Daily Beast Distorts Clinton's Iran Comments To Accuse Her Of Hypocrisy

Clinton AJC

The Daily Beast misleadingly accused Hillary Clinton of claiming credit for sanctions that the State Department opposed by selectively highlighting a portion of a speech she gave. In reality, Clinton was referring to her successful efforts to help pass a 2010 Iran sanction bill and convince major firms to divest from Iranian oil.

In a May 16 post, The Daily Beast's senior national security and politics correspondent Josh Rogin highlighted a recent speech by Clinton at the American Jewish Committee. During the appearance, Clinton said “With the help of Congress, the Obama administration imposed some of the most stringent crippling sanctions on top of the international ones.” Rogin claimed Clinton was “referr[ing] indirectly to a series of bills passed from 2009 through 2012 that attacked Iran's ability to export goods, participate in international financial markets, and continue with its illicit activities and money laundering” and suggested that Clinton was being deceitful by pointing out that high-ranking officials in the White House and the State Department, under Clinton's leadership, opposed some of the sanctions.

But Rogin's charge ignores the rest of Clinton's speech. In the portion of the speech that Rogin did not include in his post, Clinton said that the U.S. legislation she referenced was “building on the framework established by” sanctions passed by the UN's Security Council in June 2010, making it clear that she was referring not to every sanction proposal, but specifically to the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010. Clinton played a critical role in brokering a deal to guarantee passage of those sanctions, which passed weeks after the UN sanctions:

CLINTON: So we went to the UN Security Council and proposed some of the toughest multilateral sanctions ever on record. I worked for months to round up the votes. It reminded me of the back-room negotiations in the Senate with all the horse-trading, arm-twisting, vote counting that go into passing any major legislation. In the end we were successful. After years of division, the international community came together and sent a very strong, unified message to Iran. 

And then building on the framework established by the United Nations Security Council, with the help of Congress the Obama administration imposed some of the most stringent crippling sanctions on top of the international ones, and so did our European partners. Our goal was to put so much financial pressure on Iran's leaders that they would have no choice but to come back to the negotiating table with a serious offer. We went after Iran's oil industry, banks, and weapons programs, enlisted insurance firms, shipping lines, energy companies, financial institutions and others to cut Iran off from global commerce. Most of all, I made it my personal mission to convince the top consumers of Iran's oil to diversify their supplies and buy less from Tehran. That was no easy sell. Remember, this was taking place in the midst of the global economic slowdown.

Clinton's efforts to make sure CISADA passed have been documented and back up her statement that she and the Obama administration were successful. As The New York Times reported in 2010, Clinton “brokered a last-minute compromise with House leaders on the Iran sanctions bill.”

Clinton also pointed to her record of influencing “top consumers of Iran's oil to diversify their supplies and buy less from Tehran.” Her record here is also well-established. State Department fact sheets show that, as a result of CISADA's passage and the State Department's diplomacy under Clinton, the department sanctioned companies for “doing business with Iran's energy sector,” and persuaded “five major multinational oil firms to withdraw all significant activity in Iran, costing them hundreds of millions of dollars.”