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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Most transparent administration evah seeks to bypass Congress on Iran

Adam Kredo reports that the Obama administration, which brags to be the 'most transparent administration' ever, is seeking to bypass Congress and lift sanctions against Iran (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
President Barack Obama could unilaterally unravel sanctions through several executive channels, according to former government officials and legal experts.
Executive orders grant the president significant leverage in the how sanctions are implemented, meaning that Obama could choose to stop enforcing many of the laws on the books, according to government insiders.
Those familiar with the ins and outs of sanctions enforcement say that the White House has long been lax with its enforcement of sanctions regulations already on the books.
“It’s no secret that the president, with executive power, can determine sanctions implementation, particularly with waivers and the decision not to sanction certain entities,” said Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the Treasury Department, which is responsible for enforcing sanctions.
“The financial pressure has always been about closing loopholes and identifying new ones to close,” Schanzer added. “If you stop that process of constant gardening, you leave a backdoor open.”
Obama could also use executive waivers to “bypass restrictions imposed by the law,” according to a report by Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).
The president has a lot of leverage when it comes to sanctions and could effectively “turn a blind eye” to Iranian infractions.
“In the case of Iran, such an approach could allow Washington to reach a nuclear accord without Congress having to vote on rescinding, even temporarily or conditionally, certain sanctions,” Clawson wrote. “No matter how stiff and far-reaching sanctions may be as embodied in U.S. law, they would have less bite if the administration stopped enforcing them.”
One former senior government official said that President Obama’s legal team has likely been investigating the issue for quite some time.
“I’d be shocked if they weren’t putting the various sanctions laws under a microscope to see how they can waive them or work around them in order to deliver to Iran sanctions relief without having to worry about Congress standing in their way,” said Stephen Rademaker, who served as deputy legal adviser to former President George H.W. Bush’s National Security Council (NSC).
Executive branch lawyers are often tasked with finding ways to get around existing legislation, Rademaker said.
“I’m sure pretty early in the negotiating process they developed a roadmap” to ensure the president has the authority to promise Iran significant relief from sanctions, said Rademaker, who also served as chief council for the House Committee on International Relations. “I’m sure they’ve come up with an in depth analysis of what they can do relying exclusively on the president’s legal authority.”
The White House has been known to disregard portions of the sanctions laws that it disagrees with, according to Schanzer.
“Just about every time there has been new sanctions legislation, the White House has watered it down in one way or another for various reasons,” he said. “The implementation is always an imperfect implementation of what Congress wants.”
When asked if Obama was planning to circumvent Congress, a White House spokesperson referred the Free Beacon to its previous comment about Iran sanctions and declined to comment further.
If Obama actually does this, I suspect we'll see a drive to impeach him in his last two years in office. The House would easily vote out articles of impeachment, and if the Republicans gain control of the Senate. But by then, the damage will be done. In fact, a lot of it has been done already. 

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