Washington, D.C.- Congresswoman Elise Stefanik led a letter demanding that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin provide members of the House Armed Services Committee and the American people full transparency into their investigation of a U.S. Department of Defense employee who’s reportedly been involved in an extensive Iranian influence operation to expand Tehran’s power.

Recent reports make it clear that Ariane Tabatabai, the Chief of Staff for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, was a founding member of the Iran Experts Initiative, a group of American policy analysts who worked with the Iranian regime to proliferate their false narratives regarding their nuclear program during the Iran nuclear deal negotiations. 

Congresswoman Stefanik led her colleagues in expressing outrage at Ms. Tabatabai’s current employment and demanding accountability from the DOD. 

In the letter the lawmakers state, “It is shocking and unacceptable that the DOD is employing someone who worked so closely with the Iranian regime. The IEI was founded in 2014 by Saeed Khatibzadeh and Mostafa Zahrani, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and top advisor to former Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. A March 2014 email recently made public states Ms. Tabatabai was integral in establishing the IEI, which was created so the Iranian regime could offer “political support” to a network of analysts in America and Europe to spread Tehran’s influence during the JCPOA negotiations.”

The letter continues, “The allegations that a current Department of Defense employee has worked with Tehran to advance their narratives highlights a clear failure within DOD to properly vet employees. Following this concerning reporting, we are requesting that the DOD immediately suspend the security clearance of Ms. Tabatabai.”

“The Department of Defense needs to provide answers to the American people on why they are using taxpayer money to employ an alleged Iranian agent who worked to push Tehran’s malign narrative within the United States and legitimize Iran’s nuclear agenda on the global stage ahead of the Iran Nuclear Deal.” Stated Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. “This egregious breach of national security is unacceptable. We are demanding that the DOD revoke her security clearance immediately and be fully transparent with their necessary investigation into Ms. Tabatabai. The American people deserve answers.”

"The Biden administration’s repeated, desperate attempts to revive the failed, Obama-era nuclear deal makes a lot more sense now that we know it was being overseen by acolytes of the Iranian regime." Stated Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03).

Stefanik was joined by Representatives Wittman (R-VA), Banks (R-IN), Bergman (R-MI), Waltz (R-FL), Mills (R-FL), Moylan (R-GU), Mace (R-SC), Wilson (R-SC), and McCormick (R-GA).

Find the full letter HERE.