Pop quiz, hotshot: You’re about to send pallets of cash to a country that routinely calls for the destruction of your nation. Their navy harasses yours in international waters, and it’s currently tuning up its missile technology to add nuclear capability at some point. When exactly do you tell your own military that you’re about to infuse badly needed hard currency into their war machine? When do you do it, hotshot — when do you do it?
If you’re Barack Obama, the answer is apparently not until long after the cash has been delivered. Bloomberg’s Eli Lake reports that Obama and John Kerry never consulted Defense Secretary Ash Carter or the military before paying off the Iranians:
One might think President Barack Obama would have asked his top military officials to weigh in on his administration’s decision in January to send $400 million in cash to Iran. After all, Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and terrorists prefer cash to wire payments because it’s so difficult to track. And its armed forces have both directly and indirectly threatened the U.S. military in the Middle East.
But Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry did not consult Secretary of Defense Ash Carter or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford.
This news came out of a hearing Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In response to a question from Republican Senator Ted Cruz about the cash payment to Iran, Carter made it clear that he had been out of the loop.
Recall too that the White House didn’t consult Congress on these actions, either. Senate Foreign Relations chair Bob Corker said he heard about it in the media:
The Treasury Department confirmed this weekend that the United States wired at least two payments to Iran, one in July 2015 for $848,000 for a settlement over antiquities and another in April for $8.6 million for 32 tons of heavy water, after TWS published details of the April payment late last week.
“No, I was not told that [the payments were wired],” said Tennessee senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I read about it. You may have been the person that made me aware of it.”
Corker said that wire transfers lend “a lack of credibility” to administration statements about the $1.7 billion cash payment for a decades-old arms deal gone awry, the first $400 million of which was sent to Iran around the time that the country released American prisoners in January.
Maryland senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat and ranking member of the committee, could not recall being told that the payments were wired, but he left open the possibility that his staffers had been briefed.
Excuse me? Cardin seems to suggest that the White House would call a staffer to inform them of a major shift in foreign policy. How would that conversation go? “By the way, we’re sending hundred of millions of dollars to Iran in conflict with long-standing sanctions. Can you give your boss a heads-up? Thanks, pal.” And supposedly this staffer would still have a job if he forgot to alert Cardin, right? Come on, man.
It’s pretty clear why Obama kept Congress in the dark. But why keep the Defense Department outside the loop, too? Obama picked all of the leaders at the Pentagon for these posts. Was he afraid that his appeasement policy toward Iran was so radical that it wouldn’t even pass muster with his own appointees? That’s certainly the way it looks, and it demonstrates again how ill-advised these moves are.