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Senator who spearheaded letter to Iran got $1 million from Kristol’s ‘Emergency C’tee for Israel’

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The U.S. media have been sadly incurious about the origins of yesterday’s unprecedented Open Letter of 47 Republicans to the Iranian leadership seeking to block the president’s likely deal with Iran. The press has portrayed the letter as the work of Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, a 37-year-old freshman senator so new to the limelight that the New York Times got his name wrong on first impression. But as a Times commenter writes, “Does anyone really believe the ‘freshman senator from Arkansas’ wrote the letter? No.”

The media are all over the unprecedented nature of the letter — which informs Iranian hardliners that Obama’s likely deal with Iran is a “mere executive agreement.” Chris Matthews and Chris Hayes and Michael Steele on MSNBC last night all expressed outrage or surprise. Paul Waldman at the Washington Post calls the letter “stunning” and “appalling.” But apart from a passing reference to neocons from Matthews, no one is looking under the hood.

I don’t know who wrote the letter, but I can tell you whose fingerprints are on it: the only folks who are supporting it publicly, the hard-right Israel lobby. Even as Cotton himself splutters on national television, rightwing lobby groups are the main voices out there defending the letter.

Like Bill Kristol of the Emergency Committee for Israel:

Cotton open letter: “Just so you know, we’re a constitutional democracy. Congress (or next president) has a say.” Dem response: Hysteria.

J Street’s Dylan Williams fingers Bill Kristol for writing the letter:

Who gave @SenTomCotton & others the awful idea for the Iran letter? Seems like Sarah Palin-for-VP-level bad advice doesn’t it @BillKristol ?

There’s a reason for Williams’s suspicion. Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel gave Tom Cotton nearly $1 million in his race for the Senate just five months ago, Eli Clifton reported. “Cotton received $960,250 in supportive campaign advertising in the last month.” (Thanks to Kay24 in comments).

Cotton also got $165,000 from Elliott Management Paul Singer’s hedge fund. Singer is the billionaire who is trying to stop Obama’s Iran talks (Clifton’s reporting again). He funds the Israel Project too– Josh Block’s efforts.

Josh Block has been standing up for the letter on Twitter. And the rightwing Israel Project offered support for the letter in an email last night:

Many analysts believe that without congressional approval, if a final deal with Iran is reached, it will not outlast President Barack Obama’s tenure as President of the United States. Without congressional involvement, the Obama administration would strike a deal with Iran through executive action which could signal to the Iranians that the “deal would be with the President alone,” writes Harvard Law School Professor Jack Goldsmith. He continues, “The bottom line, then, is that any deal struck by President Obama with Iran will probably appear to the Iranians to be, at best, short-term and tenuous.  And so we can probably expect, at best, only a short-term and tenuous commitment from Iran in return.”
When it comes to the Iran negotiations, the Obama administration says that they only see a role for Congress  when it comes to sanctions. If a final agreement is reached, they will eventually look to Congress for the lifting of sanctions. The White House said that Congress has had a role to play when it has drafted and passed the sanctions legislation that President Obama subsequently signed into law. The White House does not believe that an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program would require congressional approval.

The letter has gotten support from David Frum, the former Bush aide who wrote of taking on Saddam Hussein, “It’s victory or Holocaust.” On twitter:

“Time after time, Obama has told Congress to go to hell. Now Congress is telling Obama to go to hell.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition, a pro-Israel group, has also supported the letter.

Josh Block used to work at AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and is sometimes thought to speak for AIPAC. AIPAC is staying silent, while pushing further sanctions on Iran.

But former AIPAC staffer MJ Rosenberg has explained why he believes AIPAC penned the letter. As he tweeted today:

Nothing happens on Capitol Hill related to Israel unless and until Howard Kohr (AIPAC chief) wants it to happen. Nothing.

What network is behind this letter? People have a right to know. The media should be sending reporters out to dig into these connections. Imagine if the Koch Brothers were pushing some initiative on states’ rights or abortion. Would the media be so incurious? No. The scandal of the Netanyahu speech and the efforts by Israel to derail US negotiations with Iran has surely exposed the workings of the Israel lobby to the eyes of the American public to an unprecedented degree. But the media have to do more.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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51 Responses

  1. Kay24 on March 10, 2015, 10:38 am

    Isn’t it strange that these GOP congresspeople are pushing and pushing for a war, having no alternative plan for dealing with Iran, not knowing the full details of any deal, as no deal has been finalized, and yet is trying to sabotage every step of Obama’s efforts? Bill Kristol has openly put Israel above the country he pretends to love, so no one should be surprised at what he keeps doing. He was one of those zionists who made the US attack Iraq, and he should be treated like a pariah for that.

    I posted this earlier, but Phil’s article is a more suitable article for it. This is yet another reason why Cotton is willing to be traitorous, just follow the money trail.

    “The people who helped lay the groundwork for the war in Iraq have a favorite candidate for today’s midterm election, and that candidate is Rep. Tom Cotton (R) from Arkansas’ 4th congressional district, who is challenging Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) for his Senate seat.

    According to newly released FEC filings, Cotton received $960,250 in supportive campaign advertising in the last month from the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), a right-wing group headed by the neoconservative pundit, Bill Kristol, who infamously predicted that the Iraq war would last two months. At its inception, the ECI was based out of the same Washington office as the Committee of the Liberation of Iraq, a pressure group that lobbied for the 2003 invasion.

    The credibility of Kristol and his neoconservative colleagues was seriously put into question after it was revealed that the war they lobbied for since the time of the Clinton administration failed to turn up weapons of mass destruction.

    Yet Cotton has received the endorsement of the neoconservative fringe of the Republican Party, earning him a gushing profile from Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin before he even began his term as a freshman congressman in January of last year”

    • just on March 10, 2015, 11:27 am

      Thanks, Kay24.

      I did read a bit about Cotton yesterday, and found it “interesting” (suspicious).

      The MSM are dutifully asleep at the wheel, again. They seem to be suffering from a collective condition.

      (Didn’t Kristol’s son serve in one of the US’ latest wars, too?)

    • annie on March 10, 2015, 11:49 am

      $960,250 from ECI? what a cheap date! why not throw in the extra $39,750 and make it a cool mil?

      • Kay24 on March 10, 2015, 1:03 pm

        It’s like those QVC prices. It sounds better when you say $19.99, rather that $20.00. As for cheap, yes, that too. For instance, it is “cheap” for Israel to find enemies and start wars, because the US ultimately does it for them, and Israel does not have to pay for it, even with lives.

    • RockyMissouri on March 11, 2015, 9:36 am

      He is a vile coward.

  2. hophmi on March 10, 2015, 11:35 am

    Another example of David Duke politics here at Mondoweiss. When you disagree with the policy decision of the Republican party, blame the Jews. Because if a few Jews support it (even if a substantial minority of the country does), it must be Jews who are responsible for it. And if the media don’t report it your way, it’s the Jews in the media who are responsible, right?

    • JLewisDickerson on March 10, 2015, 11:55 am

      What do you mean by “David Duke politics”? Is David Duke Jewish?

    • eljay on March 10, 2015, 12:06 pm

      || hophmeee @March 10, 2015, 11:35 am ||

      As I write this post, it’s 12:03pm (EST). A search of this page for the word “Jews” shows four results, all of them in hophmeee’s post.

      So, although no-one is accusing “the Jews” of anything, hophmeee nevertheless attempts (yet again) to twist and distort a discussion about pro-Israel influence on American politics into an anti-Semitic screed.

      • annie on March 10, 2015, 12:11 pm

        eljay, my first thought reading hops screed is that he’d be the first person to accuse someone of anti semitism if we called aipac the jew lobby. but he thinks he can get away with this anti semitic framing in support of likud rt wg politics.

        Because if a few Jews support it, it must be Jews who are responsible for it.

        i guess this means don’t blame netanyahu – “the jews”. or something. because jews are not responsible for anything, or something. it’s weird to decipher.

      • Mooser on March 10, 2015, 1:26 pm

        “Because if a few Jews support it, it must be Jews who are responsible for it.”

        Oh, don’t worry, Hophmi, all that will be well sorted out. You will do your best to see we are all blamed, but I don’t think it will work.

      • Mooser on March 10, 2015, 1:41 pm

        The Jews are Hophmi’s human shield for Zionism. It’s a way of diffusing blame. Since these Zionist actions must represent the true wishes of “the Jews”, they must be all right, and to say they aren’t is anti-Semitic.

    • JLewisDickerson on March 10, 2015, 12:28 pm

      Oh, now I get it.

    • JLewisDickerson on March 10, 2015, 12:42 pm


      P.P.P.S. ALSO SEE:
      Chambliss’s Fear Ad [VIDEO, 01:17] –

    • Mooser on March 10, 2015, 1:21 pm

      “Another example of David Duke politics here at Mondoweiss.”

      You keep working that David Duke-is-just-like-Mondo claim, Hophmi. You’ll strike gold soon.

      • Mooser on March 10, 2015, 1:46 pm

        “You’ll strike gold soon.”

        Hadn’t seen Mr. Dickerson’s posts. Eureka! There’s that rich vein.

    • traintosiberia on March 11, 2015, 12:23 am

      Don’t look at the numbers peddled superficially. How did G Bush manage to gain the Jewish vote by an increase of 100% after he had invaded the Iraq ?
      Why the antiwars Jewish citizen were not vociferously demonstrating against Iraq war they way they did against Vietnam war( while supporting for more American support for Israeli wars against Egypt under the radar) ? Those people who could have made a material difference,chose not to do. Sure it was their’s prerogative. But that is known as partnership in crime.
      Majority doesn’t want a war with Iran . Why not bolster that position . Why not demand that lying that results in preemptive wars,sanction blockade and unnecessary suffering should be declared a crime and should be dealt with harsh punishment?

      • Mooser on March 11, 2015, 3:02 pm

        “Why the antiwars Jewish citizen were not vociferously demonstrating against Iraq war they way they did against Vietnam war”

        In America, anti-war Jewish citizens do protest. They do it as Americans.

  3. Taxi on March 10, 2015, 11:41 am

    Oh man these congress critters sure are desperate for war. I’m laughing cuz they deserve the worry of peace!

    Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif “expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration.” Yeah that’s like in-your-face treason!

    Here’s Zarif’s quoted response to the poison letter:

  4. JLewisDickerson on March 10, 2015, 11:48 am

    RE: “J Street’s Dylan Williams fingers Bill Kristol” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: I can easily see Cotton’s Iran letter being a Kristol/Dermer co-production.

    • annie on March 10, 2015, 12:05 pm

      or sheldon adelson and bill kristol. i doubt dermer initiates anything.

      • JLewisDickerson on March 10, 2015, 12:52 pm

        It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the three of them have daily conference calls!

      • annie on March 10, 2015, 1:29 pm

        i agree, but dermer only carries out the orders.

      • JLewisDickerson on March 11, 2015, 12:29 pm

        JIM LOBE: “Given ECI’s support for Cotton in the 2014 Senate race, it’s hard to imagine that Netanyahu and his Republican ambassador here, Ron Dermer, would not have approved of this latest initiative [i.e., Cotton’s Iran letter] to sabotage prospects for an Iran deal.”
        SOURCE –

    • JLewisDickerson on March 11, 2015, 12:29 pm
  5. W.Jones on March 10, 2015, 12:07 pm

    According to Chomsky, the Israeli lobby is “one of the smaller lobbies”, citing Stephen Zunes’ writings. (eg.

    Now let’s think about just one statistic. At the AIPAC conference this year, and every year, there are about 16,000 delegates, and they go see their legislators after the meeting. That comes to about 300 per state, some many more. Let’s say you are a senator and 300 constituents come to your office from a conference where the key US politicians have just spoken and ask you to consider some legislation.

    • W.Jones on March 10, 2015, 12:25 pm

      In this clip, Netanyahu is sitting Dermer behind him, who arranged the recent speech to Congress against Iran. Netanyahu is before the legislator in 2002, opposes Sen. Kucinich and says that Sadaam is feverishly making nukes even though they haven’t been detected, and that the victories in Afghanistan and Iraq will make the next victories easier:

      And what other major politicians were openly demanding invading Iraq in 2002?

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on March 11, 2015, 5:49 am

      I love Chomsky. But he has a blind spot regarding the power of the lobby.

    • SonofDaffyDuck on March 11, 2015, 9:46 am

      …they not only “lobby” you, but they flash the cash….

  6. irishmoses on March 10, 2015, 12:26 pm

    A couple more tidbit:

    1. In August 2013: Cotton went on a free congressional junket to Israel paid for by American Israel Education Foundation, an AIPAC affiliate. Dan Senor, a major Tea Party fundraiser who has strong connections to Israeli donors tweeted he was jogging with Cotton:

    2. After receiving a cool million in advertising donations from Bill Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel which gave him a resounding victory, Senator-elect Cotton recommends the US provide Israel with “surplus” B52 bombers so they can bomb Iran:

    Can somebody tell me why Bill Kristol hasn’t violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act? The name of his organization, The Emergency Committee for Israel, is prima facie evidence that he is acting as a foreign agent for Israel:

    • just on March 10, 2015, 1:06 pm

      Good question, irishmoses. I’d have to say that it is the sos.

      Thanks for the other tidbits, too!

    • annie on March 11, 2015, 1:02 am

      that first link is fun irish, quoting maureen dowd on senor.

  7. Krauss on March 10, 2015, 1:02 pm

    This incuriosity is at an avalance after the Bibi speech to Congress.

    And then people wonder why Israel has such high approval ratings?

    Gee, I wonder why!

  8. JLewisDickerson on March 10, 2015, 1:36 pm

    RE: “Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel gave Tom Cotton nearly $1 million in his race for the Senate just five months ago, Eli Clifton reported. ‘Cotton received $960,250 in supportive campaign advertising in the last month.’ (Thanks to Kay24 in comments).
    Cotton also got $165,000 from Elliott Management Paul Singer’s hedge fund.”
    ~ WEISS

    MY COMMENT: Apparently, Tom Cotton is one of the pro-Israel lobby’s “kept men”, much like Charlie Wilson was. They seem to like Congressmen from fairly rural districts who can be bought for far less money than the Congressmen from more urban areas.
    Some time ago, I came across a 46 page PDF that is a summary of the book Charlie Wilson’s War.*

    * HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 46 PAGE SUMMARY of Charlie Wilson’s War:

    • 1973 he [Charlie Wilson] went to Washington
    He won a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee and discovered the cause of Israel
    • 1973: Became obsessed with trying to help the Israelis despite not being a Jew nor having Jews in his district; was championed by the Israeli embassy in Washington
    who flew him out to see the war first hand accompanied by another representative Ed Koch
    • It was the beginning of a ten-year love affair with everything to do with Israel. ‘I bought the whole thing – the beleaguered democracy surrounded by Soviet-armed barbarians – survivors of Nazi concentration camps – David versus Goliath’ P31
    [The] Jews of Houston and Dallas began bankrolling his re-election campaigns, and Ed Koch helped mobilise his campaign in 1984, when a typical Wilson drug scandal threatened his chances of re-election. Jews of New York and backers from Israel paid his campaign funds
    The Jews in Congress also rallied to put Wilson on the all-powerful Appropriations Committee where he could help make sure the $3billion in aid to Israel continued to flow
    The Israelis had shown him the vast stores of Soviet weapons they had captured from the PLO in Lebanon. The weapons were perfect for the mujahideen. If Wilson could convince the CIA to buy them . . .
    He visited the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps. ‘In my usual knee-jerk fashion I assumed there was a certain amount of sensationalism in the press and assumed Israel’s culpability had been exaggerated, but I also felt it my duty to see for myself.’ P98. ‘When we got into the camps,’ he recalls, ‘the grief and mourning was still going on. It had been maybe a week since the attack, and we walked down and ran into this woman who was an American Jew…she told me that her people had done something terrible.
    She walked us down to where the victims had been buried in a mass grave…. And I began to get a really terrible feeling in my stomach about it. And what was hanging over me was the Israeli guilt.’
    ‘But when we walked about fifty feet and one of the American embassy people showed me where the Israeli command post was, and I looked at it and at that moment I lost it. My heroes were forever blemished because they would have had to be blindfolded not to have seen and heard what was happening. And then it was clear that they set up the whole thing and sat there and watched it.’

    IRAN-CONTRA: In the beginning the Agency [the CIA] was only indirectly involved. The Israelis were pushing the scheme. They had convinced Bud McFarlane and North that there were moderates in Iran who could be dealt with.

    46 PAGE PDF SUMMARY of Charlie Wilson’s War

  9. Taxi on March 10, 2015, 5:23 pm

    There’s a petition out to fry the senators for treason – all 47 of them:

    Cease the moment: sign and spread this petition near and far!

    • CloakAndDagger on March 10, 2015, 9:04 pm

      This petition now has well over 106,000 signatures in just one day (only 100,000 were needed by April 8) – it went viral in record time. It seems several people posted similar petitions. If they had joined forces, the number of signatures would have been quite a bit more. This has been a spectacular week!

      It will be interesting to see how the WH reacts to this.

      The tipping point, as I have said before…

      • Taxi on March 11, 2015, 12:25 am

        Sign ’em all, Cloaky.

      • annie on March 11, 2015, 2:02 am

        it’s up another 25k since then. should hit 200k by morning easy if it keeps up at this pace.

    • CloakAndDagger on March 12, 2015, 12:44 am

      The petition just crossed 200,000 signature, and is still going strong. If it makes 1 million signatures by April 8, that will be some kind of record.
      I don’t remember any other WH petition rising this fast before! Those 47 traitors really blew it this time!

  10. Kay24 on March 10, 2015, 11:55 pm

    More on those who keep buying our congress people, and controlling them. The Republicans And Iran Deal Opponents Are Funded By The Same Mega-Donors:

    “Along with Adelson, there are three other donors who fund both anti-Iran groups and the Republican Party’s super PAC infrastructure: hedge fund directors Paul Singer and Seth Klarman, and Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus. These four right-wing, pro-Israel donors gave a combined $11.5 million to some of the biggest opponents of the Iran negotiations from 2011 through 2013, and pumped $115 million into Republican Party super PACs in the 2012 and 2014 elections.

    “Reasonable people can disagree on our country’s foreign policy, but I think everyone would agree it should be driven by the merits, not the ideology of big donors,” Adam Smith, spokesman for the campaign finance watchdog group Every Voice, told The Huffington Post. “Unfortunately, that’s the appearance Sheldon Adelson sitting in the House balcony gives off, and that’s a problem.”

    • seafoid on March 11, 2015, 5:36 am

      Singer is interesting. He was very conservative socially until his son came out and he switched to being pro-gay rights.

      Maybe if he had a Palestinian daughter he’d shift on Israel.

      “His younger son, Andrew, a doctor in New York, married his husband in Massachusetts in 2009. Mr Singer talked at Davos this year about how his son coming out changed his views. “It was something that was beyond my understanding at the time,” he said. “After a series of mutually supportive conversations, I became very educated about gender and sexuality, and I became very enthusiastic about his efforts to stop discrimination.”

      Mr Singer has put an estimated $10m into the gay marriage fight, and marries his views on this subject with strong fiscal conservatism. Having favoured former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani for president six years ago, he backed the hawkish Paul Ryan for the Romney ticket two years ago. Stung by the harm done by no-hope Tea Party candidates in congressional elections, this year he has channelled his informal billionaires’ club towards a new super political action committee to concentrate spending on electable candidates. ”

      I would love to know what happened in the 30s- I presume Jewish Scrooge McDucks were at the same thing as they are now. Did the establishment turn on them and blame them for all the economic suffering ? Did the Nazis pick up on that ?

      • Mooser on March 11, 2015, 3:10 pm

        “I would love to know what happened in the 30s-“

        Google something like, oh “blame for American Depression” or stuff like that before you jump to any conclusions.

  11. Henry Norr on March 11, 2015, 12:17 am

    Eli Clifton and Jim Lobe have a new piece up on Cotton’s owners: “GOP’s Man of the Moment Promoted by RJC’s Singer and Adelson

  12. Kay24 on March 11, 2015, 4:07 am

    Well lookee here, . COTTON TO MEET WITH DEFENSE CONTRACTORS SOON. Hmmmm…wonder what that is all about, or need we ask? Tommy boy trying to get ready for war to please those who have bought him? Defense contractors must be salivating at the thought of yet another war.

    “In an open letter organized by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., 47 Senate Republicans today warned the leaders of Iran that any nuclear deal reached with President Barack Obama could expire as soon as he leaves office.

    Tomorrow, 24 hours later, Cotton will appear at an “Off the Record and strictly Non-Attribution” event with the National Defense Industrial Association, a lobbying and professional group for defense contractors.

    The NDIA is composed of executives from major military businesses such as Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, ManTech International, Boeing, Oshkosh Defense and Booz Allen Hamilton, among other firms.”

  13. Rodneywatts on March 11, 2015, 7:50 am

    Latest news out of EU:

    The US had better watch out that it will lose yet more friends — we don’t like having our well spent money on providing temporary shelters for Bedouin being ‘blown in the wind’ because of America’s support of !!!XXXX??? Israel. Am so glad that the impeachment petition has more than reached 100,000.

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