Here’s the latest
1. Robert Malley was US Envoy to Iran, appointed by Biden, after having been lead negotiator under Obama of Iran Deal. He has been suspended without pay and the FBI now has an open investigation of mishandling classified information — since he only dealt with Iran, it’s not hard to guess what country was involved.
Hired by Biden.
2. Ariane Tabatabai, Chief of Staff to Assistant Sec. of Defense for Special Ops Christopher Maier, is a long-time member of the “Iran Experts Initiative” which is a front group consisting of “academics” and others who “assist” the U.S. Govt in dealing with Iran. Email comms between her and various officials in the Iran Govt show that she has been taking directions from Tehran and reporting on matters learned in her capacity in DOD.
Maier’s responsibilities on DOD’s website are described as “all special operations, irregular warfare, counterterrorism, and information operations policy issues and the oversight of special operations peculiar administrative matters, on behalf of the Secretary.”
These are two HUGE stories now given the events of the past 72 hours.
A key feature of the Malley hiring is the fact that he has known Sec. of State Blinken since high school.
The Biden Administration is compromised by foreign spies.
Report: An Iranian Spy Currently Serves as Chief of Staff for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations
By: The Tennessee Star, October 4, 2023;
Former Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley oversaw “an Iranian intelligence operation designed to influence the United States and allied governments” while he served as the Biden regime’s chief negotiator for the Iran nuclear deal, according to several explosive new reports.
A trove of “purloined Iranian government emails” were published last week in Semafor and in the London-based opposition paper Iran International after an extensive, months-long vetting process by the two outlets, investigative journalist and author Lee Smith reported in Tablet on Sunday.
According to the reports, Malley planted an alleged Iranian spy named Ariane Tabatabai (pictured above) into sensitive positions in the Biden administration, first at the State Department and then at the Pentagon, where she continues to serve as chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, Christopher Maier.
As Lee reported in Tablet, email exchanges between Iranian regime diplomats and analysts over several years indicate that “Tabatabai was part of a regime propaganda unit set up in 2014 by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.”
The Iran Experts Initiative (IEI) tasked operatives drawn from Iranian diaspora communities to promote Iranian interests during the clerical regime’s negotiations with the United States over its nuclear weapons program. Though several of the IEI operatives and others named in the emails have sought to portray themselves on social media as having engaged with the regime in their capacity as academic experts, or in order to promote better understanding between the United States and Iran, none has questioned the veracity of the emails.
The contents of the emails are damning, showing a group of Iranian American academics being recruited by the Iranian regime, meeting together in foreign countries to receive instructions from top regime officials, and pledging their personal loyalty to the regime. They also show how these operatives used their Iranian heritage and Western academic positions to influence U.S. policy toward Iran, first as outside “experts” and then from high-level U.S. government posts. Both inside and outside of government, the efforts of members of this circle were repeatedly supported and advanced by Malley, who served as the U.S. government’s chief interlocutor with Iran under both the Obama and the Biden administrations. Malley is also the former head of the International Crisis Group (ICG), which directly paid and credentialed several key members of the regime’s influence operation.
The Pentagon defended Tabatabai in a public statement last week, saying she was “thoroughly and properly vetted as a condition of her employment” and that it was “honored to have her serve.”
But Defense Department official Maier sounded a different note during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday.
Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) brought up the issue during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Counterterrorism and Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) Reform.
“She was part of a group known as the Iran Expert Initiative which reported to the Iranian Foreign Ministry and had the mission of influencing U.S. policymakers to agree with what the Iranian government wanted,” Mast began, going on to ask Maier to explain the Pentagon’s defense of Tabatabai. Mast also pressed Maier to confirm whether she’d had any affiliation with the IEI or any other groups that reported directly to the Iranian foreign minister.
In response, Maier told Mast that that the Pentagon’s initial statement on the brewing scandal “was issued by our public affairs folks,” and confirmed that the Defense Department is “actively looking into whether all law and policy was properly followed in granting my chief of staff top secret special compartmented information.”
WATCH: How did a high ranking staffer at Joe Biden’s State Department get a top-secret security clearance when she’s alleged to have ties to an Iranian propaganda group? And why don’t her bosses know whether or not she was properly vetted? pic.twitter.com/QXajOTnLt2— Rep. Brian Mast (@RepBrianMast) September 28, 2023
In a 2014 email, an Iranian official described the IEI as “a core group of 6-10 distinguished second-generation Iranians who have established affiliation with the leading international think-tanks and academic institutions, mainly in Europe and the US.”
Some Middle East experts however describe the IEI as a “spy network.”
The network was reportedly funded and supported by an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) official, Mostafa Zahrani, who was the point of contact between IEI operatives, and Iran’s then-Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
According to the correspondence, the IEI recruited several U.S.-based analysts, including Tabatabai, Ali Vaez, and Dina Esfandiary, all of whom willingly accepted Iranian guidance. These Middle East experts were then subsequently hired, credentialed, supported, and funded by Malley and the ICG where he was president from January 2018 until January 2021, when he joined the Biden administration. Malley was also ICG’s program director for Middle East and North Africa before the Obama administration tapped him in February 2014 to run negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal. Vaez joined the ICG in 2012 and served as Malley’s top deputy.
According to the reports, Malley directed Vaez’s actions at ICG and sent him to Vienna where the Iranian and U.S. teams were negotiating the nuke deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“Following the order of his previous boss Malley, Ali Vaez will come to Vienna,” Zahrani reportedly wrote to Zarif in an April 3, 2014, email. “Who from our group do you instruct to have a meeting with him?”
After Zarif expressed dissatisfaction with an ICG report on Iran in October 2014, Vaez emailed him directly, saying, “as an Iranian, based on my national and patriotic duty, I have not hesitated to help you in any way; from proposing to Your Excellency a public campaign against the notion of [nuclear] breakout, to assisting your team in preparing reports on practical needs of Iran.”
According to Smith, “these emails likely explain why Vaez was unable to obtain a security clearance in order to join Malley in the Biden administration” and “raise the question of why Malley sought to bring Vaez into the State Department in the first place.” Malley reportedly remained in close operational contact with the Iranian operative even after he was denied a security clearance.
Malley hired Tabatabai to join his Iran team at the State Department in February 2021, fully aware of her allegiance to the Iranian regime.
The emails document her cloying determination to prove her worth to the Iranian regime. Shortly after the 2014 meeting in Vienna, Ariane Tabatabai sent Zahrani a link to an article she’d co-authored with Esfandiary. “As I mentioned last week, Dina and I wrote an article about the nuclear fuel of Bushehr [nuclear power plant] for the Bulletin which was published today. Our goal was to show what is said in the West—that Iran does not need more than 1500 centrifuges—is wrong, and that Iran should not be expected to reduce the number of its centrifuges.” Zahrani then forwarded the email to Zarif.
In June 2014, Ariane Tabatabai emailed Zahrani to say she’d been invited to conferences in Saudi Arabia and Israel and asked for his prior approval of her trips. “I would like to ask your opinion too and see if you think I should accept the invitation and go,” she wrote. Zahrani replied that “Saudi Arabia is a good case, but the second case [Israel] is better to be avoided.” She responded: “Thank you very much for your advice. I will take action regarding Saudi Arabia and will keep you updated on the progress.” There is no record of Tabatabai traveling to Israel.
A month later, she again wrote Zahrani asking for additional instructions. She’d been invited to join academic experts Gary Samore and William Tobey to brief House members on the Foreign Relations, Armed Services, and Intelligence committees. “I am scheduled to go to the Congress to give a talk about the nuclear program,” she wrote the IRGC official. “I will bother you in the coming days. It will be a little difficult since both Will and Gary do not have favorable views on Iran.” Zahrani forwarded the email to Zarif.
“Ariane Tabatabai’s correspondence with Zahrani offers clear evidence that Malley’s protégé was an active participant in a covert Iranian influence campaign designed to shape U.S. government policy in order to serve the interests of the Iranian regime,” Smith wrote. “Her requests for guidance from top Iranian officials, which she appears to have faithfully followed, and her desire to harmonize her own words and actions with regime objectives, are hardly the behavior of an impartial academic, or a U.S. public servant,” he added. “Tabatabai’s emails show her enthusiastically submitting to the control of top Iranian officials, who then guided her efforts to propagandize and collect intelligence on U.S. and allied officials in order to advance the interests of the Islamic Republic.”
Former Trump State Department official Gabriel Noronha has described Biden’s Iran deal as an even more reckless and dangerous version of Obama’s Iran deal.
Peter Theroux, a veteran Mideast analyst who is now retired from the CIA, commented, “I know what a spy network looks like … This is how recruited assets speak to their handling officers. There’s lots of the mood music around that correspondence saying, let me know what you need me to collect. It seems clear who’s the subordinate here—what you’d call responsive to tasking.”
In response to a Tablet email requesting comment on Malley’s and Tabatabai’s role in an Iranian spy ring, a State Department spokesman wrote: “We have seen the Semafor article, which does not presume it was a ‘spy ring,’ and we reject that characterization. Rob Malley remains on leave and we have no further comment due to privacy considerations. The Biden-Harris administration appointed Ariane Tabatabai to serve various roles in the U.S. government because of her expertise on nuclear and other foreign policy issues.” The Defense Department did not respond by press time to Tablet’s email requesting comment on Ariane Tabatabai’s role in an Iranian spy ring.
Whether the IEI is best characterized as an Iranian “spy ring” or as a “regime-directed influence operation” is a semantic question that beggars the larger question of how any responsible U.S. security official in possession of Tabatabai’s correspondence could have cleared her to enter the State Department building or the Pentagon—let alone cleared her to work as a chief of staff in the Defense Department, with direct access to the most sensitive real-time details of U.S. special forces operations.
By 2021, Tabatabai’s covert activities on behalf of the Iranian regime should have been well known in U.S. intelligence circles.
“The hoops you have to jump through to get a bare-bones top secret clearance even without compartments or special access programs are enormous,” Theroux told Smith. “They grill you on your foreign contacts. Contacts with any foreign government raise more red flags than Bernie Sanders’ honeymoon. Contacts with senior officials from enemy governments, classified as non-frat governments like Russia, China, Cuba, as well as Iran, are in a different category altogether—what would normally be totally disqualifying.”
According to Smith, the Biden regime was likely well aware of Malley’s involvement with the IEI and its agents and “moved him to the sidelines before Republican officials had the chance to demand his head on a spike.”
The question remains, Smith notes, of why an Iranian operative is still employed at the Pentagon where she continues to have access “to classified information that puts the country’s most sensitive military operations at risk.”
“The optimistic reading is that they were watching her to see what she does and the FBI has her apartment all teched up,” Theroux said. “But to be an optimist you have to believe the FBI is clean, rather than see this as a huge counterintelligence failure. Though, of course, it’s not a failure if they were complicit.”
According to Smith, the evidence points to an even darker explanation: “The Biden administration allowed Malley to push an Iranian agent into sensitive national security positions because she was best equipped to carry out the administration’s own policy—to appease a terror regime with American blood on its hands. Because the number of American officials who want to be responsible for protecting Iran’s nuclear weapons program is limited, the White House went outside the federal bureaucracy for someone who was well-connected to the regime, and would relish the job of advancing its interests—an Iranian spy.”
In response to the AP reporter Matt Lee’s query about the scandal, Biden State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said: “I do not have any reason to believe an Iranian influence operation infiltrated the United States government.”
He also said that the investigation into Malley is “ongoing.”
Biden State Department spokesman Matthew Miller: "I do not have any reason to believe an Iranian influence operation infiltrated the United States government."— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) October 2, 2023
He says the investigation into Rob Malley — Biden's suspended Iran special envoy — is "ongoing." pic.twitter.com/fk1HsAWpbl