Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) was among more than 20 other members of the United States Senate to sign a letter calling on the U.S. Secretary of Defense to investigate reports that senior Biden administration officials were involved in or linked to a group allegedly spying for Iran. The letter was submitted to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin just two days before Hamas militants carried out an Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel. Hamas has close ties with Iran.
As of Oct. 9, 1,600 Israelis were killed in the street, in their homes and at an outdoor music festival. According to estimates, 2,000 people were injured in the attack and militants took more than 100 hostages during the incident.
According to the U.S. State Department, an estimated 11 American civilians are among the dead. Others remain missing.
In an Oct. 5 letter to Austin, Scott, along with Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and others specifically sought the revocation of the security clearance of Ariane Tabatabai on grounds that Tabatabai was engaged in an operation linked to the Iranian regime. Tabatabai is the Chief of Staff to Christopher Maier, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (SOLIC).
The allegations stem from reports that in a cache of emails, President Joe Biden’s now suspended envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, helped bring Iranian agent Tabatabai into positions in the State Department and most recently in the Pentagon, where she has been serving as chief of staff for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, Christopher Maier.
According to the magazine Tablet, the emails were exchanged between Iranian diplomats and analysts over several years and show that Tabatabai was part of a propaganda unit established in 2014 by the Iranian Foreign Ministry to promote Iranian interests during Iran’s negotiations with the U.S. over its nuclear weapons program.
The emails also allegedly show that a group of Iranian-American academics were recruited by the Iranian regime and how these operatives used their Iranian heritage and Western academic positions to influence U.S. policy toward Iran, first as outside “experts” and then from high-level U.S. government posts, Tablet said.
In their letter, Scott and the other Senators wrote that while Maier, who remains Tabatabai’s current supervisor, recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives that his department is “actively looking into” the way Tabatabai was given top secret special information in the first place, her security clearance should be immediately suspended pending review.
“Iran continues to threaten U.S. military personnel in the Middle East and remains intent on assassinating American citizens here in the United States,” the Senators wrote. “Given these facts, we find it simply unconscionable that a senior Department official would continue to hold a sensitive position despite her alleged participation in an Iranian government information operation.”
Later in an Oct. 9 message on X, formerly Twitter, the Federal Bureau of Investigation posted that while it does not have “specific and credible evidence” that Hamas has made a threat to the U.S. since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, the agency continues to share information with state, local and federal law enforcement and security agencies in the interests of national security.
“We will not hesitate to adjust our security posture as appropriate to protect the American people,” the posting said.