Thursday 19 October 2023

Pentagon Allows Alleged Member Of Iranian Influence Operation To Keep Security Clearance: Report

 The Pentagon confirmed last week that the senior official named in an alleged Iranian influence operation aimed at bolstering the global pariah’s image surrounding its nuclear program would keep her security clearance following an internal review.

Ariane Tabatabai, a senior official in the Defense Department, was identified in internal Iranian government emails obtained by Semfafor last month as an alleged member of the Iran Experts Initiative — a network of influential overseas academics run by Tehran’s foreign ministry.

Republican lawmakers raised concerns over Tabatabai’s alleged membership, demanding Pentagon officials pull her security clearance pending a review of her ties with the theocratic regime in the Middle East, which U.S. officials accused of being complicit in the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel earlier this month. The Pentagon kept her security clearance after conducting an undisclosed internal review of her credentials.

“We have confirmed that Ms. Tabatabai’s employment and clearance processes were carried out in accordance with all appropriate laws and policies,” Rheanne E. Wirkkala, an assistant secretary of defense, wrote in an October 13 letter to Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), according to a copy obtained by the Free Beacon.

“The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency has enrolled all Defense Department service members, civilians, and contractors with a security clearance in its continuous vetting program, which is a process that involves regularly reviewing a cleared individual’s background to ensure they continue to meet security clearance requirements and may continue to hold positions of trust,” the letter said.

Ernst joined several GOP lawmakers who demanded an investigation into Tabatabai’s alleged role in the Iran-based initiative, which was in close contact with the Iranians on messaging strategy with other top foreign policy officials in both the Obama and Biden administrations.

The Iowa Republican lawmaker told the Free Beacon that Tabatabai’s clearance threatens national security.

“The Biden administration is compromised, but they continue to shamelessly defend allowing an Iranian spy to infiltrate and work at the Pentagon, likely allowing the regime access to highly sensitive information,” Ernst told the Free Beacon. “By continuing to brush this offense under the rug instead of taking this national security threat seriously by suspending Tabatabai’s security clearance, the Biden administration doubles down on its appeasement strategy that has already emboldened Iran and its terrorist proxies.”


Tabatabai was allegedly in regular contact with Iranian officials and appeared to check in with Iran’s Foreign Ministry before attending policy events on at least two occasions, according to the emails observed by Semafor.

She also worked for President Joe Biden’s Special Envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, at the State Department until he was forced to step down after his security clearance was revoked for allegedly mishandling classified information.

“This should be the scandal of a generation: the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism appears to have co-opted senior officials of the last two Democratic administrations with the purpose and achieved goal of influencing our foreign policy,” said Morgan Ortagus, a former State Department official, in a post on X.

The Pentagon defended Tabatabai’s employment to the Free Beacon following the Semafor report.

“Dr. Tabatabai was thoroughly and properly vetted as a condition of her employment with the Department of Defense,” a spokesman said at the time. “We are honored to have her serve.”

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