In the wake of terrorist fears over the car explosion at a US-Canada border control checkpoint Wednesday, the Biden administration’s inexplicable complacency about national security threats must end.
While Gov. Hochul now says the FBI has ruled out a terrorist attack, there were initial concerns “at a time of heightened alert” that the car was packed with explosives and may even have been heading to New York City.
Hochul announced new counterterrorism efforts last week and already had beefed up security for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
On Tuesday, CBS reported a threat assessment from the New York State Intelligence Center warning that the war in Gaza is “driving chatter about targets in New York.”
The threats make it all the more reprehensible that hundreds of known and suspected terrorists have been caught crossing our porous southern border — and God knows how many have evaded detection.
But equally worrying is the administration’s apparent harboring and coddling of agents of Iran, even after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. It sponsors Hamas.
And, yet, sitting in the Pentagon with a high-level security clearance is Ariane Tabatabai, the Iranian-born Biden military aide who reportedly is under investigation over an Iranian influence operation whose tentacles reach deep into Washington’s military and diplomatic establishment — and nobody in the government will explain why.
Eyes on Tehran
Not only is Tabatabai the chief-of-staff to the Pentagon’s assistant secretary of defense for special operations, Christopher Maier, but, according to Navy sources, she recently became a US reserve naval intelligence officer.
Tabatabai has completed her five-month training at the Center for Information Dominance in Dam Neck, Va., according to a fellow officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity and expressed concern that Tabatabai retains her security clearance, despite the counterintelligence investigation.
The officer says Tabatabai would receive access in her reservist intelligence role to such sensitive information as staff rosters and movements of US ships and submarines in the Persian Gulf, all of which is clearly of interest to Iran amid the current Gaza conflict.
“The Navy has been actively training her to be an intelligence officer and giving her access to, not just what she has in her civilian job, but access to all the need-to-know information that a reserve unit has,” says the officer.
“This naval reserve [role] gives her more clearance and access. Everyone she has contact with in the Navy intelligence realm is now potentially outed.”
The officer says Tabatabai’s security access has been a source of ongoing concern among colleagues, especially as “the investigation has been going on for so long.”
“It’s a clear and present danger in that even if [the investigation] affords her the right to due process, her clearance still should be on hold, and she should not have any access to go into the Pentagon or any other military installation.”
The FBI reportedly has been shut out of the Tabatabai probe, and it is not known which agency is in charge.
The FBI did not respond to The Post’s questions Wednesday.
The Pentagon acknowledged receipt of The Post’s questions about Tabatabai Wednesday, but said “we will not meet your deadline.”
Sources say it highly unusual that the probe has dragged on so long while Tabatabai remains free to access computer systems and enter the Pentagon, despite leaked emails reported by Semafor two months ago showing she was in regular communication with senior Iranian officials and was a protege of suspended Iran special envoy Robert Malley.
Malley, her former State Department colleague, was placed on unpaid leave in June, two months after his security clearance was suspended, pending an FBI investigation into alleged mishandling of classified information, which is in at least its seventh month, with no explanation from the administration, “due to privacy considerations.”
The architect of the Obama administration’s disastrous Iran nuclear deal that was scuttled by Donald Trump, Malley was brought back by Joe Biden to reanimate the deal, despite strenuous objections from Israel that it would empower Iran and fuel terrorism.
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and 30 other Senate Republicans sent a letter to the Pentagon in September demanding Tabatabai’s security clearance be revoked but have had no response.
“Hamas’ barbaric attack on Oct. 7 tragically demonstrated the folly of this administration’s coddling of the Iranian regime,” Johnson told The Post.
“Maybe now they will take our concerns with Ms. Tabatabai’s connections to the Iranian government seriously, but I’m not holding my breath.”
A report handed to Congress and the White House this month claims Tabatabai and other members of the Tehran-backed influence network, the Iran Experts Initiative, have infiltrated the US government to spread disinformation about the Iranian regime’s intentions and to undermine the leading anti-Iranian dissident group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq(MEK).
“No individual or organization who aligns themselves with a hostile state or who serves as a foreign agent should wield influence over US policy or have access to sensitive national-security information,” the report’s author, professor Ivan Sascha Sheehan of the University of Baltimore, told The Post on Wednesday.
White House silent
“I did not receive a response from the White House following the release of my report. Neither am I aware of any changes to Dr. Tabatabai’s security clearance.”
Among the aid and comfort the Biden administration has provided to the Iranian regime was its blessing to attack the Mojahedin-e Khalq(MEK) in Albania, where the dissidents had been guaranteed safe haven under the Trump administration.
Last November, the State Department disavowed MEKthe group in a statement, saying: “the United States does not see the MEK as a viable democratic opposition movement that is representative of the Iranian people.”
That appeared to be the green light for the Albanian government to raid MEK headquarters in June, killing one and seizing computers that turned up in Tehran.
In September, in response to questions about Tabatabai’s security clearance, a Pentagon spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon: “We are honored to have her serve, prompting Iran’s intelligence ministry to thank Albania and start arresting MEK operatives.”
Malley was accused by a bipartisan group of former lawmakers, including former AG Michael Mukasey and former Sen. Joe Lieberman, of being behind the State Department’s “flagrant betrayal” of the Iranian dissidents.
How much damage was done to Israel and US intelligence-gathering capabilities in Iran by the destruction of MEK’s covert network there, less than four months before Hamas’ attack on Israel?
Albanian sources say MEK members now are attempting to move to Canada.
The State Department and the Pentagon have shown a cavalier disregard for media interest in the Iranian spy scandal.
In October, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller dismissed questions with a breezy: “I do not have any reason to believe an Iranian influence operation infiltrated the United States government.”
Hannity’s ‘Jingle’ is family fun
We’re in that delightful time of year when families can spend downtime together watching hokey wholesome holiday movies.
Since woke Hollywood has lost its mind, it’s usually safer to stick with the heartwarming old classics like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Home Alone” or any Christmassy movie starring Chevy Chase — my favorite rib-tickler is “Funny Farm.”
But Sean Hannity has come to the rescue this year.
The popular Fox News host has co-produced a family-friendly Christmas comedy called “Jingle Smells” that launches in a pay-per-view format on Rumble Thursday.
Hannity even has a cameo role, along with Fox regular and former Gov. Mike Huckabee, among actors John Schneider, Eric Roberts and Ben Davies.
Hannity promises that his Robin Hood-themed film is free of the “crazy agendas being presented by those other entertainment platforms. ‘Jingle Smells’ is a movie that your entire family can enjoy together.”
That’s worth a plug, in my view.