnesses several senior Bush administration foreign policy officials to demonstrate that what occurred was part of the continuing process of information trading and did not involve anything nefarious. The defense lawyers were planning to call as witnesses former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Stephen J. Hadley, the former national security adviser; and several others. Government policy makers indicated they were clearly uncomfortable with senior officials’ testifying in open court over policy deliberations.
So chalk up another rug-sweeping victory for the Deep State. They got to Judge Ellis, who if you read the text of the sentence against Franklin http://www.fas.org/sgp/jud/franklin012006.pdf completely reversed the logic he used to sentence Franklin by setting the standard that Rosen and Weissman had to be proven to try to harm the security of the United States to be convicted, whereas Ellis admonished Franklin for providing the defense that he meant no harm! So Rosen and Weissman, along with their probable co-conspirators Hadley and Rice go free.
But what about Franklin? His freedom was contingent upon his testimony at the Rosen and Weissman trials. Now that there will be no trials, does anyone know where Franklin is now? While I have to give credit to Counterpunch http://www.counterpunch.org/leupp05012009.html http://www.counterpunch.org/abourezk05042009.html and antiwar.com for exposing the bullshit behind the excuses for the dismissal, neither have reported correctly the current status of Larry Franklin. Only Luke Ryland has been staying on top of this:
One other point: None of the coverage today mentions the fact that Larry Franklin is currently a free man, and that his eventual sentence was supposed to be dependent on him co-operating. What happens to Franklin now? And what happens to all of the other evidence he has given FBI counter-intelligence in the meantime? Will that ever be acted upon?
Posted by lukery at 5/02/2009 10:33:00 AM
Labels: AIPAC, Larry Franklin, Rosen, Weissman
Robert Paulsen said...
Thank you so much for staying on top of this. It boggles my mind that nobody, not in MSM, not on any other alternative media internet site, NOBODY EXCEPT YOU, seems to be aware of this oversight. I've tried posting about this on DU and everyone there seems to be unaware as well.
Three years after being sentenced to 12.5 years in jail, LARRY FRANKLIN IS STILL A FREE MAN!
I'll keep shouting out about this injustice if you keep researching. Any updates as to Larry Franklin's current whereabouts? I'd like to see at least one person pay for this scandal.
May 8, 2009 5:50 AM
RP - Franklin was last seen in DC. I suspect he still lives there.
May 8, 2009 8:54 AM
UPDATE: From Josh Gerstein -
Judge formally drops case against pro-Israel lobbyists
The dismissal aspect of Ellis' order, which was posted on the court's docket today, is essentially a formality. What was more interesting is that he said he is expecting some kind of action from the government regarding Larry Franklin, a Pentagon analyst who pled guilty early on in the case.
Ellis sentenced Franklin in 2006 to more than 12 years in prison for disclosing classified information to Rosen, Weissman and others. However, Franklin agreed to cooperate with the government and never reported to jail.
"It is further ordered that the government is directed to advise the Court, by 5:00 p.m., Thursday May 14, 2009, regarding when it contemplates filing an appropriate motion with respect to defendant Franklin," Ellis's new order says. (emphasis added)
Lawyers involved in the case expected Franklin to seek a reduction in his sentence once the trial against Rosen and Weissman was complete. Now that the trial will never happen, it's an open question of how much of a sentence reduction Franklin will get. Presumably, it's not his fault the case was abandoned. In any event, Ellis will have to rule on any sentence reduction. The judge may have to make a hypothetical judgment about how much Franklin's testimony may have helped in a trial that will never take place.