Ex-DEA Agent Says Obama Admin Lost Gold Opportunity to Crush Hezbollah


In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, a former agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency testified that the Obama administration lost an opportunity to crush Hezbollah in order to help secure the Iran deal.

Derek Maltz, the former head of the DEA’s special operations divisions, testified about the barriers that the Obama administration put up to prevent a major law enforcement initiative to take down the Iranian-supported terrorist group from achieving its goals.

The initiative, called Project Cassandra, was first detailed by Politico back in December. The operation was first launched in 2008 and amassed considerable evidence that the Islamic terrorism group had transformed itself into an advanced organized crime operation, trafficking in drugs and weapons to the tune of $1 billion a year.

However, as they came closer to making arrests and potentially crippling Hezbollah’s operation, Metz told Politico’s Josh Meyer that the administration thwarted their efforts largely due to fears that cracking down on Hezbollah would alienate the terrorist group’s patrons in Tehran during the negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal.

“There’s an old saying, opportunities come and go,” Maltz said in his testimony, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

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“In my personal opinion, having been the guy in charge of the special operations for ten years, we lost a gold opportunity to crush Hezbollah.”

During his interview with Politico, Maltz said that while they were ready to prosecute, the Justice Department refused to sign off on charges and the State Department refused to help lure high-value targets to countries where they could be arrested and expedited.

“There’s no doubt in my mind now that the focus was this Iran deal and our initiative was kind of like a fly in the soup,” Maltz told Politico. “We were the train that went off the tracks.”

It wasn’t just the Obama administration’s focus on the Iran deal, either. Maltz also placed blame on information sharing, as well.

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“Sadly, 16 years after 9/11, we’re still talking about information sharing. It’s a disaster,” Maltz told the committee.

“If terrorists are turning to criminal networks for their funding, how can we have a system where the terrorist investigators and the intelligence community and others are not communicating properly with the law enforcement agencies?” According to the Free Beacon, he added that the Trump administration needs to figure out who’s responsible for “bringing together federal, state, and local agencies under an interagency task force to combat narcoterrorism.”

His remarks echoed comments he made to Politico, in which he said that there was “certainly an argument to be made that if tomorrow all the agencies were ordered to come together and sit in a room and put all the evidence on the table against all these bad guys, that there could be a hell of a lot of indictments.”

At least it facilitated the Iran deal, which has been a wonderful array of noncompliance and remilitarization on the part of the mullahs in Tehran and which has done little to deter the Iranians from developing a nuclear weapon, should they so choose.

I’d say that was a fair tradeoff, right?

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Now, of course, there’s a different sheriff in town, and he’s not exactly keen on following the examples of the past administration. Perhaps something can be done with Project Cassandra yet.

In fact, one day after Maltz’s testimony, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a task force dedicated to fighting narcoterrorism originating from Hezbollah, which would “begin by assessing the evidence in existing investigations.”

“The Justice Department will leave no stone unturned in order to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organizations and to stem the tide of the devastating drug crisis,” Sessions said.

“In an effort to protect Americans from both threats, the Justice Department will assemble leading investigators and prosecutors to ensure that all Project Cassandra investigations as well as other related investigations, whether past or present, are given the needed resources and attention to come to their proper resolution. The team will initiate prosecutions that will restrict the flow of money to foreign terrorist organizations as well as disrupt violent international drug trafficking operations.”

It remains to be seen how the Trump administration will deal with the Iran deal, a mephitic document which the Obama administration managed to weave numerous poison pills through. However, even if the administration doesn’t pull out of the agreement, the events of the past few days have shown that they’re willing to stand up to Iran’s state-sponsored narcoterrorist proxy group without temerity or pusillanimity. Finally.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture