The New York Times has a piece up titled “Iran Assails U.S. Plan for a Vote in Congress,” saying that the Senate’s interference in the Iran negotiations is already having a negative effect, just as the National Iranian American Council warned us that it would.
We faulted the Times yesterday for leaving the Israel angle out of the Congressional deliberations, but today it touches on that question. The last three paragraphs of the story quote an Israeli minister, Yuval Steinitz, saying that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu effected the the bill that was passed unanimously by Senate Foreign Relations on Tuesday, granting Congress time to review the deal, by giving that speech to Congress on March 3:
In Israel, officials welcomed the compromise reached in Washington, with Yuval Steinitz, the minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, describing the congressional move as “an achievement for Israeli policy.”
He credited the March 3 speech in Congress by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “decisive” in developing the bill, which Mr. Steinitz called “a very important element in preventing a bad deal.”
And yet the Times also gives credence to the Senators’ reservations about the deal:
Republicans and some Democrats in Congress, highly suspicious of Iran’s motivations, have expressed worry that provisions of the framework agreement are too lenient toward Iran and would leave it with the capacity to divert nuclear energy enrichment to make bombs, despite Iran’s guarantees that its purposes are peaceful.
Are the senators genuinely that worried about Iran’s motivations? Or do they have their own motivations?
Later on in the same newspaper, we discover that Senator Robert Menendez, a member of Senate Foreign Relations and a force in the congressional pressure on the Iran deal, has raised $431,000 for his defense fund against federal bribery charges– “from an array of political interests, including real estate developers, Cuban-American political donors and pro-Israel activists.”
On the Times list of contributors is “David Steiner, who was president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, a pro-Israel group.”
The New Jersey Record reported last month that pro-Israel activists were coming out in droves for Menendez because he was taking Obama on over Iran:
Several pro-Israel activists said people were motivated by the possibility that anonymously sourced reports of Menendez’s facing criminal charges are linked to the Paramus Democrat’s criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of nuclear talks with Iran and relaxation of restrictions on Cuba.
“The majority of people I’ve spoken with feel he’s getting a bad rap, that the prosecution has political overtones to it,” said Ben Chouake, president of Englewood Cliffs-based NORPAC, a committee that raises money for Democrats and Republicans who support Israel. “On this particular matter, even Republicans will be supporting Bob Menendez.”
Menendez already raised nearly $900,000 for legal costs between April and December last year, and more than $100,000 of that came from ardent Israel supporters.
This raises a real question about the Times’s coverage of the Congressional opposition to the Iran deal. Do these legislators all want political contributions from the Israel lobby?
Rachel Maddow asked a similar question the other night and didn’t answer it.
“It is kind of exciting just in structural terms to see Congress decide to care. But why this and only this? Constitutionally the administration sets foreign policy of the Untied States and negotiates on behalf of our country… It is strange, though, deeply strange that they [Congress] have only discovered this interest in getting involved when it comes to the administration’s efforts to avert a new war.”
Americans are seeing this corruption before their eyes and speculating about its causes. Journalists owe it to their audiences to begin exposing why Congress is so responsive to a foreign power.