A Response to David:
David asks whether it is "strange that the government would offer Larry Franklin, a government official who actually leaked classified information, a plea agreement so that he would testify against two lobbyists who are accused of what would seem to be the lesser offense of knowingly receiving the classified information."

  I think it depends on the nature of the plea agreement, as well as any plea negotiations that might have gone on with the other two defendants. If the government sought out Franklin and offered him a sweet deal, and never approached the other two defendants with a plea offer, then it might indeed be strange. But it seems more likely to me that the prosecutors had a plea offer open to all three defendants, hoping that one of them would fold and testify against the other two; this would strengthen the government's case considerably. In that case, Franklin was just the first to take the deal, and there is nothing strange about him pleading guilty.
Professor Kerr's hypothesis makes sense. In federal court, the goal of a good defense lawyer is (in all but a few cases) to be the first to the prosecutor with a cooperating client.
10.2.2005 3:06pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
But, as I understand it, the only reason the AIPAC staffers received classified documents in the first place that are the subject of this prosecution is that they were subject to a "sting." If Franklin was a consistent leaker, and you need a high-cost sting operation to "get the goods" on the two staffers (not entrapment as a matter of law, but hardly indicative of widespread criminal activity by them), why isn't putting Franklin away for a long time more of a priority than getting a conviction on the staffers?
10.2.2005 4:29pm
why isn't putting Franklin away for a long time more of a priority than getting a conviction on the staffers?

Because damaging AIPAC is the real goal here ?
10.2.2005 4:34pm

Can you point us to some of the evidence that Franklin is the really bad guy and the AIPAC staffers hadn't committed a crime before being approached by undercovers? Also, keep in mind that we don't know what deal Franklin worked out; it may be that Franklin is still going to serve more time than the staffers, even if he is the guy who is cooperating.

10.2.2005 5:50pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I've read that at least one of the staffers was kind of notorious for throwing his influence around, which may or may not have included using other leaked info to his advantage. If true, this brings up kind of a gray area, where prosecutors "know" from hearsay that someone is a "bad apple", but when they actually do the investigation, they can't get much on him. From what I've read, this investigation involved long-term phone taps, surveillance, and a sting operation, and they only managed to catch the staffers in illegal activities once Franklin told them that he had classified information that the lives of specific Israeli agents in Iran were in danger. This seems like rather thin gruel given the scope of the investigation, which could mean that (1) the hearsay was wrong or exaggerated; (2) as the commentators above suggests, someone was out to get AIPAC; or (3) that the staffers had become more careful about not stepping over the legal line than when the feds got their original information.

But you're right, it may be that Franklin will ultimately get more time than either of them.
10.2.2005 7:52pm