Obama’s Former Defense Secretary: Yeah, We Lied To The Israelis That We’d Stop Iran From Going Nuclear

In a prolix profile in The New York Times of Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, a startling admission comes from Obama’s former Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta; he states that Obama was lying when he said he was serious about preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Panetta admits that as secretary of defense, his job was to keep Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, from launching an airstrike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Panetta states that the two men wanted to know whether Obama was serious about not allowing Iran to get a nuclear weapon:

They were both interested in the answer to the question, “Is the president serious?” And you know my view, talking with the president, was: If brought to the point where we had evidence that they’re developing an atomic weapon, I think the president is serious that he is not going to allow that to happen.

The Times asks, “But would you make that same assessment now?” Panetta acknowledges, “Would I make that same assessment now? Probably not.”

The same article debunks Obama’s lie that the Iran deal only began to be negotiated after the so-called “moderate wing” of the Iranian government led by Hassan Rouhani took over in 2013. Obama said on July 14, 2015: “Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not.” But the Times writes:

While the president’s statement was technically accurate — there had in fact been two years of formal negotiations leading up to the signing of the J.C.P.O.A. — it was also actively misleading, because the most meaningful part of the negotiations with Iran had begun in mid-2012, many months before Rouhani and the “moderate” camp were chosen in an election among candidates handpicked by Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Rhodes himself admits, “We created an echo chamber. They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say … In the absence of rational discourse, we are going to discourse the [expletive] out of this. We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else. So we knew the tactics that worked.”

Worse, Rhodes admits it didn’t really matter whether the “moderates” are moderate at all, saying, “Look, with Iran, in a weird way, these are state-to-state issues. They’re agreements between governments. Yes, I would prefer that it turns out that Rouhani and Zarif” — Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister — “are real reformers who are going to be steering this country into the direction that I believe it can go in, because their public is educated and, in some respects, pro-American. But we are not betting on that.”


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