White House used secret, pro-Iran email list to push nuclear deal
The selling of the Iran nuclear deal by the White House included outreach by the administration using a secret, pro-Iran email list that included state department officials, influential academics, think tank fellows, and foreign policy pros according to the Washington Free Beacon.
A White House-allied group funded a private email listserv that pushed out pro-Iran talking points and anti-Israel conspiracy theories to hundreds of influential policy experts, government officials, and journalists during the Iran nuclear debate.
The contents of the invite-only listserv, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, could give a glimpse inside the “echo chamber” used by White House aide Ben Rhodes and allied lobbying groups to promote the administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
Members of the list included an Obama White House adviser, senior officials at the State Department, journalists for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and fellows at prominent think tanks.
The email forum, known as “Gulf/2000,” was originally created by Columbia University professor and former Jimmy Carter aide Gary Sick in 1993.
Since 2010, Gulf/2000’s operations have been funded by the Ploughshares Fund, a group that worked closely with the White House to promote the Iran nuclear deal.
In a New York Times article earlier this month, President Obama’s foreign policy advisor Ben Rhodes said the Ploughshares Fund was part of the administration’s spin operation to sell the public on the agreement.
“We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else,” Rhodes said. “So we knew the tactics that worked.”
Gulf/2000 is still run out of Columbia University, where it is curated by Sick. Over the last two decades, Sick built the group into the predominant email list for Gulf State policy experts across the ideological spectrum.
The vast majority of posts on the forum are news articles, but occasionally members weigh in with their own comments. Posts are pre-approved by Sick or his assistants, and insiders say the forum is “dominated” by pro-Iran talking points.
One former member, who left Gulf/2000 several years ago because “90 percent of the traffic was either useless or promoting the official lines,” said the comments that were approved for posting seemed to follow an ideological slant.
“Gary [Sick] was the moderator, and the moderator is supposed to moderate,” said the former member. “And I learned after awhile, it was quite obvious, that Gary was filtering and navigating more toward his views of the world on all these issues.”
Sick is an old policy hand, having served in the Carter administration on the national security council. He was right in the middle of American policy decisions when the Carter administration kicked the shah under the bus and saw the mullahs as an improvement. It makes sense that he would promulgate ideas and talking points that helped get the Iran nuclear deal through.
Thinking that if we promote Iran as a regional hegemon that this will stabilize the Middle East is right from the Sick/Carter playbook. It has been the goal of the Obama administration from day one and the nuclear deal codifies the policy. The listserve members who helped the White House sell this deal will have a lot to answer for when it blows up in our faces.