The Obama administration purposely derailed a large-scale campaign to monitor drug trafficking into the US by Hezbollah because it did not want to jeopardize the nuclear deal with Iran, according to a Politico investigation.
Barack Obama Photo credit: Reuters/Israel News Company
The Obama administration derailed a law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by Hezbollah in order to secure the nuclear deal with Iran, according to a Politico report.
The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 by the Drug Enforcement Administration after it had gathered evidence that the Iranian-backed terrorist organization was funneling cocaine into the United States.
After eight years of work, though, the Justice Department denied requests by Project Cassandra to file criminal charges against major suspects. According to about a dozen project members, this was done deliberately because the Obama administration did not want to jeopardize the nuclear deal with Iran.
“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” said David Asher, an illicit finance analyst for the US Department of Defense who helped set up and oversee Project Cassandra. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”
Former Obama administration officials told Politico that, although they did seek to improve relations with Iran, Project Cassandra was not blocked for political reasons.
“What if the CIA or the Mossad had an intelligence operation ongoing inside Hezbollah and they were trying to pursue someone . . . against whom we had impeccable (intelligence) collection and the DEA is not going to know that?” a former senior national security official said. “I get the feeling people who don’t know what’s going on in the broader universe are grasping at straws.”
“The world is a lot more complicated than viewed through the narrow lens of drug trafficking,” he added. “So you’re not going to let CIA rule the roost, but you’re also certainly not going to let DEA do it either. Your approach to anything as complicated as Hezbollah is going to have to involve the interagency (process), because the State Department has a piece of the pie, the intelligence community does, Treasury does, DOD does.”