Democrats immediately attacked President Donald Trump after the killing of IRGC terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani, complaining that he didn’t ask them for approval (he didn’t need to) or that it was going to lead to war.
But one of the other troubling aspects of their responses were seemingly to make statements that not only weren’t supportive of Trump or the U.S. action but were critical as we were being attacked and seemed to parrot propaganda, acting for example as though relations started the moment Trump killed Soleimani and neglecting to mention the prior attacks on U.S. forces and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
But even given that, it was more than a little shocking that the day after our bases were under missile attack from Iran, that members of Congress, including two running for the Democratic nomination for president, would participate in an “no war with Iran” conference call with an Iranian lobbying group, NIAC, which has been accused of acting on Tehran’s behalf.
From Fox News:
Democratic presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders faced criticism online Wednesday for participating in a conference call with an Iranian-American advocacy group just a day after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack in Iraq aimed at U.S. military personnel.
The group was the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which critics claim lobbies in Washington on behalf of the Iranian government.
The “#NoWarWithIran Strategy Call,” hosted by MoveOn.org, another advocacy group and political action committee first organized in 1998 in response to former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, also included commentary from Jamal Abdi, president of NIAC. U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna, both California Democrats, and others also participated.
Here’s one of NIAC’s senior research analysts accusing Trump of fomenting “psychological warfare” for noticing that the Ukrainian air crash might not have crashed on its own.
Reminder: On top of its economic warfare, Trump is waging all-out psychological warfare aimed at stirring discontent & unrest in #Iran. I'll take anything Trump or anonymous officials say about "something could have happened" to crashed plane in Iran w/ huge grain of salt. https://t.co/7cMKN9nNaP
— Sina Toossi (@SinaToossi) January 9, 2020
NIAC was critical in helping push through the Iran Deal, according to the Free Beacon.
NIAC has deep ties to Iran’s regime, including senior officials like Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Zarif worked closely with NIAC founder Trita Parsi, who, in turn, consulted with the Obama administration.
Parsi lobbied Congress against sanctions on Iran in 2013 and met with Obama administration officials at the White House dozens of times leading up to the nuclear deal’s signing in 2015. Multiple U.S. officials and senior congressional sources informed the Washington Free Beacon that Parsi helped the White House craft its messaging as it tried to sell the nuclear deal to the public. The NIAC chief met with Rhodes, among other top officials, during multiple visits throughout the Obama era.
Rhodes delivered a keynote speech at the 2016 NIAC leadership conference.
The group claims it works independently of the regime and on behalf of the Iranian people.
On the conference call with lobbying group the day after we were attacked by Iran, Warren and Sanders attacked Trump for his “march to war” and pulling out of the Iran Deal.
Warren also accused Trump of “tweeting threats of war crimes” when he threatened attacks on Iranian cultural sites, which she said was “not in America’s favor and it is wrong.” Trump had subsequently said he would take no action that violated international law.
Speaking later on in the hour-long call, Sanders accused Trump of telling “the same old lies” told by the Bush administration in 2002-03 that he said lead to the deaths of 4,500 “brave American soldiers,” the death of “hundreds of thousands of Iraqis” and veterans suffering from PTSD still today.
“When I think back in my lifetime to the disastrous wars, the unnecessary wars that have taken place. I think back to Vietnam where people I knew got killed, where my generation suffered so terribly – 59,000 dead, God knows how many wounded. People still sleeping out on the streets today from that war,” Sanders also said, recounting his personal history of America fighting in foreign wars oversees.
“I think the lesson is that war should be avoided in every way that we can. War is the last response, not the first response,” he continued. “I will do everything I can to prevent this war.”
“I’ll be working to make sure that we pass a War Powers Act that makes it clear that the Constitution says that it is the Congress – not the president – who determines whether this country goes to war. And that I’m afraid Congress has forgotten about that under Republican and Democratic administrations. And we’re going to do everything we can to pass that resolution.
MoveOn then used the call to promote #NoWarWithIran rallies across the country, which Warren and Sanders encouraged people to attend.