Correspondence with Rep. Alan Grayson About the Iran Talks
[In what follows, I have redacted email addresses, phone numbers, and the names of people who were copied in the exchange but did not participate in it. These are replaced by “X.” When the identity of a participant in the exchange was identified by their email address, the name follows the redacted email address in brackets. -RN]
The key problematic statement in Grayson’s email claiming that critics of his position on the Iran talks are “concocting a conflict that doesn’t exist” is this [my emphasis]:
"As I said, I think that the final agreement should include a complete end to Iran’s nuclear program and its ICBM program, and an end to Iran supplying missiles to terrorist groups."
The reasons this statement from Grayson is so problematic are: 1) no reasonable informed person thinks that "a complete end to Iran’s nuclear program" is a remotely realistic goal for diplomacy, so Grayson's statement is setting up an impossible "unicorns and ponies" standard for a "good deal" (which Grayson, as an informed person, surely knows); 2) the other issues are outside the scope of the talks, and attempts by opponents of the framework deal to add these issues to the talks or argue that these issues are standards by which the comprehensive deal should be judged are a key point of dispute between supporters and opponents of the framework deal. Indeed, language in the original Corker Congressional review bill which the Administration and Senator Cardin successfully removed using the Administration’s veto threat concerns exactly this issue. As the New York Times reported [my emphasis]:
Initially, the bill said the president had to certify every 90 days that Iran no longer was supporting terrorism against Americans. If he could not, economic sanctions would be reimposed.
Under the agreement, the president would still have to send periodic reports to Congress on Iran's activities regarding ballistic missiles and terrorism, but those reports could not trigger another round of sanctions.
[See: Robert Naiman, “What Did Democrats Win in the Cardin Compromise on the Corker Bill?”; J Street, “J Street Welcomes Compromise on Iran Agreement Review Bill”.]
From my perspective, letters like the one below from Joe are concocting a conflict that doesn’t exist. I have always been in favor of the nuclear weapons negotiations with Iran. I have never said, publicly or privately, that I’m against them. I have supported the President’s authority in conducting those negotiations, and I have disagreed, publicly, with those in Congress who said that the President’s authority should be curbed. I also have said that, depending on the specific circumstances, it is highly unlikely that I would vote to override a Presidential veto, on this or on other issues. In that sense, it’s ridiculous for anyone to say that I should “get behind” the President, the Democratic Leadership, the Progressive Caucus, or anyone else. I don’t have to “get behind” anyone. On the contrary, as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I have been an active participant in this process that has led to this point. All that being said, I do not worship every word of the so-called “framework,” and the fact that it is called a framework should convey to everyone that it is very much a work in progress. As such, it is part of my job to explain how I think that the final agreement might be improved, which I have done. As I said, I think that the final agreement should include a complete end to Iran’s nuclear program and its ICBM program, and an end to Iran supplying missiles to terrorist groups. Believe me – I’m not the only one who feels that way, even among people within the Administration. So that’s where we all are, and I hope that these disturbing and dishonest misrepresentations that I am somehow in favor of war with Iran will end.
From: X [Dorothy Reik]
Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 4:43 PM
To: Alan Grayson
Subject: This is still going around about Iran
Hi Alan - can you please issue a definitive statement so I can get these people to shut up? I'm sorry to have to bother you again.
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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Alan Grayson - Yes or no?
From: Joe Cicero X
Date: Tue, April 14, 2015 1:18 pm
To: X, X, X, X, Dorothy Reik, X, X, X
At the fundraiser at X on Fri night, Alan walked back his position from opposing the Iran Framework for an agreement. He used a few phrases like "the perfect should not be the enemy of the good" .
Yesterday, in this interview with Grayson, on Huffington Post, he states the same original argument for opposing the Iran Agreement. This may have been taped before Friday Nite.
Members of ADA and PDA are having a discussion today on where does Grayson stand on this. Since the House had a briefing on the Iran Deal yesterday from the State Dept and 15 minutes ago, Obama agreed with the SFRC Corker bill, we would expect that Alan would get behind the President, Senate, Democratic Leadership and Progressive Caucus Leadership to endorse the Framework for an agreement.
I'm looking forward to hearing from Alan on this.
I know many people taped Grayson's talk on Friday night. If anyone has a copy of the discussion and his final comments on Iran, it would be helpful if I can get a copy.
Peace Action West X
For hundreds of years into the future...“Historians will view nuclear arms reduction as such an incredible accomplishment that it will seem bizarre in retrospect so little attention was paid while it was happening.”