The Corner

National Security & Defense

Obama Should Fire Marie Harf Immediately

Needless to say, I am not President Obama’s biggest fan, but this affront to the president’s authority on the part of the State Department’s spokesman Marie Harf was shockingly incompetent. She should be fired, along with whoever it was at the White House that she cleared her statement with. 

At issue is Obama’s statement in an NPR interview yesterday, to the effect that after the Iran nuclear deal has run its course, Iran’s breakout time to nukes would be reduced to zero:

What is a more relevant fear would be that in year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.

Faced with questions about this statement in today’s State Department briefing, spokesman Marie Harf had this unbelievable clarification: 

That quote I think that people are referring to — I think his words were a little mixed up there — but what he was referring to was a scenario in which there was no deal. And if you go back and look at the transcript I know it’s a little confusing — I spoke to the folks at the White House and read it a few times — it’s my understanding that he was referring to — even though it was a little muddled in the words — to a scenario in which there was no deal . . . it was more of a hypothetical, ‘well look, without a deal, this is what could possibly happen.’ He was not indicating what would happen under an agreement in those years. 

First of all, as Omri Ceren of the Israel Project notes in an e-mail to journalists, “The President wasn’t muddled at all.” Harf is simply wrong to claim that the president was talking about what could happen “without a deal.” The president was obviously talking about what will happen after the deal. 

But the larger point is, if you’re an administration spokesman, you have to be a real idiot to characterize your president’s comments as “mixed up,” ”confusing,” and “muddled” — even if you’re right. Which Harf was not. 

Harf is a political campaign hack who has no business carrying a diplomatic passport or speaking for the State Department or this administration. Not even Obama deserves to be so poorly served. 

Mario Loyola — Mr. Loyola is a research associate professor and the director of the Environmental Finance and Risk Management Program at Florida International University and a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. From 2017 to 2019 he was the associate director for regulatory reform at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.


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