Ex-CIA Adviser Denies Report That Obama Thwarted anti-Hezbollah Operation to Save Iran Deal

Brian O'Toole, who was a senior officer in the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, calls the Politico report 'a grand conspiracy led by Hezbollah'

U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
Bloomberg

A former CIA adviser denied a Politico report in a series of tweets on Tuesday, calling it "a grand conspiracy led by Hezbollah." According to the Monday report, the Obama administration thwarted a covert operation against the militant Lebanese group in order to save the Iran nuclear deal.

In a tweet, Brian O'Toole called Politico's sources "malcontents" who turned to the press despite the fact that no one in the civil service agreed with them.

According to the Atlantic Council think tank, O'Toole was a CIA adviser and worked in the intelligence department of the Department of the Treasury from 2009 until this year, and then became senior members of the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control and a specialist on sanctions.

O'Toole wrote that he would be careful with what he reveals, because "unlike the many sources cited by name here, I actually intend to honor the non-disclosure agreement I signed with the CIA and treasury."

"What this story and these people allege is a grand conspiracy led by Hezbollah. They'd have you believe it involved multiple world leaders and centers around Hezbollah actively trafficking in narcotics. They've based these assessments on classic analytical overreach, however," added O'Toole.

According to Politico's Monday report, the White House directly prevented actions by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to battle Hezbollah drugs and weapons trafficking operations in order to avoid hurting what was then a delicate emerging nuclear agreement with Iran.

"It disgusts me that they would go public with this conclusion because no one else in the career civil service would agree with them. These weren't politicals at every turn, but seasoned analysts who knew much more than they did," wrote O'Toole.

He added that in his opinion, the Politico report was possible due to the fact that the sources knew that they would receive "no rebuke" from the Trump administration, which he called "deparate to hammer Iran and unwilling to discuss classified info in public."

He further said the report "may well end up helping Hezbollah."

Other independent journalists have begun investigating into who the quoted sources are in the Politico report. One of them may be Katherine Bauer, who worked in the U.S. Ministry of the Treasury during the Obama Administration. The report quotes statements made by Bauer to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in which she said that "these investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking the boat with Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal."

The report, however, did not say that Bauer currently works at a research institute founded by AIPAC, which opposes the nuclear deal. David Asher, one of the founders of the operation against Hezbollah, called the Cassandra Project, was also quoted, as saying that the closer they got to a deal with Iran, the more operations were cancelled. Today Asher works at the Foundations for the Defense of Democracy, a think tank that testified before Congress 17 times against the nuclear deal.

The Politico report was based on a number of interviews, according to which the DEA tracked Hezbollah's criminal activities including cocaine trafficking and money laundering for eight years. They evidence showed that Hezbollah's inner circle and Iran's supporters were involved in these activities — but that the administration prevented or delayed arrests and investigations into Hezbollah operatives.