The Pentagon has now attempted to defend a senior employee who was reportedly named in a Tuesday morning news article as a component of a sizable Iranian influence network, claiming that he was “properly vetted” before receiving a security clearance.
Semafor’s report, which was based on emails from high-ranking Iranian officials, provided details on the Iran Experts Initiative, a large communications network connected to Tehran’s hardline government.
The emails imply that this network included Ariane Tabatabai, a Pentagon officer, as well as other “important overseas academics” who answered to Iran’s foreign ministry and assisted in promoting Tehran’s talking points among American authorities.
Before being employed, Tabatabai was submitted to a thorough security check, a Pentagon spokesman claimed in a statement.
Robert Malley, the Iran ambassador for the Biden administration, who was removed from his position earlier this year for allegedly handling secret information, was assisted by Tabatabai, who received security clearance for her position with the Pentagon, and two other individuals connected to the influence campaign.
Uncertainty exists over the connection between Malley’s suspension and the Iranian influence network detailed in the Semafor study.
When the Biden administration chose Tabatabai for a State Department position in 2021, Iranian dissidents and Republican lawmakers expressed outrage, claiming that given her family’s ties to the Iranian government and the political stances she has taken, she should not be given a top-secret security clearance.