Thu, Jun 03, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Chalabi told Tehran that US had cracked its spy codes

AP , WASHINGTON

Ahmad Chalabi, the former Iraqi exile once regarded as a friend of US President George W. Bush's administration, revealed to Iran that the US had broken the code of its intelligence service, according to broadcast and published reports.

CBS News reported that Chalabi had told an Iranian intelligence official that the US had cracked its codes, allowing US agents to read Iran's secret communications. By revealing such information, Chalabi would have exposed one of the US' most important sources of information about Iran.

The New York Times, quoting anonymous US intelligence officials, on Tuesday reported on its Web site that Chalabi told the Baghdad chief of the Iranian spy service that the US was reading its communications. The Iranian spy described the conversation in a message to Tehran, which was intercepted by US intelligence.

The US officials quoted by the Times said the Iranian spy, in the message to Tehran, reported that Chalabi had said he had gotten the information from an American who had been drunk.

CBS reported that FBI agents are questioning Defense Department officials in an effort to find out who gave such information to Chalabi. The Times reported that the FBI expects to interview civilians at the Pentagon who were strong supporters of Chalabi.

Chalabi, a member of the Shiite Islamic sect to which the majority of Iranians and Iraqis belong, once was a favorite of Pentagon officials. He recently came under suspicion that he might have handed over sensitive information to Iran about the US occupation.

He had provided intelligence to the Bush administration about weapons of mass destruction, which was used to justify the US war against Iraq, but his information came under major criticism after no weapons were found.

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