The Washington Examiner
By Joel Gehrke
Thursday, 8 June 2017
Justice Department officials feared "reprisal" from their superiors if they proceeded with counterterrorism investigations against Iranian terrorist proxies while the Obama administration pursued a nuclear agreement, according to a former government adviser.
David Asher, an advisory board member for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, advised an array of federal government agencies during the Obama administration. His Thursday testimony added to the picture of an Obama team that eased pressure on Hezbollah and other Iran proxies in order to avoid obstructing the Iran nuclear talks.
"The result is that criminal states and criminal terrorist organizations continue to benefit from a type of implicit immunity from prosecution," Asher said in his prepared testimony. "I have even heard statements of fear of reprisal should these terrorists be prosecuted from top DOJ officials as well as senior law enforcement agency leaders and intelligence analysts. I personally find this phobia, baseless, bizarre, and, moreover, against both the spirit and the letter of the laws we are sworn to uphold."
His testimony follows reports that the Obama team hid the extent to which a prisoner swap, announced on the same day as the nuclear deal's implementation, undermined counterterrorism investigations.
Asher offered that testimony as Republicans and the Trump administration are looking to increase pressure on Iran and its proxies. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce warned that Hezbollah now has "some 110,000 rockets of increasing sophistication," partly funded through international crime.
"These global terrorists double as global criminals," Royce said in his prepared statement. "Indeed, in February 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration – in an operation led by one witness here today – implicated Hezbollah in a multi-million-dollar drug trafficking and money laundering network that spanned four continents and put cocaine on the streets of the United States."
Senate lawmakers plan to broaden sanctions on Iran, following a rubric designed to increase pressure on the regime in ways that stop short of violating the nuclear agreement.
"This bill makes clear that Congress recognizes that Iran's aggressive behavior and efforts to expand its revolution across the broader Middle East must be stopped," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday in the midst of debate on the Iran sanctions bill. "Advancing this bill makes the logical point that our nation needs a comprehensive strategy to deal with all areas of Iran's aggression. It will give the current administration more of the tools it needs to take a stronger approach than the last."