More than two dozen Senate Republicans are demanding the Pentagon revoke the security clearance of one of its high-ranking officials after it was discovered she possesses close ties to the Iranian government.
“Iran continues to threaten U.S. military personnel in the Middle East and remains intent on assassinating American citizens here in the United States. Given these facts, we find it simply unconscionable that a senior Department official would continue to hold a sensitive position despite her alleged participation in an Iranian government information operation,” the senators wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday.
As noted in the letter, the official in question is Ariane Tabatabai, the chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations at the Defense Department, who according to a series of emails released last week by Semafor and Iran International, participated in an initiative sponsored by Iran’s terrorist government. The 2014 effort, known as the Iran Experts Initiative, was crafted by the Iranian Foreign Ministry and aimed at recruiting a bevy of “influential overseas academics and researchers,” who would help “bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues — particularly its nuclear program.”
Three of these recruits, including Tabatabai, went on to work as aides for Robert Malley, President Joe Biden’s lead negotiator on Iran. As The Federalist’s David Harsanyi reported, Malley — who “has a real soft spot for the Islamic State and its allies” — recently had his security clearance revoked and is the subject of a federal investigation over his handling of classified material.
As the Senate Republicans noted, the communications obtained by Semafor and Iran International reportedly show that Tabatabai actively sought guidance from the Iranian Foreign Ministry on how she could bolster Tehran’s public image. The reporting also apparently shows Tabatabai’s willingness to pen propaganda for Iran in U.S. media outlets such as the Boston Globe.
“The latest allegations reported in Semafor … indicate that Ms. Tabatabai may have been engaged in a relationship with the Iranian regime well beyond what even her strongest critics alleged,” the GOP senators wrote. “The fact that the Department initially responded to these latest allegations by rushing a full-throated defense of Ms. Tabatabai, rather than taking the time to ensure that our national security has not been compromised, suggests that you are protecting hiring missteps rather than prioritizing national security.”
In their Friday letter, Senate Republicans urged Austin to revoke Tabatabai’s security clearance pending an investigation into her reported activities. The senators furthermore requested the defense secretary provide answers to a series of questions regarding Tabatabai’s security clearance by Oct. 6.