Come on. What’s the worst that could happen?
A former senior official at a pro-Iran activist group has been a member of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) since June 2012, sparking concern among proponents of a tough U.S. policy stance toward Tehran.
Patrick Disney worked as an assistant policy director at the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), an Iranian-American advocacy group long suspected of lobbying on behalf of the Iranian regime.
Disney sought to accommodate Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and later became enmeshed in a lawsuit that raised questions about the group’s potentially illicit lobbying activities during his two-year tenure with NIAC.
Now Disney is working for the NNSA, which overseas “the management and security of the nation’s nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, and naval reactor programs,” according to its website.
Disney met with Ahmadinejad and wrote that, “I saw a man wholly convinced of the righteousness of his actions, not cynical in the least. His combination of earnestness and cleverness convinced me of the need for the United States to drastically alter its current approach.”
And then Patrick Disney went to sleep with a photo of Ahmadinejad under his pillow. A long time ago, in a saner world, having ties to enemy countries would disqualify you from any position this close to the sphere of defense. But that was a pre-Obama world.
“Putting an alumni of NIAC on a nuclear policy desk is the domestic policy equivalent of having David Duke monitor civil rights,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq.
Disney—who has personally met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—could be privy to classified information in his new role at NNSA, and he is likely offering top NNSA brass advice on Iran.
Critics called this situation dangerous given Disney’s past advocacy work and sympathetic writings on Iran.
“This is one of the single most bizarre appointments I’ve ever seen and I’ve been around a long time,” said one former senior Capitol Hill aide with personal knowledge of Disney.
But Disney is small potatoes when you have NIAC buddy Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.