The Obama administration "systematically disbanded" law enforcement investigative units across the federal government focused on disrupting Iranian, Syrian, and Venezuelan terrorism financing networks out of concern the work could cause friction with Iranian officials and scuttle the nuclear deal with Iran, according to a former U.S. official who spent decades dismantling terrorist financial networks.Read more here.
David Asher, who previously served as an adviser to Gen. John Allen at the Defense and State Departments, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday that top officials across several key law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the Obama administration "systematically disbanded" law enforcement activities targeting the terrorism financing operations of Iran, Hezbollah, and Venezuela in the lead-up to and during the nuclear negotiations with Tehran.
...As a result, "several top cops" retired and the U.S. government lost their years of expertise.
The United States squandered the chance "at a very low financial cost" to take apart Hezbollah's finances, its global organization, and the Iran proxy's ability to "readily terrorize us, victimize us, and run a criminal network through our shores, inside our banking systems—and in partnership with the world's foremost drug cartels—target our state and society," he said.
"We lost much of the altitude we had gained in our global effort, and many aspects including key personnel, who were reassigned, budgets that were slashed—many key elements of the investigations that were underway were undermined," he said.
"Today we have to deal with the legacy of that and how we rebuild this capability—knowing that you can have a nuclear deal with Iran and you can contain and disrupt their illicit activities," he continued.
The decision was a "mix of tragedy and travesty combined with a seriously misguided turn of policy that resulted in no strategic gain and a serious miscarriage of justice," he said.
"Instead, in narrow pursuit of the [nuclear agreement], the administration failed to realize the lasting effect on U.S. law enforcement collaborative efforts and actively mitigated investigations and prosecutions needed to effectively dismantle Hezbollah and the Iran ‘Action Network,'" he said.
Asher defined the Iran "Action Network" to include groups and governments involved in crafting covert elements of Iran's foreign policy, including terrorism, illicit finance, weapons and narcotics trafficking, and nuclear procurement and proliferation.
"The level of cooperation between the government of Venezuela, the government of Syria, and Lebanese Hezbollah that we observed in our operations—that we personally were involved with—including people in this room—was actually astonishing," he said. "The evidentiary base to take down this entire global network exists. The facts are clear."
Before the administration dismantled them, the collaboration between a small group of U.S. agencies was making great strides in targeting terrorist financial networks, Asher said.
"This combination of law enforcement's criminal, civil, and regulatory authorities led to actions that provided a framework to deter, disrupt, and publicly illuminate Hezbollah's global illicit network," he said. "The result was the most successful path taken against Hezbollah to date after many years of inaction."
...Royce referred to the Obama administration's release of seven Iranian-born prisoners in U.S. custody last year as part of a prisoner swap for dual U.S.-Iranian citizens. A Politico article in April detailed how several of the seven freed individuals were accused by the Obama administration's own Justice Department of posing threats to national security.
Citing unpublicized court filings, the report said the Justice Department dropped charges and international arrest warrants against 14 other men.
..."We had operations that were denied overseas. We had funding that was cut," he said. "People were making decisions that the counter-terrorism mission and the Iran nuclear deal was a central and all-important element whereas containing Iran's malevolent forces was less important."
"I think you can do both—and we have to do both," he said.
Asher also recalled a similar scenario during the Bush administration when it stripped the Justice Department of its authorities to indict the government of North Korea in order not to derail the proposed North Korea nuclear deal.
"I think this is a bipartisan syndrome—this is not blame the Obama administration, blame the Bush administration," he said. "There's something about people wanting a deal at any cost."
Friday, June 09, 2017
The Iranian deal at what cost to our safety?
Susan Crabtree reports at the Washington Free Beacon,