Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Chalabi and Iranian codebreaking: old rumors in blogworld

The New York Times > Washington > Chalabi Reportedly Told Iran That U.S. Had Code
WASHINGTON, June 1 — Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi leader and former ally of the Bush administration, disclosed to an Iranian official that the United States had broken the secret communications code of Iran's intelligence service, betraying one of Washington's most valuable sources of information about Iran, according to United States intelligence officials...

The Bush administration, citing national security concerns, asked The New York Times and other news organizations not to publish details of the case... The administration withdrew its request on Tuesday, saying information about the code-breaking was starting to appear in news accounts.

American officials said that about six weeks ago, Mr. Chalabi told the Baghdad station chief of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security that the United States was reading the communications traffic of the Iranian spy service, one of the most sophisticated in the Middle East.

According to American officials, the Iranian official in Baghdad, possibly not believing Mr. Chalabi's account, sent a cable to Tehran detailing his conversation with Mr. Chalabi, using the broken code. That encrypted cable, intercepted and read by the United States, tipped off American officials to the fact that Mr. Chalabi had betrayed the code-breaking operation, the American officials said...

The inquiry, still in an early phase, is focused on a very small number of people who were close to Mr. Chalabi and also had access to the highly restricted information about the Iran code.

Some of the people the F.B.I. expects to interview are civilians at the Pentagon who were among Mr. Chalabi's strongest supporters and served as his main point of contact with the government, the officials said.

I read this in the "blogosphere" a couple of weeks ago. I can't remember where. Lately the blog-world has been about 1-2 weeks ahead of the mainstream media, and not obviously less accurate. Some sort of peculiar gestalt effect?

Chalabi claimed to have gotten the news from a "drunken official". The focus is on Cheney and Rumsfeld's offices, presumably starting with the heavy drinkers there.

I wonder what Ann "Treason" Coulter will say if the "official" turns out to be a very senior member of the Bush administration. Oh well, no-one got too upset about Cheney's organization leaking names of our CIA agents ...

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