Biden ‘Abused Classification System’ To Hide Iranian Assassination Plots, Cruz Says

Iran engaged in efforts to assassinate former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and other US officials

Biden, Iran's Ali Khamenei (Win McNamee and Majid/Getty Images)
February 29, 2024

The Biden administration suppressed information about Iran’s efforts to assassinate U.S. officials to ensure Congress and the American public were kept in the dark, according to a lawmaker on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"What Americans don’t know is that the Biden administration has gone to great lengths to hide the extent and persistence of those threats" from Iran, Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said during a Senate hearing Wednesday on Tehran’s network of terror proxies. Those threats include active plots to assassinate former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and other top U.S. officials.

The administration has been "abusing the classification system" to ensure these plots could not be discussed in a public setting, according to Cruz. "They find public discussion of Iran’s aggression politically inconvenient because it gets in the way of their appeasement of the regime."

This is the first time a senator has accused the Biden administration of classifying information it deemed inconvenient and damaging to its efforts to restart diplomacy with Iran, which have included sanctions relief and a $6 billion ransom payment last year to ensure the release of hostages detained in Tehran. Amid this diplomacy, Iran has continued efforts to kill former American officials, including the Trump administration’s Iran envoy, Brian Hook, who requires an around-the-clock security detail.

The administration is required to notify Congress about threats to former officials, but "took the unprecedented step" last year of classifying this notification to ensure the information did not become public, Cruz said as he discussed the situation with Hook, who appeared before the Senate committee.

Hook, who no longer serves in the government, said he is not privy to the current classification standard but thanked Congress for funding a security detail "that provides protection for me and my family."

"I wish we were in a place that it was not necessary, but that is where we are," Hook said, indicating the threats against him remain active.

The Biden administration, Cruz said, has allowed these assassination plots to continue through a soft approach to Tehran that has given the regime access to more than $100 billion in recent years.

"It is completely unacceptable that the current administration has flowed $100 billion to a regime that is actively trying to murder former senior U.S. officials," the senator said.

A senior congressional source familiar with the matter said the Biden administration has repeatedly used the classification system to obscure information about Iran’s terrorist proxies and the threat they pose to Americans domestically and abroad.

"The Biden administration also sandbags intelligence and reports about Iran's ties to Russia and their control over terrorist groups like the Houthis," said the source, who was not authorized to discuss sensitive information on the record. "They know that if Americans knew the truth about Iran targeting Americans and American allies there'd be a backlash to their appeasement."

Iran’s assassination plots have long been a hot topic in the congressional foreign policy community, with a group of lawmakers pressing the administration last year to come clean about what they described as "credible threats" to American officials.

"It is curious that while these egregious activities continue, the Biden administration is not taking actions to impose consequences on the Iranian regime and instead has renewed its push for a nuclear deal with Iran," the lawmakers wrote at the time in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and National Counterterrorism Center.

The administration has provided little information "about the number of active plots by Iran or its proxies against U.S. persons living in the United States, as well as information about your respective agencies’ coordination efforts for threat intelligence to counter Iran’s activities," according to lawmakers.