Federal Investigations of Pentagon Intrigues: Don’t Forget the Chalabi Leak

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Regarding my recent articles on signs of a federal investigation seemingly looking at at least one Pentagon official, a colleague reminded me of the following. That the Defense Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency did forward a crimes report to the Justice Department on the question of who leaked to Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi the allegation that the U.S. had broken Iran’s communications codes in Iraq, a detail which Chalabi allegedly shared with his Iranian intelligence interlocutor.

For instance, revisit this Newsweek piece:

NEWSWEEK has learned that the National Security Agency first uncovered evidence indicating Chalabi’s possible compromises of U.S. intelligence and sent a criminal referral to the FBI requesting an investigation into the alleged leak to Iran. A similar referral was sent to the FBI by the Defense Intelligence Agency, which until recently was responsible for managing Pentagon payments to Chalabi’s group and for supervising its intelligence-collection efforts.

Last week, U.S. intelligence officials requested that NEWSWEEK and several other media organizations refrain from publishing some details about what kind of intelligence information Chalabi and the INC were alleged to have given to the Iranians. After some details surfaced in print and TV reports earlier this week, however, officials withdrew their requests, leading to a spate of media reports alleging that Chalabi or one of his associates told the Iranians that U.S. intelligence had cracked a secret code system used by the Iranian intelligence service. U.S. political activists close to Chalabi have told reporters in recent days that Chalabi learned about the codebreaking in Baghdad from a drunken U.S. official.

The evidence that Chalabi had compromised U.S. codebreaking was disclosed to President Bush and Vice President Cheney several weeks ago and was a factor in the decision to raid the INC’s headquarters in Baghdad last month. It also influenced high-level Bush administration efforts to distance the administration in recent days from Chalabi, who had once been viewed by Pentagon civilians as a favored candidate to replace Saddam Hussein as Iraq’s government leader. …

Officials of the NSA and DIA declined to comment. But law-enforcement sources confirmed that the FBI has opened an investigation into the codebreaking leak. The investigation will look into whether Chalabi or his group supplied information about U.S. codebreaking efforts to the Iranians. But, given that Chalabi is not a U.S. citizen and does not have a U.S. security clearance, the more critical issue for investigators will be to find out who in the U.S. government might have leaked such highly sensitive information to Chalabi and the INC, some officials say. Law-enforcement sources indicated that the American investigation will likely focus on whether sensitive information might have been leaked to Chalabi by officials in either the Pentagon or the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. …

(Though this article indicates it was updated in October 2007, I believe it was originally published in May 2004.) I am told that a report in the Wall Street Journal a couple years back confirmed this investigation was still active.

Stay tuned.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate