The Sunday Telegraph reported last week that a former CIA operative said the CIA was indeed investigating whether Amiri had been a double agent. The Washington Post’s Greg Miller quoted a “former high-ranking CIA official” as saying, "They have to go over everything he did provide and put a big caveat on it."
Despite an Iranian claim that scientist Shahram Amiri was a double agent who gave Iran an “intelligence victory” over the CIA, US officials continue to maintain the line that Amiri had been a valuable long-term US intelligence asset who had provided valuable intelligence on the Iranian nuclear program before he returned to Iran out of concern for the family he had left behind.
A change of heart by a defector is far from unknown in the history of US espionage, but some former intelligence officials wonder if the CIA’s failure to exercise normal caution in its handling of Amiri could have led them to fall for a “dangle” -- someone who offers to spy on his own government but who is actually working for that government’s intelligence service.
Former CIA official Philip Giraldi, who was briefed on the case last week by CIA officials with direct knowledge of it, said those who had been responsible for handling Amiri still did not regard him as a double agent. But he said an investigation had been opened by the CIA on the procedures that had been used in the case, indicating a serious concern that Amiri might have been deceiving the agency all along.