Ex-CIA Chief In Twitter Feud With Ted Cruz Over Killing of Iranian Nuclear Scientist

© AFP 2023 / SAUL LOEBThe Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on 14 August 2008.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on 14 August 2008. - Sputnik International
On Friday, a senior Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated in a gun and bomb attack about 175km east of Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed Israel for the attack. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Republican Senator for Texas, Ted Cruz, and former Central Intelligence Agency chief from the Obama era, John Brennan, have become embroiled in a war on Twitter over the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, with the debate starting after Brennan called the killing a “highly reckless” and “criminal act".

“It’s bizarre to see a former head of the CIA consistently side with Iranian zealots who chant ‘Death to America’. And reflexively condemn Israel,” Cruz, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, tweeted, asking whether Joe Biden agreed with Brennan’s assessment.

Brennan responded a few hours later, accusing Cruz of “mischaracterizing” his comment.

“Your lawless attitude and simple-minded approach to serious national security matters demonstrate that you are unworthy to represent the good people of Texas,” the former spymaster wrote.

After that, Cruz retweeted a tweet by his adviser Omri Ceren, who suggested that the media should be asking if the former CIA director’s tweet “constitutes a Logan Act violation…according to the standards articulated over the last four years by John Brennan.”

The Logan Act is an obscure US federal law which prohibits Americans from carrying on diplomacy with foreign governments without the authorisation of the US government. The law was used by Democrat officials and Brennan to accuse former Trump national security adviser Lt-Gen Michael Flynn of illegally negotiating with the Russian ambassador to the US during the Trump transition in late 2016.

Brennan later responded to Cruz and Ceren’s accusations, suggesting that Cruz was “a poor senator and a bad lawyer” and explaining that his comments constituted free speech.

The former spook then added that his “commitment to Israel’s security” and “efforts to counter Iran’s malign activities” had been “well documented,” and asked what Cruz had ever done in this area besides “his tiresome rhetoric".

The Cruz-Brennan to-and-fro isn’t the first time the men have clashed: Cruz tried to block Brennan’s nomination to the post of head of the CIA in 2013, and, since Trump’s election in 2016, has attacked the top spy for his “unhinged” claims that Trump’s contacts with Russia constituted “treason.”

Brennan was embroiled in a scandal last month after the Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe released hand-written notes by the former CIA director related to Hillary Clinton's alleged July 2016 "plan" to cook up a story falsely tying Trump to the Kremlin and alleged "Russian hackers" to distract from the controversy surrounding her private email server. Earlier this month, Brennan called on Vice-President Mike Pence and other members of Trump's cabinet to carry out a palace coup against the President to stop further declassifications that might "threaten our national security interests".

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