The Obama administration faces yet another fracture in the tenuous alliance among political, diplomatic and military staffers as the fallout of President Obama’s controversial decision to send $400 million in cash to Iran amid the Iranian nuclear negotiations in order to free US naval personnel held hostage after drifting into Iranian waters continues to develop.
According to US Defense Secretary Ash Carter neither President Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry consulted either he nor Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford before making the ill-fated decision that has top US military officials up in arms.
In response to a question from Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) regarding the decision to proffer $400 million in cash to Iran as a condition for the release of hostages, Carter made clear that he was not invited to the decision making process.
“We weren’t involved in this,” Carter said. “I don’t know all the details of it, and the chairman and I were not involved in that. It is a decision that was taken by the law-enforcement and diplomatic [agencies], and I would refer you there.”
General Joseph Dunford reiterated this reality in his testimony before the Senate committee saying, "I am not trying to be evasive, but I don’t know the details of that arrangement and it really was a political decision that was made to provide that money, and I don’t think it’s appropriate that I comment on that."
The statements made by top Pentagon officials directly contradicts the earlier Obama administration position laid out by State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner who said, "There’s always an inter-agency discussion around any decision like this, and every relevant agency weighs in."
Statements by the Pentagon officials before Congress in contradiction to the official line show a chasm opening once again between the defense and diplomatic establishment within the administration.
The US President’s decision to fully exclude the military branches from the discussion along with recent revelations by Politico that the White House had been wiring cash to Iranian banks before the cash delivery have set the stage for division among the administration’s ranks likely to last through the final months of Obama’s term.