Dem Think Tank Secretly Urged Associates to Brand Iran Critics as Un-American

Truman Project dubbed Iran talks a 'BFDeal'

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani / AP
November 12, 2014

A leading Democratic think-tank has been quietly waging a media war on behalf of the Obama administration’s Iran diplomacy since at least the early summer, according to previously undisclosed documents that accuse congressional skeptics of being un-American warmongers.

Details of the Truman National Security Project’s campaign to sell the public on an Iran deal before it has even been signed comes just a day after the Washington Free Beacon revealed more recent emails from the group enlisting its associates in an "all-hands-on-deck effort to support" the White House’s diplomacy with Iran.

New documents obtained by the Free Beacon show that Truman has been quietly preparing its associates to champion an Iran nuclear deal in the media and elsewhere since at least July of last year. The documents instruct Truman associates on how to sell an Iran deal and brands opponents as unpatriotic.

Truman was embroiled in controversy on Tuesday after the Free Beacon exposed recently circulated media plans for promoting an Iran deal before details had even been established.

Publication of the recruitment call, which was sent over Truman’s internal listserv, prompted outcry from across the political spectrum and even led the organization’s founder to dub Truman’s efforts as "embarrassing."

Rachel Kleinfeld, Truman’s founder and former CEO, described the revelation as "embarrassing" and declared that it is "not the organization I used to run."

"We should do a deal with Iran if its good—not for partisanship," Kleinfeld tweeted.

The internal emails exposed Truman’s effort to assemble a "crack team of writers" who could flood national and local media outlets with articles supporting an Iran deal ahead of the Nov. 24 deadline.

"Our community absolutely must step up and not cede the public narrative to neocon hawks that would send our country to war just to screw the president," Graham F. West, Truman’s writing and communications associate, wrote in the email.

The new documents establish that Truman’s efforts to sell an Iran deal in advance date back to at least the summer.

"If there’s a deal on or before July 20, this is going to be a #BFDeal, so start prepping now," David Solimini, Truman’s vice president for strategic communications, wrote in an internal "guidance for communicators" distributed to Truman allies.

"As you can see, I’m advising an aggressively outcome-focused approach," Solimini wrote in the document, which goes on to provide talking points and "good lines" that Truman associates can use to bill the White House’s talks with Iran as a "win-win" situation.

The talking points instruct Truman affiliates in the best ways to spin the situation, whether there is an extension in talks or a final deal with Iran.

Solimini also advises that Truman associates accuse congressional skeptics of not "rooting" for an American win.

"If they [Congress] kill the deal, they should be blamed for the consequences," he wrote. "Congress gave the president the tools he needed to make sure Iran was isolated and under massive pressure. Now they need to support what they started so that we can keep up our end of the bargain."

Solimini then suggests a "good line" that advocates can use: "Congress is the home team. They better keep rooting for an American win."

"Handling opposition to a deal" also is addressed in the talking points.

Those who would "be against any deal, even before they know what it is" are "shameful," according to Solimini’s document.

In what may prove to be one of the document’s more controversial passages, Solimini recommends that Truman allies push back against those who insist, "No deal is better than a bad deal."

But that phrase has been a key part of the Obama administration’s efforts to reassure allies that it would not cave to Iranian demands.

Without any sort of deal, there will be "another war in the Middle East," Solimini insists.

A Truman spokeswoman did not respond to a Free Beacon request for comment on the talking points documents.

Truman founder Kleinfeld is not the only prominent Democrat expressing concern about the group in the wake of the controversy.

Josh Block, a former Clinton administration official and current president and CEO of the Israel Project, accused Truman of betraying Democratic values.

"Truman Project's campaign in support of any Iran deal—and blanket 'warmongers' slur against anyone, Democrat or Republican, who disagrees—is a betrayal of Democratic values and sad proof of how corrupt and intellectually dishonest the Left wing of the Democratic Party has become," said Block, who was forced out of Truman after he exposed anti-Semitism at the Obama-aligned Center for American Progress (CAP).

"It is a shame that several years ago, when the organization chose to embrace and defend elements in the 'progressive' community who were trucking in treasonous, anti-Semitic and fringe anti-Israel views and accusations, and sought to marginalize those expressing concern about those views, the leadership did not act more decisively at the time to right the ship," Block said.

The controversy should serve as a warning to Democrats, Block said.

"For Democrats who want to get elected in 2016, it's clearer than ever that blindly following this White House's lead on national security issues will lead not only to a nuclear Iran, but to defeat at the ballot box," he said.

Published under: Iran , Nuclear Weapons