According to the Daily Beast, private files outlining hidden agreements made as part of the Iran nuke deal may be released by President Donald Trump as one of his first actions in office.
Senior officials who will be part of the Trump administration are already discussing what so-far-unseen information about the Iran agreement will be made public after January, according to an individual who has participated in those conversations.
Last month Bloomberg View reported the Trump team was looking at declassifying and releasing potentially “embarrassing” Iran nuke deal-related documents that the Obama administration had made classified, including documents linking Iran to Sunni terror groups and outlining cash transfers to Iran.
Earlier, Bloomberg described other potentially embarrassing documents that the administration classified to save face, including an intelligence assessment written to excuse the U.S. collapse on Iran disclosing past nuclear work, which began by imagining a world in which Iran will fully cooperate with the deal for the next 20 years.
But there are dozens of other Iran nuke deal-related documents which are not even secret, much less classified, but which the Obama administration has nonetheless refused to release. There are broad suspicions those documents contain embarrassing concessions to Iran: both additional U.S. obligations and exemptions for Iranian obligations. As a practica; matter, it would be straightforward to release those items. Politically speaking, however, the outgoing administration has consistently had trouble explaining why the public shouldn’t see them.
Apparently there is a growing momentum in Trump circles and across Congress to release those unclassified documents early in the next administration.
Their release would be celebrated by the lawmakers who opposed the agreement, especially those who opposed it feeling that Congress and the American people were forced to vote without all the information they were promised. Some of Donald Trump’s cabinet members have been complaining about the lack of transparency about the deal — among them Michael Flynn, who will be national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, Trump’s choice for CIA director.
“My guess is that they will be very forthcoming,” a grinning Sen. Bob Corker , the chairman of the foreign relations committee who has been named a potential candidate for Trump’s secretary of state, told The Daily Beast. “They’ll be more than desirous in ensuring that’s the case.”
The release of these documents would have an element of karma. Early in his adminstration Obama released the justification approving the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program during President George W. Bush’s tenure.
In the case of the Iran nuclear deal, there are many unclassified documents that have been held by the Obama administration in tightly controlled security environments that effectively make it impossible for the public to see them.
“The American people know the Iran deal is bad. I can tell you it’s even worse than most people think. The Obama Administration has long known its position is indefensible, so they’ve chosen to hide unclassified documents from the public,” said Rep. Peter Roskam , an Illinois Republican and an Iran deal critic. “If this information is not classified, it should be made available to the public.”
To keep them out of public view, these documents have been held throughout the U.S. Capitol complex in Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facilities, or SCIFs, which are built to shield top secret information. State Department protocol requires these documents can only be viewed by lawmakers and Congressional staff with a certain level of security clearance — even though they are unclassified.
There are three sets of documents the Trump administration could release right away as they are not classified:
- One group is 17 unclassified documents related to the Iran nuclear agreement, including a projection of how Iran’s nuclear research and development could progress over time, and letters between various foreign ministers and Secretary of State John Kerry.
- The second group includes documents signed by senior State Department official Brett McGurk, outlining the terms of a much-criticized prisoner swap in which four Americans were released in prison in exchange for the transfer of $1.7 billion in cash to Iran — a deal that Trump himself lambasted frequently during the presidential campaign.
- And the third group includes documents outlining the “secret” exemptions to the nuclear deal that Iran was allowed. These exemptions were approved by a joint commission created by the deal to oversee its implementation.
The bottom line is that despite the fact that the documents were unclassified, there were parts of the nuclear agreement that Obama kept secret because if they were let out they would be embarrassing, they might have even scuttled the deal. If the Trump team decides to release the details, we will soon know all the capitulations Obama and Kerry made to appease Iran, including the ransom Obama claims isn’t ransom.
Trump won’t have fight to scuttle the Iran nuke deal: America and Congress will demand it.
Cross-posted at The Lid