Few signs of progress into Chalabi leak of intelligence to Iran



As Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi arrives this week in Washington for talks, there is little sign of progress in a federal investigation of allegations that he once leaked U.S. intelligence secrets to Iran, the (paid-restricted) Wall Street Journal reports Monday. Excerpts.

More than 17 months after then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice publicly promised a full criminal inquiry, the Federal Bureau of Investigation hasn't interviewed Mr. Chalabi himself or many current and former U.S. government officials thought likely to have information related to the matter, according to lawyers for several of these individuals and others close to the case.

The investigation of Mr. Chalabi, who had been a confidant of senior Defense Department officials before the war in Iraq, remains in the hands of the FBI, with little active interest from local federal prosecutors or the Justice Department, these people said. There also has been no grand-jury involvement in the case.

The investigation centers on allegations that one or more U.S. officials in early 2004 leaked intelligence to Mr. Chalabi, including the fact that the U.S. had broken a crucial Iranian code, and that Mr. Chalabi in turn had passed the information to the Baghdad station chief of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The assertions about Mr. Chalabi's involvement came after U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted a cable from the station chief back home to Iran, detailing what the chief claimed was a conversation with Mr. Chalabi about the broken code.

Former intelligence officials said such a leak could have caused serious damage to U.S. national security. The broken code had enabled U.S. intelligence agencies to monitor covert cable traffic among Iranian operatives around the world. The encrypted cable traffic was a main source of information on Iranian operations inside Iraq. The leak also threatened U.S. efforts to monitor any Iranian steps to develop nuclear weapons. And there was concern that the disclosure could prompt other countries to upgrade their encryption, making it more difficult for the U.S. to spy on them.