For years, Republicans and conservatives have charged that President Obama has shielded embarrassing intelligence and other information regarding Iran in order to limit opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and Obama’s conciliatory approach to Tehran. The charge seems well-founded. After all, it took Sens. Tom Cotton and Rep. Mike Pompeo to discover secret side agreements attached to the nuclear deal.
Eli Lake suggests that the Trump administration may well stop covering for the mullahs. Certainly, as Lake argues, Trump’s early high level personnel picks suggest so.
Trump’s nominee for CIA Director is none other than Mike Pompeo. Not only did he and Sen. Cotton uncover side deals to the nuclear agreement, he also pressed hard for answers about the cash payments the U.S. delivered to the mullahs in exchange for the release of hostages.
Pompeo wrote to Attorney General Lynch asking for answers as to how the cash payments were approved by the Justice Department. Lynch stonewalled him. Perhaps Jeff Sessions will be more cooperative.
Mike Flynn is the other key appointment for purposes of airing Obama’s Iran secrets. Lake points out that in 2011 General Flynn ran a team at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that reviewed the troves of material captured in the 2011 Osama bin Laden raid.
Under Obama, only a small fraction of these documents have been declassified and released. After he retired from the military, Flynn charged that the disclosures were selective.
Flynn noted, for example, that some documents captured in the bin Laden raid show a much tighter relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda than previously disclosed. In The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies (written with Micheal Ledeen), Flynn states: “One letter to bin Laden reveals that al-Qaeda was working on chemical and biological weapons in Iran.”
Given Obama’s desire to deal with Iran and, indeed, for a rapprochement, you can see why the administration shielded such intelligence. Given the well-deserved contempt by Pompeo and Flynn for Obama’s Iran policy, you can see why they might want relevant facts to come to light. As a general matter, these are facts the public has a right to know.
If such facts are made public, Obama won’t have much standing to complain. Lake reminds us:
Obama himself in 2008 campaigned against the sitting president’s policies on waterboarding and enhanced interrogation. One of the first things his government did when he took office was to declassify and release the legal memos that justified and revoked these practices.
It looks like the Republicans are about to return the favor.