The aborted counterintelligence investigation probed some Pentagon officials' contacts with Iranian exile Manucher Ghorbanifar, whom the CIA had labeled a "fabricator" in 1984. Those contacts were brokered by an American civilian, Michael Ledeen, a former Pentagon and National Security Council consultant and a leading advocate of invading Iraq and overthrowing Iran's Islamic regime.
According to the Senate report, the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity unit concluded in 2003 that Ledeen "was likely unwitting of any counterintelligence issues related to his relationship with Mr. Ghorbanifar."
The counterintelligence unit said, however, that Ledeen's association with Ghorbanifar "was widely known, and therefore it should be presumed other foreign intelligence services, including those of Iran, would know."
The first meetings with Ghorbanifar, which were disclosed in August 2003 by the Long Island, N.Y., newspaper Newsday, took place in Rome in December 2001. They were attended by two Pentagon Iran experts, Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin; by an Italian military intelligence official, and by Ledeen.
Franklin, who, in an unrelated matter, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison in 2006 for providing classified information on Iran policy to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, passed the information about the alleged Iranian hit squads to a U.S. Special Forces commander in Afghanistan. Although a DIA analyst told the Senate committee that he couldn't speculate on whether the information had been "truly useful," Ledeen and Pentagon officials claimed it saved American lives, the committee said.
After Franklin and Rhode returned from the Rome meetings, the Senate report said, two series of events began to unfold in Washington that were typical of the gamesmanship that plagued the Bush administration's national security team.
"First," the report said, "State Department and CIA officials attempted to determine what Mr. Ledeen and the DOD representatives had done in Rome, and second, DOD officials debated the next course of action."
When the CIA and the State Department discovered that Ledeen and Ghorbanifar were involved, they opposed any further contact with the two. Ledeen's contacts, the Defense Human Intelligence Service concluded, were "nefarious and unreliable," the Senate committee reported.
According to the report, Ledeen, however, persisted, presenting then-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith with a new 100-day plan to provide, among other things, evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that supposedly had been moved to Iran — Saddam Hussein's archenemy. This time, the report said, Ledeen solicited support from former speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and from three then-GOP senators, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Jon Kyl of Arizona and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
I think so: