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Iran: Regional and Global Threats

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Former Speaker John Boehner Keynote Address at OIAC Event

Former Speaker of the House John Boehner will be the keynote speaker on Friday, February 26, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.

In his first public remarks on foreign policy and national security issues since leaving the U.S. House of Representatives, Speaker Boehner will be speaking about the threat posed by Iran to the Middle East region and the free world.

Speaker Boehner will also address the challenges and options that will face the next administration in dealing with Iran’s influence in the neighboring countries and its long-held dream of becoming a nuclear-threshold state.

Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, Jr., the former Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs, will be moderating the event, which is scheduled from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm at the East Room of the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.

Due to limited space, RSVP (Feb26Event@oiac.org) is required.

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Next President Must Right Wrongs of Iran Nuclear Deal, Boehner Says

A Non-Nuclear Iran Can Only Be Attained Through Strength, Former Speaker Says

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In his first major foreign policy and natural security remarks since leaving office, former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today said the U.S. government must stand with the people of Iran and not with the radical regime in Tehran that has oppressed them for decades while sponsoring terrorist aggression throughout the world.

“The dream of a democratic, secular, non-nuclear Iran cannot be attained through the appeasement of a regime that oppresses its own people,” Boehner said in remarks to the U.S. Foundation for Liberty. “The transformation of the regime in Iran is only achievable through strength: a strong and resolute stance by the United States and the free world.”

Boehner blasted the Iran nuclear deal that was rammed through last year by President Obama over the objections of a bipartisan majority in Congress, saying the administration’s actions in the months since he left office have only confirmed his worst fears about the agreement.

The former speaker upped the ante on questions raised earlier this month by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), challenging the White House to explain why a surprise $1.7 billion payment was given earlier this month to the Iranian regime, rather than to American victims of terrorism linked to the government in Tehran.

“There are Americans who have longstanding claims at the Hague as well. . .Americans who are victims of the terrorism sponsored by the Iranian regime, who’ve been awarded judgements against Iran,” Boehner noted. “Why the hell would we transfer this money to the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Iran instead of compensating these American victims?”

“This is the United States of America. We don’t stand with tyrants. We stand up to tyrants. It’s the way this great nation was born,” Boehner said. “I hope and pray that the next president of the United States will right these wrongs and send this message loudly and unequivocally to people throughout the world.”

“It’s a message that must be heard everywhere – from the corridors of power here in Washington, to the streets of Tehran – and backed by the concrete will of a strong president with the confidence of the American people,” Boehner said in closing.

The full text of former Speaker Boehner’s remarks as prepared appears below.

REMARKS AS PREPARED:
FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH)
U.S. FOUNDATION FOR LIBERTY
WASHINGTON, D.C.
FEBRUARY 26, 2016

Thank you to the U.S. Foundation for Liberty for organizing this event to help educate the American people about the threats posed by the Iranian regime, and options to stop them. And a special thanks to all the Members of the Iranian American community who are here today because you’re committed to the vision of a democratic, secular, non-nuclear Iran.

I’ve been a private citizen now for almost four months, after being in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly a quarter century.Many assume I’ve spent most of the past four months playing golf.Well, yes, I’ll admit, I’ve played a little golf, and yes, I suppose you can say I’ve made up for some lost time.

But you know, when you get down to it, life is really about finding balance. And I’ve found a nice balance: having fun, getting acquainted with becoming a grandfather, doing some travel; but also doing some speeches, and some events for my former colleagues. On the day I announced my departure, I rolled up to the podium in the House Radio & TV Gallery singing “Zip a Dee Doo Da.” I’d been planning my exit for a while, and hey, I’ll admit it: it felt pretty good to be liberated.

But the fact of the matter is, there are also a lot of things I care deeply about and will never stop caring about, whether I’m in office or not. One of those things is the security of our nation, and the world, in the face of the global threat we know as international terrorism. When I was speaker, I got a special glimpse of hell. I’m talking about the threat of a global enemy that seeks to destroy innocent life for the purpose of supporting its own violent, radicalized goals.

All of America saw it up close 14 years ago, in the attacks on this city and the World Trade Center in which thousands of our countrymen lost their lives. As speaker, I learned everything I could about the nature of this threat – a threat that has grown in the 14 years since 9/11. I saw the threat from many different angles as speaker: through conversations with people at home and abroad; through security briefings; through interactions I was privileged to have with the leaders of other nations.

Once you’ve gotten a glimpse of the true nature of this global enemy, you don’t forget it. It stays with you. It follows you everywhere. And I’m sorry to say it’s a global enemy that we, the United States of America, are effectively bankrolling at this very moment through the misguided policies of the current administration.

I spoke out against this as speaker of the House. Repeatedly. And I will continue to speak out against it now as a private citizen of the United States. And so I’m deeply honored that you’ve asked me to deliver the keynote address for this important event at this critical time. This is an important event. There’s a message that the citizens of both countries – the United States, and Iran – need to hear.

The American people need to be reminded about the nature of the threat posed to the world by the regime in Iran. . .a regime that, in spite of the “deal” brokered by the current administration, continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions, and continues to finance terrorist activity.

The Iranian people need to hear a message as well. They need to hear that the people of the United States stand with them – not with the regime that for decades has oppressed them, stifled their liberties, and crushed their dreams.

The people of Iran – the victims of the Iranian regime – need to hear that the United States stands with them. Sadly, for the past eight years, they’ve heard the opposite message from our government. It’s a message amplified and underscored, tragically, by the flawed nuclear agreement reached between President Obama and the Iranian regime. Never in the history of our country has something with so many consequences for our national security been rammed through with such little support.

It’s a deal that rewards the Iranian regime with sanctions relief while allowing it to stay on a path to develop a nuclear weapon. Let’s stop for a moment and think about who the government of United States of America – the mightiest nation on Earth; the beacon of liberty shining throughout the world – has struck a deal with.This is a regime that is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.

This is a regime propped up by quote-unquote “elections” in which all of the candidates are vetted in advance by a panel appointed by the Supreme Leader – and anybody who doesn’t swear allegiance to the supreme leader and “the Islamic Republic” is thrown out.

This is a regime that will use its windfall of new money to threaten its neighbors and support terror networks that are a direct threat to the American people and our allies.This is a regime shielded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is led by military officers linked to human rights violations and terrorism, who have supplied militants with weapons intended to kill Americans.

This the same Revolutionary Guard that, it was reported this week, is in the advanced stages of planning a terror attack on passenger planes in Southeast Asia.For years we have also seen a steady stream of evidence to indicate that the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Tehran is working hard to establish a foothold in the Western Hemisphere, on the doorstep of the United States.

Evidence was presented to Congress as recently as last year showing the Iranian regime is advising troublemakers in Latin America on its proven methods of stifling civilian dissent and financing oppressive paramilitary forces.
I led a congressional mission to South America in 2012. During that journey, my colleagues and I heard repeatedly about efforts by Iran to create an economic and strategic partnership with Venezuela and other rogue nations. . .a partnership aimed at establishing a stronghold for Iranian influence in the West.

Last summer, Venezuela signed a pact that formally established an economic partnership with the Iranian regime.

There is little question that the Iranian regime seeks use the resources of this partnership to bankroll both its nuclear ambitious and its sponsorship of terrorist activity throughout the globe. Incredibly, tragically, the Obama administration chose to cut a deal with this regime – legitimizing it, emboldening it, empowering it. . .supplying it with the financial and political oxygen it needs to not only survive, but thrive in a rapidly-changing world.

It’s bad enough for the United States to have the wrong policy when things are confusing; when it’s hard to tell the right side from the wrong side. It’s even worse for the United States to have the wrong policy when things are crystal clear. In pursuing the deal with Iran, President Obama refused to listen. He ignored the concerns of the American people, national security experts, and a bipartisan majority in the Congress.Americans were promised that the deal would be built on verification.

Well, the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) just this week is out with a study that documents “potential challenges in monitoring and verifying Iran’s implementation of certain nuclear-related commitments.”
These are the kinds of details it might have been helpful to have before the agreement was forced upon America, and the world. As I said on the House floor in September: it’s such a bad deal, the ayatollah won’t even have to cheat to be just steps away from a nuclear weapon. Americans were also promised the deal would address Iran’s status as the world’s leading sponsor of terror.

But the deal hands Iran billions to support additional terrorist activities, and provides relief to the “shadow commander” responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops in Iraq.I wish I could say my concerns have eased somewhat since leaving office, but I’m afraid I can’t. As the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, my friend Ed Royce of California, noted last month:

Just hours after the agreement’s implementation, the regime disqualified 2,967 of roughly 3,000 moderate candidates from running in the parliamentary elections. The Iranian regime also conducted missile tests this winter in open defiance of the United States — an act of defiance that drew little more than a helpless shrug from the Obama administration.Then Iran’s president directed his generals to accelerate its intercontinental missile program – a program aimed, ultimately, at striking the United States.

And just weeks ago, the Obama administration announced what appears to be a $1.7 billion ransom payment to the Iranian regime, coming on the same day four American political prisoners were released. While we clearly welcome the release of these Americans, there are huge questions about it that have gone unanswered. The administration indicates this $1.7 billion payment was made to resolve a longstanding Iranian claim made through the “Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal,” based in The Hague.

I’ve got a question for the administration.

There are Americans who have longstanding claims at the Hague as well. . .Americans who are victims of the terrorism sponsored by the Iranian regime, who’ve been awarded judgements against Iran. With all due respect: why in the world would we transfer this money to the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Iran instead of compensating these American victims?

Chairman Royce has asked this question, and the Administration owes the American people some answers. Real change in Iran cannot be achieved through billion-dollar payouts and one-sided deals.The dream of a democratic, secular, non-nuclear Iran cannot be attained through the appeasement of a regime that oppresses its own people.

The transformation of the regime in Iran is only achievable through strength: a strong and resolute stance by the United States and the free world.This is the United States of America. We don’t stand with tyrants. We stand up to tyrants! It’s the way this great nation was born. I hope and pray that the next president of the United States will right these wrongs and send this message loudly and unequivocally to people throughout the world.

It’s a message that must be heard everywhere – from the corridors of power here in Washington, to the streets of Tehran – and backed by the concrete will of a strong president with the confidence of the American people. I’m grateful for the chance to be with you today. I look forward to your questions.

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Q & A

With former Speaker John Boehner

Introduction: Firooz Daneshgari, MD. Iranian American Community of Ohio

Moderator: Amb. Lincoln Bloomsield

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Date: 02-26-2016
Location: Washington Mayflower

DANESHGARI: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a beautiful morning this morning, isn’t it? My name is Fiorouz Daneshgari, professor of surgery and urology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where I served as the third chairman of urology in that department. On behalf of the Organization of Iranian American Communities, I would like to welcome you to this gorgeous spring-like morning in Washington.

It’s a timely event today that we get together as Parliamentarian elections in Iran are being held as we speak. Of course the election is a farce in that land as the real vote of Iranian people has been and will continue to be the fundamental changes so that the true election could be held in my homeland. Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, Jr., former assistant secretary of state for political military affairs and a senior U.S. government official for over 30 years will moderate today’s event. So I’m just warming up this seat for him.

At this time I have the privilege to introduce the keynote speaker, with whom I have the privilege of being state [0:20:00] from the greatest state of Ohio, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, the Honorable John Boehner. [applause] As the speaker of the house, Mr. Boehner held the drive for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable federal government. The second oldest of 12 children, he grew up mopping floors at his family tavern and playing football at high school. While working to pay through Xavier University he met Debbie, his wife of 41 years, and started his own business. He and Debbie both live in Ohio where they raised two daughters, Lindsay and Felicia. In 1990 the voters of Ohio elected him to the Congress where he exposed corruption in the house establishment and forced politicians to live by the same laws that all of us have to live.

In January 2011 Mr. Boehner’s colleagues elected him as the Speaker of the House for the 112th Congress. In that capacity he focused on building the bonds of trust between the American people and their representatives in Washington. Most importantly, to us in this audience, he held a courageous policy countering Islamic fundamentalists and the nuclear threat posed by the Iranian regime. Speaker Boehner has truly been a champion for the cause of human rights and freedom in Iran as he embraced the endeavors of relevant House committee chairs in advocating a firm policy vis a vis the Iranian regime and in support of the Iranian people and the democracy movement in Iran. Before asking him to take the stage, however, please join me in watching a brief video about Speaker Boehner. [applause]

DANESHGARI: Please join me to welcome the Speaker of the House of Representatives, former, Mr. Boehner. [applause]

BOEHNER: Good morning. A little malfunction here, but we’re not going to have it long. Well, ladies and gentlemen, let me say thank you for the kind introduction and the warm welcome this morning. But I will have to say, I’m still just a regular guy who used to have a big job. Today, you know, I’m trying to get used to this retirement. Hard to slow down from 120 miles an hour to about 5 miles an hour, but I knew I had to do it. A big thank you to Doctor for his gracious introduction. Thank you to the U.S. Foundation for Liberty for organizing this event today to help educate the American people about the threats posed by the Iranian regime and options to stop them.

A special thanks to all of you, the members of the Iranian-American community who are here today because you are committed to the vision of a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear Iran. I’ve been a private citizen now for nearly four months, after serving almost 25 years in the United States House of Representatives. Now many assume I spend my time playing golf. I know it may look that way. Yes, I’ll have to admit that I’ve played a little golf. And probably made up for what I would describe as some lost time. But you know when you get down to it life is about finding balance. And I found a nice balance having some fun, getting acquainted with becoming a new grandfather, and doing some travel, doing a few speeches, and doing a few events for some of my former colleagues.

I think a lot of you saw on the day that I announced my retirement I rolled into the podium in the House radio and TV gallery singing Zippedy-doo-dah. Listen, I had been playing my exit for a while and I have to admit it felt pretty good to be liberated. But the fact of the matter is there’s a lot of things I care deeply about and never will stop caring deeply about, whether I’m in office or not. One of those things is the security of our nation and the world in the face of the global threat we know as international terrorism. When I was Speaker I got a special glimpse, a special glimpse of Hell. And I’m talking about the threat to the global economy that comes from a global enemy that seeks to destroy innocent life for the purpose of its own violent, radicalized goals. All of America got to see this close up some 14 years ago in the attacks on this city here in Washington and at the World Trade Center in which thousands of our fellow citizens lost their lives. As Speaker I tried to learn everything I could about the nature of this threat, a threat that has grown in the 14 years since 9/11.

I saw the threat from many different angles as Speaker. Through conversations with people here at home and abroad, through security briefings, through interactions with world leaders I got to understand the true nature of this threat. And once you’ve gotten a glimpse of the true nature of this threat you don’t forget it. It stays with you and it kind of follows you everywhere. And I’m sorry to say it’s a global enemy that we, the United States of America, are effectively bankrolling at this very moment through the misguided policies of this current administration. I spoke out against it as Speaker of the House repeatedly and I’ll continue to speak out about it whether I’m in elected office or just a mere private citizen as I am today.

And I’m honored that you’ve asked me to deliver this keynote address at this event, at this critical time. It’s an important event because there’s a message that needs to be delivered to the citizens of both countries, the United States and Iran. The American people need to be reminded about the nature of the threat posed to the world by the regime in Iran. A regime that in spite of the deal brokered by the current administration, continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions and continues to finance terrorist activities. The Iranian people need to hear a message as well. They need to hear that the people of the United States stand with them, not with their regime that for decades has oppressed them, stifled their liberties, and crushed their dreams. The people of Iran, the victims if you will of this Iranian regime, need to hear that the United States stands with them. And that sadly for the past eight years they have heard, frankly I think, the opposite message from our government. It’s a message that amplified and underscored tragically by the flawed agreement reached between President Obama and the Iranian regime. Never in the history of our country has something with so many consequences for our national security been rammed through with such little support. It’s a deal that rewards the Iranian regime with sanctions relief while allowing it to stay on a path to develop a nuclear weapon.

Let’s stop for a moment and think about who the government of the United States of America, the mightiest nation on earth, the beacon of liberty shining through the world, let’s see who they struck a deal with. There’s a regime that’s the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. And whether it’s Hezbollah, whether it’s Hamas, whether it’s the Houthis in Yemen, the same regime that’s propped up Assad from Syria who’s gone on to kill hundreds of thousands of its own citizens. It’s a regime that’s propped up by quote unquote elections, as the professor was saying earlier, where all the candidates are vetted in advance and frankly if they don’t swear their allegiance to the Supreme Leader they just don’t show up on the ballot. Can you imagine us happening like that here in America? It’s a regime that will use its windfall of new money to threaten its neighbors and to support terror networks that are a direct threat to the American people and our allies. This is a regime shielded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is led by military officers linked to human rights abuses and violations and terrorism, and it will supply militants with weapons intended to kill Americans. This is the same Revolutionary Guard that was reported this week that’s in the advanced stages of planning a terror attack via passenger planes in Southeast Asia.

For years we’ve also seen a steady stream of evidence to indicate that the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Tehran is working hard to establish a foothold here in the Western hemisphere on the doorsteps of the United States of America. Evidence was presented to Congress as recently as last year showing that the Iranian regime is advising trouble makers in Latin America on its proven methods of stifling citizen dissent and financing oppressive paramilitary operations. I led a Congressional mission to South America in 2012, and during that journey my colleagues and I heard repeatedly about efforts from Iran to create an economic and strategic partnership with Venezuela and other rogue nations, a partnership aimed at establishing a stronghold for Iranian influence in the West. Last summer, Venezuela signed a pact that formally established an economic partnership with the Iranian regime. And there’s little question that the Iranian regime seeks to use the resources of this partnership to bankroll both its nuclear ambitions and the sponsorship of terrorist activities throughout the globe.

Incredibly but tragically the Obama administration chose to cut a deal with this regime, legitimizing it, emboldening it, empowering it, and supplying it with financial and political oxygen that it needs not only to survive but to thrive in a rapidly changing world. It’s bad enough for the United States to have the wrong policy when things are confusing. It’s hard to tell the right side from the wrong side. It’s even worse though for the United States to have the wrong policy when things are crystal clear. In pursuing the deal with Iran, President Obama refused to listen. He ignored the concerns of the American peoples, the national security experts, and a bipartisan majority in the United States Congress, Americans that were promised that this deal would be built on verification. Well, the independent General Accountability Office just this week rolled out a study that documents, and I quote, “the potential challenges in monitoring and verifying Iran’s implementation of certain nuclear related commitments.” Now these are the kinds of details that might have been helpful to have before the agreement was thrust upon the United States and the world. And as I said on the House floor last September, it’s such a bad deal the Ayatollah won’t even have to cheat to be just steps away from a nuclear weapon.

Americans were also promised that the deal would address Iran’s status as the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. But the deal hands over billions of dollars to support additional terrorist activities and provides relief to the shadow commander responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops in Iraq. I wish I could say that my concerns have been eased somewhat since leaving office, but I’m afraid I can’t. As the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, my friend from California, noted just last month, just hours after the agreement’s implementation the regime disqualified 2,967 of the roughly 3,000 moderate candidates running for Parliamentary elections. The Iranian regime also conducted missile tests this winter in open defiance of the United States, an act of defiance that drew little more than a helpless shrug from the Obama administration. Then Iran’s president directed their generals to accelerate its intercontinental ballistic missile program, a program ultimately aimed at striking the United States.

And just weeks ago the Obama administration announced what appears to be a $1.7 billion ransom patient to the Iranian regime coming on the same day that four American political prisoners were released. Now clearly while we welcome the release of our fellow Americans, there are huge questions that have gone unanswered. The administration indicates that this $1.7 billion payment was made to resolve longstanding Iranian claims at the tribunal based in The Hague. Well, I have a question for the administration. There are Americans who have longstanding claims at The Hague as well, Americans who are victims of the terrorism sponsored by the Iranian regime who have been awarded judgments by Iran. And with all due respect, why the hell would we transfer money to a terrorist-sponsor regime instead of compensating these Americans who have received judgments? Chairman Royce has asked this question. And I think the administration owes the chairman an answer.

Real change in Iran cannot be achieved through billion dollar payments and one-sided deals. The dream of a democratic, secular, and nonnuclear Iran cannot be obtained through the appeasement of a regime that oppresses its own people. The transformation of the regime in Iran is only achievable through strength, a strong and resolute stance by the United States and the free world. This is the United States of America, we don’t stand with tyrants. It’s the way this great nation was born. And I hope and pray that the next president of the United States will right these wrongs and send this message loudly and unequivocally to the people of Iran and throughout the world. It’s a message that must be heard everywhere, from the corridors of power here in Washington to the streets of Tehran, and backed by the concrete will of a strong president and the confidence of the American people.

Again, I am very grateful to be here today with all of you and I want to thank you for your commitment to freedom, your commitment to religious liberty, and doing everything you can to help the people of Iran be all that they can be and restore your country to the great nation that it once was. Thank you very much and I look forward to your questions. [applause]

BLOOMFIELD: Speaker Boehner, thank you very much. That was very stirring and instructive statement here in the heart of Washington. I want to thank you for your service to the American people over many years and welcome you to private life with the rest of us. And I hope that you find other ways to serve, as you have this morning, drawing on your great experience as America’s third highest-ranking official.

You’ve really touched on all the important issues that I think are worth discussing today, so I want to just kind of draw you out a little bit. When Americans turn on their phones and their media and their televisions and their radio, it’s all about the elections in America. I’m not going to go there. And it’s a wild one here in America. But today happens to be the day in Iran where they’re also holding quote unquote elections, for the Parliament, for the Assembly of Experts. And if people weren’t paying close attention to foreign policy they might think, well, we have elections, they have elections. But as you said there’s a vetting process and there’s thousands of people putting little dossiers together on every candidate, bringing them to the headquarters and saying here’s what we have on this person and that person, and hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of candidates don’t show up on the ballot. And some seats have no opposition, people are standing for reelection. Even President Rouhani in 2013 was one of eight candidates out of what 878 who were disqualified. British Prime Minister spoke right up about whether this was democracy or not. Our government congratulated Tehran. What’s your view on the elections in Iran today as the polls are closing right now?

BOEHNER: Well, they’re not really elections like any of us in America would look at an election. It’s a phony attempt to prop up an ailing regime. There’s no reason to not describe it for what it really is. The administration has had many opportunities to speak up. They have many opportunities, going back to 2009, to help those who are seeking freedom and democracy in Iran. And yet the administration chose not to speak up. I think it’s unfortunate. We see many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, on both sides of the Capitol, who have spoken out on behalf of the Iranian people and the need for our administration to do more to be helpful to them.

BLOOMFIELD: Well, it seems to me that the analysts in Washington, and frankly the journalists who write about Iran, are very interested in this struggle between the two camps of the influential people at the top of the heap, whether it’s the Supreme Leader, or Mr. (Rastajani) and the loyalists on both sides. And are we misleading ourself when we follow this contest as if—what difference does it really make if they are just the absolute elite of the country and the 79 million Iranians don’t really have a voice?

BOEHNER: There’s no reason to have the election. All they’re doing is trying to put a pretty face on it, as I like to say you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. For those of you that don’t know me very well, if you haven’t figured it out, I’m more likely to just say it the way it is. But it’s a violent regime that stays in power through intimidation, through threats to their people, and it’s been going on now for some 37 years. I think it’s unfortunate. Iran as a nation, as a region, is really one of the most celebrated places in the history of the world. When you look at art, when you look at religion, when you look at education, there’s a proud history that the Iranian people have that’s been stepped on and stepped on by the regime that’s been in power for the last 37 years. We have to be doing everything we can to promote democracy, promote diversity, and to help the Iranian people understand that America stands with them, not with the regime.

BLOOMFIELD: That’s a tall order. Let me ask kind of a sensitive question about the media. I mean one of the four hostages who came home was the Washington Post correspondent. And we didn’t see much commentary on why would they grab sort of a correspondent for the leading newspaper in the nation’s capital. And one possible answer is everybody else who wants to go to Tehran and get a visa and start reporting might think twice and not go. And so I guess my question is, I will say the Iranians even in Iran are following our elections down to the final detail. They know more about these primaries than most Americans do, which is amazing. But when we start writing about what’s happening today and when we interpret whether a lot of people came out to vote or whether they boycotted or not and start interpreting that message, is it possible that America’s journalists are kind of holding back a little bit because they don’t want their media company to be banned from going to Iran?

BOEHNER: Well, I think if you’re a journalist and you’re in Tehran and you’re reporting about these elections you’ve got to be concerned about your own safety. And journalists are human beings. It’s going to affect their opinions and it’s going to affect the way they write a story about it. And it’s virtually possible for them to describe the elections as I have. It’s just phony, it’s not a real election. But I’ve got my doubts whether that story will be clearly enunciated here in the American press, or for that matter, elsewhere.

BLOOMFIELD: Well, you noted how many people turned out at the last minute when President Rouhani was elected, that that was somehow a signal of protest or support or hope. And who knows what will come out of the ballots today in Iran but is there anything to hope for if people say, well, let’s turn out for these candidates or this slate of candidates? Is that a method of protest or should they just be staying away and boycotting as so many Iranians do?

BOEHNER: Oh, well if I were a citizen of Iran, knowing what I know about the regime, I would not show up to vote because it means nothing. When you look at the actions of this regime over the last 20 years that I’ve paid some attention to it, the decisions were all made by one or—basically by a handful of people. And the so-called elective representatives play virtually no role at all in the regime or the actions that they take. And all you have to do is not listen to what people say but watch what they do. And when you look at Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism around the Middle East and elsewhere, when you look at their systematic effort to try to destabilize the entire Middle East, it says something about who they are. And when these talks about an agreement with Iran heated up over a year ago and there were serious conversations I scratched my head. Because I never understood how you could sit down with the devil and cut a deal and then expect the devil to keep his word. There have been no change in the behavior of the Iranians. This missile test several months ago in open defiance of our supposedly new relationship. They took our sailors that were out in the Persian Gulf and humiliated them in spite of this supposedly new relationship that we had. And I haven’t seen missiles coming out of Lebanon that were provided by the Iranians, aimed at Israel. So at some point there has to be some change in behavior if you’re really going to believe that the Iranian regime is changing. I haven’t seen one ounce of evidence of it since the agreement was signed or before the agreement was signed.

BLOOMFIELD: I’ve promised a couple questions. Of the many commentaries we heard during the negotiations one of them came from a very respected former diplomat who had negotiated the 1994 framework agreement with North Korea, Ambassador Belluci. He said the one piece of advice he would have for this negotiation is know what you’re going to do if the other side cheats on the terms of the agreement. From everything you know, Mr. Speaker, do you think the administration has a plan, if they know what they’re going to do if the Iranians cheat on the agreement?

BOEHNER: Well, I’d hope so, but again I have not seen any evidence of what might be the case. Speaking of North Korea, I remember when President Obama took office and as Republican leader at the time I told the president, I said, listen, there’s no reason to ever sit down and have another conversation with this regime because they lied and cheated on every agreement they’ve made, every single one. And well, I guess time will tell whether the Iranians have any intention of keeping their word with regard to this agreement.

BLOOMFIELD: Now, you’ve certainly characterized the Iranian regime’s profile and the fact they haven’t changed their colors in spite of the agreement. We heard President Obama at some point last fall say, look, all we care about is stopping the march of the Iranian nuclear program That’s all we focused on, that’s all this was about. But I have to say I beg to differ. I heard what the president said to the UN General Assembly in the beginning in 2013, he was talking about a big opening and possibilities of where the U.S. and Iran could go in the future. And my own view, sir, as I stand back, I think that the secretary of state and president are trying to pursue rapprochement, détente, with Iran. Trying to see if there’s a new relationship. And I think the Gulf Arabs view it the same way. What’s your view on whether this was just about nuclear or whether there was something bigger at play that kind of exposed us to being negotiated, the negotiation to come out the way it did?

BOEHNER: Well if you step back and watch this administration and what’s happened over the last seven years it’s very clear to me. President (clearly) has some belief that America played too strong a role of leadership throughout the world. And believed that America should play less of a role, that other countries ought to take a more active role. You can see evidence of it, look at his speech in Cairo, look at his speech in Berlin. The president’s what I call his apology tour. He sent a very loud and clear signal. I think this effort to begin some new approach with Iran, even though they have done nothing to deserve it, is part of the president’s vision that America shouldn’t play the strong role that it’s played throughout the world. As someone that’s traveled quite a bit as one of our leaders, I can tell you our friends and allies around the world are beside themselves. They’re begging America to lead. They want to be on the side of America, they want to be part of an American coalition that seeks to make sure that people do have freedom, that people do have democracy, and that we stop this spread of radical terrorism in its tracks. They’re begging us. Almost a year ago I took a large group of members throughout the entire Middle East. Ten days of meeting with the leaders in the entire region. And what became clear to me is that there is no overarching strategy to deal with Iran nor to deal with radical Islamic terror. There are a lot of little pieces, we’re doing this a little this, our allies are doing a little of this and that, but there’s no overarching strategy and there’s no real serious attempt to put the free world in a position to be able to stop this activity. And so I think that what we see out of this administration with regard to Iran. None of it has surprised me at all given where the president started some seven years ago.

BLOOMFIELD: Let me ask you, Mr. Speaker, about our intelligence, not to reveal anything but just to answer a question that’s been bothering me. You referred in your remarks to all the behavior of Iran in the region, and to Chairman Royce’s statements as well. And then you said it’s even worse when things are crystal clear. From the outside it appeared that what Nouri al-Maliki was doing as prime minister of Iraq on behalf of the Quds Force and the Iranian regime didn’t really become clear to American officials until late in the game. Or the fact that the Houthis might have some support from Iran and some background in Iran with the elder Houthi, wasn’t really known. It came [0:54:39]we didn’t think it was that bad, but then we were fleeing the country and closing the embassy. And similarly with Bashar al-Assad’s game, and now you these Shia militias led by the Quds Force almost ethnic cleansing the Sunni areas of Iraq. Seeing what’s happening, the cynical game, all the support that the Iranians have given to Bashar al-Assad. The money, the arms, arms to Hezbollah, thousands of troops. And I guess my question is when you were in office, were you satisfied that the intelligence community had a handle on this? Were they really tracking it and it’s just a case where our senior leadership wanted to do something else? Or do we have a problem here?

BOEHNER: There are no surprises here. I’m not going to get into any of the specifics, but our intelligence professionals have gathered ample evidence of Iranian [0:55:37] or the Revolutionary Guard’s activities with regard to what was happening in Iraq, what they were doing with regard to Assad, the Houthis, well known. But just because the information was there and well known by the administration was damning as they did nothing. They really did nothing to try to put a stop to it other than some strong words which meant nothing. And in spite of all of that we continue to sit down at a table and to negotiate some nuclear agreement that only ensures that Iran in fact will have a nuclear weapon.

BLOOMFIELD: Taking the same question to the inside of Iran, when you hear experts in Washington talk, many of them, they talk about Rouhani, they talk about Foreign Minister (Zabif). Revolutionary Guards don’t get mentioned that much, sort of they’re over here on the side. And the Supreme Leader, it’s as if he’s not really running things. And maybe he’s not signing off on the (Gum) tennis court, so to speak, but you get the picture. And my question is, we’re not finding that the economy of Iran is very much controlled at the top, that there’s these religious foundations. Reuters has said it’s a $90 billion empire. All the deals that were just signed in Europe probably are going to state-run industries. People are being told by Treasury you can’t invest with an Iranian company because it might be a front company. And you get the impression that the Revolutionary Guards are doing things like arms transfers and visas and how do you send a kid to America to college, you pay the Revolutionary Guards. This is all coming out of the Guards, not the ministries. Do people understand the real Iran behind the curtain, so to speak? Or do we need to take another look here?

BOEHNER: Well, no, I think the picture is rather clear, but I had a little closer picture than a lot of people. But it’s the Supreme Leader, it’s his small council, and the Revolutionary Guards that are there to carry out their wishes. And this picture of a sort of democracy during elections is just an illusion. It’s a side show. And so actions speak louder than words, and the actions that we’ve seen out of the Revolutionary Guard in terms of spreading weapons, money, manpower, expertise throughout the region, it’s real.

BLOOMFIELD: Secretary Kerry’s been testifying on the Hill. And they keep asking, will all this money that’s being released from the unfrozen funds, how do we know it’s not going to the worst parts of the government and for nefarious activities, and his answer is well, so far we’re not seeing that. So I wrote a piece in Forbes recently, but the question for you sir is can Congress go further than that and say don’t just tell me whether it’s happening or not, report to me quarterly. Can they tell the Director of National Intelligence to report to Congress both classified and unclassified where do you see the money going? And sure, we can’t track everything, but just get some information that has a more official stamp on it?

BOEHNER: Well, the Congress could, they’d pass legislation that would mean that the administration would have to sign off on it, the president would eventually have to sign a bill. But I don’t see any reason why the leaders of the relevant committees in the Congress couldn’t request this information and wouldn’t receive it. But it’s very hard to track, it’s very hard to track money. Money is fungible. And so I think it would be almost impossible to track exactly where it’s going.

BLOOMFIELD: I may be wrong, but I get the impression that poor people in Iran, South Tehran, they think that because of the nuclear deal and the propaganda they hear that everything’s going to get better for them. Maybe new schools, better medical care, new hope for their economic well-being. And then you see billions of dollars subsidizing militias in the Arab countries and other things. Does it not make sense to try to show them where that money is actually going so at least the Supreme Leader can’t walk down the street without looking the poor people in the eye?

BOEHNER: If in fact you could track it, it would be easy to show. But I think the proof will be in the pudding. Either things in Iran will improve, whether it’s access to medical care, education, food, or it doesn’t. And that will be I think a better indication of just where the money is flowing.

BLOOMFIELD: As you look at the grand picture of this regime over the last few years, and all the things they’re doing, coming to the nuclear table, doing what they’re doing in Iraq and Syria and Yemen and elsewhere, in the Western hemisphere as you mentioned, is this a sign of strength or are they acting out of a sense of kind of peril to their ability to hang on to power?

BOEHNER: Well, let’s remember what brought them to the table. It wasn’t just this movement on the part of this administration to get them to the table, it was the sanctions passed by the United States Congress over the objections of the president in many cases, and not just one time or two times, at least three sets of sanctions. We filled the president’s toolbox with an array of sanctions for him to use. And then we had to pressure the president to use those sanctions. The Iranians would never have come to the table had it not been for the sanctions that were imposed on them. And I was a bit disappointed that the president began to lift the sanctions before the real negotiations ever got that serious. The sanctions were working. They had the Iranians almost on their knees. And if I were negotiating this I would rather negotiate with the sanctions in place and not lift it until the agreement had been complete. I think you would have gotten a much, much better deal.

BLOOMFIELD: Well, the administration initially had no intention of giving Congress a look at the deal until the legislation was put before them and they had no choice but to sign it, which is not the greatest way to show strength as a negotiator, giving in to your own side in Washington. Would they have had a better negotiation had they come to Congress first and said, look, you’re going to be in on this, you’re going to have to improve it too. You’re part of the home team. Help me put something on the table that makes this nuclear threat go away, or else we have to move to other options. I think most people in the executive branch, and I’m not proud of this, would say, oh we can’t go to Congress because they’ll never work with us. But would =

BOEHNER: Well, it’s hard to go to 535 members of Congress, you get a lot of different opinions on Capitol Hill. But if you’re going to expect that Congress will approve the deal, to support the deal, having people in at the beginning, having them on the train at the beginning, is a whole lot better than trying to get them on at the end. Now you have to remember the administration set out a half a dozen priorities that they wanted to accomplish when they got into these negotiations with the regime. They violated every one of the priorities that they outlined with regard to nuclear weapons, with regard to terrorist activity. They walked away from all the priorities that they set. They got themselves into a position where they needed a deal and they were going to take any deal at any cost. I’m not even sure that it’s worth the paper that it’s printed on. But in the future we’ll know, we’ll know soon enough whether there’s changes in behavior with regard to the regime. Whether it’s how they treat their own citizens, or what we see with regard to terrorist activities, weapon transfers, throughout the region, other places that they seek to have influence.

BLOOMFIELD: Well, I’d like to talk a little bit about what’s happening inside Iran. We talked about the regional activities, but it is the case and it’s widely reported and validated that an average of three people a day are being executed inside Iran. And if that were scaled to the U.S. population that would be 11 executions a day. Far, far, far more than anything that could be considered normal rule of law. And yet I don’t seem to hear much if anything out of the political circle in Washington. Should we be speaking up about this as well as about the external terrorism?

BOEHNER: Of course we should. It’s the regime’s way of maintaining their power. You’re executing people in a public way, you’re sending a very clear message to your citizens that their speaking out is not going to be tolerated. And it’s intimidation, it’s awful. But you won’t read about it in the U.S. papers, and the administration doesn’t seem to say much about it. But it’s something that needs quite a bit more attention.

BLOOMFIELD: So as we look forward there’s the nuclear deal, but then there’s this whole question of the U.S. and Iran. And I suggested that the current administration seems to have wider hopes for exploring an improved relationship with this regime. And the president is the one who always says it’s either that or sort of a neoconservative version of regime change where we’re going to have another engagement such as the 2003 intervention in Iraq that seems to have been a really tough haul.

BOEHNER: The president is going to try to create this as a false choice. Either there’s an agreement or we go to war. Nobody in Congress was suggesting that we go to war with Iran. And the president though for nine months presented this false choice that there was no other option. Well there was another option, and that is keep the sanctions in place, be serious about the negotiations, and quit advertising to the people you’re negotiating with that you’re anxious for an agreement at any cost.

BLOOMFIELD: And so here we are, the agreement’s been done, the UN’s lifted all their sanctions, the Europeans have jumped in with new embassies and new deals, ministers are taking CEOs into Tehran, etc. The question I have for you, Mr. Speaker, has to do with U.S. policy to Iran. If it’s not going to be rapprochement, if it’s not going to be war or regime change, a lot of people characterize that middle ground as change from within. And the 79 million Iranians who really don’t have any voice in their political future, which is a shame because Iranians are such intelligent, capable, politically savvy people, and they’re frozen out, is that a discussion that we should begin to have about a policy, a set of tools? They may be information tools, they may be political tools. But to build some kind of consensus to stand with those people. What do you think about that?

BOEHNER: Well, the president, as I said earlier, missed an opportunity in 2009 to stand with the Iranians, the protestors who were demanding more religious freedom and demanding more democracy. And we missed, we avoided that opportunity. I wouldn’t say we missed it, we avoided it. I believe that this administration, which is not going to do it, so let’s talk about the next one. The next administration needs to undertake efforts to help the American people understand that we, the United States of America, are on their side. That we believe in freedom. That we believe in democracy. We believe that a secular Iran and a nuclear free Iran. But we, the United States of America, have to show the Iranian people that we stand with them, not with the regime. And there are a number of ways to engage in this. But it certainly is doable, if we’re serious, if we’re serious about changing the relationship that we have with the current regime.

BLOOMFIELD: The Congress has for many years listened to and on occasion cast votes to stand with a part of the exiled resistance. And the resistance, if I may say, is a bit fractured. There are different slices of resistance outside of Iran. They don’t always cooperate. But the one that is based in Paris, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, headed by Madame Rajavi, has for many years actually been one of the very few issues I can cite, and I don’t mean to be flip, where partisanship seems to go away. Everybody either side of the aisle says these people stand for human dignity and universal rights and against dictatorship and against mistreatment of women and against abuse of religion. But so that’s pretty interesting. Do you sense—what’s your sense of the potential for Congress to have a bipartisan voice on this issue?

BOEHNER: Well if you looked over the last five or ten years, how about 20 years, I think there’s been a bipartisan majority in the Congress that sided with the Iranian people against the regime. Virtually every vote that I can imagine, certainly over the last five years that I was Speaker. And so the Congress, I think the Congress is there. Clearly when we got the opportunity to vote there was a bipartisan majority in the Congress, both houses of the Congress, that were opposed to this nuclear deal. Not enough to put a stop to it, but clearly a bipartisan majority. So I think the Congress is pretty well committed to stand with the people of Iran.

BLOOMFIELD: So I’m wondering whether a future administration could develop, take some initiatives that aren’t being taken now, to start looking, sort of flip the lights much more brightly on where the money goes in Iran, who benefits, to look at what happens if you speak out politically. And it’s not just the executions, it’s people are disappearing and no one knows where they go so the numbers are probably higher. To look at the destabilization and essentially telling Iraqis you can’t put a constitutional government together, telling Syria you’re never going to have any kind of a coherent state, we’ll just blow it up. And essentially even in Europe, if you read the intelligence reports, there’s always a counterintelligence about Iranian intelligence trying to get inside their press and their think tanks and academia to change the message. Do you think we have a problem in this town? That’s a loaded question =

BOENHER: Well I think the next administration needs to take a clear-eyed approach to dealing with this regime. And as I said earlier, it’s all about changes in behavior. It’s not about words. Are we going to see changes in behavior from this regime in Iran? I think not. Now I’m one of those that believes that hope springs eternal. But we’re going to know, we’re going to know here in the coming months if there’s change or there isn’t change. Won’t be hard to track. And if there isn’t change either this administration or I would hope the next administration would look at the Iranian regime in the eye and make clear either that there was going to be change in their behavior or here’s what’s going to happen. I think we need to be much clearer with them, and frankly we ought to have much higher expectations than what I see in this agreement that the president signed.

BLOOMFIELD: I think some people could look at the way the Iranian regime is acting internally and externally and they might say they’re actually acting out of weakness. They’re afraid of—they like to say that they won the revolution in 1979 but it didn’t really happen until they shot up everyone in the streets in 1981. And they all came back out in 2009, particularly at the end of the year. And they have a problem at home. And so the question is, is there a way not for us to do things to them, but for us to give courage and kind of make clear what they are doing to their own people?

BOEHNER: Well, those kind of education campaigns go on by our country and in other countries and other regions of the world. And there’s no reason why the United States of America can’t provide more information to the Iranian people about just what is happening. Because it’s not like they’re getting the truth on the news every night, not even close.

BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, I mentioned the Revolutionary Guards. They have an information command. They do foreign language broadcasts. They have an intranet that they control. We wouldn’t be handing that to the National Guard or the Army in this country, so it’s different animal than I think most people read about in the newspapers. Well I wanted to sort of thank you for this overall view, and perhaps invite you tell us what advice you would give to the Congress that comes in in the fall, the next Congress. How should they frame the future of U.S.-Iran relations, and maybe the future of Western-Iran relations?

BOEHNER: Well, regardless of what happens in the election and whatever the next administration is, Congress can in fact play a role. And if I were the chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the House or the Senate, I might do my own checklist of how the regime has changed or not changed since the signing of the agreement. And you can look at weapons shipped, transfers to terrorist organizations, the development of nuclear weapons. And you can do this on two levels: on an open level but you can also do it internally on a classified level. And use that information to help influence the next administration to take a more serious stand.

BLOOMFIELD: I would say as someone who served in the executive branch that I noticed that the Iranian foreign minister and others like to talk about how legitimate Iran is and how their rights have been abused and how we’ve been unfair to Iran, and it goes on and on. But if you were to put a list together of international norms and conventions and laws that are part of the architecture of a stable world that western countries have been trying to promote, they would probably top the list of not just terrorism but violating what they do to embassies, using the diplomatic pouch and diplomatic service, trafficking, arming non-state actors, it goes on, human rights violations. You go down the list, the treatment of journalists, you mentioned a lot of these. The list would be long. And I wonder whether the executive branch could complement Congressional action by having their own checklist and make it clear that this is going to be a respectable country of 80 million people, they have a long, long way to go.

BOEHNER: It’s certainly a possibility, but it all starts with the right attitude. It all starts with a clear vision of what role the United Sates is going to play in the world, and make it clear to the world just what that role is. And what their responsivities are if they want to be part of the world community. I’ve never been afflicted with this disease of wanting to run for president. I like to say I cut my grass, I [1:17:19] I’m sure as hell not giving that up to be president. But the next administration has to be clear. And it’s that clarity that helps keep frankly the world a safer place and gives freedom and democracy and hope another chance to (live).

BLOOMFIELD: That’s great advice for anyone who will be in Washington after the November elections. And don’t be surprised if your phone rings sometime during the convention, depending on the amount of chaos [1:17:57] we won’t go there. [laughter] I wanted to invite you, Speaker Boehner, to speak because I think our broadcast may be reaching some people inside Iran. And what would be your message to the people of Iran at this time?

BOEHNER: That the United States Congress and the American people stand with the Iranian people. And we want to do everything we can to make sure that the Iranian people can achieve their dreams, their hopes for a better future. [applause]

# 8

Media Coverage

usa today

Boehner steers clear of GOP presidential primary

1:43 p.m. EST February 26, 2016

 

kohler

WASHINGTON — In his first public speech since leaving Congress, former House speaker John Boehner steered clear of the increasingly raucous Republican presidential race.
“I’m not going to say anything,” Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters when asked about the White House race. “I don’t have to do this anymore.”

Boehner’s no-comment came after he delivered a speech on the threat posed by Iran at a swank downtown hotel. The event was sponsored by the Organization of Iranian American Communities. Boehner’s participation comes as he has ramps up his post-congressional career making paid speeches and dabbling in other activities.

At Friday’s event, the Ohio GOP leader stayed relentlessly on message, delivering a blistering attack on the Obama administration’s approach to Iran and the multilateral nuclear agreement the U.S. helped broker with that country.
“The American people need to be reminded about the nature of the threat posed to the world by the regime in Iran,” Boehner told the group of Iranian-Americans gathered in the hotel meeting room. “A regime that, in spite of the deal brokered by the current administration, continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions, and continues to finance terrorist activity.”

Although Boehner did not give any hints about his presidential preferences, he did give the audience a small glimpse of how he is adjusting to retirement. He joked that most people probably assume he’s spent the past four months playing golf. “I’ve played a little golf,” he conceded. But he said he’s found a “nice balance” and is enjoying life as a new grandfather, among other things. “It’s hard to slow down from 120 miles an hour to about 5 miles an hour,” he said. Indeed, Boehner had no trouble speeding by a cluster of reporters scrambling to ask him questions about the 2016 elections.

#4JPG

columbus

Boehner decries nuclear agreement with Iran

By Jessica Wehrman
The Columbus Dispatch  • Friday February 26, 2016

WASHINGTON — Former House Speaker John Boehner took a brief break from his retirement on Friday to decry last year’s nuclear agreement with Iran, saying Iran is a continued threat to the United States and the Western world despite the treaty.

Boehner, a West Chester Republican, made a rare — these days — public appearance in Washington before the Organization of Iranian American Communities, a group of Iranian-Americans advocating for a Democratic, secular Iran. He said that by entering into the agreement with Iran, the United States has begun “effectively bankrolling” one of its greatest threats.

“When you look at Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism around the Middle East and elsewhere, when you look at the systematic effort to try to destabilize the entire Middle East, it says something about who they are,” he said. “I could never understand how you could sit down with the devil and cut a deal and then expect the devil to keep his word.”

He said President Barack Obama presented the nuclear deal as a “false choice” — reach an agreement or go to war. “There was another option,” he said. “Keep the sanctions in place, be serious about negotiations and quit advertising to the people negotiating with us that you’re anxious for an agreement.”

He said Iran’s behavior before and since the agreement — humiliating U.S. sailors caught in the Persian Gulf, testing ballistic missiles and disqualifying 2,967 of roughly 3,000 moderate candidates running for parliamentary elections hours after the agreement’s implementation — reiterated his worries.

He said he was further irked by the Obama administration’s $1.7 billion payment that came on the same day that four American political prisoners were released. The payment was reportedly made to resolve a longstanding Iranian claim through the “Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal,” based in The Hague.

“There are Americans who have longstanding claims at the Hague as well,” he said, adding they include victims of terrorism sponsored by Iran. “Why the hell would we transfer money to the terrorist-sponsored regime instead of compensating these American victims?”

He said the next president will need to take a “clear-eyed approach” to the nation.
“I can tell you our friends and allies around the world are beside themselves, because they’re begging America to lead,” he said.

#5

Boehner calls Iran elections ‘phony’

By Kristina Wong – 02/26/16

Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was back in Washington Friday to weigh in on the Iranian elections currently underway and urge the Obama administration to speak out in support of the the Iranian people.
“[Iranians] need to hear the people of the United States stands with them, not with the regime,” he said at a speech hosted by the Organization of Iranian Communities.

Boehner criticized the elections, which have been extended twice to accommodate high turnout, as “a phony attempt to prop up an ailing regime. “They’re not really elections,” he said. “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”
The elections in Iran are the first since a nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other world powers last year to limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The elections will choose a new parliament and Assembly of Experts, a clerical body which appoints the supreme leader. According to the BBC, of the 12,000 who registered as candidates, only half were allowed to stand, including just 200 moderates.

At stake is whether reformist President Hassan Rouhani, who drove through the Iran deal, will be reelected in 2017. The elections may also determine who Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s successor is.
Boehner said the administration missed an opportunity in the 2009 Iranian presidential elections to stand with the protestors, who were subsequently crushed by the regime. “We avoided that opportunity,” he said.

Boehner also blasted the Obama administration for inking a “flawed” deal with Iran that he said the president “rammed through” with little support that “rewards the Iranian regime.”
“It’s a regime that will use the windfall of money to threaten neighbors … and supply militants with weapons intended to kill Americans,” he said. “I wish I could say my concerns have been eased since leaving office,” said Boehner, who retired from Congress late last year.

Boehner said the deal supplied the regime under Khamenei with “political and financial oxygen.”
“President Obama refused to listen [and] ignored the concerns of the American people,” he said. “It’s such a bad deal, the Ayatollah won’t even have to cheat to be steps away from having a nuclear weapon.”
He also criticized the Obama administration for paying Iran $1.7 billion on the same day Iran released four political prisoners.

# 7

washington times

John Boehner says Iran elections are ‘phony,’ slams nuclear deal in first public speech

boehner

He could have talked about threats from China or Russia. He could have weighed in on the battle for the GOP presidential nomination. He could have said just about anything and people would be interested to hear it.
But in his first public speech since disappearing from Washington’s political scene four months ago, former House Speaker John Boehner decided instead to focus exclusively on one issue: Iran.
In a speech Friday at the Mayflower Hotel, he hammered the Obama administration for striking last summer’s nuclear accord and declared outright that the elections currently taking place in the Islamic republic are nothing but “a phony attempt to prop up an ailing regime.”

“The American people need to be reminded about the threat posed to the world by the regime in Iran, a regime that in spite of the deal brokered by the [Obama] administration, continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions and continues to finance terrorist activities,” Mr. Boehner said at an event hosted by Iranian opposition activists.
“The Iranian people need to hear a message as well,” the longtime Ohio Republican said. “They need to hear that the people of the United States stand with them, not with their regime, that for decades has repressed them, stifled their liberties and crushed their dreams.
“Sadly, for the past eight years, they’ve heard frankly, I think, the opposite message from our government,” Mr. Boehner said.

His comments came as Iranians cast ballots Friday in an election that Western news reports have framed as a test for the Iran’s pro-nuclear deal president, Hassan Rouhani, who hopes to curb conservative dominance in the nation’s parliament and deliver domestic reforms.
Agence France-Presse reported that Iran’s ultimate authority, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was among the first to vote Friday and had urged the country’s 55 million-strong electorate to follow suit, calling it “both a duty and a right.”

Mr. Boehner called on Iranians to boycott the vote and said U.S. officials don’t do enough to encourage Iranians to rise up and overthrow the regime through internal revolution.
“If I were a citizen of Iran, knowing what I know about the regime, I would not vote because it means nothing,” he said, asserting that the Obama administration missed a critical opportunity to stand behind tens of thousands of Iranians who protested after the nation’s 2009 presidential election.
The so-called “Green Movement” protest were crushed within days after an aggressive crackdown by the government’s security apparatus.

Mr. Boehner also laid out a litany of complaints about other activities by Iran, which the State Department continued to list as the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism even as the Obama administration pursued and then backed the implementation of the nuclear accord that eased many international sanctions on the Islamic republic.
“Never in history has something with so many consequences for our national security been rammed through with such little support,” he said. “It’s a deal that rewards the Iranian regime with sanctions relief while allowing [Tehran] to stay on a path to developing a nuclear weapon.”
Mr. Boehner had stood against the deal last fall during the lead-up to his sudden resignation from Congress. He stepped down in late October after serving as House speaker since 2011 — the culmination of his nearly 30 years as a lawmaker.

His theatrical departure came just one day after Pope Francis had addressed Congress in an event Mr. Boehner, himself a devout Catholic, described as the peak of his career.
He has faded from the scene since. A report last month by Politico said he’s been splitting his time between Ohio, D.C. and Florida, has avoided television, been spotted periodically around Capitol Hill and downtown Washington and given private speeches to make money. The Washington Post has reported he left office with more than $2.7 million in leftover political cash that could be used to remain active in helping his former colleagues in the Capitol.
As for his first public speech on Friday, Mr. Boehner came out swinging on Iran.

He accused the White House of ignoring a slate of detailed U.S. intelligence reports about Tehran’s efforts to destabilized the Middle East — from its backing of Shiite rebels in Yemen to its support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and its manipulation of the political and security landscape in Iraq.
He also blamed the American news media for failing to sufficiently cover the Iranian government’s support of terrorism and its abuse of human rights inside the Islamic republic, despite high-profile recent cases such as that of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.

Mr. Rezaian, an Iranian-American dual citizen who was The Post’s bureau chief in Tehran, spent 18 months in an Iranian prison on dubious charges prior to his release in January as part of a prisoner swap negotiated by the Obama administration.
The Organization of Iranian American Communities, a group bent on promoting human rights and democratic change in Iran, held Friday’s event, which was also hosted by the U.S. Foundation for Liberty and Human Rights.
Members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an exile group with offices in Paris and Washington known to curry favor with former high-level American officials on both sides of the political aisle, were also on hand.
Lincoln Bloomfield Jr., who served as an assistant secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration during the early 2000s, moderated a discussion with Mr. Boehner.

At one point, Mr. Bloomfield claimed “an average of three people a day are being executed inside Iran and if that were scaled to the U.S. population, that would be 11 executions a day — far, far, far more than anything could be considered normal rule of law.”
“Yet, I don’t seem to here much of anything out of the political circles in Washington,” he said. “Should we be speaking up about this as well as the external terrorism?”

“Well, of course we should,” responded Mr. Boehner. “It’s the regime’s way of maintaining their power. When you’re executing people in a public way, you’re sending a very clear message to your citizens that their speaking out is not going to be tolerated. It’s intimidation. It’s awful. But you won’t read about it in the U.S. papers.”

Iran Election 2016 In the Media

The New York Times

As Some Iranians Register Dislike at Polls, Others Do So by Staying Home

By THOMAS ERDBRINKFEB. 26, 2016

EHRAN — Iranians in middle-class areas of the capital stood in long lines to vote in national elections on Friday, with many saying they supported the few candidates seeking change who were allowed to run. But in less prosperous areas, there was much less enthusiasm, and turnout seemed lower.
“At least if I vote for a reformist, I will reduce the number of hard-liners,” said Shahin Hemati, a 28-year-old dentist, expressing a widespread attitude in the more affluent areas. “If the hard-liners are voted in, this will be a nightmare for me.”

In a great number of cases, however, the outcome of the voting was predetermined, as the candidates were vetted by the Guardian Council, a panel dominated by hard-liners. Thousands of candidates, most of them reformists, were disqualified, assuring they would remain in the minority and limiting President Hassan Rouhani’s ability to make promised changes to end the country’s isolation and to expand personal liberties.

Iranians were voting for two separate bodies, Parliament and the Assembly of Experts, a clerical council that could elect the successor to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Iranian leader is 76 and has had some health problems, though he appears vigorous now.

iran election

The semiofficial Fars news agency, quoting a source with knowledge of the situation, said that, by the afternoon, 17 million of Iran’s 55 million eligible voters had cast their votes, a number that was bound to rise much higher. The Interior Ministry announced first that the polls would stay open an extra two hours, until 8 p.m., to accommodate the crowds; later, in deference to the growing lines, it said it would add another hour.
Ayatollah Khamenei voted early in the day and called upon all “who love Iran, the Islamic republic and people” to follow suit. A high turnout, he said, will “disappoint the enemies.”

He appeared to be getting his wish in places, particularly in North Tehran, the most affluent section of town, where voters turned out in droves. People there tend to look at the parliamentary elections as a once-in-four-years opportunity to register their dislike for the hard-line guardians of the revolution who largely control the government.

On social media, people in North Tehran shared pictures of themselves after voting, flashing victory signs and calling upon others to come out and vote. Families waiting in lines at school buildings and mosques could be overheard expressing their astonishment at the level of the turnout.
State television focused on one popular polling station, Hosseiniye Ershad, a blue-tiled spectacle of Islamic architecture in North Tehran. Several well-known officials and actors could be seen waiting their turn in the lengthy lines, holding their identity cards.

Many people came out to support Mr. Rouhani in his effort to break the stranglehold of the hard-liners and to begin to modernize the country. “I’m here to say yes to better relations with the world and the continuation of President Hassan Rouhani’s policies,” said one of them, Amir, 33, who like many others refused to give his surname, saying he did not want it to appear in a Western newspaper.

The semiofficial Fars news agency, quoting a source with knowledge of the situation, said that, by the afternoon, 17 million of Iran’s 55 million eligible voters had cast their votes, a number that was bound to rise much higher. The Interior Ministry announced first that the polls would stay open an extra two hours, until 8 p.m., to accommodate the crowds; later, in deference to the growing lines, it said it would add another hour.
Ayatollah Khamenei voted early in the day and called upon all “who love Iran, the Islamic republic and people” to follow suit. A high turnout, he said, will “disappoint the enemies.”

He appeared to be getting his wish in places, particularly in North Tehran, the most affluent section of town, where voters turned out in droves. People there tend to look at the parliamentary elections as a once-in-four-years opportunity to register their dislike for the hard-line guardians of the revolution who largely control the government.

On social media, people in North Tehran shared pictures of themselves after voting, flashing victory signs and calling upon others to come out and vote. Families waiting in lines at school buildings and mosques could be overheard expressing their astonishment at the level of the turnout.
State television focused on one popular polling station, Hosseiniye Ershad, a blue-tiled spectacle of Islamic architecture in North Tehran. Several well-known officials and actors could be seen waiting their turn in the lengthy lines, holding their identity cards.

Many people came out to support Mr. Rouhani in his effort to break the stranglehold of the hard-liners and to begin to modernize the country. “I’m here to say yes to better relations with the world and the continuation of President Hassan Rouhani’s policies,” said one of them, Amir, 33, who like many others refused to give his surname, saying he did not want it to appear in a Western newspaper.

“My vote is against those who have been in power now for over a decade; I want to give them a sign,” he added. “I don’t expect a miracle will happen. But doing nothing is not an option.”
Another voter, Kasra, a 23-year-old student, said he was “shocked” by some names on the combined list of the reformists, including a former intelligence minister, Mohammad Reyshahri. “This man is no reformist,” he said.
The student said he had debated whether to vote. “Now all my friends are voting, and I am joining them,” he said. “But I wish we had better options.”

The disqualifications of the reformist candidates have gained a lot of attention, but the frustration of working-class voters with the economy is an equally important factor this year. Large parts of society are under pressure after years of sanctions and economic mismanagement. Despite the government’s efforts to rein in inflation, housing and transportation continue to be expensive, and the levels of disaffection are rising.

“During the time of the shah, before the revolution, here in the south we had second-rate cars and second-rate schools,” said Hossein Soltani, a retired police officer who had come to a fruit and vegetable market in South Tehran. He said he did not see any difference now. “I do not vote because nobody has done anything for me.”
That was a common sentiment among voters in the city’s poorer south side, many of whom decided to register their protest by staying home. Several customers interviewed at the market said they would not even think of voting, pointing at corruption and the poor state of the economy.

“Uptown, they vote for reformists because they want to protest against the hard-liners,” said Saeed Taheri, who sells children’s clothes. “Here, people don’t vote because they feel left out.”
At the Shahid Montazeri school near Shoosh Square in South Tehran, only a handful of voters filled in the 46 names that have to be written in for the two elections.

In the school, children’s drawings decorated the walls. The images showed families waving flags saying “God is great,” accompanied by ideological slogans like, “In the spring of the revolution, we miss the martyrs.”
Nader Karimi Joni, a journalist and analyst close to the reformist movement, said the reason for the different levels of turnout was simple. “The poor in the south have lost all hope for change,” he said. “But those slightly better off still expect change to come.”

And there are still plenty of true believers, like Susanna Mohammadi, who is from the middle-class area of Geysha who was wearing a black chador. “I’m voting for those who stand tall against America and will protect our Islamic freedoms,” she said. “Unfortunately, the government of Mr. Rouhani is making a mess of the economy, so I’m voting conservative.”

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