The Defense Department is currently reviewing the security clearance of one of one employee whose suspected involvement with the Iranian government has raised concerns. According to the Washington Free Beacon, Ariane Tabatabai, a senior Pentagon official with top-secret security clearance, is being investigated for being a member of an Iranian-run influence network that is responsible for reporting back to Tehran’s foreign ministry and helps influence Washington policymakers.
Although the Pentagon claimed on Tuesday that Tabatabai was thoroughly vetted, they later said that the Defense Department is now “looking into whether all law and policy was properly followed in granting” her security clearance. Tabatabai is chief of staff for Chris Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations. Maier called the investigation a “personal matter” and said that he did not know whether or not Tabatabai was “subjected to a ‘full scope’ security screening prior to assuming her Pentagon job.”
According to the Free Beacon, “Maier also said that the Defense Department is reviewing whether Tabatabai disclosed on her security screening forms that she had maintained contacts with the Iranian government and its senior officials. This type of information must generally be disclosed on these forms, though there is a statute of limitation on how far the information goes back. Maier said the probe is likely to review the time period in which Tabatabai was alleged to be in contact with Iran’s foreign ministry.”
State Department counselor Derek Chollet, who has been nominated by Biden to be the next undersecretary of defense for policy, did not answer questions about Tabatabai who worked at the State Department before the Pentagon. Chollet claimed that he knows nothing about the investigation into Tabatabai.