On Wednesday, following an interview from the United States Department of Defense, a senior Iranian official revealed to be connected to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s influence operation will keep her top-secret security access.
The DoD official, Ariane Tabatabai, works in the agency’s special operations office and was identified as a member of the Islamic Republic’s Experts Initiative, a propaganda network run by Tehran’s foreign ministry and tasked with advancing the regime’s goals among lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
“We have confirmed that Ms. Tabatabai’s employment and clearance processes were carried out in accordance with all appropriate laws and policies,” wrote Rheanne E. Wirkkala, an assistant secretary of defense, in an October 13 letter to Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst.
The letter stated that the Defense Counter Counterintelligence and Security Agency enrolled all Defense Department service members, civilians, and contractors with a “security clearance in its continuous vetting program, which is a process that involves regularly reviewing a cleared individual’s background to ensure they continue to meet security clearance requirements and may continue to hold positions of trust.”
Responding to an inquiry from The Washington Free Beacon, a Pentagon spokesperson defended Tabatabai’s position: “Dr. Tabatabai was thoroughly and properly vetted as a condition of her employment with the Department of Defense,” a spokesman said at the time. “We are honored to have her serve.”
In response to the letter, Senator Ernst told The Free Beacon the administration is compromised and continues to “shamelessly defend allowing an Iranian spy to infiltrate and work at the Pentagon, likely allowing the regime access to highly sensitive information,” Ernst said.
“By continuing to brush this offense under the rug instead of taking this national security threat seriously by suspending Tabatabai’s security clearance, the Biden administration doubles down on its appeasement strategy that has already emboldened Iran and its terrorist proxies,” she added.
The Pentagon has not revealed how the investigation was carried out or released evidence to show why the senior official remains eligible for a security clearance.
Ernst’s office did discover around 80 instances where Tabatabai cited conversations she had with top Islamic Republic officials, including former foreign minister Javad Zarif and others affiliated with the regime’s intelligence services.
Following Hamas’s surprise attack against Israel, lawmakers in the House and Senate have called on the Biden administration to provide more information on U.S.-Iranian envoy Robert Malley and any other individuals who have had ties to the Islamic Republic.