Republicans press Trump to pursue Iranian fugitives Obama spared

by WorldTribune Staff, April 27, 2017

The Obama administration in its efforts to secure a nuclear deal with Iran and a foreign policy legacy for President Barack Obama let several Iranian fugitives off the hook in a move that “appears to have done serious damage to our national security,” House Republicans said.

In a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, California Republican, and Rep. Brian Mast, Florida Republican, asked the Trump administration to “revive law enforcement efforts unwisely abandoned by the Obama administration to target individuals assisting Iran in its pursuit of its nuclear and missile programs.”

‘The Obama administration consistently downplayed the Iranian threat in order to get a deal done at any cost,’ House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. /Reuters

Royce said this includes the possibility of re-opening cases that had reportedly been hindered, and “an administration-wide policy directive to encourage investigations of Iranian commodity trafficking efforts that includes a determined extradition process.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, tweeted that it has become clearer than ever that “President Obama’s Iran deal has been an unmitigated disaster.”

“This fits a larger pattern where the Obama administration consistently downplayed the Iranian threat in order to get a deal done at any cost,” McCarthy added.

The calls from the Republicans follow a report by Politico this week which said some of the Iranians released in a January 2016 prisoner swap with Iran had been “accused by Obama’s own Justice Department of posing threats to national security.”

At the time of their release, the prisoners were described by then-President Barack Obama as “civilians,” and their release was framed as a “reciprocal humanitarian gesture” in exchange for the return of several American prisoners held by Iran, the report said.

In addition, the report said the Obama administration reportedly dropped charges against more than a dozen fugitives suspected of aiding Iran’s nuclear and military weapons programs. Politico’s report also suggested that “Justice and State Department officials denied or delayed requests from prosecutors and agents to lure some key Iranian fugitives to friendly countries so that they could be arrested.”

Dr. David Albright, president of the Institute for Science & International Security, in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee testified earlier this month, said that “during the [Iran Deal] negotiations and for some time afterwards, the [Obama] administration blocked or did not process several extradition requests and lure memos aimed at arresting and convicting Iranians and their agents engaged in breaking U.S. export and sanctions laws.”

According to Albright, the blocking or delaying of requests also “served to discourage new or ongoing federal investigations of commodity trafficking involving Iran.”

The reason for all of this, according to Albright, was a “misplaced fear that Iran would walk away from the [nuclear] deal.”