Rob Malley

Iran Publishes Alleged US Memo, Deepening Controversy Over Malley

Monday, 08/28/2023

Regime affiliated Tehran Times has published a “sensitive but unclassified" US government memo allegedly showing three violations of US national security protocols by suspended Iran envoy, Rob Malley.

The document, purportedly from Erin Smart, Director of the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Office of Personnel Security and Suitability, cites three reasons for Malley's suspension: “Personal Conduct,” “Handling of Protected Information,” and “Use of Information Technology.” The memorandum further underscores that Malley's “continued national security eligibility is not clearly consistent with the interests of national security."

While Iran International has yet to independently verify the document's authenticity, it has been informally corroborated by two congressional sources, who have described it as seemingly "authentic."

Iran International reached out to the State Department for confirmation on the authenticity of the leaked document; however, there was no immediate response.

Michael McCaul, chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed concerns in July, hinting at a possible subpoena if the Biden administration remains reticent on the specifics of Malley's situation.

McCaul, relying on publicly available information, voiced serious apprehensions: "If he (Malley) has leaked very sensitive or classified information to our foreign adversaries like Iran or Russia, that's a very serious act that would fall under treason."

The State Department, citing privacy, has remained largely silent on the matter. However, the memo published by Tehran Times suggests that Malley might have been privy to the reasons behind his suspension, contrary to his earlier statements to the media.

"I have been informed that my security clearance is under review. I have not been provided any further information, but I expect the investigation to be resolved favorably and soon," Malley said in response to press inquiries at the time.

In the wake of the leaked document, Gabriel Noronha, a former State Department advisor on Iran, took to Twitter, suggesting, "The letter indicates Malley lied about not knowing why his clearance was pulled."

Richard Goldberg, a National Security Council official from the Trump era, remarked, "The Tehran Times knows more about Rob Malley than the New York Times. This is insane."

The controversy has also stirred debates among Iran analysts. Princeton University's decision to employ Malley at its School of Public and International Affairs has drawn criticism. Alireza Nader, an Iran analyst and a former senior researcher at the RAND Corporation questioned the institution's judgment, asking, "What in the world are Princeton and its SPIA dean Amaney Jamal thinking in hiring Malley? Does anyone want someone like this teaching students?"

Jason Brodsky, a policy director at the United Against Nuclear Iran, weighed in on the situation, expressing deep concern over the leak to a state-run newspaper of a nation often at odds with the US. "Can you imagine if this situation happened during the Trump administration? Somehow, I think there would be more press and congressional scrutiny. Just extraordinary. This is a newspaper of a hostile foreign power in possession of a seemingly authentic sensitive document."

Earlier this year, Iran International revealed Malley's interactions with Iran's UN ambassador, Amir Saeed Iravani, a former high-ranking member of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. These interactions marked a pivotal diplomatic touchpoint, being the first direct US-Iranian official communication since the US's 2018 JCPOA withdrawal. The State Department, when questioned about these meetings, responded, "We have the means to deliver specific and firm messages to Iran when it is in America's interest to do so.”

Iran International first reported June 29 that Malley had been absent for a considerable time, his security clearance was suspended and he is under investigation related to his handling of classified documents. The Involvement of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was also reported, although until now no official details have been announced, except that Malley is on “unpaid leave.”

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