tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN May 19, 2016 5:30pm-7:01pm EDT
that -- >> so you would say that he actually is ultimately responsible for developing this frame of capitulation? >> absolutely. and that's the key factor to understand why we made all of these concessions to iran, because we're not actually trying to stop it from getting a nuclear weapon. we're trying to develop a partnership with it. >> unfortunately as you said, the lies and misrepresentation that are deeply woven deep within the iran capitulation agreement are just the latest example of a culture of deception that has been this administration's m.o. since its incepti inception. let's noter er iforget this is same administration that sold the american people out to the insurance companies under the guise of health care reform. the president and his congressional minions drove a legislative garbage truck full of special interest giveaways through congress and over american's pocketbook while knowing and willfully repeating the lie, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. this is the same administration that blatantly violated federal law by engaging in unlawful
lobbying. the government accountability office confirmed that the executive branch under the direction of epa administrator mccarthy unleashed an illegal propaganda campaign in order to force it down the throats of the american people. it's clear the obama administration had a covert agenda to reach a deal with iran at any cost that was driven by optics of diplomacy and legacy than the real facts on the ground. what are the dangers of such a narrative-driven approach to policy making? >> when one calibrates policy to a fantasy that is constructed rather than to reality, the cost is often paid with blood. iran has not become any less of a terror sponsor as a result of the jcpoa. in fact, if we take the 100 -- if we just take the $50 billion figure, that's ten times the annual official budget of the islamic revolutionary guard corps. one thing i would do, sir,
productively, is take the ability of the state department -- take the ability to designate state sponsors of terror out of the hands of the state didn't and put it in an independent commission so it doesn't become a political football. >> i thank the gentleman. and this behavior has become the status quo for an obama administration that has blatantly disregarded the rule of law and the respect for the american people to enact its partisan agenda. it's a dangerous precedent and it needs to be stopped by congress. thank you. >> will now recognize the gentle woman from the district of columbia, ms. north on, for fiv minutes. >> we can relitigate the iran deal or we can discuss the central allegation to this hearing, and that's what i would like to pursue. that essentially the republicans, my colleagues, accuse ben rhodes of misleading the american people. by claiming that the obama administration began negotiating
the deal and the operative year is 2013. after iran elected a so-called moderate president. the claim is that if the american people knew that the president was working towards the agreement before 2013, they would have rejected the deal. so, here's how the claim is worded in "the new york times" magazine, that rhodes shaped the story of the iran deal -- of the iran deal, that the iran deal began in 2013 when a moderate faction within the iranian regime beat the hard-liners leading to an election where there was, quote, more openness. so, the author says that mr. rhodes claimed the story began
in 2013. that's what brought us here, gentlemen. but the problem is, that isn't true. the president -- the president's efforts with respect to iran were widely reported from the time he became president. so, i'm going to ask that a clip from "the washington post," 2008, when the president became president, be posted. it describes how the iranian president wrote to president obama after he was elected in 2008. now, you are all a panel of so-called experts. i assume you read "the washington post" on occasion. were you not aware of this 2008 report? were any of you unaware of that 2008 report? >> i don't remember the report exactly, congresswoman, but i
think you're exactly right that, in fact, everybody knew going into that election that president obama had made clear that he thought he would be the one to end our three-decade-old war in the islamic republic. >> this is about negotiating the deal itself and being in touch with the iranian regime before there was a regime change. let's go to "the washington times" in 2009. i assume you read "the washington times." it describes how president obama sent two letters to iran's supreme leader. i know you -- ayatollah khomeini. that was 2009. this was well before 2013. there are many reports from every year of the administration. this is why this hearing befuddles me. 2010 from "the economist."
mr. obama says the various components of his policy should not be seen in isolation. first he tried to engage iran early and directly. not because he was naive about the regime, but in order to make clear to the world that america was not the aggressor, and he was willing to work with iran if it behaved reasonably. 2011 from "the atlantic." quote, in three occasions in as many years u.s. diplomats sat down -- this is 2011 -- with high-level iranian officials to discuss confidence-building measures as part of a six-party -- six-party body negotiating issue. 2012, all of this is before 2013.
united states and iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations from iran's nuclear program. now, you are supposed to be experts. some other experts not invited here have said that it is nonsense, that only after regime change did the president begin to negotiate. the president of plowshares fund called it utter nonsense. susanne maloney of the brookings institution agreed, and she explained the core claims of official deception around the iran deal were never actually substantiated. now, none of these experts, so that we could have some balanced picture, were called here. unfortunately, mr. chairman, by not inviting these experts we're getting a very one-sided story.
>> will the gentle woman yield? >> i'll yield to the chairman. >> democrats always, always, have an opportunity to invite a witness to come to this hearing. the democrats chose not to invite a witness to this hearing. and the person we called from the white house, mr. rhodes, also refused to show up. >> i understand, mr. chairman, and the ranking member has already indicated that had there been time -- that had there been time there would have been a democratic witness. i thank you very much and i yield back. >> now recognize the gentleman from ohio, mr. jordan, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. gentlemen, do any of you -- are any of you familiar with the name jonathan gruber? mr. doran, do you know jonathan grubl gruber? >> it rings a bell. >> i know the name. >> do you know what he does for -- you know, what his occupation is? >> i think he's an economist who was enlisted to help with the
health care reform. >> yes, sir, yes. >> the famous guy who was -- and do you know what title he was given when he was helping with obamacare and the health care reform, do you know what he was titled? anyone remember? architect of obamacare. and, you know, that might be -- that's one thing you are the architect of obamacare and all, but he got a little notoriety in the press and actually had to come and sit right where you guys are sitting a few years ago. any of you guys know why he was brought in front of the committee and had to sit here? want to take a guess? >> basically he lied about the costs of obamacare. >> yes, he was deceptive, yes. he talked about the stupidity of the american voter. he talked about -- this is a direct quote. bragging after this thing is pass, lack of transparency is a political advantage. that's a nice way of saying if you deceive people, you might get your way, right? might help your case. so, here is jonathan gruber, architect of obamacare, talking
about deception, things like if you like your plan, you can keep it, like your doctor, you can keep it. premiums going to go down. website's going to work. website's safe. emergency room. everything turned out to be false. and now we hear about another person in the obama administration, mr. rhodes. he comes along, and he's given the title, according to the piece in "the new york times," the single most influential voice shaping american foreign policy. wow, things are starting to sound familiar. and he creates a false narrative as well. talks about this echo chamber. deceiving the press. and his derision for the press is kind of like mr. gruber's derision for the american voter. because he says something like -- what's the line he used there? "they literally know nothing" was one of the lines that i think mr. rhodes used in his piece. mr. rubin, you talk about this false choice that i think in your opening statement that mr.
rhodes set up and used this echo chamber of folks who literally know nothing to further this message to the american people, this binary choice either it's the deal or it's war. that's what he set up, right? and the thing that strikes me, mr. chairman, i won't take my full time here, i just wanted to make this point is, so this isn't the first time this administration on some big policy decision has deceived the american people. but maybe more importantly, it's not my judgment the first time mr. rhodes on a big policy issue, on a big concern to the american people, has tried to deceive them. mr. rubin, you're getting ready to say something, go ahead. >> the deception comes oftentimes in the way of cherry picking. if we want to look at previous iranians offers or acknowledgements of letters, for example, what's actually interesting when supreme leader
khomeini on the 30th anniversary of the seizure of the american embassy, a seizure for which no iranian reformist or hard-liner has ever apologized mocked president obama for the letters he was sending saying we are not going to talk to americans until they fundamentally change their position. and so one of the reasons why we need this transparency, this transparency about what you're saying, is sometime around 2012 the americans fundamentally changed their position but didn't come clean to the american people about it. >> yeah. i thank you for that. let me just finish up with this, then, just to, i think, make this point. mr. gruber deceives the american people on obamacare. along comes mr. rhodes on the iranian deal. uses deception to create this false choice. help get this agreement passed. and as i said, this is not the first time mr. rhodes has done it. it's not the first time the administration's done it and
more important not the first time mr. rhodes did it. i think he did it on the benghazi issue as well. when he said in the now famous talking points which frankly came the catalyst for the formation the reason the speaker formed the committee when he created this false choice between it's not a failure of policy, it's rooted in a video. straight from the talking points. and so, again, a pattern with the administration what appears to be a pattern with mr. rhodes himself and then when he's given the ask to come testify, doesn't even have the courtesy to show up. so, mr. chairman, i yield back my four seconds. >> thank the gentleman. will now recognize the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. lynch, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you to the panel. i have to -- i can't let this go. earlier mr. doran said if only the president had been upfront about withdrawing from the middle east. i have to say that, you know, the president was clearly during his campaign, going back to
2007, 2008, i mean, ad nauseam at the time that the president took office we had about 180,000 -- 165,000 troops and 180,000 contractors in iraq. and he went on and on about the fact that he was going to get those people out of there, that he was going to withdraw from the middle east. i think he got elected based on that claim. but he was like trump was we're going to build a wall, we're going to make america great again, president obama during his campaign, he went on and on. he hammered away at that and said if i get elected, i am going to withdraw those troops. i'm going to get -- in the first 16 months he said, i went back and read it, he said in the first 16 months he's going to get all the combat brigades out of iraq. so, he was very much upfront about that. he was -- he was perfectly clear on that. the other -- the other figment here is that the american people were tricked by ben rhodes. and remember, we were the audience, us here, they were trying to get the bill, the iran
agreement, through congress. so, we're the ones getting all the information. and i have to say i was never tricked by ben rhodes. and with all due respect to ben rhodes in terms of the merits of that agreement, he was probably not as qualified as a lot of the other people that were coming to congress and testifying before both, you know, republican and democratic caucuses. we had a list of experts. it's very lengthy. but i'll just hit on a few. we had 78 nuclear nonproliferation experts. 60 national security experts. 5 former ambassadors to israel. 29 nobel prize-winning scientists. 36 retired generals. over 100 former u.s. ambassadors and over 500 iranian-americans with experience both in the u.s. and in iran. 340 rabbi. 53 christian leaders. these scientists included physicists who helped develop the atomic bomb.
those are the people that -- and i actually sat with one of the experts from the iaea about what he thought, after having been in iran and at some of their -- at iraq, at fordo, at natanz and what they actually thought about the ability of this agreement to stop iran from developing a nuclear weapon. so, those are the people that we also listened to. it wasn't ben rhodes and, you know, some political spin. but i would say that if we're really trying to measure this agreement -- and that seems what's going on here, we're all rehashing this agreement again, i think the best way would be to go to the iaea, because under the agreement they're the ones that we've put on the ground and asked them to do these inspections. and so i would just like to, for the record, i'm going to ask to have admitted the first two reports, january and february, by the iaea, international
agency -- iaea verification for monitoring and the islamic republic of iran in light of the united nations security council resolution 2231. this is an inspection done by the iaea because of the agreement. and some of the things -- i'll just tell you what they report. i'll just give you the greatest hits. they determine that iraq, they went into a.r.a.k., heavy water research reactor and they determined that arak was not making the reactor and they had removed the calandria inoperable by filling it with concrete which was part of the agreement. they stored under continuous conditions -- continuous agency monitoring all existing natural uranium pellets and fuel, pursuant to the agreement. they modified the fuel process
line at the fuel manufacturing plant at eshkahan so it cannot be used for the fabrication of fuel. iran was not accumulating enriched uranium through its enrichment research and development activities. it goes on. i got 27 seconds left. a lot of good stuff in here. and these are people who have actually been in iran doing the inspections. iran was not -- at fordo was not conducting any uranium enrichment, had removed all of its nuclear material at fordo. this was all pursuant to the agreement. and i'm getting to eight seconds. had completed the modalities and facility inspection arrangements to allow the agency to implement all the transparency measured provided in the agreement. so, that's what -- that's what the iaea is exactly doing, and, you know, that's part of the agreement. that's what we put them for. the great advantage to us, no matter what happens in the future, is that up to -- up to
the time that this agreement was signed were, we never had people on the ground in those facilities. we were always guessing about the level of progress they had made on their nuclear weapons program. now we have people on the ground. so, even if they breach, we will have had the benefit of people on the ground looking at those facilities and for military purpose or diplomatic purpose. that's a good thing. i yield back. thank you, mr. president. >> thank the gentleman, and we'll enter those into the record unless there's an objection. >> thank you. >> no objection, so ordered. now recognize the gentleman from south carolina, mr. gowdy. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you for not only the panel that's before us, but the panel you tried to have before us. not only did ben rhodes not appear and cost us an opportunity to question mr. rhodes, it cost us the opportunity and the privilege to ask questions of our friend and colleague tommy cotton. speaking of constitutional crisis, hauling a united states senator before a committee of
congress would really have created a constitutional crisis. so, good thing for us, tommy was willing to come on his own. and it would have -- the background contrast would have been been interesting to me. you know, the white house is very critical of senator cotton and has been for several months now. senator cotton, of course, when he was serving tours of duty in the united states army in afghanistan and iraq, ben rhodes was navigating the mean streets of a creative writing curriculum in his post -- i mean that literally. that is not figurative. he has a masters in creative writing. and if you're interested in writing haikus and sonnets and novellas, he's probably the right guy. on the other hand, if you're advising the leader of the free world on foreign policy matters, i don't know how a haiku helps, but i would have enjoyed the opportunity to ask mr. rhodes
how his background prepared him to sell the iranian deal, but yet, tommy cotton's background did not prepare him to criticize the iranian deal. that would have been an interesting dichotomy for me. but what i really wanted to do, mr. chairman, was ask mr. rhodes to help me, as gruber did in the past, understand what he meant by certain things, mr. chairman. he said "we created an echo chamber." does the chairman know who "we" is? >> i do not. >> well, certainly, he couldn't be referring to other presidential advisers, because he then invoked executive privilege, and he can't be talking about what other presidential advisers said. so it couldn't be that, could it? >> i do not know. >> okay. well, then he said, "reporters call us to explain to them what's happening in moscow and cairo," and i'm curious which reporters that would be. which ones call him to find out what's going on in cairo? but we can't ask him because
he's not here. and i would add, he has plenty of time to sit down for what he had hoped to be a fluff piece in "the new york times." he's been on television plenty of times, had plenty of time to draft memos for the president, but he doesn't have time to come before a committee of congress. and then this is what really concerns me, mr. chairman. in talking about those reporters, he said they literally know nothing. how does someone literally know nothing? he said they were 27 years old, which suggests that they probably have a driver's license at that point. you have to know something to get a driver's license. if they're 27, they'd be eligible to vote, to vote in the democrat primary, more than likely, so you have to know something. so i don't -- when you say they "literally" know nothing that struck me. i wanted to ask him about that. also, i think his appearance today, had he bothered to come,
would have created an opportunity for a little bit of bipartisanship, which i know our friends on the other side of the aisle like from time to time. it's said he expressed contempt for the editors and reporters at "the new york times," the "washington post" and "the new yorker." that might have provided an opportunity for some bipartisanship. it would have given us an opportunity to share our own frustrations. but he didn't come. mr. chairman, you do a great job leading this committee. it's up to you whether or not you assert the people's right to question ben rhodes. but this selective use of executive privilege on one day, but it's not executive privilege on the next. at some point, congress is going to have to stick up for itself. we're going to have to decide whether or not we do have a right to question people. and if you have time to make these comments to a reporter, you ought to be able to come explain yourself. and if you have time at the white house to send a bunch of mean tweets about a guy who served two tours, two combat tours in tommy cotton, and he's
willing to come, but the creative writing expert isn't willing to come, at some point, this body is going to have to stick up for itself. with that, i yield back to the chairman. >> thank you to the gentleman. i will recognize the gentleman from virginia, mr. connelly, for five minutes. >> well, thank you, mr. chairman. and lordy, lordy, the outrage of my friend from south carolina, does a heart good. does a heart good. from my point of view, this hearing is nothing but a smoke screen, yet another in a long chain of attempts by my friends on the other side of the aisle to deny what is manifestly true, that the iran nuclear agreement is working. it's not a panacea for all iranian behavior, though they would like you to believe that, just as disarmament agreements with the soviet union are
implacable foe during the cold war were will the not designed to address every aspect of the soviet behavior. would that they could, but they're not designed to be the be all and end all to circumscribe an entire relationship, but they were designed, and this was designed, for a specific set of goals. and lord almighty, we had a hearing in the house foreign affairs committee where again my friends on the other side of the aisle desperately wanted not to talk about compliance but, being the skunk at the picnic, i did. and let me see. in terms of compliance, we found that the agreement has reduced the number of centrifuges, as planned, from 19,000 to 6,104,
that the fuel enrichment plants were reduced. iran's no longer enriching uranium above 3.67%, verified by the iaea, as my friend, mr. lynch, indicated, and has reduced its stockpile of enriched uranium, as required, to no more than 300 kilograms, shipped out of the country -- verified. centrifuge production in uranium mines and mills under constant surveillance and verified. and of course, the plutonium production capability eliminated. i asked, point blank, is there any evidence of cheating? because that's all we heard, they were going to cheat, they couldn't be trusted and this was nothing but enabling behavior to allow iran to become a nuclear threshold state. and the answer was, no. so far, no cheating. now, my friend from south
carolina -- we are friends. we are sometimes sparring partners -- just is all exercised about the fact that somebody, god knoweth why, would not accept a friendly you have tision come before this committee, because we are a very hospitable environment to witnesses. and once moin a while we deny their fifth amendment rights, we badger them, once in a while we call them names, sensor them, a lot of times we interrupt them when we don't like their testimony, but they ought to come here, nonetheless. you're lucky, mr. rubin. you're really lucky to be here today. mr. hannah, when you received an invitation from the senate intelligence committee in 2016, did you accept that invitation? >> i don't remember getting an invitation. >> well, actually, it's in the committee report. did you not see that report? they published a report. what? >> i must not have. >> well, let me help refresh
your memory, because they issued a final report, and they said that every request made to you for an interview was denied. and it concludes, "these decisions inhibited the committee's ability to pursue legitimate lines of inquiry." any reason why you would say no to the senate intelligence committee when it was under democratic -- actually, it wasn't under democratic control in 2016. but you still said no. you can't -- that doesn't refresh your memory? >> it doesn't refresh it but i can tell you that there was obviously, especially in the office of the vice president, the counsel there was a very aggressive proponent of executive -- >> go ahead, say it. >> you say it for me. >> was that word coming out? >> executive privilege. >> privilege! there you go. so, for a republican white house, it's perfectly okay. and you had a very aggressive counsel saying you're not going.
but here, with somebody who gives a profile for a magazine where he boasts about himself, we ought to haul him in chains before this committee because we're being denied access, and that's wrong. and you've agreed to testify about it, knowing that. so, do you think mr. rhodes should be here? in a way that you were not ten years ago? >> in our administration, what i remember is that dr. rice, when she was in her capacity as nsc adviser actually did testify. so, i think there's -- >> i'm talking about you, mr. hannah. you were named by the senate intelligence committee by name and singled out for your refusal to make yourself available to that committee when it was doing its work. was there less gravity to the issue at hand ten years ago involving you than there is today involving mr. rhodes? >> issues were very grave in
both cases, i think. i think mr. rhodes actually is a more influential player than i am and he's been willing to talk about all of these issues so openly and with such contempt for so many people that -- >> well, we're glad to have you here today talking as well. i'm sure my colleagues ten years ago would have enjoyed having you. >> gentleman's time has expired. >> one good aggressive white house counsel deserves another, mr. chairman. thank you. >> gentleman's time has expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from florida, mr. desanityis for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. this is just -- i would think ben rhodes would be falling all over himself to come here. he seems to think he's smarter than everybody. well, educate everybody. tell us why those of us who opposed this were wrong. show us what we're missing. educate the american people. i think it would have been a great opportunity for him if, in fact, he is as smart and worldly as he says. and i think part of this, yes, there is deception involved. and any time a major policy is
sold to the congress or the public, that is a major, major thing. rhodes himself said that the iran deal was going to be the obamacare of the second term. and of course, with obamacare in the first term, the president famously said over and over again, "if you like your plan, you can keep it," "if you like your plan, you can keep it." not only was that not true, the administration knew at the time it would not be true, and yet, they did it in order to engineer passage of obamacare. and then with this deal, the president was in the presidential debate in 2012. he said the deal is very simple that i'll accept -- they end their nuclear program. it's pretty straightforward, he says. and of course, what we see now is iran retains, really, a major, major nuclear program. i believe they're on a path to a bomb, at worse, once the time the 15 years goes up. so, there's a lot i think that's important about that, and it's important to talk about it. but i also think that some of what we're talking about with
rhodes, for example, the idea that, well, rowhani's election really changes everything because this guy's a moderate. never mind that he would never have been allowed to run by the ayatollah if he truly wanted to change the nature of the regime. so you have a regime that's the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. you have a regime which people fail to mention that they were responsible for as many as 1,500 american deaths in iraq! they were leading the quds force, soleimani. they were funding these massive efp bombs, which took out at least hundreds of our soldiers, and probably as many as 1,500. so that's the nature of the regime. and the notion that was propagated, and rhodes is honest, he says, look, this is an opening, it's a new -- we've got to take this opportunity. it's a once in a generation opportunity. well, it turns out, they never believed that. they knew that this regime -- in fact, they were negotiating with the regime before rowhani had ever been elected. so all that was a rouge to
camouflage the basic policy. and i think mr. doran hit on it, this is a policy that understands the radical nature of the iranian regime, understands the hostile nature of the iranian regime, and is doing a deal with those hardliners to effectively solidify those hardliners, and they think that that's the way to have a more peaceful world. and so, the deception's important just for itself, but what it really masks -- when we were going through all this -- this is the biggest thing we've done this congress -- i thought john kerry, the president and these people were very naive about how they could conceive of the iranian regime. turns out, they weren't that naive. they knew exactly what we knew and still wanted to go ahead with it. that's why i think it is very, very troubling. we're seeing that now play out really with gratuitous concessions, such as giving iran indirect access to the american dollar. that wasn't even called for by the iran deal, and yet, that is something that the administration is doing.
and so, i think that this is important. there are few -- i don't think we've done an issue this important in the congress in years and years. and so, the idea that you're not up front with the american people is very important. but i think what this should allow us to do -- i'd like to tease out the implications now of this policy with somebody like mr. rhodes. so mr. doran, what's your view? i mean, it seems like the rowhani is a moderate, they admit it's a rouse, so they know about the regime and i think unilaterally us stepping back from having a confrontational posture with iran is going to be good for the world's security? >> i think that's right. i think the president has a vision of the middle's as a kind of roundtable now, the security architecture's a roundtable and we have all the stakeholders around the roundtable and the iranians are stakeholders. and the assumption is that if we start treating them with respect and respecting their interests, that they'll come toward us and
that they -- the key assumption, i think the key false assumption here is that they share the same interests that we do, the same core interests -- defeating isis, stabilizing iraq and so on. i think particularly relevant are the views of fred hoff at the atlanta council, who was president obama's point man on syria from 2009 to 2012. he's somebody who understands, you know -- there's nobody who's been closer to the obama administration's policies on syria than fred hoff. and he has now come around to the view that president obama has in effect recognized syria as an iranian sphere of interest and did so in order to reach the agreement. >> well, i appreciate it. i think the upshot of all this, the nuclear more significant, but beyond that, iran is really emerging as the dominant power in the region. how you can see that's good for our security is beyond me, and i yield back. >> thank the gentleman.
now recognize the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. cartwright, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, at this time, i'd like to associate myself with the words of representative lynch of massachusetts and also representative maloney of new york. i don't think it's possible to overstate the amount of study that went into the iran deal on both sides of the aisle, and it is with great regret that i see it has turned into a political football the way it has. mr. hannah, let me get this straight. you drew up the false talking points for colin powell when he spoke in front of the u.n., and you wrote in the talking points that there were weapons of mass destruction in iraq, and that was what ended up in his speech. and yet, you're here today to question somebody else's credibility and somebody else's professionalism. am i getting that straight?
>> not exactly. i'm not sure i'm questioning his professionalism. i'm questioning the tactics that he used. we based our intelligence on the intelligence that was there. it was wrong. that was a mistake. it wasn't any kind of purposeful desire to deceive or not give the american people what we -- >> and you told us earlier in your testimony today that you drew up that speech not knowing if it was true, knowing that it would be vetted by the intelligence community, drawing it up as a piece of salesmanship to see if anything was true, and if it was, it it would stick. your words were quite clear on that. and one of the parts of the salesmanship was that this idea was that the bush administration cooked up this idea that there was yellow cake uranium coming from the african nation of niger going to saddam hussein, and it was the american ambassador, joe wilson, who gave the lie to that
fiction. he said it was a bunch of nonsense. in fact, he wrote an op ed in "the new york times" in 2003, in july, debunking the claim that yellow cake uranium was going to saddam hussein from niger. but mr. hannah, you were one of dick cheney's top national security advisers. you worked with cheney, you worked with scooter libby before he was convicted. surely you discussed ambassador wilson's op ed with him, with vice president cheney, especially when it was contradicting one of your key talking points in selling the war in iraq. did you talk about ambassador wilson's op ed in "the new york times" with vice president cheney? >> i did not talk to the vice president, but we did talk about it within the office and within the -- >> talk to scooter libby about it? >> i'm almost sure i did, yeah. >> well, ambassador wilson wrote "it did not take long to conclude that it was highly
doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place." he directly contradicted information that you put out publicly. in response, the bush administration retaliated against him by publicly outing his wife, valerie plame, who was a cia operative at the time. mr. hannah, my question for you is what was your role in outing valerie plame as a cia operative? >> i had no role in outing valerie plame as a cia operative. >> mr. hannah, special counsel was appointed to investigate the criminal leak of classified information. it was patrick fitzgerald, special counsel. he concluded that there was -- and i'm queegt here -- "concerted action by multiple people in the white house to discredit, punish or seek revenge against ambassador wilson." do you dispute those findings? >> i haven't looked at them. yes, i dispute the way that the name of valerie claim reached the press. it was by a person who seemed to
have no desire, was in the state department, was deputy secretary armitage happened to mention her in a conversation with a reporter. >> mr. hannah, the bush administration smeared ambassador wilson and his wife, ruined her career, sacrificed a national security asset in the cia, all because ambassador wilson had the temeritiy to debunk your false claims, and he told the truth. your boss and dick cheney's chief of staff, scooter libby, was convicted, but then president bush commuted his prison time. that's correct, isn't it? >> i don't think those are the exact charges. he was never charged with releasing the name of a covert cia operative. >> the second voice that you talk about outing valerie plame, that was karl rove, wasn't it? >> i have no idea. i know karl's name was in there, but i had no dealings with karl. >> mr. chairman, i yield back.
>> i now recognize the gentleman from north carolina, mr. meadows, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. rubin, let me come to you, because as these decisions continue to get made with regards to the validity of the iran deal, as we would call it, decisions by members of congress hinge on very small, sometimes often minute pieces of information where they can justify going one way or another. do you believe that some of the statements by mr. rhodes was a factor at all in some of the members of congress casting their vote one way or another? >> yes, and i can give you examples, if you would like. >> please. >> well, first of all, when it comes to verification, according to u.s. law incumbent with the corker/cardin compromise, all agreements are supposed to be presented to congress. now it emerges that there were
secret side agreements with the iaea. one of these secret side agreements that comes into play with regard to verification is that the state department agreed that the iaea would not need to report to the level it had reported under sanctions, especially with regard to the possible military dimensions. so to say that the iaea has said that verification that iran is complying with the deal, that's like bragging that someone is the valedictorian of the summer school class. so it becomes a major problem, it lets them off the hook, and we only found out about that afterwards because the white house kept it secret. >> well, we've had sworn testimony, both in a number of house committees and senate committees where the sworn testimony by administration officials were that there are no and were no secret side agreements. would you say that that's a credible argument under sworn
testimony to make? >> they are lying to congress. >> all right. so that's a pretty bold statement, mr. rubin, that they're lying to congress. so if we go back and look at the tapes where they say that there was no side agreements in sworn testimony, do you think it's incumbent upon this committee to hold those particular individuals who gave sworn testimony in contempt of congress? >> yes. >> thank you, mr. rubin. let me go on a little bit further, because the troubling aspect of this is for somehow members on the other side of the aisle to suggest that there is wrongdoing in previous administrations that would justify wrongdoing in a current administration. is it your opinion, mr. rubin, that regardless of who the administration might be, whether it be republican or democrat, that it's incumbent upon them to
be honest and straightforward with congress when they are negotiating something of this type of magnitude? >> yes. national security should not be a political football. >> so is it your sworn testimony here today that because of the talking points of mr. rhodes and the inaccuracy, or as you would characterize them, lying, that took place, that the whole debate that transpired within congress was based on faulty assumptions that had no relevance or relationship to truth? >> it was almost as if instead of looking at the whole chess board, the white house was just directing congress to look at four pieces. >> so if we were only looking at four pieces and something that is so critical to national security and to the security of
our allies, israel, do you think it was disingenuous to suggest that some of the talking points that were coming out of the israeli government were indeed characterized as being dishonest and not truthful? do you think an apology is owed by this administration to that government? >> you know, this administration has a sorry record at this point of coddling adversaries and throwing allies under the bus. perhaps apologies are due when domestic washington politics got in the way of serious foreign policy discourse. >> i thank you, mr. rubin. and mr. chairman, i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. now recognize the gentleman from vermont, mr. welch, for five minutes. >> thank you very much. mr. chairman, at the heart of this is a question whether, this is the one faced by the president, is an iran without
nuclear weapons better for the rest of the world security than an iran with nuclear weapons? that was the question. and the engagement of mr. rhodes was one significant person among hundreds and along with our best allies -- france, germany, england -- and also our sometimes frenemies, china and russia. and the collective decision of those countries and us was that the iran nuclear deal was in our collective interests. now there was fierce disagreement about that, among the witnesses and among many of my colleagues here in congress, but this was a long and complex negotiation. it was ultimately ratified by our strongest allies. and there was a judgment that the commander in chief had to make as to whether or not this
agreement was in the national security interests of this country. i agreed with him. i work closely with mr. rhodes and found him to be an exceptional public servant, knoxable, and despite what you're saying, candid and direct. let me just ask a couple of questions here, because the decision the president made was in contrast to decisions that a previous president made. do each of you believe that the american people got the right information, that there were weapons of mass destruction, in iran? each of you. iraq? thank you. >> no. it's shown that it was false. >> right. >> no. >> no. the american people got what the intelligence community believed. >> who has supervisory authority over the intelligence community,
sir? mr. rubin? >> congress. >> the president has no role? >> the buck stops with the president, but if we're talking about oversight, that's what separation of powers is about. >> all right. so, you're saying -- by the way, i'll go along with this. congress blew it on the iraq resolution. but are you suggesting to me that there is not ultimate responsibility for making the decision and evaluating the recommendations of the intelligence community on the matter of sending our troops to war, of spending trillions of dollars, throwing the mideast up into upheaval, and he is not the one who ultimately bears the responsibility for that decision? >> the president made the decision to go to war. i'm not willing to put the broad instability in the middle east on his shoulders. the middle east needs to be accountable for the middle east. >> second thing. so, we went into this war in
iraq. we toppled saddam hussein. we were promised we'd make money on the war. that was testimony from some of the president's advisers. said it'd be over in 60 days and the troops would be greeted with flowers in the street. didn't work out that way. afghanistan. the longest war in the history of this country. we still have troops there. the place is a mess. nation-building. an of ganarrogant policy embraca prior administration, didn't work out so great. do any of you think that afghanistan is on a solid footing for democracy at the moment? just a yes or no, if i can get that from each of you. >> no. >> sir? >> no. >> no. >> sir? >> no. >> all right. so, we have a president who says, you know what, this war approach isn't so great. and he had to make a decision,
and he said, look, let's try negotiations. i supported sanctions. every tough sanction that we were able to impose on iran i supported, as did virtually all of the democrats and republicans. you know what? the sanctions worked. it brought iran to the table. and this decision that you're focusing on, this fine public servant, ben rhodes, because of a newspaper article is something that then disregards the fact that we blew it in iraq, we're blowing it in afghanistan, and the president decided to pursue negotiations, got an agreement and had the full support of those allies, the p5 plus 1. so, if there's implementation issues, let's get on it. i'm all for that. but to sit here and to suggest with this history of failure, when war is the option, that we should have done that, and that's essentially what the
alternative was -- that's essentially what the alternative was -- i don't buy it, and i don't believe the american people buy it. and we're picking and choosing trying come up with some little detail, what somebody somewhere said to suggest that we ought to unravel the whole thing. i disagree. i yield back. >> gentleman yields back. i now recognize the gentleman from north carolina, mr. walker for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. on september the 11th, 2015, cnn stated, "the effort was one of the most aggressive lobbying drives ever to take shape between congressional democrat leaders and the obama white house." on this bill, hr-3461. now, among the people who voted no were 25 democrats. you heard today, ms. carolyn maloney acknowledged that. she was the only one on this particular committee. there were others. my question is what did those 25
members know that either the other members did not know or, sadly, in some cases chose to ignore or even lobbied? in regards to mr. shapiro, we've heard a lot of talk today. i'm sure you guys may be dads. and it's always interesting when you confront one of your children and ask them if they did something wrong. the telltale sign of the giveaway is when they immediately acknowledge that another brother or sister did something wrong. that's what the smokescreen's been here today. you know, so much of the smokescreen has been about mr. hannah. nobody wants to talk about mr. shapiro. but let me talk about the difference, if i could, just for a second. here's a big difference between mr. hannah and mr. shapiro. mr. shapiro enjoyed running to the press sharing false information. mr. shapiro became the poster boy, almost the spokesperson of a flawed and horrific iranian deal. the words anytime anywhere continue to ring true as far as
even to this day. so my question, gentlemen, if you would, please, whether intentional or not, did mr. shapiro in your opinion, mislead the american public with this anytime anywhere the multiple times? mr. rubin? >> mr. rhodes most certainly did. now, the key here is that by lying about whether rowhani was a moderate, he provided cover for the fact that the administration left iran with 5,000 p-1 centrifuges and that the administration never had any hope once this agreement expired that the resulting iran with an industrial-scale nuclear program would be any different. and i should note, sir, that that's the number of centrifuges which pakistan built, not a bomb but an arsenal. >> thank you, mr. rubin. and maybe one correction, i said mr. shapiro. that would have been rhodes. >> yes, i think he deceived the american people. >> mr. hannah. >> if the article is accurate, yes, i think that he engaged in
certain deceptions about what the administration was really up to and what we were facing in ir iran. >> the iran agreement lifts restrictions on arms sales to iran after five years. and after eight removes the ban on iran developing ballistic missiles potentially capable of reaching the united states. question, mr. rubin, can you elaborate on the threat that ballistic missile capability poses to the united states? >> one of the problems i have with the reporting in the united states is people tend to pat themselves on the back every time there's a failed missile test. the fact of the matter is, you learn a lot from a failed missile test, and iran has made clear in its public statements that it intends to continue with its ballistic missiles until such a time as they can strike anywhere anytime. i should also say, a major flaw in the agreement is it bans the arms sales for five years for offensive weapons but never defines what offensive is, which is why iran is on a shopping spree in russia and china right
now. >> thank you, mr. rubin. mr. doran? >> one of the things that the agreement did, basically, was remove ballistic missiles -- effectively remove the ballistic missiles from the kind of sanctions that they were under by the change in language that the chairman mentioned. if the administration had told congress before the deal that the deem was going to result in an iranian/russian military alliance which was going to intervene in syria and result in a rise of iranian power around the region, i think we would have had a very different debate. >> mr. hannah, would you like to expound? >> i would say the only thing on the ballistic missile, i think everything my colleagues have said is right. it essentially -- iran is determined to do this. and it's important to note that the only really rational
military use of these missiles is if you can put a nuclear warhead on them. that makes them really militarily useful. and the fact that iran is so dedicated to expanding and building out this program, including eventually an icbm, not only being able to hit all of their neighbors, including israel, but eventually at some point in time being able to hit the united states. the fact they've had such deep cooperation with north korea over the years that already has an icbm capable of ranging the united states makes you believe that this nuclear deal is only kicking the can down the road, and they fully intend at a point in time when they're stronger and more able to stand up to sanctions and to american power to go ahead and, once restraints are lifted, to go for a nuclear weapon. >> thank you, panel. with that, i yield back, mr. chairman. >> i thank the gentleman. will now recognize the gentleman from missouri, mr. clay, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank the witnesses for being here today.
mr. hannah, you worked for dick cheney. you actively participated in the preparation of secretary powell's infamous speech to the united nations about iraq's weapons of mass destruction. i find it incredibly ironic that the chairman invited you here to testify about false white house narratives, given your involvement in that debacle. one of the primary claims for war was that saddam hussein had so-called mobile labs that were roaming around inside iraq manufacturing biological weapons. secretary powell showed a cartoon drawing of one of these mobile labs during his speech to the united nations. we have a slide of it. could someone please put it up on the screen? oh, there it is. those are the mobile labs. mr. hannah, who drew this
picture? >> i do not know. i assume whoever in the intelligence community was responsible for the graphics for his presentation. >> and you used this as part of your preparation -- as part of you preparing mr. powell for that speech? >> my guess is that, yes, the issue of the biological labs would have been in whatever i provided in the draft. >> yeah. okay, let me read secretary powell, who stated during this speech to the united nations, and i quote -- "one of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on iraq's biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents." what was the source of that claim, mr. hannah? >> i believe the primary source was it was a defector -- it was human intelligence. i think it was a defector.
>> wasn't it a source known as curveball? >> i believe so, yes. >> okay. secretary powell highlighted this so-called eyewitness account in his united nations speech. he warned that iraq could use these mobile labs to produce enough biological weapons -- and i quote -- "in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people." isn't that right? >> is that what he said? yes. if you're reading it accurately, yes. >> but we know -- but we now know that that claim was false. in fact, secretary powell said his claim has, and i quote, "totally blown up in our faces." do you agree with secretary powell? >> i agree that the claim was false, yes. >> is it true that no u.s. officials ever persolly interviewed curveball before they used that information? >> i don't know that firsthand, but i think the cia has said
that this was controlled by a german intelligence service. >> yeah. and it's true that the germans who were speaking were curveball could not believe you were using this information publicly because he was so unreliable, isn't that true? >> that's the claim. that was never relayed to me by the cia. they were talking to the cia, i think, at that time. if they said that, it wasn't a claim relayed to me. >> okay. well, i have an article from november 20th, 2005, from the "l.a. times," and it says this -- "the senior bnd officer who supervised curveball's case said he was a gasp when he watched powell misstate curveball's claims as a justification for war." "we were shocked," the official said. "we had always told them it was not proven." mr. hannah, is that true? >> well, i don't have any
knowledge of it. >> the germans warned from the beginning that this information was not verified? >> that's what historically is reported between their communications, between their intelligence and the cia. that's what the germans have claimed. >> but it got in to the secretary's speech, secretary powell's speech. now, your narrative was at best misleading and at worst blatantly false. as a result, thousands of people were killed and injured when this nation went to war based on those false claims. do you have any remorse about that? >> i have great, deep remorse about any american soldier that's lost, especially if it's based on information that we put out in good faith, at our intelligence communities and other intelligence communities around the world thought was true and thought we were acting in the best interests of the united states. so i do have great remorse about what -- >> but it wasn't vetted.
the information. you just threw it at the secretary and had him go after -- >> that's not true at all, congressman. that's not accurate. >> gentleman's time has expired. >> a grave mistake. >> gentleman's time -- >> i guess i yield back. >> gentleman yields back and would also duly note that mr. hannah worked for president clinton, served as the senior policy adviser to secretary of state warren christopher as well. we'll now recognize the gentleman from georgia, mr. hink hice for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. there seems to be confusion about the purpose of this hearing, which is the current white house narrative on the iran nuclear deal. in mr. samuel's article, leon panetta stated that he during his tenure as director of the cia and secretary of defense never saw the letters that obama covertly sent to iran's supreme leader in 2009 and 2012. he goes on to say that he would
like to believe that tom doni n donilon, then national security adviser, and hillary clinton, then secretary of state, had a chance to work on the offer they presented. mr. doran, let me begin with you. is there any information confirming that mr. donilon or secretary clinton worked on those letters? >> none that i know of. >> okay. mr. rubin, is the circ circumventing -- let's use that word -- of relevant department and agency heads in major foreign policy decisions typical behavior for members of the national security council and other white house staffers? >> it has become a problem that has grown with time, dating back administrations. >> so this is common practice these days? >> this has become all too common, yes. >> mr. hannah? >> i do think something has
changed in that regard. just the fact that we have a deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, whose job is to both help develop policy it seems as close to foreign policy aide to the preds as the guy selling it i think is worrisome. i have got to say, in our administration, you can fault us for a lot, but the fact is, a guy like karl rove, who is in charge of our communications, never sat in national security council meetings. there was a pretty district divide between those two. >> mr. rubin, back to you. how much undue influence do you believe that these staffers have over national security policy? >> as mr. hannah said, i believe that this administration has blurred a line that has existed over previous administrations, both democratic and republican. >> okay. mr. hannah, you mentioned in your testimony earlier that with one bold move the administration effectively made a radical shift
in american foreign policy. is that a correct assessment of your opinion? >> yes, it certainly is, yeah. >> okay. the question then comes down to who is ultimately responsible for that shift in policy. would you say ben rhodes, other staffers or the president himself? >> the policy towards iran and the entrenchment in the united states is clearly president obama's. >> yet, there are influencers in his life ben rhodes referred to earlier is recognized as the single most influential voice on foreign policy to the president. so what kind of role did he have in shaping this radical shift? >> i don't know, and i do want to add a caveat that this is the shift presented by the policy, although i think it is consistent, as mr. doran has said, with the general thrust of the administration's policy toward iran and toward the
middle east since 2008. i just don't think it's been presented that way. they want to remove and distance themselves from our closest allies in the middle east, including israel. and what they tell our allies and they tell the american people is that their relationship is stronger than ever and they will forever have israel's back. and that's just defied by what's presented in the article, and it's that contradiction that worries me so much about what is really going on. are we having a full and open debate about what we want to do? you've got to hand it to mr. trump. at least he says, i want to get out of this place. it's too expensive, it's too costly, our allies are too much trouble. i want to distance ourselves from it. >> so, let me clarify what you're saying, because it's troubling to me as well, extremely troubling that the american people, that congress, that our allies, when there is such a radical shift of the magnitude of this type of foreign policy that the american people, congress and our allies are not aware of it.
so, do you believe the american people and congress would support a shift that major, had they known about it? >> no. i think as mr. doran said -- and secretary panetta's in fact quoted in the piece saying they'd have doif they had done that, they would have gotten the blank kicked out of them. >> exactly. so the only way to get this by congress's eyes is by spinning the truth and by making people get on board something that is not in reality -- >> that is an extremely strong suggestion of the article that you had to spin it -- >> but right down the line, would you agree with that assessment? i'll yield. >> yes. yes. >> mr. hannah? >> yes, sir. >> all right. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield. >> gentleman yields back. now recognize the gentleman from california, mr. desaulnier. >> i assume you are vigorously opposed to the iran agreement. >> i am opposed. >> and you have been all along?
>> i thought we would have gotten a more favorable agreement. >> but you're opposed. mr. doran? >> yes. >> yes, i'd associate myself with michael's. >> so, just to be clear, for instance, former secretary of state colin powell, he's called the verification regime vigorous in the agreement. these are remarkable changes, in quotes. and so, we've stopped this highway race that they were going down, and i think that's very, very important. would any of you agree with secretary powell's quote and his view of this agreement? >> it reminds me of the statements in support of the agreed framework with north korea, which we now know did not merit those endorsements. >> so you wouldn't agree with it. >> no, i would not. >> brent skoe craft, and i quote -- former adviser to presidents ford and george h.w. bush -- "to turn our back on this accomplishment would be an advocacy of the united states' unique role and responsibility in incurring justified dismay among our allies and friends." you would disagree with that quote as well? mr. doran, do you have any
comment? >> yes, i disagree with it. >> mr. hannah, it strikes me that in your response to some of my colleagues on this side of the aisle's comments about your role with vice president cheney and the agreement or the decision to invade iraq, it was a mistake and you've apologized for that in your own way, but we should just move on from that. is that a misrepresentation of how you view your actions? >> it's somewhat more complicated than that, but too long to explain. >> of course. >> but yes, that -- if the case depended on weapons of mass destruction in iraq, that was false, and the american people didn't understand the grounds on which we were going to war, to take out a guy who's a horrible dictator and a major strategic threat to american interests, that the american congress in 1988 passed a law almost unanimous unanimously, the iraq liberation act, saying we've got to do something to get rid of this guy. didn't say war necessarily, but it says we've got a big problem with iraq. we've got to do something about it. >> but it was based, wouldn't you say, on the assumption that
there were weapons of mass destruction and these mobile biological labs. >> no, in 1998, it was the clinton administration. you had the secretary of defense holding up a bag of sugar and saying if saddam had this much biological weapons, he would kill thousands upon thousands of people that he represents a major threat to the united states. >> right. >> that was the basis -- >> but that wasn't part of the discussion we were having as a nation in order to commit ourselves to send young americans to war in iraq. it was the weapons of mass destruction, which you admit now was a mistake? >> yes. that intelligence clearly was false, bipartisan commissions have looked at it and said most of that was wrong. >> right. so, on balance, comparing these two processes, whether you think it's spin or not, the consequences strike me as being much more significant, obviously, to the decision to tell people we were going to invade iraq, not because we didn't like saddam hussein, although that was the case as well, but that there were biological weapons and weapons of mass destruction versus what
we see with the iran nuclear deal. now, you can assume as experts that this is not going to turn out well. but to this point, they're not equal in terms of negative consequences to this country and the stability of the peace in the middle east, would you say? i mean, how could you possibly say at this point? >> no, listen, i would say that you're right, that war and the death and injury of american soldiers is a terrible, terrible price to pay. we haven't seen a lot of americans dying. but just take a look at the middle east right now after eight years of this administration. it's hard to say it's better because americans aren't dying, but 500,000 syrians have died, chemical weapons are being used, russian and iranian influence is greater than ever -- >> but that was always because of a decision you were part tof get the country to go to war in iraq. >> you know it's much more complicated than that. >> no, it isn't. not from my perspective. i'm not an expert, but i've gone to funerals of constituents who are dead in their 20s and their
teens because you and vice president cheney encouraged the invasion of iraq. >> it was because of iran ieds, iranian efps that killed americans, not a narrative, and that is why -- >> how did that action -- [ everyone talking at once ] >> how did our invading iraq stop those other actions? you sat here and testified they continue to support terrorists in the region. >> we didn't invade the gaza strip. we didn't invade yemen. we didn't invade syria. and yet, we see iran on the war path all over. and what this agreement did was take -- was take the budget of the islamic revolutionary guard corps, the hard currency available to it, and increase it by an order of magnitude. >> they were doing that before. that's why we went into iraq is what you're saying, yes? no? >> no, i'm saying you're trying to blame a narrative on the fact that iran has been the leading state sponsor of terrorism, according to the u.s. department of state, since 1984. and to try to somehow distract from that and distract from a
narrative of false moderation is counterproductive, i would argue. >> i just have to tell you in all honesty, i feel like i'm in a replay or sequel of "dr. strangelove" here and it would be nice to have a balanced discussion on this. >> i agree. it would be nice to have a balanced discussion. that's why we invited mr. rhodes and mr. cotton, who is on the other end of the spectrum, but when the white house refuses to let them available and the democrats call no witnesses, we can't have that discussion. that's what's a shame about today's hearing. now welcome mr. russell for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in dealing with the iran nuclear issue, i'm saddened that rather than look forward how to best secure the united states from a real nuclear threat, we see a progressive attack on our entry into iraq to cloud the issue. it is almost like the classic page from the communist playbook that advises "admit nothing, deny everything and make counter accusation."
i take exception to the twisted narrative that our entry into iraq was based upon bad faith and false pretense. if an abusive neighbor attacks everyone in his neighborhood and then threatens them with total destruction, are we to believe as progressives seem to that we should sit idly by and not take action to secure ourselves from such threat? the truth of the matter is that saddam had technical capacity to develop a bomb. in the summer of 2003, i have firsthand knowledge that the 1st battalion 36th infantry along with special operations forces secured a zippy centrifuge, which is of the highest order for refinement of nuclear material, and it was smuggled out of europe. they obtained technical drawings and hardware from the garden of saddam's nuclear physicist, dr. obydi. his account is well documented in his book "the bomb in my garden: an account the cia
describes as largely accurate and balanced." i remember as i served in iraq during that time, as we were hunting for saddam, that this would be major news as the zippie centrifuge and technical drawings would come to light. instead, it is largely hidden to this day. it is also interesting to know that senior leaders and one in particular who relayed to me that during a major syrian flood he was directed by saddam to move material to an eastern syrian site. this was material of both a nuclear and a chemical nature. it is interesting that that very site was attacked during "operation orchard" by the israeli air force, and that site was completely destroyed because they were making a nuclear reactor. again, the silence on these issues is deafening. as one of the commanders that helped track down and capture saddam hussein, it is very emotional for me to hear members of this congress condemn our
efforts, but it is not surprising. from day one, as we sacrificed in the field, progressives in this congress condemned our efforts with progressive leaders even going so far as to declare that the war was lost while we buried our friends in the field. that steady drum beat forced us to bury friends not only there but ship them home and put them in section 60 of arlington, and then we come home to watch politicia politicians, many still in office, destroy what we fought for. they persist even today, mr. chairman. i will never regret bringing a dictator to justice, and i am proud to have played a part in it. history, should we even allow it, will judge us and our efforts in iraq kindly. i'm not sure the same can be said of congress. now we turn to yet another nuclear threat with iran. dr. abidie said to succeed
"elicit nuclear programs share a common weak spot -- they need international complicity." and mr. rhodes and this administration, it appears he provided and they provided all of it to iran. mr. rubin, how and how early did the administration start talking about minimizing congressional oversight of the iran deal? >> i am not privy to the internal discussions within the administration, but it appears from secondhand sources almost from the beginning. >> i have passed the iran fianceer act, the only effort to oppose the nuclear deal, which now sits in the senate. and with mr. rhodes' exposure, the need for congressional oversight, there are key provisions in my measure, and it sits in the senate. that language even today could be acted upon by the senate that
would provide us key oversight on any decisions. the president acted unconstitutionally. while he is free to make agreements and have negotiation, he is not tree to bind us with treaty-like obligation. do you think that if we passed the key provisions out of the measure that currently sits in the senate that would increase that oversight, as was noted last week by politico? do you think it would be helpful in unddeterring and at least mag what we do have better? >> yes. and very briefly, the strongest, most effective actions that have been taken by iran, both under the clinton administration with executive orders, and under the bush and obama administrations have been the unilateral american sanctions, rather than the watered down united nations security council resolutions, even though the bush administration achieved a number of those as well. >> thank you, sir. and thank you, gentlemen, for your service. and thank you for being here today. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> mr. russell, we thank you for
your service and your sacrifice and your time serving this country. and we're better for it. thank you. now right side the gentle woman from new mexico, ms. lujan grish grisham, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thanks for the opportunity to talk about what i think's really important in this agreement and issue, which is making sure that we're holding iran accountable, that we're clear about what those accountability issues and measures are, and not just how that's being communicated but how that's being verified. and my only disappointment in the hearing today, mr. chairman, is that we are having conversations about what-ifs, but we're not talking to the folks, with no disrespect to the panel members, about really who's enforcing, who's accountable, and certainly for my constituents and the number of individuals that i spoke to with expertise in this area,
either as concerned citizens or organizations and the administration and people outside of the administration, that's why core focus. and infact, as part of the hear of this nature, i was more concerned and more -- i would like information about the reductions in the you rannum stockpile. the monitoring and detection measures that the u.s. has and our allies have been doing. does anyone on the panel have in he specific authority or expertise on any of those issues because you're directly involved in that accountability? >> are we serving a government right now or in the iaea? the answer to that is no however we've dedicated years in the study of these issues and could give suggestions if you would like. >> i appreciate that. for example i've spent 30 years
in the health care industry and i have a variety of opinions but at the end of the day i'm not your physician so i can't talk to you about your specific health which i think is important, again no disrespect, gentlemen and one of the things i appreciate about this hearing is that we tackle tough subjects. i expect that in this committee and of the chairman, particularly in this issue, keeping america safe and being clear that we will make sure that everyone is accountable that we're clear about what the risks are, i think those are valuable things for us to pay attention to and i can tell you that my constituents back home and in the country expect that from me, but to know exactly where we are more than owe pining based on -- again, no disrespect to your credentials, far better than mine on these specific issues directly, but again mr. chairman i think we ought to be talking to the
individuals who are absolutely responsibility for assuring, verifying these issues so we know exactly what we're dealing with because they're doing it. what can we be doing better so we get that information and our accountability enforcement efforts so we have a way to weigh in and reshape them if need be? anyone? >> i totally agree with you. i agree with everything you've said and i think that i would like to have a discussion with those people, but the administration has worked to object kate this entire agreement and all of the processes around it and i think that's one of my main messages here is not that i'm the expert on this or i'm the expert on sanctions or so on, it's that those of us who would like to understand what is happening are not being given the information we need. we can't have an open and honest debate about this because we
really don't have the key facts and i think if you read my prepared statement you'll see that you've made an argument to that fact. >> anyone else? >> what i would say is when surgery goes awry oftentimes the doctors will conduct an after-action study about what went wrong. like was in the private sector businessmen will conduct studies. in the army soldiers will be berated for making mistakes to make them better soldiers and sailors. what the state department has not done in the last 60 years is conduct an after-action report. yes, we can say this is what they need to be looking for, they need to look at declared nuclear facilities and
undeclared fashicilities and th has to be inspections in the case iran takes some of the slab work to north korea . those are specific things that have to be done but we have to look at why diplomacy hasn't worked. if they're not doing due diligence the congress should. >> i appreciate those points and my time is up. in response without having that expertise in this hearing, we don't have a debate based on facts and i might disagree with you about our efforts in what i'm going to call complex and high-level diplomacy, but without having those individuals before this committee we're ill equip equipped to do that. >> i concur. that's why mr. rods was going to
appear. >> i appreciate the chairman more than he knows and i mean that ernestly but again i'm not sure that he is the right person. we need to continue to have an effort to get facts so that we're not speculating about where we are in enforcing this agreement. that's all of our responsibility so thank you mr. chairman for again giving manage e maybe the word and thank you for being pees patient with me. >> we'll recognize the gentleman in wisconsin. >> could we have slide three? better read it over here. this is a quote from a new york
times article. the easiest way for the white house to shape the news is from the briefings each of which has its own dedicated press core but then there are those force multipliers. i will reach out to a couple of people and i wouldn't want to name them, i'll say hey some people are spinning this narrative that this is a sign of american weakness. well, since he won't name them mr. dorn do you want to take a shot at who is he speaking of when they talk about the administration's friends and press that help them spin the white house narrative and who in the press you think he's referring to there? >> i wouldn't want to speculate on individuals. i would just note that in general the major newspapers and the major networks have supported the line coming out of the white house and one of the
things that mr. rhodes drew our attention to and i think it's important to focus on is the result of newspapers and networks are reporting foreign news from washington we have this blurring now of opinion and news so that the line that mr. rhodes is putting out finding its way into news articles and finding its way into opinion columns which they have a mutually reinforcing effect but we find at the same time that only about 13% of americans believe what they're hearing anymore and i think we can draw our own conclusions about that. >> having been here for 14 months i don't believe anything i read in the paper around here, but major papers do you believe like "the new york times," "the washington post" are those the major papers you're talking about? >> yes.
for example the saudi arabia put to death this clerk. the line you got in the newspapers and in the opinion pieces and then on the networks was there there's a huge saudi. all the things that were described we're not hearing about. i believe that was news reported out of the white house. i'll say one more thing about this too. because of the rise of the internet we have all these nontraditional news sources now that people go to and it puts enormous pressure on the serious reporters out there. i'm thinking of people who are reporters at "the new york times." if they don't know it and they're not thinking about it
directly in their own minds if they take a line that's hostile to what the white house is saying the white house can go to voxx or buzz feed or somewhere else and give the story. so reporters that i think we would all agree are extremely serious reporters are under pressure i think not to report a story that's going -- that's going to harm their access to the white house. >> okay. just so we understand, we mentioned "the new york times" and washington post by name but because they feed the associated press just because i don't get "the new york times" and washington post doesn't mean that's not the article i'm getting in almost even other major newspaper around the country, correct? >> yes, it represe. >> are you talking about the think tank or the policy world. >> the tre were two mentioned i the article, but it's not hard
if you follow what happened on twitter when this article came out, the friends of the white house and the friends of the echo chamber, you can see how they pounced immediately on the article and picked out one or two facts they could criticize and built an argument that the aut author had a political agenda and that narrative was spun out of social media and into the mainstream media. >> if i may say sir i don't know david but to criticize him illustrates the problem that journalists saying that only sympathetic journalists can cover the
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