Controversy swirled yesterday regarding the Obama administration’s decision to withhold from the public the text describing how the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA) with Iran is to be implemented, with the Washington Free Beacon publishing multiple articles on the issue and a leading House lawmaker calling on the White House to release the full text. Top Iranian figures have repeatedly and explicitly accused the White House of mischaracterizing the degree to which Iran committed to making concessions on its nuclear program under the JPA. Analysts and journalists have been unable to evaluate the Iranians’ claims because the White House has refused to allow the text to be publicly scrutinized. Yesterday the Beacon detailed extensive measures that the Obama administration is forcing even lawmakers to undertake to view the reportedly “unclassified” document.
Upon arriving at the security office, “all communications devices must be stored outside the facility before entering” through the door. Once inside the security office, “you must identify yourself, show [proper identification], and sign a document listing your name, office, and date/time of viewing,” the source said…“You may take a copy of the document into a private reading room,” the source said. However, “no photocopies are allowed, no photos can be taken, and remember, your Blackberry or iPhone is sitting outside” the room, the source said. “Upon completion of review, you must sign it back in at the desk before leaving.” The process has frustrated members and staffers alike.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) has also described the deal text as being held in a “super secret location” that is shrouded in a “cone of silence.” “Why is it that members of Congress have to go to a super secret location, a cone of silence … to look at the deal?”
Washington Institute Executive Director Robert Satloff insisted later yesterday that “if [the] Iran nuke deal details are truly ‘unclassified,’ secrecy is a national insult.” By the afternoon the Beacon revealed that Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL) – a top Congressional voice on foreign policy and a leading member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – had written the President calling Iran deal’s details to be made public.”
“In order for Congress to properly perform its oversight functions and for the American people and our allies to have a full and open debate on the issue, I respectfully request that you make public the full text of the” deal, she wrote.
Due to Iran’s increasingly confrontational actions, as well as the White House’s continued refusal to release the deal, Ros-Lehtinen asks that Obama “take ever effort to make the full text” public to the “American people so they can judge for themselves the merits of this deal.”
[Photo: U.S. Department of State / Flickr]