A lot of attention was paid to the exchange between Rep. Ted Poe and Secretary of State John Kerry on the question of side deals attendant to the agreement the latter has made with Iran. But Kerry also faced a Senate hearing on the issue, and when Sen. Tom Cotton – who has been one of the few members of that body with a consistent stance in opposition not just to the negotiating posture which led to the deal, but the deal itself and also the Senate’s role in ratifying any agreement of this level – got his chance to examine Kerry, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, things didn’t go well for the Obama administration…
Guy Benson, at Hot Air, points out that Cotton, in under seven minutes, exposed three massive flaws in the deal which make it unsupportable even by testimony from Kerry and Dempsey…
(1) Cotton makes clear that the Corker/Cardin legislation, which was signed into law by President Obama, requires that Congress receive every single word of the finalized Iran deal. Having discovered and confirmed the existence of secret side agreements within the overall accord, Cotton wonders whether or how the administration will adhere to that provision of the law. Kerry responds that such matters must be classified in order to respect the privacy of the IAEA. Cotton’s framing is stark and outstanding: “The Ayatollahs will know what they agreed to, but not the American people.” Brutal.
(2) The Arkansas Senator drills down on reports that Iran may be permitted to provide its own soil samples as part of an important nuclear “inspection,” likening this alleged concession to allowing an athlete to submit a urine sample for a drug test without supervision. Kerry says that the US government is “satisfied” that this arrangement — which he’ll neither confirm nor deny — will “provide the answers we need.” The Associated Press quoted a nuclear expert casting doubt on that claim yesterday, arguing that the process in question may not prevent Iran from tampering with the sample they turn over.
(3) With Gen. Dempsey’s help, Cotton demonstrates that Iran is chiefly responsible for providing specialized IEDs to terrorist insurgents in Iraq, who have used the deadly devices to kill hundreds of American soldiers. Cotton’s point is obvious: This is a regime with a great deal of American blood on its hands and whose leaders still chant “death to America.” This deal rewards those very people with a huge cash injection that can and will be used to promulgate terrorism. The agreement does not require Iran to cease or even diminish its terrorist activities, regional meddling, and human rights abuses. Kerry serves up a word salad about pressuring Iran on these other fronts in the future, and notes that American sanctions won’t be lifted against certain American-murdering criminals within the regime. But other Western sanctions are lifted against those individuals as part of the deal, to which the Obama administration has agreed. Kerry’s distinction is meaningless.
The question is, after seeing a hearing like this, why Republicans in charge of hearings covering such alarmingly substantial material as the Iran deal, or the IRS scandal, or the Benghazi investigation or other examinations of Obama administration misdeeds would restrict a talented investigator like Cotton to only seven minutes.
Congressional hearings used to be conducted with the help of seasoned counsel given ample time to elicit needed information from witnesses. It would be far more useful, rather than give each member of the committees in question an opportunity for Outrage Theater, to have two or three investigative specialists conduct these hearings with an occasional interjection from committee members.
We would much rather have Tom Cotton get 30 minutes to grill Kerry, Dempsey and Moniz on the Iran deal. By the time he was finished the public would have much more knowledge of what was negotiated in Vienna than we now have.