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

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


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.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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