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Some officials at the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department said they're concerned that the offices of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney may be receiving a stream of questionable information that originates with Iranian exiles, including a discredited arms dealer, Manucher Ghorbanifar, who played a role in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal.
Officials at all three agencies said they suspect that the dubious information may include claims that Iran directed Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, to kidnap two Israeli soldiers in July; that Iran's nuclear program is moving faster than generally believed; and that the Iranian people are eager to join foreign efforts to overthrow their theocratic rulers.
The officials said there is no reliable intelligence to support any of those assertions and some that contradicts all three.
The officials said they fear a replay of the administration's mishandling of what turned out to be bogus information from Iraqi exiles in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, documented earlier this month in a Senate intelligence committee report.
But they said this time, intelligence analysts and others are more forcefully challenging claims they believe to be false or questionable.
"There's no question that people are less afraid to speak up after what happened in Iraq," said one intelligence official. "There's less of an inclination to let Cheney and Rumsfeld run free."
It is, said a second U.S. intelligence official, "a little more difficult to try to put forward a one-sided view." Analysts "are not willing to be rolled over," he said.