CLEVELAND (TDB) -- Former Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Ney is locked up in a federal prison on corruption charges involving a Washington lobbying scandal. Between his dirty deeds, the Ohioan may have been a go-between in a secret and unsuccessful peace initiative between Iran and the United States.
Trita Parsi, a Johns Hopkins adjunct prof who heads the National Iranian-American Council, presents some cloak-and-dagger details in a 384-page book published by Yale University Press. The book is called Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States, and Parsi contends Ney was the conduit who got a back-channel peace feeler from Tehran delivered to the White House. The Iranians wanted to become America's buddies, and the story turns up on page 247 in a passage about secret dealings.
There is more about the unusual route of the peace feeler, which Parsi says was real but has yet to be confirmed. Others detect the scent of a self-promoter and note that Parsi has been close to Ney over the years.
Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Tom Suddes points out that Ney does have Iranian connections -- he taught English in that nation until shortly before the Shah fell. Suddes doesn't try to throw much cold water on Parsi's claim that Ney was involved in international intrigue. Suddes writes:
"According to Parsi, not long after Baghdad fell to coalition troops in 2003, Iranian officials channeled a peace feeler to Washington . . . Iran feared Washington's inner-circle war hawks might keep the feeler from Bush, so the Iranians sent a copy of their offer to Ney. Ney, Parsi wrote, had one of his U.S. House employees hand-deliver the Iranian message to Karl Rove, Bush's White House Rasputin. Rove -- according to Parsi -- vowed to deliver the 'intriguing' message to the president. To State Department officials, the Iranian offer, according to Parsi, 'was a no-brainer' because Iran was offering the United States, then at high tide militarily, big concessions. But nothing ever happened at the Washington end."
Parsi contends Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld intervened. They would not consider a deal. Why? Iran was just too evil.