Politico investigation: Obama protected Hezbollah in order to preserve Iranian nuclear deal

Politico investigation: Obama protected Hezbollah in order to preserve Iranian nuclear deal
Former President Barack Obama holds a copy of the Iran nuclear agreement presented to him by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during the House Democratic Issues Conference on Jan. 28, 2016, in Baltimore. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Historians often claim that the grit and triumph of a president’s legacy emerge with time, for better or worse. Often, it isn’t until decades later that the effects actualize fully.

Hints of President Barack Obama’s legacy are slowly beginning to emerge.

Politico released an in-depth examination Monday detailing the Obama administration’s alleged attempts to curtail Project Cassandra, a DEA campaign to expose a money-laundering scheme in which “proceeds from Latin American drug-running were being funneled to Hezbollah.” Hezbollah is the pro-Iranian Lebanese militia, which U.S. Department of State has declared a foreign terrorist organization since 1997, that has allied with, among others, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Venezuela and North Korea.

The Obama administration “tamped down” the investigations in order to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, which lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for the alleged suspension of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

Politico spoke with Project Cassandra agents, who claim that the Obama administration stifled or undermined the agents’ attempts to prosecute high-ranking Hezbollah operatives involved in cocaine trafficking and money laundering, “allowing [the Hezbollah operatives] to remain active despite being under sealed U.S. indictment for years.”

Project Cassandra agents allege that officials at the Justice and Treasury departments repeatedly hindered Project Cassandra agents’ attempts to pursue  “investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions” against key figures in the far-reaching scheme.

“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” David Asher, a financier who helped establish Project Cassandra. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

 

Media pundits have largely hailed the Iran nuclear deal as one of Obama’s legacy-defining foreign policy achievements, with no mention of Hezbollah, which holds violently anti-Israel, anti-U.S. stances.

What is Project Cassandra?

Launched in 2008, the DEA Project Cassandra uncovered far-reaching money laundering, “evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities,” Politico reported.

Project Cassandra made use of law enforcement agencies in seven countries, seeking to highlight “the dangerous global nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism. ”

For eight years, DEA agents conducted a high-stakes investigation, using wiretaps, undercover operation and informants “to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.”

Agents uncovered an international drug trade, from South America to Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., where drug funds where funneled through an array of businesses, including used car lots.

Hezbollah operatives allegedly used the drug money to buy weapons that have been used in Syria.

In late November, Politico ran an article detailing the Trump administration’s aggressive stance against Hezbollah.