News Leak ‘Compromised’ Spy Investigation, Officials Say

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The Pentagon official under suspicion of turning over classified information to Israel began cooperating with federal agents several weeks ago and was preparing to lead the authorities to contacts inside the Israeli government when the case became publicly known last week, government officials told the New York Times. The disclosure of the inquiry Friday by CBS News revealed what had been for nearly a year a covert national security investigation conducted by the F.B.I., according to the officials, who said that news reports about the inquiry compromised important investigative steps, like the effort to follow the trail back to the Israelis.

As a result, several areas of the case remain murky, the officials said. One main uncertainty is the legal status of Lawrence A. Franklin, the lower-level Pentagon policy analyst who the authorities believe passed the Israelis a draft presidential policy directive related to Iran. No arrest in the case is believed to be imminent, in part because prosecutors have not yet clearly established whether Franklin broke the law. But the officials said there was evidence that he turned the classified material over to officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group. Officials of the group are thought to have then passed the information to Israeli intelligence.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/30/politics/30spy.html?hp

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