Thursday, 2 June 2016
Sen. Tom Cotton has called upon the State Department to explain to the American people why it edited out key portions of a video recording of a 2013 briefing on the Iran nuclear negotiations.
Cotton’s demands follow the State Department’s admission Wednesday that an unnamed official took “deliberate steps” to cut out key portions of a video recording in which former spokeswoman Jen Psaki admitted that the Obama administration had conducted secret talks with Iran, despite previously denying such talks occurred.
Cotton said there are three key “untruths” that have been “peddled” to the public on the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA), signed last July. First is the false narrative pushed by the White House regarding the election of so-called Iranian moderates. Second is the actual deletion of the footage that Cotton claimed shows Psaki admitting to that false narrative. Third is the initial assertion from the State Department that the deletion was accidental, and not an intentional cover up.
“This whole outrageous episode demonstrates how the Iran deal has been sold to Americans through a parade of misleading “narratives,” echo chambers, and outright falsehoods,” said Cotton in a statement Thursday. “The Administration must start dealing in the truth.”
The allegations of the State Department intentionally deleting the video originated in early May when Fox News reporter James Rosen noticed his exchange with Psaki had been deleted from both the State Department website and YouTube channel.
Rosen had originally queried former spokeswoman Victoria Nuland about whether or not secret negotiations between the U.S. and Iran had been ongoing outside of formal negotiations. Nuland denied that such secret, bilateral talks existed. Nuland’s denial was proven false when Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication, admitted in recent New York Times Magazine profile that such talks had existed.
When Rosen brought up the issue with Psaki in the 2013 briefing, she readily contradicted Nuland’s initial denial that secret negotiations had occurred.
“James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that,” said Psaki. ““Obviously, we have made clear and laid out a number of details in recent weeks about discussions and about a bilateral channel that fed into the P5+1 negotiations, and we’ve answered questions on it, we’ve confirmed details.”
Cotton has called upon the Obama Administration to come clean on the issue.
“The Administration must start dealing in the truth. One place to start is to identify the official who ordered the manipulation of the video and impose appropriate discipline,” said Cotton.