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June 23, 2016

Former Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering Testified in Favor of Iran Deal While Taking Money From Boeing

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The Daily Beast, an internet magazine covering current events, has disclosed that Thomas Pickering, an influential State Department official in both Democrat and Republican administrations, failed to sufficiently disclose his paid relationship with Boeing corporation while serving as a prominent advocate for the Iran deal. Pickering testified before Congress in favor of the deal, lobbied behind the scenes and published widely in the media. His testimony carried weight due to his standing in the foreign policy establishment. His resume includes serving as UN ambassador and ambassador to Israel, Russia and India. Pickering was a paid lobbyist for the Boeing corporation for many years. According to news reports, Boeing is in the process of finalizing a 25 billion dollar deal to provide Iran with commercial airliners.

According to the Daily Beast,

Pickering confirmed via email—from his Boeing corporate email address—that he was on staff at the company from 2001 to 2006 and has been a paid consultant for them ever since.

When queried as to whether he had disclosed his association with Boeing before providing testimony, PIckering did not respond. According to the Daily Beast, Neil Gordon—an investigator for the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington watchdog organization—indicated that this may represent a conflict of interest. Gordon recalled similar prior situations, where media outlets often presented influential commentators promoting certain policies as independent when they weren’t.

The Daily Beast has found no evidence that Pickering mentioned his paid relationship with Boeing in the disclosure forms he provided to a Congressional committee prior to his providing testimony. Boeing also isn’t mentioned in his bio that the White House kept on file.

The article notes,

Besides testifying before Congress, Pickering also signed a letter on July 7, 2015, to congressional leadership, along with other former diplomats, urging them to support the nuclear agreement. That letter didn’t disclose his connection to Boeing, and it drew broad media coverage, including from the Huffington Post, Politico, and the AP. None of those reports noted his work for Boeing. The White House also cited the letter in its publication “The Iran Nuclear Deal: What You Need to Know About the JCPOA.? Boeing is not mentioned anywhere in that document

The Daily Beast expose has been picked up by the Washington Examiner, the Tower, the Jewish Press and other sources critical of the Iran deal.

In July 2015, Pickering's argument in favor of the Iran deal appeared in the Tablet, an important news magazine for the Jewish community. The articles biographical information on Pickering only noted his service as a diplomat.

Pickering was also a signatory to a "Letter to the President from over 100 former American Ambassadors on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s Nuclear Program." One can only wonder if other signators, which reads as a who's-who of the foreign policy establishment, are quietly profiting from the deal.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with an individual, who is viewed as a disinterested expert and whose words carry considerable weight, offering testimony to Congress that favors a policy or agreement with life-and-death ramifications for the future. But there is a big problem when that same individual fails to disclose a personal financial stake in that policy or agreement.

So far, none of the mainstream media has picked up this story. Not the New York Times, National Public Radio, the Washington Post, BBC, CNN or Fox. Since the Daily Beast story is less than 24 hours old, further monitoring is in order to see what sort of coverage the story gets.

Such exposures reinforce the importance of alternative news outlets, distinct from the mainstream media, that do their own investigative reporting unfettered by political agendas. Unfortunately in a polarized political environment such fresh journalism can be difficult to find.

Posted by SS at June 23, 2016 01:08 PM


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