Less than a year after former President Barack Obama left office, allegations of a scandal the likes of which has not been seen since the Iran-Contra affair in the Reagan administration have burst into view.
A major investigative article in Politico published on Monday tells in detail how senior officials in the Obama administration thwarted a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) program to uncover and prosecute Hezbollah operatives engaged in global drug trafficking to finance terrorist activities.
The reason was, according to the author, the administration’s “determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran…” Lest U.S. disruption of clandestine operations by Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, rile Tehran and derail the negotiations for a nuclear deal, it was decided that the DEA’s Project Cassandra should be derailed instead.
As it “reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants…and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.
“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” said David Asher, who helped establish and oversee Cassandra as a Defense Department illicit finance analyst. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”
Denials from former Obama administration officials did not fail to come.
Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for Obama, told Bloomberg that an examination of the record indicates that the allegations are spurious. He cited some European arrests of Hezbollah agents after the implementation of the nuclear deal.
Brian O’Toole, a former CIA man working in the Department of the Treasury from 2009 to 2017, and a specialist on sanctions, assailed the sources of the article, calling them “malcontents” who violated non-disclosure agreements.
“It disgusts me that they would go public with this conclusion because no one else in the career civil service would agree with them. These weren’t politicals at every turn, but seasoned analysts who knew much more than they did,” said O’Toole.
It would certainly be premature, on the basis of a single journalist piece, to judge the Obama administration guilty of a high conspiracy to protect Hezbollah in order to further its paramount policy aim of a deal with Iran.
The sources quoted in the piece were anonymous; and while other journalists are now busy at work trying to identify those anonymous whistleblowers, until they can do so, or until they step forward and identify themselves, their credibility cannot be assessed.
However, if the allegations turn out to be true, the implications would be of the utmost seriousness. It would mean that Washington had been, in effect, abetting illegal drug trafficking and aiding one of the most heinous terror organizations on the face of the Earth.
It would also mean that the Obama administration had promoted the Iran nuclear deal on false pretenses. The pledge that it would entail only lifting of nuclear sanctions, but that its vigorous counter-measures against Iranian pursuit of regional dominance through sponsorship of terrorism and other means would continue, was a willful deception of Congress and the American people.
As such, a thorough official probe would seem to be necessary in order to ascertain the truth of the matter. On Monday, Rep. Robert Pittenger of North Carolina sent a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy asking for just such a formal inquiry.
“These revelations are shocking and infuriating,” Pittenger said in a statement to Fox News. “While American soldiers were bravely fighting Islamic State terrorists, with some paying the ultimate price, the Obama administration reportedly was protecting Hezbollah terrorists who were funding themselves by trafficking illegal drugs. No wonder President Obama couldn’t bring himself to call them ‘Radical Islamist Terrorists.’”
A formal investigation has to be conducted before conclusions can be drawn, no matter how convincing the evidence may seem at this time.
In the meantime, probably for months to come, Americans will wait to hear more details of the story of Project Cassandra and the terrorist networks that ply their evil without conscience in a world of cloak-and-dagger as dark and ruthless as anything that went on during the Cold War between Russia and the United States.