“Polygraph Testing Starts at Pentagon in Chalabi Inquiry”

David Johnston and James Risen report for the New York Times. Excerpt:

WASHINGTON, June 2 — Federal investigators have begun administering polygraph examinations to civilian employees at the Pentagon to determine who may have disclosed highly classified intelligence to Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi who authorities suspect turned the information over to Iran, government officials said Wednesday.

The polygraph examinations, which are being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are focused initially on a small number of Pentagon employees who had access to the information that was compromised. American intelligence officials have said that Mr. Chalabi informed Iran that the United States had broken the secret codes used by Iranian intelligence to transmit confidential messages to posts around the world.

Mr. Chalabi has denied the charge. On Wednesday, his lawyers made public a letter they said they had sent to Attorney General John Ashcroft and F.B.I. Director Robert S. Mueller III repeating Mr. Chalabi’s denials and demanding that the Justice Department investigate the disclosure of the accusations against Mr. Chalabi.

The lawyers, John J. E. Markham II and Collette C. Goodman, said in the letter, “The charges made against Dr. Chalabi — both the general and the specific ones are false.”

They also said, “We ask that you undertake an immediate investigation to find and hold accountable those who are responsible for these false leaks.”

Officials would not identify who has taken polygraph examinations or even who has been interviewed by F.B.I. counterespionage agents. It could not be determined whether anyone has declined to submit to a polygraph test.

No one has been charged with any wrongdoing or identified as a suspect, but officials familiar with the investigation say that they are working through a list of people and are likely to interview senior Pentagon officials.

The F.B.I. is looking at officials who both knew of the code-breaking operation and had dealings with Mr. Chalabi, either in Washington or Baghdad, the government officials said. Information about code-breaking work is considered among the most confidential material in the government and is handled under tight security and with very limited access.

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