Press Releases

Reps. Ratcliffe, McSally, Pittenger to call on DOJ to investigate Obama administration’s relationship with Hezbollah

Washington, DC, December 22, 2017

Reps. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) will call on the Justice Department (DOJ) to investigate the Obama administration’s actions to thwart the arrest and prosecution of individuals running drug trafficking and money laundering operations to fund Hezbollah.

“Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran was a bad deal in itself – and new revelations of the illicit actions that were ignored to secure it are even worse. Unsurprisingly, the Obama administration put politics ahead of justice at the expense of national security. We’ve got to ensure that painfully misguided decisions like this won’t ever happen again,” Ratcliffe said.

“Recently uncovered evidence points very directly to a disturbing conclusion: that the Obama administration intentionally shielded the Iran-backed terrorist group, Hezbollah, from an ongoing investigation in order to secure the deeply flawed Iran Deal,” said Rep. McSally. “The American people deserve to know whether their President did indeed pick his political agenda over the safety of our country and our allies, allowing the world’s most dangerous terrorist group to continue to launder money and traffic illicit drugs to fuel their violence. This letter calls for an investigation into these incriminating facts. Our national security depends on it.”

“Hezbollah is one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the world. The allegations that Obama’s administration derailed a major investigation into this barbaric terror group in order to secure the deeply flawed Iran Nuclear deal are shocking and infuriating. We need to get to the bottom of this. The American people deserve to know the truth,” Pittenger said.

The call for an investigation comes on the heels a report released this week that the Obama administration undermined Project Cassandra, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) campaign to target Hezbollah’s drug trafficking operations.

Despite evidence that Hezbollah was running a $1-billion-a-year drug and weapons trafficking operation, laundering money and engaging in other criminal activities, Obama administration officials didn’t file criminal charges for fear of jeopardizing the prospects of securing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or “Iran Nuclear Deal.”

The lawmakers, along with 18 of their colleagues, will formally call on the DOJ to launch an investigation to answer several questions surrounding the matter in January. The full text of the letter is available here or below.

January 2, 2018

The Honorable Jeff Sessions                                      

Attorney General                                                       

U.S. Department of Justice                                        

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW                                 

Washington, DC 20530        

Dear Attorney General Sessions,

We are deeply disturbed by recent reports that illustrate the Obama Administration’s efforts to undermine Project Cassandra, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) campaign to target drug trafficking operations by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah. We applaud your December 22nd decision to order a review of these allegations and write to inquire about the steps your Justice Department will take to address the consequences of this misguided decision.

As you know, in 2008, the DEA found evidence that Hezbollah expanded its operations into drug trafficking and other criminal activities. Over the next eight years, DEA Agents used every tool in their disposal to track Hezbollah’s illicit networks, culminating in the opportunity to file criminal charges against individuals and entities that profited from drug trafficking. 

Unfortunately, the Obama Administration allegedly instituted several roadblocks to prevent holding Hezbollah accountable for fear of jeopardizing the prospects of securing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“Iran Nuclear Deal”) with the Iranian regime. According to testimony presented to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, by an Obama-era Treasury official, Katherine Bauer, “under the Obama administration … these [Hezbollah-related] investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking the boat with Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.”

Contrary to the narrative of proponents of the Iran Nuclear Deal that the agreement would change Iran’s behavior, Iran has responded by continuing its destabilizing foreign policy activities, while its proxy, Hezbollah, continues to provide weapons and training to anti-American militias. The result is the further undermining of America’s national security interests, the safety of the American people, and the security of our allies – including Israel.

Given the Trump Administration’s desire to hold the Iranian regime and its proxies accountable, we urge you to conduct a full investigation into the decision-making of the Obama Administration Justice Department as it relates to Project Cassandra. As you conduct this investigation, several questions remain:

  1. Are you aware that the Obama Justice Department declined DEA requests to file criminal charges against Abdallah Safieddine, Hezbollah’s Envoy to Iran?
  2. Are you aware that the Obama Justice Department declined DEA requests to file criminal charges against the Lebanese Canadian Bank and its associates?
  3. Which individual(s) within the Obama Justice Department were responsible for delaying prosecutions of key Hezbollah entities in the hope of securing Iran’s approval of the Iran Nuclear Deal? If that guidance or directive came from outside the Justice Department, who and where did it come from?
  4. What steps will your Justice Department take to ensure improved interagency cooperation to address the Hezbollah threat moving forward?

We respectfully request answers to these questions in writing as well as a briefing on this matter at your earliest convenience.

The security of the United States and the safety of the American people and our allies depend on a thorough investigation and corrective action to ensure that the Obama Administration’s misguided policy is never implemented again. We appreciate your prompt consideration and look forward to your response on this matter. Our national security depends upon it.