Did the Obama Administration Withhold Documents That Could Have Undermined the Iran Deal?

Earlier this week, the CIA made public hundreds of thousands of documents from Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound. The trove, obtained during the raid in which he was killed, contains extensive evidence of the depth of al-Qaeda’s relationship with Iran—which sheltered many of the organization’s operatives in its borders, supplied it with funds, and gave it operational support. With the publication of these documents, writes Michael Rubin, it is now clear why the Obama administration struggled so long to hide them from the public eye:

President Obama and his CIA heads . . . released only [those few documents that] upheld and affirmed Obama’s tenuous theories about Iran. Had the U.S. public known about the Iranian leadership’s outreach to, and association with, al-Qaeda, even Democratic congressmen might have been far less willing to tolerate the trust which Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry placed in their Iranian counterparts. . . .

Indeed, the refusal to declassify documents not out of fear that sources and methods might be exposed but rather to enable the White House and State Department to avoid calibrating their own policy goals to reality and in pursuit of Obama and Kerry’s goals appear to be both an abuse of classification and textbook politicization of intelligence.

It’s time to ask under oath and in public hearings what senior officials—including every former CIA director from the time bin Laden was killed—knew about the Iran-al-Qaeda partnership, when they knew it, and why they believed they needed to cover up that information.

To bury proof of an enemy’s culpability with a terrorist group purposefully, to leave that rogue regime with an industrial-scale nuclear program and enough centrifuges to build an arsenal, to provide billions of dollars in untraceable cash under the guise of sanctions relief and ransom payments, and to acquiesce with a nod and a wink in a no-inspections policy in the same military bases that sheltered al-Qaeda operatives is, to put it mildly, policy malpractice.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Al Qaeda, Barack Obama, CIA, Iran, Osama bin Laden, Politics & Current Affairs

What Israel Can Achieve in Gaza, the Fate of the Hostages, and Planning for the Day After

In a comprehensive analysis, Azar Gat concludes that Israel’s prosecution of the war has so far been successful, and preferable to the alternatives proposed by some knowledgeable critics. (For a different view, see this article by Lazar Berman.) But even if the IDF is coming closer to destroying Hamas, is it any closer to freeing the remaining hostages? Gat writes:

Hamas’s basic demand in return for the release of all the hostages—made clear well before it was declared publicly—is an end to the war and not a ceasefire. This includes the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip, restoration of Hamas’s control over it (including international guarantees), and a prisoner exchange on the basis of “all for all.”

Some will say that there must be a middle ground between Hamas’s demands and what Israel can accept. However, Hamas’s main interest is to ensure its survival and continued rule, and it will not let go of its key bargaining chip. Some say that without the return of the hostages—“at any price”—no victory is possible. While this sentiment is understandable, the alternative would be a resounding national defeat. The utmost efforts must be made to rescue as many hostages as possible, and Israel should be ready to pay a heavy price for this goal; but Israel’s capitulation is not an option.

Beyond the great cost in human life that Israel will pay over time for such a deal, Hamas will return to rule the Gaza Strip, repairing its infrastructure of tunnels and rockets, filling its ranks with new recruits, and restoring its defensive and offensive arrays. This poses a critical question for those suggesting that it will be possible to restart the war at a later stage: have they fully considered the human toll should the IDF attempt to reoccupy the areas it would have vacated in the Gaza Strip?

Although Gat is sanguine about the prospects of the current campaign, he throws some cold water on those who hope for an absolute victory:

Militarily, it is possible to destroy Hamas’s command, military units, and infrastructure as a semi-regular military organization. . . . After their destruction in high-intensity fighting, the IDF must prevent Hamas from reviving by continuous action on the ground. As in the West Bank, this project will take years. . . . What the IDF is unlikely to achieve is the elimination of Hamas as a guerrilla force.

Lastly, Gat has some wise words about what will happen to Gaza after the war ends, a subject that has been getting renewed attention since Benjamin Netanyahu presented an outline of a plan to the war cabinet on Thursday. Gat argues that, contrary to the view of the American and European foreign-policy elite, there is no political solution for Gaza. After all, Gaza is in the Middle East, where “there are no solutions, . . . only bad options and options that are much worse.”

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security