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Allegations Emerge of Obama Admin’s Interference with FBI Operations to Protect Iran Nuke Deal Negotiation

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Allegations Emerge of Obama Admin’s Interference with FBI Operations to Protect Iran Nuke Deal Negotiations

Edited by: Fern Sidman

In a dramatic revelation, Republican senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) have accused the Obama administration of obstructing FBI operations targeting individuals on U.S. soil connected to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. According to a report that appeared on Wednesday in the New York Post, the allegations, based on whistleblower disclosures and internal FBI communications, suggest that the administration prioritized nuclear deal negotiations over national security concerns, potentially allowing “known terrorists” to evade arrest.

The accusations stem from legally protected disclosures made by whistleblowers to Senators Grassley and Johnson. These disclosures included unclassified internal FBI emails, which were subsequently presented to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Attorney General Merrick Garland, as was reported by The Post. The emails allegedly reveal a pattern of obstruction by the Obama administration, led by then-Secretary of State John Kerry, which interfered with lawful FBI arrest operations.

In their letter to Blinken, Wray, and Garland, the senators detailed the alleged obstruction efforts and demanded additional records related to the Obama administration’s negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal. Indicated in The Post report was that the letter claims that the State Department under Kerry’s leadership actively impeded FBI efforts to apprehend individuals associated with Iranian proliferation networks and other entities providing material support for Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.

“The records provided to our offices show that the Obama/Biden administration’s State Department, under the leadership of John Kerry, actively and persistently interfered with FBI operations pertaining to lawful arrests of known terrorists, members of Iranian proliferation networks, and other criminals providing material support for Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” the senators wrote, the Post report said.

In their letter, the senators also stated: “Records further show State’s actions, at the direction of former Secretary Kerry, endangered national security, hamstrung the FBI’s law enforcement efforts and counteracted our government’s stance against Iran.” As per the information provided in The Post report, they also criticized former FBI Director James Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch for failing to halt these arrest holdups, implying a broader institutional failure to prioritize national security over diplomatic considerations.

The senators identified at least eight instances between 2015 and 2016 where the State Department allegedly forced the FBI to stand down on arresting individuals linked to the Iranian regime. The Post noted that these instances reportedly involved known terrorists and other criminal elements involved in Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“The records also show that DOJ and FBI leadership apparently allowed it to happen until the Trump administration altered course,” the senators added, suggesting a significant policy shift under the subsequent administration.

The allegations, if proven true, could have profound implications for the legacy of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, particularly its handling of the Iran nuclear deal. Critics argue that by obstructing FBI operations, the administration may have compromised national security to secure a controversial international agreement.

The Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was reached in July 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany). The deal aimed to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for lifting economic sanctions.

Supporters of the deal argued that it was essential for preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons and promoting regional stability, the Post report affirmed. However, critics, including many Republicans, contended that it offered too many concessions to Iran and failed to address its ballistic missile program and regional interventions.

John Kerry, then Secretary of State, was a key architect of the JCPOA. His role in the negotiations and subsequent diplomatic efforts to preserve the deal has been both lauded and criticized. Noted in the Post report was that the new allegations suggest that in the pursuit of the agreement, Kerry’s State Department may have overstepped its bounds, interfering with FBI operations to avoid jeopardizing the delicate negotiations.

The Trump administration took a markedly different approach to Iran, withdrawing from the JCPOA in 2018 and reimposing stringent sanctions on Tehran. The report in The Post said that this shift included a renewed focus on countering Iranian influence and addressing security threats posed by its nuclear and missile programs.

One particularly troubling case involved an Iranian national on the Terrorism Watch List. According to the whistleblower disclosures, FBI agents were deeply disturbed by directives to halt arrests for what appeared to be political reasons, The Post report said. Internal communications reflect a profound sense of frustration and helplessness among agents tasked with national security.

In a July 2015 email from an FBI counterintelligence division agent to a Los Angeles field office agent, the sentiment was clear: “We are all beside ourselves on asking the field to stand down on a layup arrest.” According to the Post report, the agent elaborated, stating, “As it stands right now we all have to sit back and wait until all the US and Iran negotiations resolve themselves. We will continue to argue for aggressive action, however, we will probably lose. Our hands are tied.”

The email, subject-lined “HQ support,” highlighted the internal strife within the FBI as agents grappled with orders that conflicted with their mission to protect national security.

The Post reported that the email in question also stated: “The FBI lost the opportunity to arrest the subject, who is on the Terrorism Watch List, when the subject traveled to the US in July 2015. The State Department blocked our plan to arrest while the subject was mid-flight and the subject was forced to leave the US immediately upon arrival.”

The frustration did not dissipate with time. The information provided in The Post report indicated that in another email exchange between FBI counterintelligence agents dated August 2017, an agent noted that “there were 8 cases we regularly highlighted as being held up.” The agent explicitly stated, “State Department held up the cases. The FBI/DOJ/USG could have moved forward with the cases but the State Department chose to block them.”

These emails, though partially redacted, reveal that at least one individual managed to return to Iran, and a known terrorist was forced out of the country without being arrested, the report in The Post said.  The identities of these individuals remain undisclosed, but the implications are clear: key arrests were thwarted due to political interference.

The internal strife within the FBI, as revealed by the emails, highlights the tension between the field agents’ mandate to protect the country and the administration’s diplomatic goals. The agents’ frustration is palpable, reflecting a deep-seated concern that political considerations were undermining their efforts to combat terrorism and proliferation.

As part of their investigation, Grassley and Johnson have requested records from the email archives of key figures involved in the negotiations and subsequent policy implementations. These figures include John Kerry, CIA Director Bill Burns, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and several other current and former top U.S. government officials, The Post reported. The senators have set a deadline of June 4 for the submission of these records, indicating the urgency and seriousness of their inquiry.

The alleged obstruction of FBI operations has profound implications for U.S. national security. By preventing the arrests of individuals linked to terrorism and proliferation activities, the Obama administration’s actions, as described by the whistleblowers, may have allowed potential threats to go unaddressed. This raises questions about the balance between diplomatic negotiations and law enforcement priorities, especially when dealing with adversaries such as Iran.

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