The Obama administration and its allies are painting opponents of the Iran deal as traitors. It is the administration that is playing fast and loose with the Constitutional order.
In a very strange rhetorical move, Secretary of State John F. Kerry shifts suddenly from “If the United States Congress unilaterally walks away from this deal…” to a conclusion that “our friends in Israel could wind up being more isolated. And more blamed!” Why would Israel be blamed for the actions of the United States Congress?
Kerry does not expound on the question, but it is not hard to say. Israel has opposed the deal, as it sees a nuclear Iran as guaranteeing nuclear terrorism on Israeli soil. The survival of the nation is at stake, and they do not trust the administration’s negotiating partners in Iran to deliver on their promises. For that reason, Israel has used all the tools of its national security apparatus to try to prevent what it regards as a disastrous outcome.
The administration is trying to underline Israel’s use of its intelligence apparatus to oppose the deal by scheduling the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard to coincide with Congress’ consideration of the deal. In what Tablet magazine’s Lee Smith calls “using everything at its disposal to underscore the dual-loyalty theme,” the release may have the effect of weakening American Jewish opposition to the deal by creating a rhetorical tie between opposition by American Jews to the deal, loyalty to Israel as a foreign power, and Pollard’s treason in spying on the United States.
The move also has the effect of suggesting that Congressional opponents may not be loyal to their own government, but rather beholden to a foreign power. Administration supporters are more blunt, accusing Israel of “conducting… overt hostility to U.S. foreign policy.” Yet this deal is not U.S. foreign policy. The debate before Congress is precisely whether or not it should become U.S. foreign policy. Israeli outreach to Congress on this point is no less valid than Israeli outreach to the administration, which is not entitled to conduct foreign policy on this scale without the advice and consent of a co-equal branch of the Federal government.
A particular objection is to Israel’s spying on the P5+1 talks and releasing its intelligence to the US Congress. The strong suggestion is that Congress is betraying the country by reviewing foreign intelligence that is hostile to the President’s position.
Rick Santorum argues the deal is the “greatest betrayal” of U.S. national security in history. Unlike inviting a foreign leader to undermine American foreign policy, communicating directly with a foreign regime against the interests of the President and spying on secret talks, Rick?
The truth is that Congress has been the victim of an administration that has shown no shame about keeping secrets in matters Congress has a valid Constitutional reason to oversee. The existence of the secret deals covering the Arak reactor and Iran’s military program were not going to be revealed to Congress by the administration, which intended to hide forever the fact that it had agreed to be bound by a deal between Iran and the IAEA that no one in the administration had ever read. There must be at least one more secret deal as yet unrevealed to resolve the disposition of the Bushehr pressurized water reactor. The administration still has not confessed to its existence, nor given Congress any idea what the terms of the deal might be. If it is like the other secret deals, the administration may not even know the terms to which we are being asked to agree. There are serious questions about whether the administration’s classification of the deals was even legal. Congress would be reckless not to consider any valid source of information about what, precisely, they are being asked to approve.
Nor is administration refusal to submit to due and proper Constitutional oversight limited to this question. Consider the role of the inspectors general in this video, in which Congress is lied to repeatedly by the administration about the targeting of Americans over protected First Amendment activities.
After these inspectors general were able to uncover these lies, the administration announced new rules preventing inspectors general from having access to a range of investigative information unless approved by “an agency head.” Without the permission of a Presidential appointee, that is, inspectors general will no longer be allowed the full range of powers to do their jobs.
The simple fact is that the administration has a history of lying to Congress and keeping secrets from Congress. The Constitution’s balance of powers between the branches is in jeopardy because of the actions of the executive branch. Congress cannot trust their unsupported word about a matter of such great importance as a deal that will allow Iran, the world’s chief state sponsor of terrorism, access to ballistic missiles, heavy weapons, and improved nuclear technology. The administration has repeatedly proven that it does not deserve trust. So, it happens, has Iran.