Franklin, who held a “top secret” security clearance during his Pentagon work, said the Iranians had prepared “an entire mosaic of agents and cooperatives inside Iraq before we had invaded.”
“And I knew we would be coming home in bunches of body bags if we didn’t do something to frighten Iran into neutrality,” he said.
Senior Pentagon officials, he said, mistakenly thought the United States could “persuade Iran to be part of the solution and not part of the problem” in Iraq. However, Franklin was convinced that Iranian officials would not cooperate and that Tehran remembered U.S. support to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988.
“So I wanted to delay and shock the National Security Council staff into convincing [National Security Adviser] Condoleezza Rice and others that, hey, maybe we ought to think this out a little more because there was so little time,” Franklin said.
His plan was to use Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman to relay his concerns to the National Security Council (NSC) staff. Instead, the AIPAC officials, without telling Franklin, took his information, some of which was classified, to Mr. Gilon at the Israeli Embassy and to a Washington Post reporter.
“I felt betrayed by Rosen and Weissman because I had risked everything for what I had thought were the interests of our republic,” he said. “And, yeah, second of all, I felt very disappointed in the FBI.”
Abbe Lowell, the lawyer who successfully represented Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman, disputed Franklin’s account about his interests in talking to the AIPAC officials.
Franklin, Mr. Lowell said, sought AIPAC’s help, through Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman, beyond the effort to reach the NSC as part of an “ideological war with the Department of State.”
“His request of them was to try to get AIPAC to weigh in on his side of the group at [the Department of] Defense,” Mr. Lowell said. “It was not singularly focused on the NSC.”
Mr. Lowell said Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman had no immediate comment on the case. Spokesmen for AIPAC and the Israeli Embassy also declined to comment.
Mr. Lowell said Franklin did not have access to all the conversations and transcript records he obtained from the government while representing the two AIPAC officials during the case. He said that the records are classified and that he could not discuss them.
Franklin, a former reserve colonel in the Air Force who worked undercover as an intelligence officer in Israel, said Mr. Gilon “was a source of mine, registered at [the Defense Intelligence Agency], and I wrote several intelligence information reports, which I cannot go into, that detailed the information that he gave me.”
The comments were used during a broadcast on CBS News and “a few weeks later, I was notified that I was a subject of interest,” Franklin said.
He pleaded guilty in October 2005 to illegally disclosing classified information on Iran and Iraq, and in January 2006 was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison.
Franklin never served prison time because a federal judge reduced the sentence to probation and 10 months in a halfway house after the espionage case against Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman was dropped by federal prosecutors in May.