“Polygraphing Rumors”

Joel Mowbray writes for the Washington Times. Excerpt:

To a number of civilian employees at the Pentagon, a New York Times story on June 3 came as quite a jolt: Some of them apparently already had been polygraphed as part of an investigation into Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi.

But it never happened. Nearly three weeks later, it appears that the implicated civilian employees at the Pentagon have not been polygraphed.

And the Times is unapologetic in the face of substantial evidence that it got the story wrong.

As you may surely remember, Iraqi Governing Council member and longtime U.S. ally Ahmed Chalabi was all over the news late last month and early this month for allegedly passing classified information to Iran. According to various news accounts, an Iranian intelligence agent in Baghdad supposedly cabled Tehran to inform officials that Mr. Chalabi had tipped them off that the United States had cracked their code — a message sent using the same cracked code.

The Times scored a significant scoop, running the details of the code scandal on page one on June 2. The following day, the paper of record had the scoop of the follow-up, reporting that the FBI had started polygraph examinations on a “small number” of civilian employees at the Pentagon.

Common knowledge inside the Beltway is that the Times’ story identification of the “small number” of “civilian employees” was a thinly veiled reference to people working for Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz or in the policy shop, headed by Undersecretary Douglas Feith. (Most in that group are political appointees and were hawks on Iraq.)

The practical result was a smear of State’s and CIA’s political enemies — Mr. Chalabi and the Pentagon’s hawks. That’s undoubtedly the exact outcome for which the Times’ sources hoped.

In fairness to the Times, it appears that the FBI has initiated some sort of investigation, including limited use of polygraph testing — but on people who were based in Baghdad.

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