Ariane Tabatabai commenced her employment at the U.S. State Department in early 2021, concurrently with her colleague Rob Malley, who had been designated as Joe Biden’s Iran envoy. Nevertheless, a subset of Republican Party members in Congress voiced vehement opposition on account of Tabatabai’s familial ties to the Iranian government and her associations with the Iran Experts Initiative (IEI), an organization allegedly affiliated with Iranian intelligence.
The legitimate concerns voiced by numerous individuals were disregarded by the administration and multiple mainstream media agencies, which characterized them as expressions of anti-Islamic prejudice.
When Ariane Tabatabai obtained a sensitive post at @StateDept, many #Iranian-Americans warned the Biden administration that her father Javad Tabatabai appeared to be close to the Islamic Republic. Biden officials such as @nedprice called these #Iranian-Americans “racists.” pic.twitter.com/OTj1e6P588
— Alireza Nader علیرضا نادر (@AlirezaNader) October 5, 2023
Following this, Tabatabai was reassigned to a separate role within the Pentagon, presumably one that presented more advantageous circumstances. In this new role, she served as the chief of staff to Christopher Maier, who held the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict.
The oversight of a wide range of operations concerning counterterrorism, unconventional warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, civil affairs, information operations, psychological operations, and the counterproliferation of weapons of mass destruction falls under the purview of the Maier office.
Three Deputy Assistant Defense Secretaries are assisting in the execution of this initiative: the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Partnership Strategy and Stability Operations, and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism.
Given the recent global events, there may be cause for concern regarding the possible presence of an individual whose allegiances may be more aligned with Tehran than with the United States.
Should one have not been previously informed, it is relevant to mention that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been conducting an investigation into Rob Malley, an associate of Tabatabai, since approximately April 2023. This investigation is in response to allegations regarding the improper management of classified material. Malley was identified as the principal organizer of a group of Iranian operatives, all of whom have strategic positions in prominent policy and government positions in the United States and maintain ties to the IEI, as of late September.
It has been asserted that Tabatabai holds the preeminent position within the espionage network under suspicion. As is customary in such situations, the State Department and Department of Defense dispute the aforementioned classification. Tabatabai would have been briefed on the intelligence acquired from diverse sources, including the Defense Intelligence Agency, prior to its transmission to more senior officials, including the Secretary of Defense.
In the aftermath of the September events, Senate and House committees requested further information from the State Department and the Department of Defense concerning Tabatabai and the ongoing investigation into Malley, respectively.
A recent development involves Kentucky Republican Representative James Comer formally requesting Secretary of State Antony Blinken, with whom Malley has a longstanding high school acquaintance, to provide the House Oversight Committee with any relevant documentation regarding Tabatabai’s security clearance and records of her conversations while employed at the Department of State.
In light of the information provided above, what are the contributing factors to Ariane Tabatabai’s ongoing employment? As far as is known, the Pentagon is presently involved in endeavors to liberate detainees that Hamas has taken captive during the course of their attacks in Israel.
Active participation in these operations by U.S. Special Forces, a unit under the jurisdiction of Tabatabai’s superior, is evident. In light of the substantial level of suspicion surrounding Rob Malley’s handling of classified documents, which led to his suspension of security clearance and leave of absence, it is justifiable to inquire as to why Tabatabai, with whom he has a close association, has not been similarly subjected to a suspension of security clearance and exclusion from relevant deliberations until the issue is resolved.
While the suggested approach seems logical, it is pertinent to mention that the Department of Defense declared Tabatabai competent for the mission on Wednesday. In a letter dated October 13 and addressed to Senator Joni Ernst, Legislative Affairs personnel from the Department of Defense assert:
“We have confirmed that Ms. Tabatabai’s employment and clearance processes were carried out in accordance with all appropriate laws and policies. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency has 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.”
Ernst provided a reaction to the aforementioned letter, expressing her thoughts to the Washington Free Beacon.
“The Biden administration is compromised, but they continue to shamelessly defend allowing an Iranian spy to infiltrate and work at the Pentagon, likely allowing the regime access to highly sensitive information. 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.”
Despite the Department of Defense’s assertion that its examination confirmed the adherence to procedural norms in Tabatabai’s clearance process, Blinken is obligated to furnish documentation pertaining to the State Department’s procedures by October 25th.