U.S. officials have revealed some details about their split with Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi, who was once credited by key Defense Department officials for information on Iraqi weapons leading to the U.S. invasion.
U.S. officials are reported as saying that Mr. Chalabi told Iran the United States had broken Iranian secret codes, allowing U.S. intelligence officials to read spy service communications. The New York Times quotes U.S. officials as saying the former Iraqi exile told Iran’s top intelligence official in Baghdad six weeks ago that the United States had cracked the codes.
Revealing such information would greatly compromise Washington’s ability to gather intelligence about Iran.
A U.S. official is reported to have said the Iranian intelligence officer sent a message to Tehran detailing his discussion with Mr. Chalabi. The newspaper says the coded message was intercepted by the United States, tipping off U.S. officials that Mr. Chalabi had exposed the code-breaking operation.
The Iranian intelligence officer recounted in the message how Mr. Chalabi said he got the information from a drunk American. U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents are reported to be questioning Defense Department officials about who might have given such top secret information to Mr. Chalabi.
The reported actions revealed today are said to have contributed to the Bush administration’s decision to break with Mr. Chalabi, who returned home after a long exile when U.S. forces entered Iraq.
After American and Iraqi security forces raided Mr. Chalabi’s Baghdad offices two weeks ago, U.S. officials accused him of passing secret information to Iran, but they did not offer details. Mr. Chalabi denies the accusations. Iranian officials also deny that they received any classified information from Mr. Chalabi.