Top officials from the Obama administration are working to stymie congressional pressure on Iran, including through a quiet push in Congress by an organization that has been criticized for helping mislead the public about the Iran deal, according to correspondence obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
The Ploughshares Fund, described by the Obama White House as a key promoter of the nuclear deal, distributed a letter to congressional staffers last week written by former Obama Treasury official Adam Szubin that harshly criticizes pending Iran sanctions legislation.
Ploughshares came under fire last May for giving hundreds and thousands of dollars to media outlets and fueling what Obama Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes admitted was an “echo chamber.” A Ploughshares official cc’d Szubin on the email with the letter, and welcomed congressional staffers to reach out to him for further discussion. The sanctions bill is expected to move forward in coming weeks.
“[The legislation] would provoke a terrible reaction in Iran and with our allies,” Szubin wrote in the letter, addressed to leaders of the foreign relations committee. “[It] would contribute no benefit, as it would impose no additional pressure on Iran’s malign activities outside of the nuclear space.”
The congressional push coincides with the launch of an organization backed by former Obama officials, with Secretary of State John Kerry at the fore, many of whom are vocal opponents of the sanctions legislation. The group, Diplomacy Works, aims to “promote, protect, and preserve” the nuclear deal by informing and influencing lawmakers, experts, and others, according to a statement on its website.
Experts who fought against the nuclear deal in 2015 told TWS that the Obama team’s renewed push is all too familiar.
“The Obama defenders of the [nuclear deal] are terrified that the Trump administration will end the Obama paralysis of U.S. policy towards the Iranian regime,” said one Iran expert who played a major role in push back against the nuclear deal. “They will fight tooth and nail any sign of a more robust and hard hitting policy to rollback and subvert Iranian aggression.”
Another long-time Middle East expert closely involved in the fight against the deal said the officials are mobilizing to ensure that lawmakers do not impose additional pressure on Iran.
“The same people who promised that the nuclear deal would enable Congress to push back against Iran—literally the very same people—are now mobilizing to prevent any pressure against Iran over its threats to us and our allies,” the adviser told TWS.
“Of course that gives away the game, doesn’t it?” the adviser continued. “The goal of the Iran deal was never to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, but instead to empower Iran by giving it something to use as blackmail against U.S. pressure.”