by Zalman Shoval
Years from now, historians will compare this sordid affair to Watergate, only in this case, the repercussions could turn out to be much worse, both domestically and internationally.
"The Iran deal: The full picture," was the headline of an investigative report featured on the important political website Politico last month (another article in the Politico series was titled "Obama's hidden Iran deal giveaway"). The report details the extreme measures former president Barack Obama had taken to secure the Iran nuclear agreement. These actions, as the veteran journalist Josh Meyer says in the article, put essential U.S. national interests in jeopardy. No less.
The report sheds new light on the unbridled conduct of the former administration and its leader to advance the negotiations on the agreement at all costs, including undermining homeland security. "The deal was sacrosanct, and the Iranians knew it from the start and took full advantage," said a source involved in the negotiations. Obama perceived the Iran deal as his political swan song and was determined not to let anyone or anything destroy it.
According to Politico, to expedite the negotiation process on the Iran deal, 21 prisoners of dual Iranian and American citizenship, who were incarcerated in the American correctional system for various proliferation charges, were released in a prisoner swap deal. Some of the charges these men were convicted of include smuggling advanced technological equipment and aides to Iran (mainly in the nuclear field), assisting the ayatollah regime in developing cruise missiles and satellite technology and exploring different ways to transfer weapons to Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah.
After years of investigations and monitoring, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Department and Justice Department put these culprits behind bars only to have Obama -- together with former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch -- secure their release by dubious means, bowing to Tehran's terms.
The administration's intervention in the proceedings of the courts and other legal institutions was in explicit violation of the law. In an effort to downplay the severity of this undemocratic act, Obama issued a statement, calling it a "one-time gesture" applicable to seven Iranian-born prisoners who "were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses." However, the seven somehow became 21 and even if they had not engaged directly in terrorism, they played key roles in Tehran's efforts to obtain nuclear weapons (the smuggling was for the purpose of preparing uranium enrichment facilities in Natanz and Fordo), as well as advancing additional military efforts.
The release was not a sudden or hasty decision. As far back as the fall of 2014, the Obama administration ordered a deferment of police investigations and legal proceedings against Iranian smuggling networks. "Clearly, there was an embargo on any Iranian cases," a former federal supervisor said.
Valerie Lincy, executive director of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, concluded that "by letting so many men off the hook, and for such a wide range of offenses, Washington has effectively given its blessing to Iran's continuing defiance of international laws."
Years from now, historians will compare this sordid affair to Watergate, only in this case, the repercussions could turn out to be much worse, both domestically and internationally. In retrospect, Israel's efforts to prevent the nuclear deal from being concluded, including the skirmishes between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, now seem even more justified than ever. It is hard to shake the feeling that the American administration's statements at the time, asserting that Washington was fully committed to the security cooperation with Israel, were intended, among other things, to anesthetize concerns over the developing deal.
Even today, various platforms still justify Obama's geo-political aspirations. For example, the New York Times recently ran an editorial titled "Asking for trouble on Iran," which endlessly praised the nuclear deal and leveled criticism at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for arguing that "Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror" and that the nuclear agreement "fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran" and "only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state."
The article also praised Obama's efforts to provide Iran with a position of power in the Middle East opposite the Sunni world, led by Saudi Arabia. Many of the ideas that are making headlines in the American media these days result more from a hatred of President Donald Trump than from an objective view of various realities. But in the long run, it will become harder and harder to ignore the facts and continue to disseminate this "fake history."
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