Iran

Congress Should Subpoena White House Advisor Ben Rhodes

President Obama's foreign policy advisor admits he lied to Congress and the public about Iranian nuclear negotiations.

|

Ben Rhodes and President Obama
Pete Souza-White House/Wikimedia Commons

Here is a quick pop quiz. What happens if we lie to the government? What happens if the government lies to us? Does it matter who does the lying?

Last year, the Obama administration negotiated an agreement with the government of Iran permitting Iran to obtain certain materials for the construction of nuclear facilities. It also permitted the release of tens of billions of dollars in Iranian assets that had been held in U.S. banks and that the courts had frozen, and it lifted trade sanctions. In exchange, certain inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities can occur under certain circumstances.

During the course of the negotiations, many critics made many allegations about whether the Obama administration was telling the truth to Congress and to the American people.

Was there a secret side deal? The administration said no. Were we really negotiating with moderates in the Iranian government, as opposed to the hard-liners depicted in the American media? The administration said yes. Can U.N. or U.S. inspectors examine Iranian nuclear facilities without notice and at any time? The administration said yes.

It appears that this deal is an executive agreement between President Barack Obama and whatever faction he believes is running the government of Iran. That means that it will expire if not renewed at noon on Jan. 20, 2017, when the president's term ends.

It is not a treaty, because it was not ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, which the Constitution requires for treaties. Yet the Obama administration cut a deal with the Republican congressional leadership, unknown to the Constitution and unheard of in the modern era. That deal provided that the agreement would be valid unless two-thirds of those voting in both houses of Congress objected. They didn't.

Then last week, the president's deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, Ben Rhodes, who managed the negotiations with Iran, told The New York Times that he lied when he spoke to Congress and the press about the very issues critics were complaining about. He defended his lies as necessary to dull irrational congressional fears of the Iranian government.

I am not addressing the merits of the deal, though I think that the more Iran is re-accepted into the culture of civilized nations the more economic freedom will come about for Iranians. And where there is economic freedom, personal liberties cannot be far behind.

I am addressing the issue of lying. Rhodes' interview set off a firestorm of criticism and "I told you so" critiques in Capitol Hill, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee summoned him to explain his behavior. It wanted to know whether he told the truth to Congress and the public during the negotiations or whether he told the truth to The New York Times last week.

He apparently dreads answering that question, so he refused to appear and testify. One wonders how serious this congressional committee is, because it merely requested Rhodes' appearance; it did not subpoena him. A congressional subpoena has the force of law and requires either compliance or interference by a federal court. Rhodes' stated reason for not testifying is a claim of privilege.

What is a privilege? It is the ability under the law to hide the truth in order to preserve open communications. It is a judgment by lawmakers and judges that in certain narrowly defined circumstances, freedom of communication is a greater good than exposing the truth.

Hence the attorney/client and priest/penitent and physician/patient privileges have been written into the law so that people can freely tell their lawyers, priests and doctors what they need to tell them without fear that they will repeat what they have heard.

Executive privilege is the ability of the president and his aides to withhold from anyone testimony and documents that reflect military, diplomatic or sensitive national security secrets. This is the privilege that Rhodes has claimed.

Yet the defect in Rhodes' claim of privilege here is that he has waived it by speaking about the Iranian negotiations to The New York Times. Waiver — the knowing and intentional giving up of a privilege or a right — defeats the claim of privilege.

Thus, by speaking to the Times, Rhodes has admitted that the subject of his conversation — the Iranian negotiations — is not privileged. One cannot selectively assert executive privilege. Items are either privileged or  not, and a privilege, once voluntarily lifted, cannot thereafter successfully be asserted.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee should subpoena Rhodes, as well as the Times reporter to whom he spoke, to determine where the truth lies.

It is a crime to lie to the government when communicating to it in an official manner. Just ask Martha Stewart. One cannot lawfully lie under oath or when signing a document one is sending to the government or when answering questions from government agents. Just ask Roger Clemens. Stated differently, if Rhodes told the FBI either what he told Congress or what he told The New York Times — whichever version was untrue — he would be exposed to indictment.

Ben Rhodes is one of the president's closest advisers. They often work together on a several-times-a-day basis. Could he have lied about this Iranian deal without the president's knowing it?

Does anyone care any longer that the government lies to the American people with impunity and prosecutes people when it thinks they have lied to it? Does the government work for us, or do we work for the government?

COPYRIGHT 2016 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO | DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

NEXT: Watch Matt Welch Bash Workplace Drug Testing and Trump's Ferguson Affect on Red Eye

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Dear admin, why do you make people click twice to get to the article (once from the blog homepage, then again to see the full article)?

    1. If you click “view comments” instead of “view the article” or the title, it takes you to the full article right away.

      1. The comments are the only thing that matters anyway

      2. And as a bonus you can skip the article and go straight to the comments.

        1. What the fuck is an “article”?

          1. ar?ti?cle
            ??rd?k(?)l/
            noun
            1.
            a particular item or object, typically one of a specified type.
            “small household articles”
            synonyms: item, thing, object, artifact, commodity, product
            “small household articles”

            1. Is artifact really a synonym for article? Huh.

            2. Is artifact really a synonym for article? Huh.

  2. It is not a treaty, because it was not ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, which the Constitution requires for treaties. Yet the Obama administration cut a deal with the Republican congressional leadership, unknown to the Constitution and unheard of in the modern era. That deal provided that the agreement would be valid unless two-thirds of those voting in both houses of Congress objected. They didn’t.

    So what the judge should be saying is that Obama and the Senators who conspired to undermine the constitution should all be impeached. They made a deal that subverts what is pretty plainly written in the constitution. If that’s not a reason for impeach,net I don’t know what is.

    1. The Supremes have already ruled on this. For example NAFTA was passed as a agreement with both houses only needing majority vote instead of as a treaty requiring 2/3 vote in the Senate. This was challenged several times including by a group of Senators and House members but the Supremes ruled they had no standing since they did not represent a majority of Congress.

      1. Do you have a link to the ruling or the name of the case? I’d like to read more because I had no idea the treaty requirement had de facto been gotten rid of.

        1. Sorry I no longer have the court ruling links but here is a link to the unions challenge to NAFTA that was thrown out of a lower court. You can probably use the information to find some of the actual court rulings

          http://articles.latimes.com/19…..s/fi-59072

          1. Thanks. It doesn’t lead me anywhere, but that’s probably due more to my laziness than anything.

            I did catch this: “I would be very surprised to see NAFTA struck down because of the immediate political implications of it and because of the implications for the way the United States conducts foreign affairs,” said Richard Steinberg, an international law expert at UCLA who worked for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office during the NAFTA and World Trade Organization talks.

            The government has been doing this bullshit forever. I do remember a court recently slapping the Obama admin (EPA, I think) over some onerous and unconstitutional regulations that they defended by telling the court “but the rules are already in place and it’ll be a pain in the ass to unwind them now and prove they’re legal” after boasting they had gotten away with similar shenanigans recently.

            1. First I must point out that I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV or the internet. I became interested in the subject a decade ago and searched for answers, which ended up with a combination of there was precedent in earlier lesser agreements and ruling, there was deference to the President and majority of Congress, that it was framed in idea that it was not a treaty but that Congress was using its commerce regulating authority to conform US laws with the agreement not ratifying a treaty and also only Congress as a whole had standing to challenge how Congress made laws

              Here is a link to a Harvard Law Review article which shows the undermining of the treaty powers was started by FDR

              http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/fss_papers/133/

              1. Thanks. I should have guess FDR started something down the road of undermining the constitution.

                1. Not a lawyer but I would say the precedent for this kinda deal goes back further with the LA Purchase. There were concerns over the constitutionality of that deal and even Jefferson felt he had overextended the authority of the president.

              2. I was bitten by a radioactive lawyer. I later gained the proportional strength and speed of an attorney, plus an “attorney sense” which warns me when I will be served with warrants or subpoenas.

                I also got rabies.

      2. “Supremes ruled they had no standing since they did not represent a majority of Congress.”
        So what you are saying is that majority now rules and not laws interesting.

        1. and to continue I thought the laws were meant to protect the minorities.

        2. This “no standing” issue…do lawyers understand how angry it makes people?

    2. Government derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. This is one of the self-evident truths in TJ’s Declaration.

      If the officers of government continuously deceive the governed with a mixture of lies and facts, expertly calculated for maximum deception, the governed are incapable of granting informed consent.

      Four-fifths of Americans according to Rasmussen polls say that the US government does not have consent of the governed.

      It stands to reason, then, that the US government is illegitimate, and is properly classified as a tyranny rather than a republic. Unlike other tyrannies in history, however, the US government does hold elections that permit its victims to select the least-horrible tyrant, and it does what it can to uphold the right of a transgender individual to use the restroom and changing room of his/her/xer/xis/its own choosing regardless of the policy preferences of the owner of such facilities. So there’s that.

      1. Four-fifths of Americans according to Rasmussen polls say that the US government does not have consent of the governed.

        A whole bunch of them probably want a socialist-corporatist totalitarian dictatorship.

        1. Is the irony that you kind of already have that?

  3. If congress didn’t impeach Obama for the serious crime of waging war without its consent, I doubt they’d subpoena this apparatchik.

  4. “One wonders how serious this congressional committee is, because it merely requested Rhodes’ appearance; it did not subpoena him.”

    I’m sure this committee is just as serious as the committee James Clapper (Director of National Intelligence) lied to three years ago. Under oath.

  5. “Executive privilege, bitches!”

    1. ::throws Ben Rhoades (metaphorically!) into wood chipper::

      “Has just been revoked!”

  6. A satisfying number of questions.

  7. Who was aware of this happening?

    1. I just hope they use the newer, better theme song.

  8. One argument I’ve heard from some pundits is the classic “but everybody does it”. The thing is, they’re probably right about that but they never think the argument all the way through. The next time Obama or one of his spokesdogs says something I’ll be expected to believe it; but why should I if deception is their SOP?

  9. GODDAMN THIS ADMINISTRATION IS TRANSPARENT!

  10. “If you like your treaty powers, you can keep your treaty powers!”

  11. RE: Congress Should Subpoena White House Advisor Ben Rhodes
    President Obama’s foreign policy advisor admits he lied to Congress and the public about Iranian nuclear negotiations.

    Not to worry.
    Dear Leader will never be impeached for lying to the Amerikan public.
    Now everyone can sleep tonight.

  12. I’m trying to look into this story, but there are no links to the statements that are supposed to be lies, and the statement that said they were lies. I have read about the thaw in relations allegation, but I see nothing inconsistent about having some talks, they go nowhere, and then things start to happen with new personnel, and then saying it was made possible by the new personnel.

  13. So its legal for the government to lie to you (in various capacities) but it is illegal for the government to lie to itself? Thats pretty funny.

  14. Start making more money weekly. This is a valuable part time work for everyone. The best part work from comfort of your house and get paid from $100-$2k each week.Start today and have your first cash at the end of this week. For more details Check this link??

    Clik This Link inYour Browser
    ? ? ? ? http://www.MaxPost30.com

  15. WE THE PEOPLE, have charged President Obama of failing to save thousands of innocent lives by the hands of the worst law enforcement officers by not mandating all federal law enforcement bureaus start the nations only law, Oregon Senate Bill 111 Law Enforcement Use of Deadly Physical Force with the program, Truly Reforming Law Enforcement with the president’s executive order.

    Per FBI records as published in The Portland Tribune Oct. 31, 2013 in a three page featured article titled, Murders are down in Portland, but few can pinpoint the reasons why? In 2012 of major cities for all types of murders Portland had the lowest total of 20 Murders, that must be compared with the worst record at Chicago with well over 500 Murders. This year up to the end of April Portland had a all time low of 2 Murders and again Chicago will expand the 500 Murders.

    Please contact the President office and state, start Oregon’s law and program or RESIGN TODAY!

    Make every day terrific,

    Jerry Atlansky Founder/Chairperson
    United States Police/Oregon State Police-
    Independent Citizens Review Board
    Portland, Oregon 97213

    http://www.dignityanddining.org,

    1. Come again?

  16. My best friend’s ex-wife makes $95/hr on the laptop. She has been unemployed for 6 months but last month her income with big fat bonus was over $15000 just working on the laptop for a few hours.

    Read more on this site.————————— http://www.earnmore9.com

  17. “Does the government work for us, or do we work for the government?”

    Welcome to 5000 years of civilization, bub.

  18. Facebook gives you a great opportunity to earn 98652$ at your home.If you are some intelligent you makemany more Dollars.I am also earning many more, my relatives wondered to see how i settle my Life in few days thank GOD to you for this…You can also make cash i never tell alie you should check this I am sure you shocked to see this amazing offer…I’m Loving it!!!!
    ???????? http://www.factoryofincome.com

  19. Any chance his revelations were to deflect attention away from the Clinton email case?

  20. Facebook gives you a great opportunity to earn 98652$ at your home.If you are some intelligent you makemany more Dollars.I am also earning many more, my relatives wondered to see how i settle my Life in few days thank GOD to you for this…You can also make cash i never tell alie you should check this I am sure you shocked to see this amazing offer…I’m Loving it!!!!
    ???????? http://www.factoryofincome.com

  21. Congress should not subpoena anyone if they aren’t going to follow up …. and they aren’t. Maybe if they cut down on the empty posturing they could focus on doing something useful. I know it’s a wild idea, but it just might work. Nothing to complex, mind. Say, passing a bill to get the bridges and overpasses on the interstate brought up to snuff.

    Oh, never mind. It’s a pipe dream. And I suppose that while they’re jabbering at government scofflaws they have no intention of prosecuting they are wasting LESS money than with anything else they could be doing…

  22. I thought the agreement was the best possible outcome in our dealings with Iran. Has Reason magazine been LIED to?

    1. I thought it was one of their most asinine articles in a while.

  23. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8012 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…————————- http://www.cash-spot.com

  24. I see we have instituted the policy of the Noble Lie, because they fear that the people might freely repeat what they’ve heard, and we cannot allow such malfeasance in the US of A!

  25. up to I looked at the check of $4791 , I did not believe …that…my neighbour could actualie earning money in there spare time on their laptop. . there friend brother has been doing this for less than 7 months and resently cleard the morgage on their mini mansion and purchased a great Bugatti Veyron . you could look here ……..

    Click This Link inYour Browser….

    ?????? http://www.Reportmax20.com

  26. up to I looked at the check of $4791 , I did not believe …that…my neighbour could actualie earning money in there spare time on their laptop. . there friend brother has been doing this for less than 7 months and resently cleard the morgage on their mini mansion and purchased a great Bugatti Veyron . you could look here ……..

    Click This Link inYour Browser….

    ?????? http://www.Reportmax20.com

  27. up to I looked at the check of $4791 , I did not believe …that…my neighbour could actualie earning money in there spare time on their laptop. . there friend brother has been doing this for less than 7 months and resently cleard the morgage on their mini mansion and purchased a great Bugatti Veyron . you could look here ……..

    Click This Link inYour Browser….

    ?????? http://www.Reportmax20.com

  28. Now, coming to the Showbox app, this is another superb app developed for movie lovers who want to get a better experience of watching movies and tv show on a bigger screen with more detailings.

  29. And one of those applications is Showbox apk app. It is one of the best online streaming application for watching Movies and TV Shows. In the starting, this application has been released for only a few of the mobiles and allows users to watch shows online.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.