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AG Jeff Sessions orders review of Obama-era Hezbollah drug prosecutions

December 26, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
AG Jeff Sessions orders review of Obama-era Hezbollah drug prosecutions

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions has requested the Justice Department investigate allegations regarding potential drug prosecutions related to the pro-Iranian militant group Hezbollah that were allegedly abandoned as the Obama administration pushed to strike a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

Sessions said he was disturbed by allegations that Project Cassandra — the DEA drive to target Hezbollah’s incursion into drug trafficking — ran into high-level roadblocks that hindered many of the cases agents wanted to file, along with efforts to get suspects extradited to the U.S.

“Operations designed to prosecute terrorist organizations that are also fueling that drug crisis must be paramount in this administration,” Sessions said in a statement. “While I am hopeful that there were no barriers constructed by the last administration to allowing DEA agents to bring appropriate cases under Project Cassandra, this is a significant issue for the protection of Americans. We will review these matters and give support to investigations of violent trafficking organizations.”

The report published by POLITICO has sparked furious pushback from Obama administration officials who have rejected allegations that the high-priority push to reach a nuclear deal with Tehran thwarted any law enforcement operations.

However, Republicans and pro-Israel activists have used the story as evidence that the administration was so focused on the deal that it was ready to ignore other alarming activity by the Iranians and their allies.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a review of allegations thatsnior Obama officials hindered a DEA investigation to secure a nuclear deal with Iran

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, who has pushed for additional information on the issue, called Sessions’ action an “appropriate step.”

“I’m encouraged that the Justice Department recognizes that this is important and I hope that they will swiftly provide answers,” Sasse told POLITICO. “Terrorists don’t get a pass to exploit addiction and use American dollars to fund their global violence.”

Sessions has made the war on drugs a top priority at the Justice Department since he assumed his position in February. His predecessors in the Obama administration contended that drug sentences were unreasonable and that too much focus was being put on the prosecution, rather than treatment and rehabilitation.

Decisions to review criminal investigations under prior administrations are unusual, but they are not unheard of. This indicates the second instance in the past two months that Sessions had ordered a review of the practices of the Obama administration.

In November, Sessions agreed to review how the Justice Department managed allegations that advocates of a deal to acquire a mining transport company known as Uranium One made substantial donations to the Clinton Foundation in an attempt to influence former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to approve the purchase.

Jeff Sessions consented to the review after many lawmakers demanded the appointment of a special counsel to look into the issue, which was previously the subject of a probe by the FBI.

Under the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder requested a review of Bush-era investigations into abuse and deaths of war-on-terror prisoners held by the Central Intelligence Agency. The query led to the investigations of two deaths being formally re-opened, and a grand jury gathered to hear evidence, but no charges were filed.

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