The Obama administration misled Americans about supposed "moderates" that officials were dealing with in the Iranian theocracy to forge a nuclear proliferation deal — all to make the deal more palatable to the American public, according to The New York Times
Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, even boasted about how he helped create the false narrative to mask that Iranian hard-liners were really calling the shots, the Times reports.
Rhodes concedes to the Times that the so-called moderate regime is not moderate at all, commenting: "We're not betting on it."
"We created an echo chamber," he tells the Times in a piece to appear in the Sunday magazine of the newspaper. "They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say," he adds about so-called experts praising the deal in the press.
According to the Times, when Rhodes was asked about his misleading version of the deal, Rhodes said, "In the absence of rational discourse, we are going to discourse the [expletive] out of this."
"We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like [the anti-nuke group] Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else," he tells the Times.
"So we knew the tactics that worked. We drove them crazy," he tells the Times, referring to Republicans and other opponents of the deal, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Leon Panetta, former secretary of defense, tells the Times the hard-line regime and its military arm was still in charge at the time of the Iran deal negotiations — despite what the administration said.
"There was not much question that the Quds Force and the supreme leader ran that country with a strong arm, and there was not much question that this kind of opposing view could somehow gain any traction," he tells the Times.
"I think the whole legacy that he [Obama] was working on was, 'I'm the guy who's going to bring these [Mideast] wars to an end, and the last goddamn thing I need is to start another war.'"
Without naming him, Panetta suggested to the Times that Rhodes was one of several on Obama's staff who told the president only what he wanted to hear.
"They thought their job was not to go through this open process of having people present all these different options, but to try to force the process to where they thought the president wanted to be," he recalled.
"They'd say, 'Well, this is where we want you to come out.' And I'd say, '[expletive], that's not the way it works.' "
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