In a new book, former Defense Secretary James Mattis takes the Obama administration to task for its weak response to the growing threat of the Iranian regime. One bombshell included in the book is the Obama administration’s tepid response to what Mattis referred to as an “act of war” by Iran – the planned bombing of a café in Washington, D.C.
The Washington Examiner reported on Mattis’ book, where he describes how during his time as the leader of U.S. Central Command (where he served between 2010 and 2013) he repeatedly warned the Obama administration about Iran and Sunni Islamist terrorists, though he felt Iran posed the “more deadly of the two threats.”
Mattis claims in his book, Call Sign Chaos: Learning To Lead, that Obama fired him because of these warnings, and that the administration didn’t even tell him about the Iranian plot to bomb the café. Mattis was informed of the plot by a duty officer in Tampa, Florida, who told him then-Attorney General Eric Holder and then-FBI Director Robert Mueller (yes, that Robert Mueller) held a press conference announcing the arrest of two Iranians who had planned the attack on Café Milano. The Examiner describes the café as “a high-end restaurant in Washington that was a favorite of the rich and famous, including Saudi Arabia’s ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir.”
“Attorney General Eric Holder said the bombing plot was ‘directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government and, specifically, senior members of the Qods Force.’ The Qods were the Special Operations Force of the Revolutionary Guards, reporting to the top of the Iranian government,” Mattis writes in his book.
Mattis goes on to explain that he “saw the intelligence: we had recorded Tehran’s approval of the operation.”
Mattis continues, saying that if the bomb had gone off, it would have been “the worst attack on us since 9/11.”
“Had the bomb gone off, those in the restaurant and on the street would have been ripped apart, blood rushing down sewer drains. It would have been the worst attack on us since 9/11. I sensed that only Iran’s impression of America’s impotence could have led them to risk such an act within a couple of miles of the White House,” Mattis writes. “Absent one fundamental mistake — the terrorists had engaged an undercover DEA agent in an attempt to smuggle the bomb — the Iranians would have pulled off this devastating attack. Had that bomb exploded, it would have changed history.”
Mattis writes that he wanted to “respond forcefully,” but President Barack Obama refused to inform the public about just how dangerous the plot truly was.
“We treated an act of war as a law enforcement violation, jailing the low-level courier,” Mattis writes.
Mattis, by contrast, writes that he “wanted calculated actions, to restrain the regime so it couldn’t thrust us into a war.”
“In my view, we had to hold Iran to account and strike back when attacked. But there was a reason for the administration’s restraint,” Mattis writes. “The administration was secretly negotiating with Iran, although I was not privy to the details at the time.”
Those “secret” negotiations would eventually become the Iran Deal, which President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.
“In my military judgment, America had undertaken a poorly calculated, long-shot gamble. At the same time, the administration was lecturing our Arab friends that they had to accommodate Iran as if it were a moderate neighbor in the region and not an enemy committed to their destruction,” Mattis writes. “As long as its leaders consider Iran less a nation-state than a revolutionary cause, Iran will remain a terrorist threat potentially more dangerous than Al Qaeda or ISIS.”
Mattis still believes Iran is the biggest threat in the Middle East, and that the Obama administration’s refusal to retaliate has led to the “emboldened” nation that continues to escalate attacks, including shooting down U.S. drones.