posted at 7:21 pm on May 5, 2017 by John Sexton
Last month Politico published a story revealing that the individuals the United States agreed to release as part of the Iran deal were far more dangerous than previously known. Today, the House Oversight Committee announced it was opening an investigation into that aspect of the deal. From Politico:
In their May 5 letter, Republican Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Ron DeSantis asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to produce an exhaustive volume of Justice Department documents that they said would “help the Committee in better understanding these issues.” They sent a nearly identical letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demanding all related documents in the State Department’s possession, and gave both officials until May 19 to provide one copy of them to committee Republicans, and another to committee Democrats…
The two committee leaders demanded all documents relating to the January 16, 2016, prisoner exchange agreement with Iran, including the negotiations that preceded it. They also asked for any and all information about the 21 Iranian-born men for whom the U.S. dropped convictions or charges and international arrest warrants, and information about whether State and Justice department officials delayed or blocked efforts to lure Iranian suspects to U.S.-friendly countries so they could be arrested, citing details in the POLITICO report.
In addition to the action by House Oversight, on Thursday a group of 13 GOP Senators also sent a letter to AG Sessions, Sec. Tillerson and Sec. Mnuchin asking about some of the same matters covered in the April Politico story. Their letter reads in part, “Based on new reports, we are concerned that President Obama and certain previous administration officials intentionally suppressed the seriousness of the charges against these individuals in order to garner public support for the nuclear deal with Iran.”
When Ed wrote about the revelations last month he pointed out some of the details of the people the U.S. let go or stop pursuing in exchange for freeing four Americans held by Iran:
One of the prisoners released was central to Iran’s pursuit of Western nuclear technology. Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili operated for seven years in the US until the Department of Justice finally caught up with him, during which time he helped advance Iranian nuclear-centrifuge development dramatically. Thanks to his efforts, Iran’s ten-year pause will likely mean nothing even if Iran sticks to the terms of the deal — or at least those parts of the deal that have been made public. Another fugitive that got his Interpol red card revoked spent several years procuring US military antennas — used in IEDs that killed US military personnel in Iraq.
Obviously, if those details had been known last year, this portion of the Iran deal would have been a much tougher sell for the Obama administration.
It will also be interesting to see if this investigation turns up any further evidence about the $400 million in foreign cash which was only released to Iran once American prisoners were in the air. The Obama administration repeatedly misled the public about the connection between the payment and the release, maintaining it was not a ransom payment even though there was some evidence the Iranians saw it that way.