Stories on Larry Franklin, dual loyalties, and espionage for Israel look more far-fetched with each passing day.
In an online chat at the Washington Post?s web site recently, the paper?s intelligence reporter Dana Priest said that there had been ?nothing new? to report in the investigation of low-level Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin?whose case dominated the Post?s front page over the course of a full week last fall??or we would have written something.?
Well, something ?new? has happened: the passage of time has largely debunked the Post?s breathless coverage.
From August 28 through September 3 last fall?one week, from Saturday to Friday?the Post deluged readers with tales of alleged espionage for Israel. The story was sexy: an employee at a branch of the Pentagon headed by a Jew that was supposedly too chummy with Israel had passed classified intelligence to the Jewish state.
The Post didn?t stop there. Over seven days, the paper?s coverage even broadened to report that investigators had ?specifically asked about? five named individuals in, or close to, the administration. All were Jews, and the Post reported, all ?have strong ties to Israel.?
What the Post omitted was that there was no actual investigation into these five Jews, just they had been ?asked about.? About what exactly was also never mentioned.
Most of the stories that week played up the question of whether dual loyalties had driven Mr. Franklin, or possibly others in the administration with, ahem, a ?particular interest? in ?assisting Israel,? to spy for the Jewish state. Typical was the following: that ?others speculated? that ?the tight connections between the Israelis and Feith?s policy office may have led officials to become sloppy about rules barring release of sensitive information.?
The Mr. Feith referenced would be Douglas Feith, former head of the Pentagon?s civilian policy shop. He is Jewish, and according to the Post, has ?strong ties to Israel.?
Adding to the intrigue was the Post?s tone of urgency. The opening paragraph of the initial story was explicit: ?arrests in the case could come as early as next week.? Subsequent stories sounded a similar note.
For those counting along: one week, seven stories. (One was a Sunday reprint of the initial article). Of those six distinct stories, three landed on the front page.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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