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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  May 18, 2016 1:00pm-3:01pm EDT

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quote, impossible, that vice president cheney actually directed him to leak information about ms. plame's covert status. that's mr. hannah. i don't know mr. hannah and i don't know -- i don't believe i have ever met him before today. but based on the public record alone, let me say this. if our goal is to hear from an expert who actually promoted false, false white house narratives, then i think you picked the right person. but if our goal is to hear from someone who was not involved in one of the biggest misrepresentations in our nation's history, then you picked the wrong person. listening to john hannah criticize anyone else for pushing a false white house narrative is beyond ironic.
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he and dick cheney and their colleagues in the white house wrote the how to manual on this. the profound tragedy here is at thousands, thousands of u.s. service members from our districts were killed in iraq. and thousands more sustained terrible injuries. the american taxpayers have now spent hundreds of billions, billions of dollars, even by the most conservative estimates. unfortunately, you rushed to invite mr. hannah without consulting anyone. in fact, this entire panel has been stacked with hand-picked witnesses who all oppose the iran agreement. you did not invite prominent republicans like brent scowcroft or richard lugar. did not invite any of the dozens of generals or admirals or other
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military experts who support this agreement. other committees have held dozens of substantive hearings on the iran agreement. but you know how many this committee has held? zero. the subcommittee on national security held one last november, but that was it. nothing at the committee level. yet all of a sudden, now our committee is rushing to hold today's hearing without even the one week notice required by the house rules, according to the parliamentarian. these experts here are all repeating the same talking points for the same republican political narrative. this committee has basically created its own republican echo chamber. with respect to ben rhodes, i'm struggling to understand the
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allegatia allegations against him. if i understand it correctly, republicans accuse him of misleading the american people by claiming that nothing happened with iran before 2013. when they elected a so-called moderate president. republicans claim that if the americans just knew the president was working towards an agreement, before 2013, they would have rejected the deal. of course, this is absurd. there are dozens of public press reports from every single year of the obama administration documenting how they were working to reach out to iran with veriying degrees of success. all you have to do is dpogoogle. by the time president barack obama was a candidate for president until today, press reports are full of accounts of how letters were being exchanged, meetings were being
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held, and negotiations were being launched. the republicans rushed to hold this hearing not as a way to obtain substantive information about the merits of the iran agreement or to investigate those legitimate allegations. instead, this hearing is exactly what it purports to condemn. a partisan narrative designed to mislead the american people. that is not just ironic. that is hypocritical. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. and i thank the witnesses again for being here. >> thank the gentleman. the prime witness we had invited, mr. rhodes, from the white house, had declined to come before the committee. we're disappointed in his failure to appear. chair also notes the contingent upon mr. rhodes appearing, an invitation to appear was extended to tom cotton, united states senator from the state of arkansas. this was done at a request of the white house. given that mr. rhodes had
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refused to appear before the committee today, the distinguished senator from arkansas is also excused. >> mr. chairman. >> yes, gentleman from south carolina. >> i have an inquiry. >> yes. >> is mr. hannah here? >> yes. >> well, then, why did mr mr. cummings ask him the questions? he'll have a chance to ask mr. hannah whatever questions he wants to ask him. we don't have a chance to ask mr. rhodes the questions we want to ask because he didn't bother to show up. >> will the chairman yield? i can say whatever i want to say in my opening statement. >> yes, you can. it just needs to be fair. that's my point. just be fair about it. you can say what you want. >> gentlemen. >> i just wanted to know if he was here. >> and mr. rhodes is not here. i would also note that the democrats were free and usually almost always in my experience invited democratic witnesses, but there is no democratic
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witness because you didn't invite one. >> chairman, you know for a fact that we got less than the notice that's required in the rules. and we did not object and went on with the hearing. you know that. >> i disagree with the timing issue that you suggest. >> you gave us the required time? >> yes. >> i disagree with you. >> okay. we'll sort that out. we have a good working relationship, mr. cummings and i. >> parliamentary inquiry? >> the gentleman from south carolina. >> does the executive privilege apply to media interviews or only to appearances before congress? >> i don't know the full answer to that, but i believe they're free to talk to whoever they want to in the media. but they did claim in mr mr. egalston's letter to claim executive privilege. >> so is that a yes or a no? does that apply when you're being interviewed by the "new york times"? or abc or cbs, or just when
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members of congress want to ask questions? >> evidently, when members of congress. >> i thank the chairman for that clarification. >> we are here to -- we are going to continue with the hearing. we do have mr. michael rubin, the resident scholar at the american enterprise institute. mr. michael doran, senior fellow at the hudson institute. mr. john hannah, senior counselor at the foundation for defense of democracies. we welcome you all and thank you for being here. pursuant to committee rules, all witnesses are to be sworn before they testify. if you will please rise and raise your right hand. you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you're about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. thank you, let the record reflect that all witnesses answered in the affirmative. we would appreciate limiting your verbal comments to five minutes. that will give us time to ask your questions. your entire written statement will be entered into the record.
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now recognize mr. rubin. >> thank you for the opportunity to testify here today. the major iran related issues about when the white house misled when selling the iran deal were verification, they loosened the standards set in south africa and libya, embraced iran's voluntary compliance with additional protocol when rouhani had bragged it allows them to reverse course at any time. it also ignored the problem of off site research. have they transferred work to labs in north korea? we'll never know. another issue in which it misled is rouhani as a moderate. he's no moderate. loyalty to cull meiny's vision was a major theme of this campaign commercials. he stuffed his cabinet with veterans of the intelligence ministry, constructing a kgb cabinet. in 2005, he laid out a doctrine to surprise. lull the americans and then
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deliver a knockout blow. he offered a full throated endorsement to soleimani. it also misled about who benefits inside iran. the real tragedy of the deal is it pumps money into the coffers of the revolutionary guard. showering them with trade belies the idea that it trickles down to the people. the price of oil quintuples. they took their wind fall and pt it in its nuclear facilities. their spokesman bragged about how he had defeated the west. we had an overtpolicy which was one of negotiation and confidence building and a covert policy which was continuation of the activities. the person in charge of directing the money into the military, rouhani, in his capacity as chairman of the national security counsel. the problem goes beyond the supreme leader's investment arm. they control perhaps 40% of the
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economy including every sector now open for business. many of those who supported the jcpoa acknowledged it to be a flawed and faulty agreement but argued the alternative was war. this may have been crafty politics, but it undermined the u.s. position by creating a binary choice between the jcpoa and war, they removed credibility to the notion that the obama administration offered a best alternative. this played into iranian hands because they knew know matter what they pushed for, they would concede. it has become the rule rather than the exception. in my written testimony, i detail the long history of diplomats and politicians lying to keep diplomacy alive. too often, they blame political aponeints in the u.s. more than foreign adversaries for the failure of diplomacy. as i document in dancing with the devil, a history of the last half century of u.s. diplomacy, has diplomats proceed with high level engagement, they too often
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calibrate it to the fantasy they have constructed rather than reality. this often leads officials to avoid congressional oversight and on occasion lie to congress. during 1990s, senior state department officials testified they could draw no links between yasser arafat and terrorism to avoid triggering an aid cutoff. declassified tumedocuments showy knew that was false. in the bush administration, christopher fill, the state department's point man, presented to congress an artificially rosy picture of the diplomat ic process with north korea in order to keep support for engagement alive no matter the truth of pyongyang's behavior. diplomated advocating the new starr treaty lied in order to avoid reporting that russia had been cheating on arms control accords. so what to do? rhodes has placed the security of the united states and its allies at risk. certainly, any dissemination of falsehoods to congress and the american people merit a broader investigation.
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national security and congress' credibility are at risk. that's not 2346. in the past six decades, this department has failed to conduct lessens learned exercises as to why it's high-profile diplomacy has seldom if ever succeeded. it's not a criminalized policy debate. that would be poisonous and counterproductive, but if the state department refuses due dellgence, it would be better if they only insure that the same mistakes are not made for a seventh time. there should be bipartisan consensus. even supporters of the deal acknowledge serious concerns about the flaws. so, too, do most serious arms controls experts outside of the echo chamber about whose crafting rhodes brags. one final point. i'm concerned perhaps by creating an echo chamber and solely talking to people within it, in effect what rhodes did was create a propaganda operation in which he entrapped none other than secretary of
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state john kerry. did he talk to people outside of the echo chamber? if not, he's a victim of ben rhodes as well. >> now to mr. doren. you're recognized for five minutes. microphone there, please. >> thanks. chairman chaffetz, ranking member cummings -- >> if you could move the microphone right up. >> thank you for inviting me to address some of the problems raised by the recent profile in "new york times" magazine of ben rhodes. mr. rhodes admitted to the "new york times" that he created a war room of some two dozen detailees from around the executive branch who came to the white house and monitored all communications, all public communications about the iran deal. communications coming out of capitol hill, the think tank world, on social media, and then in the traditional media. he also created what he called an echo chamber, a network of sympathetic ngos, think tanks
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and members of the press to whom he ceded narratives, false narratives, i would say, about the iran deal and then directed the reporters to these ngos and think tanks to give seemingly independent verification to the narratives he put out. in my view, the creation of the echo chamber and the war room does constitute a deception of the american people and of their representatives. the question is, what exactly was the nature of the deception. i think to understand that, we have to understand the larger policy context. and that is that the strategic goal of the president was to carry out a detente with iran. it was to end the conflict with iran as a -- as a necessary precondition to pulling the united states back from the middle east, because ending the military engagement in the middle east, i think, is the president's overall goal.
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now, if the president had been up front about this with the american people and said that he wanted to, a, pull the united states out of the middle east, and b, make iran part of the security architecture of the region, he would have encountered immediately a severe political backlash that would have undermined his whole project. and former defense secretary panetta, former chief of cia panetta, said as much to the "new york times" magazine. now, that's the -- that's the need for a propaganda operation that to deceive the american people. it's not just to misrepresent what's in the iran deal but to misrepresent everything else that's around it that is the strategic goal of the president in the middle east. i would like to say a few words if i may about what i think were the -- what is the anatomy of the deception, that is the main lines of false narrative that
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the war room and echo chamber put out. and in my prepared statement, i go into more detail about this. i'll just summarize here five major points. number one, conjuring moderates. the echo chamber created the impression that rouhani, the president of iran, was a moderate coming to power. representing a wave of moderation in iran. a desire to fundamentally change relations between iran and the west. this narrative of the moderates coming to power and the need to support the moderates has been the gift that keeps on giving to president obama's diplomacy. it creates a pleasing story of breaking down of barriers. it creates a morally equivalent and political terms between those who were critical of the deal in the united states and
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hard liners, the supposed enemies of rouhani, in iraq. and importantly, it makes -- it lulls us into a false sense of security about all of the concessions that we have made to iran, and in particular, the sunset component of the nuclear deal, which gives iran effectively in ten years a completely legitimate program and the ability to move -- nuclear program and the ability to move quickly toward a weapon. if iran is moderating, if we are supporting a process of moderation in iran, then allowing it to have these capabilities is really no danger. the second, the second deception is falsifying the chronology of the negotiations, which began much earlier than the election of rouhani. they go back to july 2012, and they were initiated by the united states. the third deception is erasing concessions from the united
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states along the lines of what dr. rubin just discussed. the fourth is hiding the regional cost. the president has in effect recognized syria as an iranian spear of influence, and one of the goals of the deception of mr. rhodes is to prevent people from connecting the dots between the syria policy and the iranian nuclear policy. and the fifth part of the deception is blaming allies. the white house on background and in public is very -- is very willing to criticize our sunni allies as creating sectarian extremism in the region. it's willing to criticize in very derogatory terms prime minister netanyahu of israel. it never criticizes the iranians. you never hear a word from the white house about what the iranians are doing in syria in
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pursuit of -- in pursuit -- in support of -- in support of assad's murder machine. i'll just sum up now by what i think we need to do about this. i would say two points. number one, i agree with you, chairman chaffetz, that we do not actually know what is in the iran deal. we still to this day don't know. and i completely agree with your assessment about the activities of secretary of state kerry in europe last week. he was in europe drumming up business for the iranians and the iranians are saying this is part of deal. is it part of deal or not? we don't know. so i would support further investigation. and then secondly, i think we have to trim the size of the nsc. i don't see how anyone who looks at this and sees a war room of 22 -- of 22 detailees from around the executive branch in the white house with the job of
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monitoring communications and creating a false narrative in the media is a legitimate -- is a legitimate part of the nsc's mission. it should be a coordinating body. it should not be a muscular imperial body running roughshod over all of the executive branch. so i would add my voice to those who are saying that the nsc should be cut back severely from the 400 members it currently has to something more like 100. thank you. >> thank the gentleman. i'll now recognize mr. hannah for five minutes. >> chairman chaffetz, ranking member cummings, members of the committee, on behalf of the foundation for defense of democracies, thank you for the invitation to testify on the iran nuclear deal. for me, as a foreign policy analyst, perhaps the most important revelation made in the recent "new york times" profile of ben rhodes was its allegation concerning president obama's
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overriding strategic purpose in seeking a nuclear deal with iran. a purpose which until now has been largely concealed from the american people. according to the article, quote, by eliminated the fuss about iran's nuclear program, the administration hoped to eliminate a source of structural tension between the two countries. which would create the space for america to dissen tangle itself from its established system of ally nlss with countries like saudi arabia, egypt, israel, and turkey, with one bold move, the administration would effectively begin the process of a large scale disengagement from the middle east, close quote. now, if accurate, this is truly a stunning admission with very big implications. as suggested elsewhere in the article, it does represent nothing less than a radicate shift in american foreign policy. according to the article, mr. rhodes' passion for the
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iranian nuclear deal did not derive from any investment in the technical details of sanctions or centrifuges or the future of iranian politics but rather, quote, from his own sense of urgency, of radically reorienting american policy in the middle east in order to make the prospects of sknany america vol involvement in future war unlikely, close quote. whether you disagree or agree with the inclination to step back from the leadership role the united states has played in the middle east since world war ii, the troubling fact remains that this fundamental shift in american strategy has never been openly communicated to the american people. it has never been debated by the u.s. congress. and it has never been revealed to america's longtime allies in the middle east. determining whether or not this very substantive claim is true, that is whether the white house is now in reality seeking to
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engineer a large-scale american disengagement from the middle east is a question of vital importance to u.s. national interests. again, whether you agree with it or disagree, and it's one that i think the congress should seek clarification on. if in fact the nuclear deal with iran is as mr. rhodes suggests, the center of the arc for president obama's efforts to radically transform u.s. policy, it raises a host of concerns. certainly, it casts doubt on the administration's repeated claim that no deal was better than a bad deal. to the extent that the preeminent objection instead in mr. rhodes' view was to, quote, eliminate the fuss about iran's nuclear program rather than to eliminate the program itself, one wondered if the administration did demand or had a tough enough posture in the negotiations as it might otherwise have been. similar concerns, i think, exist
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now that the deal is in place and being implemented. when congress was reviewing the jcpoa last summer, the administration made repeated assurances to the congress that it would vigorously enforce the agreement while using every tool at its disposal to counter iranian terrorism, its destabilizing regional activi activities, ballistic missile program and human rights abuses. since then, iran's bad behavior has escalated. it has increased its bocombat re in syria, arrested additional u.s. citizens, conducted multiple ballistic missile tests, fired rockets in very close proximity to u.s. ships in the persian gulf, held ten american sailors captive, and threatened to close the straits of hormuz. the u.s. response to these repeated provocations despite the administration's earlier assurances has so far ranged from quite tepid to nonexistent. even more worrisome, perhaps, has been the reported u.s. willingness to at least
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contemplate granted iran additional sanctions relief that it failed to negotiate in the jcpoa, specifically iran is demanding access to dollarized financial transactions. this would be a huge unilateral concession that would greatly expand iran's ability to do business internationally while legitimizing an iranian banking sector that remains mired in illicit financing activities. let me close by stressing especially in light of the questions raised by the "new york times" profile about what america's true underlying purpose is in pursuing the iran deal, it's extremely important that congress now hold the administration's feet to the fire when it comes to the commitment to combat iran's continued aggression. at a minimum, grisz should do everything in its power to insure that iran receives no new sanctions relief in the absence of significant new iranian concessions. and far more aggressive use should be made of nonnuclear
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sanctions to constrain iran's expanding ballistic missile program and deter the iranian revolutionary guard core from their destabilizing activities in syria, iraq, and yemen. the bottom line is that the united states should not be sending iran the message that we now place such a high premium on its continued adherence to the nuclear deal that it will have carte blanche to pursue its increasingly threatening policies in other areas that endanger our interests and those of our allies. thank you again, mr. chairman, for the opportunity to testify. i know this is the place where i would normally say i look forward to your skwequestions, i may be more appropriately stand by and i ready to tie trooanswer your questions. >> fair enough. i think that's a fair summary of where we're at. i now recognize myself for five minutes. mr. rhodes, i wish, were here. he had as unique a perspective. he said some truly amazing and
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over the top things that were quoted in the "new york times." i haven't heard anything refute that. one of the ones i think would concern all of us is this quote that he said on the fourth page of the article, he says it's printed out, quote, i don't know anymore where i begin and obama ends. that's a true -- if you really think and let that settle in, that's a truly stunning statement. he also said some other things that i think are very concerning. quote, all these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus, which where think he makes a good point on that. then he says, quote, now they don't. they call us to explain to them what's happening in moscow and cairo. most of the outlets are reporting of world events from washington. the average reporter we talk to is 27 years old and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. that's a sea change. they literally know nothing. end quote. he went on to say, mr. rhodes
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said, quote, but then there are these sorts of force multipliers. i will reach out to a couple people, and you know, i wouldn't want to name them. and then he goes on and -- anyway, it's just really interesting in his approach. here's what -- that's one component, but you compile that on top of what you also hear, former secretary panetta said. this is what secretary panetta said. and this is a quote from panetta. and you know my view. talking with the president was, if i brought it 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. but then panetta stops, according to their article. and the author says, quote, but would you make that same assessment now, end quote. and secretary panetta's quote is i would make the same assessment now, question mark, probably not. probably not.
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so he said it once. i repeated it twice, but this is what is the concern. i think it would be naive to just gloss this over and say, hey, we got this deal. it's in the best interest of the united states. it's not something that was fully brought before the congress. i would hope that we would walk out with an understanding from the three of you of what those big outstanding questions are. but maybe somebody could shed some light on these so-called side deals. these things where iran is maybe made other deals -- do you have any insight, mr. doren, any of you, on what these so-called side deals might be? >> no. and there's what we have uncovered, but as time goes on, as time goes on, we keep finding out more and more that wasn't in the text. and of course, the obama administration says there is nothing else, but the
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iranians -- the iranians are saying there is a larger deal. in particular with regard to access to dollars. and expanding their economy. and the behavior of our officials suggest that they are right. our officials say that the iranians are not correct, but here we have secretary kerry in yearp last week meeting with banks, trying to get them to overlook concerns about iran's illicit activities and to drum up business for iran. so there's a mismatch here between what we're saying and what we're doing. but what we're doing actually does match quite closely with what the iranians are saying. that's been a characteristic of the deal from day one. the deal has been shaped by the red lines of the supreme leader, and not by the red lines of the president of the united states. our red lines have dropped all along the way, and the iranians
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have stayed consistent with theirs. >> mr. rubin. >> very quickly, the jcpoa is almost like a time share agreement where you sign the deal and then you only find out then what the true costs are. one of the subjects for oversight would be with regard to changing the language restricting iran's ballistic missile work. was it a deliberate concession or was it the result of incompetence? what troubles me mostly is how we seem to be having become iran's lawyer. for example, the iranians will now complain that we are not enabling enough openings for their economy, and yet, what didn't hit the western press was last week the iranians on the order of the supreme leader canceled an order, $20 million, i'm sorry, $2 million, for chevrolets. and the answer was, we shouldn't be doing business with the americans. who's kneecapping the iranian economy? us or the iranians? it's time to have the iranians stop blaming other people and
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take accountability for themselves. >> my time has expired. i recognize mr. cummings. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. hannah, you were dick cheney's top national security adviser, is that right? >> yes, sir. from 2005 to 2009. >> and your office was ground zero in the bush administration's marketing campaign to sell the iraq war to the american people, is that a fair statement? >> no, i don't think it is. as you said, we played an important role in making the first draft of secretary powell's speech to the united nations. that was certainly true. >> okay. so you were -- you were involved in making the first draft, is that right? >> yes, that's correct. >> is this pretty much the draft that he presented to the united nations? i know first draft usually goes through many more drafts. >> sure, sure. i thought there were some similarities in it. if you actually hear some of
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secretary powell's people tell the story now, they say my draft was filled with inaccurate intelligence reports, reports that couldn't be supported by the intelligence community, so at the end of the day, they threw out my draft. secretary powell then spent four days with the highest levels of our intelligence community at langley doing a new draft that he said was primarily based on the intelligence community's nie. so their claim is that there were -- that my draft did not actually form the foundation of what he presented to the united nations. >> now, you -- i'm sure having heard that, i'm sure you probably said, let me at least listen to what he did say. is that right? did you read -- >> oh, sure. yes, i did. absolutely. >> was there any mention of weapons of mass destruction in your draft as compared to the
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final draft of secretary powell? >> yes, i think both of our drafts were entirely focused on weapons of mass destruction. >> what would you say was the difference? because he seemed like he was very disappointed with the information that you had provided him and said that it was a blot on his -- his reputation, and pretty much that he, you know, until the day he dies, he's going to regret it. i'm just curious. >> correction, first of all, when he said it was a blot, i think he was talking about what he presented to the united nations. i don't think he was talking about the draft that i presented him. it's what he did with george tenet and the rest of the intelligence community that he ended up presenting that was obviously filled with errors. most of it was wrong. my draft, the instruction to me when i started that draft was that you need to go look at all of the intelligence there is, including raw intelligence, which we regularly got at the white house, for individual
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reports from individual intelligence forces. i did that, and put it into a draft. and then have the intelligence community look at that draft and decide what pieces of intelligence could they support, which ones weren't they able to support. that source was not reliable, didn't have enough of a reliay e able record of reporting and they would throw it out. i wrote the draft knowing that large segments of it would be thrown out because the intelligence community just didn't have the necessary confidence level in that reporting. >> now, let me read what mr. powell's chief of staff said about your document. i take it that's the first draft. he said hannah, quote, hannah was constantly flipping through his clipboard trying to source and verify all of the statements. it was clear the thing was put together by cherry picking everything, end of quote. in fact, they discovered you did not use a dia report properly. you did not cite a cia report fairly. and you referenced a "new york
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times" article that quoted an intelligence report out of context. so they scrapped, as you said, your entire document. and secretary chief of staff described it in this way, and i quote, he said finally, i threw the paper down on the table and said, this isn't going to cut it. now, this was a chief of staff, right? for secretary powell. how could you have given him such a document that appears in his opinion to have been baseless and misleading? >> well, i mean, there's a long history of this. it was mr. wilkerson who was the chief of staff. he has a long record of that anybody can go read about his views of the iraq war and his regrets and deep regrets. i think we just have a different view of the draft i presented. i do acknowledge that it included an awful lot of stuff that i knew that came from the intelligence community that they would not be able to support. if they thought it wasn't used
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properly, they could use it properly if they thought it was useful. so we just have a basic, i think, difference of view about what i actually provided and what the purpose of my draft was. it wasn't meant to be a final draft, a final word that would go to the united nations. it was meant to be a rough draft that the intelligence community would go through with a fine tooth comb and pick out those parts that they thought made the strongest case that in fact sudas saddam did have weapons of mass destruction. >> it wasn't just mr. wilkerson. it was also george tenant, who reportedly turned directly to you, and i'm sure you'll remember this, and said you wasted a lot ofory time, quote, end of quote. is that true and did he say that? >> he certainly didn't say it to me. certainly, i could easily say him saying that kind of thing, but he didn't say it to me. >> thank you very much. >> i'll recognize the gentleman from michigan for five minutes.
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>> thank you, mr. chair, and thanks to the panel for being here. we wish that there were other members, of course. mr. doran, in your testimony, you discuss the need to restore checks and balances. and note that while mr. rhodes' behavior is scandalous and i think propaganda is a word that you used, it wasn't a rogue operation. but that he was carrying out the will of the president. questions that i'm sure my constituents representing them here in the people's house would want me to ask in reference to this is, number one, how can congress take steps to prevent this president and future presidents from circumventing congress? >> i think this is part of the inherent tension in our government. i did say that i think that mr. rhodes is doing the bidding of the president. i think it's important to remember that.
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we have now numerous accounts, mainly from former defense secretaries, panetta and gates especially, showing how there's an inner core in the white house, five or six people, who consult closely with the president about his views. and everybody else is pretty much left out of the conversation, including principles on the national security council. and mr. rhodes is part of that inner circle. the only answer i have for this, i spent a lot of time thinking about it. the only answer i have are the two that i gave you. one is, just exercising the oversight responsibilities that congress has, asking the hard questions. and continuing to put pressure on the executive branch to come clean. the second is, i think, cutting back the size of the nsc. it's simply wrong.
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i think anyone on both sides of the aisle would see that the national security council created by statute in 1947 was created to be a coordinating body, not an operational arm of the government. and under president obama, it has slipped into becoming an operational arm. and i think when you look at the war room as described not by me, but by mr. rhodes, this is an operational white house. just one last point here. there's an issue here that i think we all need to be aware of, but there's not much we can do about it. that is the collapse of the press. so one of the reasons why this is a threat to our checks and balances is because of the collapse of i would say certain informal checks on governmental power that have disappeared over the last decade very quickly because of the rise of the -- the rise of the internet. what ben rhodes said in that
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article about foreign events being reported from washington and from the white house by young reporters who don't know anything and don't have any other sources of information except what the white house is telling them, is completely correct. and it's a danger. there's not much in terms of legislation that we can do about that, but we need to be aware of it. it's sort of a double danger because not only do those reporters not have alternative sources of information, but because all of the information is coming out of the white house, they have a special interest in maintaining good relations with the white house, and reporting the news stories as the white house wants them reported. >> let me go on from that as well, and mr. rubin, you may want to jump in. ben rhodes' assistant in the article, in the report of his comments in the "new york times" magazine article, indicated that they were compadres involved in this. some of those were in the think tank community as well.
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who would he be referring to in the think tank and policy world? >> the what? >> the plow sharers fund has funded many of the elements of the so-called echo chamber to use ben rhodes' words. supposedly neutral assessors, for example, in various arms control think tanks, perhaps in the atlantic council as well, and elsewhere, were receiving grants. now, one can say just because one has received a grant from this high-level funder, and by the way, this funder also had provided grants to senior iranian officials working in the united states as well at universities and so forth, just because they have funded doesn't necessarily mean that there's a quid pro quo, but what you will find is anyone who has received plow share's funding especially for the bulk of their grant or the bulk of their salary, never,
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not once, contradicted the assessment which ben rhodes sought to put forward. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. now recognize the gentle woman from new york for five minutes. >> thank you. after a good deal of deliberation and research, i voted against the iran nuclear deal. and at the time, i was hoping very much that i was wrong. but everything that has happened since and the additional information that has come forward, it literally has convinced me that i made the right decision. but i have to say as a member who took the time to carefully study the plan before making a decision, as i believe all of my colleagues did, i had absolute complete access to all documents. i read every document, even classified documents, every
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meeting was addressed in various areas of the administration bent over backwards to provide accurate information to us. and i must say that this was one of the most hotly debated issues that i have experienced since i have been in congress, but both sides were deeply involved in putting forward their cases. there were demonstrations, there were petitions, there were meetings, there were conferences. there were debates. there were -- it was completely and totally open to everyone to learn and to make their own decision. so my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are now taking another opportunity to attack the administration with a futile fishing expedition based on a widely questioned "new york times" profile of an adviser to president obama. i believe it's quite a stretch
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to suggest that the white house building a comprehensive information campaign to support a major policy, foreign policy initiative, amounts to any way in misleading the american people. and i find it incredibly hypocritical to invite mr. hannah, who worked for dick cheney and helped market the iraq war based on false pretenses to come now before us as an expert witness on an alleged false white house narrative. i find the hypocrisy really beyond belief. and i would like to ask mr. hannah, do you know who scott mcclennen is, yes or no? yeah, well scott, other people may not know, but he was the white house press secretary, and he wrote a book about his experience. he explained how a small group of advisers called the white
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house iraq working group helped sell the iraq war by misleading the american people. and i'm quoting from president bush's press secretary. he said the white house iraq group had been set up in the summer of 2002 to coordinate the marketing of the war to the public. and mr. hannah, wasn't scooter libby your boss? and dick cheney's chief of staff, weren't they part of the iraq group? >> the vice president was, and i think scooter libby was. i'm not 100% sure, but i think you're right. >> well, scott mcclellan further wrote, he explained exactly how you and others misled the american people, and he said this, and i quote. as the campaign accelerated, qualifications were downplayed or dropped all together. contradictory intelligence was largely ignored or simply
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disregarded. so mr. hannah, why did you ignore and disregard evidence that contradicted your political narrative for the war? >> congress woman, i would just say that, you know, to the extent that i got it wrong in believing that saddam had weapons of mass destruction, an awful lot of people got it wrong. it was not a figment of the imagination -- >> are you saying, mr. hannah, that mr. mcclellan was wrong in the book when he said he misled and lied to the american people, this group? >> all i can tell you is there have been bipartisan commissions that have looked at how -- the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and came to the conclusion that the president of the united states did not lie about -- >> i'm not talking about him. i'm talking about mcclellan. is he wrong? was he misinformed? was he lying when he said that he wrote, we were misleading the american people. we downplayed any contradictory information. >> congresswoman, i haven't read his book.
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all i can tell you is that a lot of people who know scott very well, i don't know scott at all really -- >> are you saying -- >> -- have contradicted his presentation. they believe he was wrong in his judgments. >> are you saying that you did include contradictory intelligence showing that your case was weak or nonexistent? >> no. i think we were instructed to write what we thought was the best case for why saddam had weapons of mass destruction. >> the gentlewoman's time has expired. >> i have 21 seconds left according to this. >> no, no. you were 27 seconds over time. >> okay. >> thank you. >> all right. >> i'll recognize -- >> i would like to put my closing statement in the record. it's a zinger. and it's very hypocritical, mr. chairman. >> you know, mr. hannah is here to answer questions. mr. rhodes is not here to answer
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question. that's what's difficult about this hearing. let's go to mr. gosarnow from arizona. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your testimony and for providing valuable information to this committee, which sheds light on the deceptive manner in which the aboma administration sold out our government. even with the fact that each of you have laid out, the administration boxed, doubled down, and tries to discredit anyone who disagrees with their false narrative, including me. when asked about ben rhodes' revelatory interview with the "new york times" magazine, press secretary josh earnest dodged and decided to lambaste several members of congress including me as liars. truly illicited ilinsky's principles to their core. why? because i said under the illegal iran deal that iran would be able to access up to $100 billion that was previously frozen. jack lew stated the sanctions
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relief would be worth about $100 billion. the president of iran said his country would get $100 billion. despite the fact that i said something similar in september of 2015, the white house is now of 2015, the white house is trying to brand me as a liar in attempting to deflect ben rhoades's recent statements. it's not whether it's all at once or over a period of time, the real problem is that president obama is funding the world's largest state sponsor the terrorism. iran is no 23re7bd to the united states, to christians, jews or sunni muslims. they are a rogue nation in the middle east. a responsible president who loves and supports our allies, we would never give this regime money. this is a strain on our character and our next president we can hope will terminate our nonsense and have opportunity overseas. not a regime that hangs
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homosexuals and kills people of other political beliefs. ben rhoades suggests a run and where is he? i guess you can run and hide. it relates to the iran deal. no one operates in a vacuum. does mr. rhoades represent a rogue employee of the white house or does it spin more deeply on how the white house handled the iran deal? >> i believe it represents the president's strategic vision and the president's will. the president is on record as early as 2006 saying he wanted to improve and he saw iran and syria as sharing core interests and stabilizing iraq and we should work with them to do that. i don't think he ever oust that.
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>> you would say that his ultimate responsibility for developing this frame of capitulation? >> absolutely. that's the key factor to understanding why we made the concessions. we are not trying to stop it from getting a nuclear weapon, we are developing a partnership. the lies and misrepresentations that are deep within the capitulation agreement are just the latest example of what the administration's mo since the inception. let's not forget that they are sold in the american people under the guides of health care reform. the president drove a legislative garbage truck full of giveaways through congress and over americans's pocket book by repeating the lie. if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. this is the same administration that violated federal law by engaging to promote the
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regulation. the government accountability with the executive branch unleashed the illegal propaganda campaign to force them down the throats of the american people. it is clear that the obama administration had an agenda to reach at any cost driven more by the diplomacy and legacy than the real facts on the ground. what are the dangers to the approach to policy making? >> when one calibrates policy to a fantasy that is constructed rather than to reality, it is often paid with flood. iran has not been less of a terror sponsor as a result. if we take the $50 billion figure that's ten times the budget of the guard core. one thing i would do productively is take the ability
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of the state department and the ability to designate state sponsors of terrorists out of the hands of the state department and put it in independent commission so it doesn't become a political football. they have blatantly disregarded the rule of law. >> we will now recognize the gentle woman miss norton for five minutes. >> we can relitigate the iran deal as much as they attempted to do or discuss the central allegation on this hearing. that's what i like to pure sue.
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they are 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. here's how the claim is worded in the "new york times" magazine. rhoades shape the story 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 more openness. the author said that mr. rhoades
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claimed the story began in 2013. that brought us here, gentlemen. but the problem is that is not true. the president's efforts with respect to iran were widely reported from the time he game president. i'm going to ask that and from the post, 2008 and it be posted. it describes how the iranian president wrote to president obama after he was elected. i assume you were not aware of this 2008 report. many of you were aware.
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>> in fact everybody new anything into the election that president obama made clear he thought he would be the to end our three-decade old war. this is about before there was's regime change. let's go to the washington times in 2009. now, i know the i teal komeny y in 2009. this is 2014. there many reports from every year of the administration, this is why this hearing be fuddles
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me. mr. obama said the various components should not be seen in isolation. first he tried to engage iran early and directly not because he was naive about the regime, but 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, on three occasions in as many years, u.s. diplomats have sat down. this is 2011. with high level iranian officials to discuss confidence-building measures as part of a six-party body negotiating issue. 2012. all of this is before 2013.
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the united states is iran agreed for the first time to one on one negotiations from iran's nuclear program. you are supposedly experts. some other experts not invited here have said that it is nonsense that only after regime change did the president begin to negotiate and the president of plow shares fund called it utter nonsense. suzanne malone of the brookings institution agreed and explained the core claims of exception around the iran deal were never actually substantiated. none of these experts so that we could have balance were called here. by not inviting the experts, we are getting a one-sided story.
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i will yield to the chairman. >> democrats have an opportunity to invite a witness and they chose not to. the person we called from the white house, mr. rhoades also refused to show up. >> i understand and the ranking members have already indicated. they had a time with a democratic witness. >> thank you, mr. chairman. are any of you familiar with john gruber? >> it rings a bell, but i can't call it up. >> i know the name. >> do you know what he does? what his occupation is? >> he's an economist enlisted to
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help with the health care reform. >> the famous guy and you know what title he was given when he was helping with obamacare? you know what he was titled? anyone remember? architect of obamacare. that's one thing. he got notoriety in the press and had to sit right where you guys are sitting. any of you know why he was brought in front of the committee and had to sit here? take a guess? >> he lied about the cost of obamacare. >> he talked about the stupidity of the american voter and this is a direct quote. lack of transparency is a political advantage. that's a nice way of saying if you deceive people, you might get your way. it might help your case. here is jonathan gruber, architect of obamacare talking
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about how you can keep your doctor and website is going to work. emergency room, everything turned out to be false. now we hear about another person in the obama administration. mr. rhoades comes along and he is given a title. the single most influential voice-shaping policy. things are starting to sound familiar. he creates a false narrative as well. he talks about this echo chamber and deceiving the press and his division for the american voter. what's the line? they literally know nothing was one of the lines that mr. rhoades used in his piece. you talked about this false choice they think in your opening statement that mr. rhoades set up and used this
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echo chamber of folks who know nothing to further this message to the american people. this binary choice either is the deal or it's war. that's what he said. the thing that strikes me, and i won't take my full time here. i wanted to make this point. so this is not the first time this administration on a big policy decision has deceived the american people. but maybe more importantly, it's not my judgment the first time mr. rhoades on a big concern to the american people has tried to deceive them. you are getting ready to say something. >> for comes in the way of cherry picking. if we want to look at previous offers or acknowledgements of letters, it's interesting when
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the leader the 30th anniversary for which no reformist or hard liner apologized, mock president obama for the letters he was sending and said we are not going to talk to the americans until they fundamentally change their position. one of the reasons why we need this transparency be which you are saying is sometime around 2012. the americans fundamentally changed their position and didn't come clean to the american people about it. >> i thank you for that. let me finish up with this. i want to make this point. mr. gruber deceives the american people on obamacare and uses deception to create the false choice, help get this agreement passed and as i said, this is not the first time mr. rhoades has done it. not the first time mr. rhoades has done it. i think he did it on the
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benghazi issue as well when he said in the now famous talking points that became the catalyst and it is rooted in the video.
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president obama during his campaign went on and on and hammered away and said if i get elected and i will withdraw the troops. i'm going to get in the first 16 months. he went back and read in the first 16 months that will get the combat brigades out of iraq. he was up front about that. he was perfectly clear on that.
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they experienced both in the u.s. and iran. 340 rabbis and 353 christian leaders. they include physicists who designed the first bomb. we had stone cold experts on this. they were listening to ben rhoades.
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those are the people that i sat with and one of the experts from the iaea about what he thought after having been in iran and at iraq and at natans and what they thought about the ability of this agreement to stop iran from developing nuclear weapons. those are the people that they are losing to. not ben rhoades and a political spin. i would say that if we are trying to measure this agreement and that is what's going here, we are rehashing the agreement. the best way is to go to the iaea. they are the ones we have put on the ground and asked them to do these inspections.
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the verification for monitoring and the islamic republic of iran. iraq with heavy water research reactor determined that iran was not pursuing the construction of the existing ir 40 reactor. they removed the existing from that reactor and they had rendered them inoperable which was part of the agreement. and they went to the agreement. they modified the fuel process
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line and i cannot be used for the fabrication of fuel. and it goes on with 27 seconds left. these are people who have been in iran. this is all pursuant to the agreement and had completed the modalities and inspection arrangements to allow them to implement the transparency provided in the agreement. that's what the iaea is doing. 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 the time
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the disagreement was signed, we never had people on the ground in the facilities. we were guessing about the level of progress they made. and we have people on the ground and for diplomatic purposes, i yield back. >> we will enter those into the record. no objections ordered. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you for not only this panel before us, but you tried to have before us. not only did he kauft us an opportunity to question mr. rhoades, but it cost us the opportunity and the froij ask questions of our friend and colleague. speaking of constitutional crisis.
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hauling a united states senator before congress would have created a crisis. good thing for us, he was willing to come on his. the background contrast would have been interesting to me. they have 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 rhoades was navigating the streets of a writing curriculum and i mean that literally. that is not figurative. he has a masters in creative writing. if you are interested in writing haikus and sonnets, he is the right guy. if you are advising the leader of the free world on foreign policy matters, noun how a haiku helps, you but i would enjoy the
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opportunity how his background prepared him to sell the deal and the other did not prepare him to criticize. that would have been an interesting dichotomy. i wanted to ask mr. rhoades to help and what gruber meant by certain things. he said we created an echo chamber. do they know who we is? >> he couldn't be talking about what other presidential adviser said. it couldn't be that, could it? >> i do not know. >> okay. then he said reporters call us to explain to them what's happening in moscow and cairo. i'm curious which reporters that would be. which call him to find out what's going on? we can't ask him because he is
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not here. i would add, he has plenty of time to sit down for what he had hoped to be a fluff piece in the mork times. this is what really persons me. in talking about the reporters, he said they literally know nothing. how does someone literally know nothing. he said they were 27 years old which suggest they probably have a driver's license. you have to know something to get a driver's license. if they are 27, they would be eligible to vote so you have to know something. when you say they literally know nothing, i wanted to ask him about that. also, i think that his appearance would have created an opportunity for a little bit of
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bipartisanship which i know the friends on the other side of the aisle expressed contempt at the new york times and "washington post" and the new yorker. that might have provided an opportunity and given us an opportunity to share our frustrations. but it 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 rhoades. this selective use of executive privilege on one day, but not executive proij the next, congress is going to have to stick up for itself and whether or not we have a right to question people. if you have time to make these comments, you ought to be able to explain yourself. if you have time to make mean tweets and he is willing to
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come, but the creative writing expert is not willing to come, some point this body is going to have to stick up for itself. >> lordy, lordy. the outrage of my friend from south caroline does a heart good. 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 the agreements are there
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during cold war. they were designed and this was designed for a specific set of goals. and lord almighty, the house foreign affairs committee were again my friends who desperately wanted to not talk about compliance, but being the skunk at the picnic, i did. let me see. in terms of compliance, we found that the agreement has reduced the number of centrifuges as planned from 19,000 to 6104.
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that the fuel enrichment plans that the centrifuges was reduced. iran was enriching above 3.67% verified as my friend indicated and has reduced the stockpile of enriched uranium shipped out of the country. the production and the mines and mills under surveillance and vurified and of course the plutonium production capability e limitiated. i asked if there was any evidence. they were going to cheat and couldn't trusted and this was allowing iran to be a nuclear threshold state. the answer was no. so far, no cheating. my friend from south caroline,
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we are friends. we are sometimes sparring partners. just as all exercise about the fact that somebody did not accept a friendly invitation. we are a hospitable environment to witnesses and once in a while we deny them their fifth amendment rights and we would call them name or or sensor them. in 2006, did you accept that invitation? >> i don't remember getting an invitation. they published a report. >> i must not have.
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>> they issued a final report and said every request made to you was denied. they said they inkpibted the lines of inquiry. any reason why you would say no to the committee when it was under democratic -- actually it wasn't. you still said no. that doesn't reflesh your memory? >> it doesn't, but it was especially in the office to the vice president, the council was an aggressive proponent of executive -- >> say it. >> you say it for me. >> was that word coming out? >> privilege. there you go. for the republican white house it's okay and you had a very aggressive council saying you are not going.
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but here with somebody who gives a profile for a magazine, we had to haul them in change because we are denied access and that's wrong and you agreed to testify about it. >> in our administration, when she was entered as capacity, she did testify. >> you were named by the committee by name that singled out for your refusal to make yourself available when it was doing its work. there was less gravity to the issue at hand involving you than there is today involving mr. rhoades?
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>> issues were grave in both cases. he is a more influential player and he has been willing to talk with such contempt for so many people. >> we are glad to have you as well. >> the gentlemen's time is expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. this is just -- i would think that ben rhoades would be falling all over themselves. tell us why those of us who oppose this were wrong and show us what we are missing. it would have been a great opportunity for him if in fact she as smart and worldly as he said.
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that is a major, major thing. this will be the obamacare of the second term. of course with obamacare in the first term, they said over and over 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 they did it to engineer passage of obamacare. with this deal, the president was in the debate in 2012. he said they end their nuclear program. it's straight sdprd what we see now is iran retains really a major, major nuclear program. i believe they are on a path to a bomb once the 15 years goes up.
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this guy is a moderate and he would never have been allowed to run. you have a regime that people fail to mention that they were responsible as many as 1500 american deaths in iraq. they were funding the massive bombs that took out at least hundreds of soldiers and probably as many as 1500. turns out they never believe that. they were negotiating before they had been elected and all that was kind of a ruse on the
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policy that understands the radical nature of the iranian regime and understands the hostile nature and is doing a deal with those hard liners effectively that solidify the hard liners and they think that's the way to have a more peaceful world. we were going through all of this. this is the biggest thing we have done. they knew what we knew and we wanted to go ahead with it. they are seeing that play out and giving iran access to the american dollar. that was not even called for. yet that is something that the administration is doing.
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i think this is important. i don't think we have done an issue this important in the congress in years and years. what's your view as a moderate. they knew very well the nature of the regime and they think that effectively stepping back from having a confrontational posture with iran will be better for the world security? >> i think that's right. the president has a vision of the little east as a round table. we have the stakeholders around and the iranians are stakeholders. the assumption is if we treat them with respect and respect their interests, they will come towards us and the key
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assumption here is that they share the same interest that we do. he has come around to the view that president obama has in effect recognized syria has the sphere of interest. he did so to reach the agreement. >> the upside of all of this is significant and iran is emerging in the region and how you can say that's good for the security is beyond me. i yield back.
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president i would like to associate myself with the words of representative lynch from massachusetts and also representative malone from new york. i don't think it's possible to overstate the study that went into the iran deal on both sides of the aisle. it is with great regret it turned into a political football. mr. hannah. let me get this straight.
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am i getting that straight? >> i'm going the tactics that he is. we based our intelligence that was there. it was wrong. that was a mistake. you draw up the speech not knowing if it was true. they were drawing it up as a piece of salesmanship and if it was true, if it was it would stick. your words were clear on that. one of the parts of the sails menship was the idea that the bush administration kookd up the idea that there was yellow cake coming from the african nation of niger going from saddam hussein and it was joe wilson who gave the lie to that fiction. he said it was a bunch of
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nonsense. he wrote an op ed in july debunking the claim. surely you discussed the oped with him with vice president cheney. especially since it was contradicting one of the key talking points in selling the war in iraq. did you talk about ambassador wilson's op ed? >> i did not, but we talked about it in the office. >> with scooter libby? it did not take long to conclude that it was doubtful that any
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transaction had taken place. he contradicted the bush administration retaliated by outing his wife valerie plame who was a cia operative at the time. my question for you is what was your role in outing valerie plame as a cia operative? >> i had no role. >> the special council was in the classified information. he concluded that there was concerted action by multiple people in the white house to seek revenge against wilson. do you dispute the findings?
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they happened to mention her in a conversation with a reporter. >> mr. han a the push administration all because wilson debunkzed your false claims and told the truth. your boss and dick cheney's chief of staff was convicted, but then president bush commuted his prison time. that's correct, isn't it? >> i don't think those are the exact charged. he was never charged with releasing the name of a covert operative. >> i know karl's name was in there, but i had no.
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>> mr. meadows for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. 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 my members of congress hinge on small and 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. rhoades and they were casting their vote one way or the other. >> i can give you examples. when it comes to verification, when it comes to law, all agreements are supposed to be presented to congress.
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now it emerges that there were secret agreements with. iaea. one of the agreements that comes into play with verification, the state department agreed that the iaea would not need to report to the level it reported under sanctions. >> the sworn testimony in a number of house committees and senate committees where the sworn testimony where the visuals were sent to the wrong
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agreements. if we look at the tapes where they said there was no agreements, do you think it's incumbent on this committee in contempt of congress. the troubles aspect of this is for somehow members on the other side of the aisle to suggest that there is wrong-doing in previous administrations that would justify wrong-doing in a current administration. is it your opinion that regardless of who the administration might be and whether it be republican or democrat, it's incumbent upon
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them to be honest and straight forward with congress when they are negotiating something of this type of magnitude? >> yes. national security should not be a political football. >> is it your sworn testimony here today that because of the talking points of mr. rhoades 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 saulgzs that had no relevance or relationship to truth? >> it was almost as if instead of looking at the chess board, the white house was directing congress to look at four pieces. >> if we were only looking at four pieces and something that is so critical to national
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security and to the security of our allies, israel, do you think it was disingenuous to suggest that the talking points coming out of the israeli government were indeed characterized as being dis-51est and not truthful. do you think an apology is owed by this administration to that government? >> 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. ruben and mr. chairman, i yield back. >> i now recognize the gentlemen from vermont. >> if the heart of this is a question whether this was the one faced by the president and was iran without nuclear weapons
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better for the middle east and the world. that was the question. and the engagement of mr. rhoades was one significant person among hundreds and along with our best allies, france, germany, england. sometimes frenemies s china and russia. and the collective situation of those countries and us was that the iran nuclear deal was in our collective interest. there was fierce disagreement among theness witnesses and among my colleagues near congress. this was a long and complex negotiation that was ratified by the strongest allies and there was a judgment that the commander in chief had to make as to whether or not this
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agreement was in the national security interest of this country. i agreed with him. i worked closely and found him to be an exceptional public servant and knowledgeable and candid and direct. let me ask a couple of questions. 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. >> no. >> no. >> no, the american people got what the intelligence community believed. >> who has authority over the
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intelligence committee? >> congress. >> the president has no role? >> the buck stops with the president, but if we are talking about overside, that is what separation of powers is about. >> you are saying and i will go along with this. they blew it. are you suggesting to me that there is not ultimate responsibility for evaluations the community and the matter of sending our troops to war and spending trillions and throwing the mideast up to 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 brought instability in the middle east on his shoulders. the middle east needs to be accountable. >> the second thing. we went into the war in iraq.
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we tackled saddam hussein. we would make money on the war. that was testimony from some of the president's advisers. it would 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. the place is a mess. nation building. arrogant policy embraced by a prior administration. didn't work out so great. any of you think that afghanistan on a solid footing for democracy at the moment? yes or no. >> no. >> sir? >> no. >> we have a president who said this approach is not so great. he to make a decision and he
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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 republicans. the sanctions worked. it brought iran to the table. in this decision thaw are focusing on, this servant because of the newspaper sarl snag then disregards the fact that we fwlu in iraq and we are blowing it and they got in agreement and had the full support of those allies. the p 5 plus one. if there were issues, let's get on it. that's essentially what the
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alternative was. that's what the alternative was. i don't buy it and i don't believe the american people buy it and we are picking and choosing coming up with a little detail to suggest that we ought to unravel whole thing. i yield back. >> now recognize the gentlemen from north carolina for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. on september 11th, 2015, cnn stated the effort was one of the most aggressive lobbying drives to take shape between congressional democrat leaders and the obama white house on this bill. hr 3461. among the people who voted no were 25 democrats. they acknowledged that and she was the only one on the committee. there were others. my question is, what did those 25 members know that either the
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other member did not know or sadly chose to ignore or even lobbied. in regards to mr. shapiro, we heard a lot of talk today. it's always interesting when you confront them and ask them if they did something wrong and they acknowledge that another brother or sister did nothing wrong. so much of the smoke screen is about mr. hannah. let me talk about the difference if i could for a second. here's a big difference. mr. sha mile an houro enjoyed sharing false information. he became the poster boy, almost the spokesperson of a flawed and horrific iranian deal. the words any time, anywhere ring true as far as even to this
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day. my question if you would, whether intentional or not, did mr. shapiro mislead the american public with this any time, anywhere and the multiple times? >> mr. rhoades most certainly did. the key here is that by lying about whether he was a moderate, he provided cover for the fact that the administration left iran with 5,000 p 1 centrifuges and the administration never had hope once this agreement expired that the resulting iran with the nuclear program would be different and i should note that that's the number of cent fujs that pakistan built not a bomb, but around arsenal. >> 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
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the administration was really up to and what we were facing in iran. >> the iran agreement lifts restrictions after five years and removes the ban on developing ballistic missiles capable of reaching the united states. every time there is a failed missile test, the fact of the matter is you learn a lot from a failed missile test and iran made clear in public statement that is it intends to continue with the ballistic missiles until such a time as they can strike anywhere, any time. i should say a major flaw in the agreement is it fans the arms sales for five years for offensive weapons, but never defines what offensive is which is why they are on a shopping
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spree right now. >> thank you. >> one of the things that the agreement did was remove ballistic missiles and effectively remove from the sanctions they were under by the change in language that the chairman mentioned. if it resulted in an alliance that was going to intervene and rise around the region, we would have a very different debate. >> would you like say something? >> the only thing on the ballistic missile, everything they said is right. they have determined to do this and the only rational military
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use is if you can put a warhead on them and the fact that they are expanding an icbm and not only being able to get the neighbors, but being able to hit the united states and the fact that they had deep conversation over the and they only kick the can down the road. they had a time when they were stronger and more able to stand up to sanctions and american power to go ahead and once restraints are lifted to go for a nuclear weapon. >> mr. chairman? >> we will now recognize the gentlemen from missouri. mr. clay for minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank the witnesses for being
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here. you worked for dick cheney and participated and from the speech for united weapons for mass destruction. they have the false white house narratives given involvement in that debacle. one of the primary claims was that saddam hussein had so-called mobile labs that were roaming around inside iraq manufacturing biological weapons. the secretary showed a cartoon drawing of one of the mobile labs during his speech to the united nations. we have a slide of it. could someone put it up? those are the mobile labs. mr. hannah, who drew this
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picture? >> par 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 whatever i provided in the draft. >> let me read secretary powell who stated during his 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. hanna? >> i believe the primary source was a defector. it was human intelligence. i think it was a defector. >> wasn't it a source known as
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curveball? >> i believe so, yes. >> 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 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 personally interviewed curveball before we used -- they used that information? >> i don't know that first hand, but i think the cia has said
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that this was controlled by a german intel jenninligence serv. >> and it's true that the germans that were speaking to curveball could not believe you were using this information publicly because he was so unreliable, is that true? >> they were talking to the cia i think at that time. if they said that, it wasn't a claim relayed to me. >> well, i have an article from november 20th, 2005, from "the l.a. times" and it says this -- quote, the senior bnd officer who supervised curveball's case said he was aghast when he watched powell misstate curveball's claims as a justification for war. quote, we were shocked the official said. my god, we had always told them it was not proven. mr. hanna, is that true? >> is -- well, i don't have any knowledge of it.
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>> did the germans warn 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 into the secretary's speech, secretary powell's speech. you know, 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. you know, 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, that 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 -- >> but it wasn't velt tted.
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the information you just threw it at the secretary. >> that's not true at all, congressman. >> the gentleman's time is expired. >> it was a grave mistake. i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back and would also duly note that mr. hanna worked for president clinton. served as a senior policy adviser to secretary of state warren christopher as well. will recognize the gentleman from georgia for five minutes. >> there seems to be a great deal of confusion about the purpose of this hearing which is about the current administration 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 donilin
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and hillary clinton then secretary of state had a chance to work on the offer they presented. mr. duran, let me begin with you. is there any information confirming that mr. donilin or secretary clinton worked on those letters? >> none that i know of. >> mr. ruben, is 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. hanna? >> i do think something has
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changed in that regard, just the fact that we have a deputy national security adviser for strategic communications whose job is both to help develop policy it seems as close foreign policy aide to the president and the guy who selling it i think is worrisome. i have to say in our administration you can make -- maybe fault us for a lot but the fact is that people like karl rove who is in charge of our communications never sat in national security council meetings. there was a pretty strict 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. hanna said, i believe that this administration has blurred a line that has existed over previous administrations both democratic and republican. >> okay. mr. hanna, you mentioned in your testimony earlier that with one bold move the administration effectively made a radical shift in american foreign policy.
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is that a correct assessment of your opinion? >> yes, it certainly is, yeah. >> okay. the question, then, comes down to who ultimately is responsible for that shift in foreign policy? would you say it's ben rose -- ben rhodes, other staffers or the president himself? >> no, the policy toward iran and toward the general retrenchment from the middle east seems clearly to be president obama's. he's in charge of that policy. >> okay, and yet there are some influencers appear to be in his life. ben rhodes as 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 have the caveat that this is the shift presented by the policy, although i think it is consistent, as mr. duran has said, with the general thrust of the administration's policy toward iran and toward the middle east since 2008.
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i just don't think it's been presented that way. they want to remove and distant 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 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 myself from it all. >> i want to clarify what you're saying because it's troubling to knee as well 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, the only way -- do you
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believe the american people and congress would support a shift that major had they known about it? >> no. i think as mr. duran said -- and secretary panetta is, in fact, quoted in the piece as saying if they'd done that they would have gotten the blank kicked out of them. >> absolutely. the only way to pull this over the american people's eyes and congress and our allies is by spinning the truth and people get on board something that is not indeed reality. >> that is an extremely strong suggestion of the article that you had to fin it -- >> yes, no, right down the line, would you agree with that assessment? >> yes. yes. >> mr. hanna? >> yes, sir. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i yield. >> the gentleman yields back and recognize the gentleman from california for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. rubin first. i assume you are vigorously opposed to the iran agreement. >> i am. we could have made a much better use of leverage. >> but you're opposed.
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mr. duran? >> yes. >> yes. >> so just to be clear, for instance, former sec tar 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 of the statements of the support of the agreed framework with north korea which we now know did not merit the endorsements. >> so, you do not agree with it. >> no, i do not. >> brent scowcroft, to turn our back on this accomplishment would be an abdication of the united states' unique role and responsibility incurring justified dismay among our allies and friends. you would disagree with that quote as well. mr. duran, do you have any comment?

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