RNA - Gallego, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he learnt during a classified briefing on Friday that intelligence had been manipulated into exaggerating the so-called threat, The Washington Post reported.
“What I saw was a lot of misinterpretation and wanting conflict coming from the administration and intelligence community,” Gallego told The Post by phone Saturday. “Intel doesn’t show existential threats. Even what it shows, it doesn’t show threats to US interests.”
The tensions, originally built up when President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, saw a sharp rise on the first anniversary of Washington's exit from the accord after the US moved to ratchet up the pressure on Iran.
Washington has recently tightened its oil sanctions on Iran and sent military reinforcements, including an aircraft carrier strike group, a squadron of B-52 bombers, and a battery of patriot missiles, to the Persian Gulf region.
On May 5, US National Security Adviser John Bolton — an ardent Iran hawk — said the deployment was in response to “troubling and escalatory indications” of Iranian activity in the region, without giving details or evidence to support the claims.
Gallego told the Post that Bolton and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) were the two contributors to what he called a false narrative.
The two, in media appearances and behind closed doors, have been lobbying for a military escalation against the Islamic Republic.
Cotton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, discussed “multiple and credible sources of increased threats” from Iran on cable news.
“I get the same intel as Cotton,” Gallego wrote Saturday on Twitter.
I get the same intel as Cotton. He is greatly exaggerating the situation to spur us to war. Don’t fall for it. https://t.co/YpC76K06dj
— Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) May 18, 2019
Meanwhile, there will be a lawmakers-only forum next Tuesday in a secure auditorium to brief the House on the Iran intelligence.
Almost all of the Trump administration’s top national security officials will take part in the forum, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
However, among others, Bolton’s name is not on the list of participants as announced by House Democrats.
Trump, who promised to keep the US out of costly foreign wars during his presidential campaign, has reportedly grown frustrated with Bolton and Pompeo for escalating the tensions beyond his own preference for diplomatic efforts and sanctions.
At the same time, US media have reported growing conflict between Pompeo and Bolton over Washington’s Iran strategy.
Pompeo and his special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, have indicated that the Trump administration’s goal in pressuring Iran is renewed negotiations with Tehran, according to the report by Politico, citing two sources familiar with their thinking.
But Bolton is a deep skeptic of the value of negotiating with adversaries, the sources said.