House Republicans Picked a Perfectly Terrible Panel to Complain About the Iran Deal

Speaking of false narratives.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the ranking Democrat and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, attend a committee hearing.Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


After the New York Times Magazine published a controversial profile of Ben Rhodes, the White House’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, conservatives exploded in outrage over the article’s portrayal of Rhodes manipulating the media to secure passage of the Iran nuclear deal. Republican senators have called for Rhodes to resign, and the House Oversight Committee even held a hearing on Tuesday to look into “White House Narratives on the Iran Nuclear Deal.”

But, as our David Corn noted yesterday, one of the three witnesses has plenty of experience in planting “false narratives:” John Hannah, a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney who played a key role in promoting the flawed intelligence behind the invasion of Iraq. Corn wrote that “Hannah was one of the architects of the speech then-Secretary of State Colin Powell gave to the United Nations in February 2003 that was designed to pave the way to war.” And he’s not the only one who noticed.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, blasted Hannah in his opening statement at the hearing. “If our goal is to hear from an expert who actually promoted false White House narratives, then I think you picked the right person,” he said. “But if our goal is to hear from someone who was not involved in one of the biggest misrepresentations in our nation’s history, then you picked the wrong person. Listening to John Hannah criticize anyone else for pushing a false White House narrative is beyond ironic. He and Dick Cheney and their colleagues in the White House wrote the how-to manual on this.”

Hannah wasn’t the only perfectly wrong choice on the three-man panel. Another witness, Michael Rubin, was a Pentagon official during the invasion of Iraq and later worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority, the post-war American occupation government. Rubin was a strong backer of Ahmad Chalabi, the late Shiite dissident who used fake intelligence to push the war in Iraq and whom many neoconservatives promoted as a potential future Iraqi leader. Rubin backed Chalabi and defended him even after Chalabi was suspected of passing intelligence to Iran in 2004. The third witness, Michael Doran, was also a Bush-era official at the Pentagon and the National Security Council.

Cummings, for his part, couldn’t figure out why the hearing was taking place at all. “Other committees have held dozens of substantive hearings on the Iran agreement,” he said. “Do you know how many this committee has held? Zero…Yet, all of a sudden, now our committee is rushing to hold today’s hearing without even the one-week notice required by House rules.”

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate