As a career intelligence officer I understand that the world around us in often seen in shifting shades of gray partially obscured by a fog of uncertainty and ambiguity. I also know that sometimes that fog lifts, and all is revealed in the crystal clear light of day. Such was the moment, late last month, when we learned that two agents of influence working on behalf of the Iranian regime, Seyed Mousavian and Trita Parsi, had visited the White House no fewer than thirty-three times during the critical period when the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was being negotiated.
Mr. Mousavian is a former Iranian diplomat and head of Iran’s national security council. He served as Iran’s spokesman during negotiations with the international community on the Iran deal. Mr. Mousavian was also Iran’s ambassador to Germany during the 1990’s at a time when a series of high-profile assassinations of Iranian dissidents were carried out by Iranian intelligence all across Europe. Mousavian visited the White House at least three times and according to the White House visitor logs, assisted in helping the White House craft its pro-Iran messaging and talking points in favor of the JCPOA.
Mr. Parsi is the head of an organization known as the National Iranian Council. While Mr. Parsi attempts to cast his organization as one working on behalf of the Iranian people, it is in fact a mouthpiece for the regime in Tehran. Parsi visited the White House thirty times and met privately with President Obama’s advisor Ben Rhodes, Vice-President Biden’s national security advisor Colin Kahl, the National Security Council’s director for Iran, legislative liaisons and other officials.
Ever since the outlines of the JCPOA became clear I have struggled to understand how an American government could agree to its terms. Having imposed crippling sanctions on the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism and brought it to its knees, how could we end those sanctions, dismantle the coalition that supported them and turn the Iranians loose to enrich themselves and spread chaos across the Middle East? How could we agree to terms so weak and unenforceable as to give us no reasonable expectation that we would be able to prevent the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons? How could we enter into negotiations in the first place without ever requiring the Iranians to come clean regarding decades of lies and secret WMD programs?