The New York Times > Washington > F.B.I. Said to Reach Official Suspected of Passing Secrets: “Mr. Feith and the work done under him have been the focus of intense criticism over the past year as questions have mounted about the justification for the war in Iraq. Before the war, Mr. Feith created a small intelligence unit that sought to build a case for Iraq’s ties to Al Qaeda, an effort that has since been disputed by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Questions have also repeatedly been raised about work done by members of Mr. Feith’s staff that skirted the normal bureaucracy. For example, Mr. Franklin participated in secret meetings with Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian who had acted as an arms deal middleman in the Iran-contra affair during the Reagan administration.

The secret meetings were first held in Rome in December 2001 and were brokered by Mr. Ledeen. He said he arranged the meetings to put the Bush administration in closer contact with Iranian dissidents who could provide information in the war on terrorism. But Mr. Ledeen said Saturday that Mr. Franklin was always skeptical that the back-channel meetings were useful.

Current and former defense officials said on Saturday that Mr. Franklin worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency until about three years ago, when he moved to the Pentagon’s policy office, headed by Mr. Feith, to work on Iran and other Middle East issues.

Former colleagues said that Mr. Franklin was a Soviet “


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