Policy: National Security

Will the Obama administration sell out Robert Levinson to get a deal with Iran?

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Beltway Confidential,Iran,National Security,Hassan Rouhani,Charles Hoskinson

Now that missing former FBI agent Robert Levinson has been publicly outed as a CIA spy, the Obama administration risks being seen as selling him out if it continues to insist that his case should not be tied to ongoing talks with Iran over its nuclear program.

The Associated Press today reported that Levinson, who disappeared in March 2007 during a visit to the Iranian resort Kish Island, was part of a rogue CIA operation. In a statement, AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said the news agency was now publishing the story after having known of Levinson's CIA ties since 2010 because "in the absence of any solid information about Levinson's whereabouts, it has been impossible to judge whether publication would put him at risk."

The AP's story comes just two days after Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated to the House Foreign Affairs Committee the administration's position that the fate of Levinson — along with several other Americans believed to be held in Iran — would not be tied to ongoing negotiations over Iran's nuclear program because "we believe that prejudices them, and also prejudices the negotiations. We don’t want them to become the hostages or pawns of a process that then gets played against something they want with respect to the nuclear program."

Kerry also said he had raised the issue of the Americans' fate with the Iranians, but would not go into detail about what efforts might be ongoing to secure their release.

Levinson's family has not received word about him since April 2011, and there's some doubt about whether he is still alive. The AP report notes that it's likely his captors already know of his CIA connection.

But now that the news is out, it's time for the administration to put up or shut up. I've written about how Obama and Kerry are treating Iran as if it already has nuclear weapons, by being willing to take Iran's global support for terrorism, proxy war against Israel and interference in the internal affairs of neighboring countries off the table to avoid a breach in the talks.

Don't let Robert Levinson become another casualty of the rush for a deal.

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