Monday, September 06, 2004

Daily News Exclusive: Eye Pentagon in leak of spy secrets to Iran

New York Daily News - Home - Daily News Exclusive: Eye Pentagon in leak of spy secrets to Iran: "Eye Pentagon in leak of spy secrets to Iran




By JAMES GORDON MEEK
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU

WASHINGTON - The FBI is probing whether Pentagon officials shared secrets about Iran's weapons of mass destruction with Iraqi exiles, who then passed the intelligence back to Tehran, the Daily News has learned.
Sources said Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi is the suspected conduit who gave Iran's mullahs secrets that were intercepted by U.S. code-breakers - a major intelligence breach.

"We're investigating the WMD and Chalabi issues," confirmed a top government source.

Some of the U.S. defense officials who recently came under FBI scrutiny for possibly passing Iran intel to Chalabi or the Iraqi congress worked in an ad hoc unit run by Douglas Feith, the Pentagon's No. 3 official and policy chief.

But the probes of Feith's aides and others do not indicate a broad conspiracy by his Office of Special Plans, which sought links between Iraq and Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11 attacks, sources said.

Feith himself "is certainly within the sphere of concern" but he "is not under investigation," added the government source.

Sources said a parallel FBI investigation dating to early 2001 is examining whether Israel also got Iranian WMD secrets kept at the Pentagon through the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful lobbying group. Israel and AIPAC deny the charge.

U.S. officials eyed in both national security cases are not necessarily the same people, said another government source.

"The information on Iran is the same in both matters," the second source said.

The sources cautioned against tying the two sets of inquiries, even though an overlapping spy case involves Larry Franklin, the Feith aide suspected of offering AIPAC a peak at President Bush's emerging Iran policy.

"A small universe of people had access to the Iran material," said the source.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), a confidant of Pentagon neoconservatives like Feith, slammed FBI and CIA officials for leaking yesterday.

"To have people who are supposed to be in charge of security out smearing people makes one worry about the protection of individual liberty and ... individual innocence in this society," Gingrich told NBC's "Meet the Press.""

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