The FBI is probing whether Pentagon officials shared secrets about Iran's weapons of mass destruction with Iraqi exiles, who then passed the intelligence back to Tehran, the Daily News has learned. Sources said Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi is the suspected conduit who gave Iran's mullahs secrets that were intercepted by U.S. code-breakers - a major intelligence breach. "We're investigating the WMD and Chalabi issues," confirmed a top government source. Some of the U.S. defense officials who recently came under FBI scrutiny for possibly passing Iran intel to Chalabi or the Iraqi congress worked in an ad hoc unit run by Douglas Feith, the Pentagon's No. 3 official and policy chief. But the probes of Feith's aides and others do not indicate a broad conspiracy by his Office of Special Plans, which sought links between Iraq and Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11 attacks, sources said. Feith himself "is certainly within the sphere of concern" but he "is not under investigation," added the government source. Sources said a parallel FBI investigation dating to early 2001 is examining whether Israel also got Iranian WMD secrets kept at the Pentagon through the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful lobbying group. Israel and AIPAC deny the charge, informs New YorkDaily News. According to the New York Times, it began like most national security investigations, with a squad of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents surreptitiously tailing two men, noting where they went and whom they met. What was different about this case was that the surveillance subjects were lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and one of their contacts turned out to be a policy analyst at the Pentagon. The ensuing criminal investigation into whether Aipac officials passed classified information from the Pentagon official to Israel has become one of the most byzantine counterintelligence stories in recent memory. So far, the Justice Department has not accused anyone of wrongdoing and no one has been arrested. Aipac has dismissed the accusations as baseless, and Israel has denied conducting espionage operations in the United States. Behind the scenes, however, the case has reignited a furious and long-running debate about the close relationship between Aipac, the pro-Israel lobbying organization, and a conservative group of Republican civilian officials at the defense department, who are in charge of the office that employs Lawrence A. Franklin, the Pentagon analyst. Their hard-line policy views on Iraq, Iran and the rest of the Middle East have been controversial and influential within the Bush administration. "They have no case,'' said Michael Ledeen, a conservative scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a friend of Mr. Franklin. "If they have a case, why hasn't anybody been arrested or indicted?'' Nearly a dozen officials who have been briefed on the investigation said in interviews last week that the F.B.I. began the inquiry as a national security matter based on specific accusations that Aipac employees had been a conduit for secrets between Israel and the Pentagon. These officials said that the F.B.I., in consultation with the Justice Department, had established the necessary legal foundation required under the law before beginning the investigation.
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