THE BLOG
02/17/2007 01:27 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Did Rove Do with 2003 Iranian Negotiations Offer after Bob Ney Sent to Him?

What did Karl Rove do when he learned of the Spring 2003 Iran offer for comprehensive negotiations with the U.S.?

Gareth Porter has an important article out today, "Rove Said to Have Received 2003 Iranian Proposal."

Porter writes:

Karl Rove, then White House deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush, received a copy of the secret Iranian proposal for negotiations with the United States from former Republican Congressman Bob Ney in early May 2003, according to an Iranian-American scholar who was then on his
Congressional staff.

Ney, who pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to prison in January for his role in the Jack Abramov lobbying scandal, was named by former aide Trita Parsi as an intermediary who took a copy of the Iranian proposal to the White House.

Parsi is now a specialist on Iranian national security policy and president of the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), a non-partisan organization that supports a negotiated settlement of the conflict between Iran and the United States.

Parsi revealed that the document was delivered specifically to Rove, in an exclusive interview with IPS. Within two hours of the delivery of the document, according to Parsi, Ney received a phone call from Rove confirming his receipt of the document. Parsi said the proposal was delivered to Rove the same week that the State Department received it by fax, which was on or about May 4, 2003, according to the cover letter accompanying it.

Ney was chosen by Swiss Ambassador in Tehran Tim Guldimann to carry the Iranian proposal to the White House, according to Parsi, because he knew the Ohio Congressman to be the only Farsi-speaking member of Congress and particularly interested in Iran.

The revelation that Trita Parsi made about Congressman Ney's interaction with the White House on the Iran proposal was made at a conference co-sponsored by the New America Foundation and the National Iranian American Council titled US-Iran Relations: Collision, Stand-Off or Convergence?

The revelation that Rove is involved is huge -- because it further raises the stakes for exactly why then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said that she never "saw the fax" of the Guldimann-couriered Iran offer.

Foreign policy officials confirm to this writer that the fax did make it to National Security Council official Elliot Abrams, who has not admitted seeing the memos sent by Guldimann.

But if Rove also received the proposal through the separate channel of Congressman Bob Ney, it is hard to believe that Rove would have just hidden the matter in a pile of other faxes and not passed the material on to Rice directly -- or at least to White House Chief-of-Staff Andy Card.

As Trita Parsi told Gareth Porter and attendees at the US-Iran conference, noted above, he was the point person for Ney in helping to manage this issue.

There is a copy of the 2003 Iran offer that has been making its way around the internet and has been written about by such writers as the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler, the Financial Times' Guy Dinmore, and USA Today's Barbara Slavin.

Each of these journalists, and others, were given by Trita Parsi a copy of the Iran proposal -- which differs in slight ways from the proposal made public last week by Glenn Kessler which is the final draft sent by Guldimann to the US government.

Parsi has admitted to this writer that he was the source for the documents that have been floating around the internet over the last year. He had been saving these materials for publication in his forthcoming book, but decided that it was important to get them into the public because he was afraid that the pace towards a possible US-Iran war was picking up and needed to be informed by other parts of the real diplomatic history.

I will shortly be posting two documents that I have secured from Trita Parsi -- one that came in from Guldimann and the other that he acquired from a Senior Iranian diplomat.

-- Steve Clemons is Senior Fellow and Director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation and publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note