Former Secretary of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday evening that his old boss, then-President Barack Obama, should have done more to support the Iran protests of 2009.
In 2009, Obama infamously refused to back the “Green Revolution,” telling reporters that “we respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran.” Many former Obama advisers continue to believe that the U.S. should not support protests against the Iranian regime, telling Donald Trump this week to “be quiet” rather than backing the demonstrators.
Tapper asked Panetta, as the CIA director at the time, to comment on Obama’s stance, in retrospect:
Tapper: Let me ask you about the last time there were mass protests in Iran, in 2009, when you were in the Obama administration. Do you think the Obama administration dropped the ball by not more aggressively standing with the protesters, whether on its own or in congress with our European allies and others?
Panetta: Well, I remember that — that movement. It was a much larger protest than what we’re having today. It was based on the Green Party and what happened in the election then. I do think that was an appropriate time for the United States to have sent a clearer message that we stand by those who try to represent the rights of people. That’s what the United States is all about. And it would have been important to have sent that message at the time.
Obama’s Secretary of Defense at the time, Robert Gates, has also said that the Obama administration should have sided with the protesters in 2009.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.