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Saturday, August 28, 2004

FBI probes DOD office, By RICHARD SALE


FBI probes DOD office


The FBI has intensified its investigation of seniormembers of what was formerly known as the Pentagon'sOffice of Special Plans on suspicion that one of thempassed highly classified U.S. military information tothe government of Israel, according to federal lawenforcement officials.In some cases, colleagues, former associates andmembers of other government agencies have beeninterviewed as many as four times by teams of FBIagents, FBI officials told United Press International.Two of the people interviewed are Bill Luti, formerchief of OSP, and Harold Rhode of the Near East/SouthAsia office, according to participants in theinvestigation.The OSP, an intelligence unit, was set up by the No. 3man in the Pentagon, Douglas Feith, undersecretary ofdefense for policy, according to retired Lt. Col.Karen Kwiatkowski, who was a staffer in the officefrom June 2002 through March 2003.Luti, a former Navy captain, switched to the Pentagonfrom Vice President Richard Cheney's staff, accordingto a congressional investigative memo.According to other congressional memos, Luti was madedeputy undersecretary and reported directly to Feith.Luti also presided over the NESA office that workedclosely with OSP "with sometimes an interchangeablestaff," according to one congressional memo describedthe OSP "as a loose group of acolytes and hired hands"for Cheney, and (Cheney's chief of staff) I. Lewis"Scooter" Libby, and Deputy Defense Secretary PaulWolfowitz and Feith -- all "performing a mixture ofintelligence, planning and other unspecifiedoperational duties in support of preordained policy."According to Kwiatkowski, Luti was a "name-dropper,who often referred to deadlines and assignments comingfrom 'Scooter.'"Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col Chris Conway, told UPIthat neither Luti nor Rhode had been interviewed orpolygraphed by the FBI nor had their bosses alertedthem that they were the subjects of an investigation.A federal law enforcement official was not surprised.He said, "Any target of an investigation is the lastperson we would talk to. The fact that subjectshaven't been approached is part of normalinvestigative procedure."Rhode, another prominent official of the NESA office,also works for the Office of Net Assessment, Pentagonofficials said.According to one federal law enforcement official,Rhode and Luti and other OSP officials have beenfrequently mentioned in FBI interviews, "chiefly thenature and extent of his contacts with Israel,"according to federal law enforcement officials.A Pentagon spokesman said Rhode has been working forNet Assessment "for the last 10 years."A former very senior CIA official told United PressInternational that Rhode recently had his securityclearances lifted.In an e-mail to UPI, Rhode denied this. "I have neverhad my security clearances revoked or canceled."At least three former CIA officials told UPI that in1998 Rhode had his clearances suspended, based onallegations he had given classified information toIsrael.In the same e-mail, Rhode denied this as well, adding:"Nor have I been informed that I am under any type ofinvestigation."Two former senior U.S. intelligence officials alsostated that Rhode is on administrative leave.However, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Conway saidanswering the question about whether or not Rhode ison administrative leave would violate the privacy actand therefore had no comment.The NESA/OSP office was located on the fourth floor ofthe Pentagon, D ring, 7th corridor, according toKwiatkowski, the former staffer.According to one former senior U.S. intelligenceofficial who maintained excellent contacts withserving U.S. intelligence officials in the CoalitionProvisional Authority in Baghdad, "Rhode practicallylived out of (Ahmad) Chalabi's office."This same source quoted the intelligence official withthe CPA as saying, "Rhode was observed by CIAoperatives as being constantly on his cell phone toIsrael," and that the information that theintelligence officials overheard him passing to Israelwas "mind-boggling," this source said.It dealt with U.S. plans, military deployments,political projects, discussion of Iraq assets, and ahost of other sensitive topics, the former senior U.S.intelligence official said.Other members of OSP are also under scrutiny, butfederal law enforcement officials declined to confirmadditional names furnished them by UPI. Pentagonspokesman Conway said, "We have no knowledge of anyprobe of particular OSP members."Rhode is a close member of an inner circle of seniorBush officials who in the past have had skirmisheswith the FBI over allegations that they providedclassified information to Israel, several serving andformer U.S. intelligence officials said.FBI spokesman, Bill Carter said, "It has been ourlong-standing policy not to comment on matters of thistype or to confirm or deny the existence of anyinvestigation."A great many examples of this was substantiated byStephen Green, a highly respected author of two bookson U.S.-Israeli relations, who, in a February articlein Counterpunch, noted that the Pentagon finallydowngraded Ledeen's security clearances from TopSecret-SCI to Secret in the mid-1980s, after anearlier boss, Noel Koch, the Principal AssistantSecretary for International Security Affairs, hadurged the FBI to begin a probe of Ledeen, then aconsultant on terrorism, for passing classifiedmaterials to a foreign country, believed to be Israel.(Green notes that Ledeen "was carried in Agency filesas an agent of influence of a foreign government:Israel," a fact he confirmed for UPI in an interview.Former agency officials said they knew this to beaccurate.In 2001, Ledeen was hired by Feith to work on contractfor the Office of Special Plans, which involved thehandling of sensitive materials, Green said, a factconfirmed last week to UPI by congressionalinvestigators.Yet according to Green, in March 1983, Feith, then aMiddle East analyst on the National Security Council,was fired by Judge William Clark, who had replacedRichard Allen as national security adviser, becauseFeith "had been the object of an inquiry into whetherhe had provided classified material to an official ofthe Israeli Embassy in Washington" and that the FBI"had opened an inquiry."Former Counterterrorism Chief Vince Cannistraroconfirmed that Feith was fired from the NSC forleaking classified data to Israel.In 1982, Feith went to work for Pentagon officialRichard Perle, according to Green and confirmed byU.S. intelligence sources.Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who anadministration official described as having played a"large role in getting Feith" his current job, wasworking for the Arms Control and Disarmament agency in1978 and was the subject of an investigation thatalleged he had provided "a classified document on theproposed sale of U.S. weapons to an Arab government toan Israeli government official" via "an AIPACintermediary," according to Green. The probe waseventually dropped.In 1981, Wolfowitz, who was working as head of theState Department Policy Planning Staff, hired Ledeenas a Special Advisor, Green said.


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