NEW YORK – Critics of the Obama administration’s diplomatic clash with Israel and tilt toward Iran, resulting in a nuclear “framework agreement” to be finalized by the end of June, have pointed to the influence of top White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, who was born in Iran.
Retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence under President George W. Bush, spotlighted Jarrett’s influence in a Fox News interview in February.
“There are many who are now saying that [Jarrett] is really the architect of this non-treaty with the Iranians,” he said, “which ultimately will result in the Iranians having a nuclear program, and America having to accept a nuclear-armed Iran.”
Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, noted in a 2011 National Review article Jarrett was born and raised in Iran for the first five years of her life.
“In explaining how she first grew close to Obama, Jarrett says they traded stories of their youthful travels,” he wrote.
Kurtz said Jarrett has affirmed that she and Obama “reject traditional American exceptionalism.”
“One hallmark of America’s exceptionalist perspective, of course, is our unique alliance with a democratic Israel, even in the face of intense criticism of that alliance from much of the rest of the world,” Kurtz commented.
Kurtz cited Obama biographer David Remnick, who quoted Jarrett saying: “He and I shared a view of where the United States fit in the world, which is often different from the view people have who have not traveled outside the United States as young children.”
Remnick wrote that through her travels, Jarrett “felt that she had come to see the United States with a greater objectivity as one country among many, rather than as the center of all wisdom and experience.”
Just before the 2012 presidential election, amid rumors of an “October Surprise” of secret talks between the United States and Iran, new reports suggested Jarrett might have been facilitating communication between Washington and Tehran, Fox News reported.
“Mrs. Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, and originally from Chicago, was the main and central player in behind-the-scene talks between U.S. and Iran leaders,” according to an independent Persian-language blog.
The blog said Jarrett “attempted to facilitate communication between officials on both sides.”
Officials on both sides vigorously denied the reports, Fox News said, but Jarrett’s foreign policy record offers evidence of her influence.
Jarrett allegedly urged Obama to cancel the operation to kill Osama bin Laden three times before the Navy SEALs mission May 2, 2011, according to Richard Miniter’s book “Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him.”
Some observers have questioned why Jarrett receives Secret Service protection, which is very unusual for presidential aides.
“Jarrett seems to have a 24-hour, around-the-clock (security) detail, with five or six agents full time,” Democratic pollster Pat Caddell said in an interview with Breitbart.
“The media has been completely uninterested,” Caddell said. “We don’t provide security for our ambassador in Libya, but she needs a full Secret Service security detail. And nobody thinks there’s anything wrong with this.”
In November 2013, Israeli TV reported the Geneva negotiations between the P5+1 powers – the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, plus Germany – and Iran were a mere “facade,” because the terms of a deal on Iran’s nuclear program had been negotiated in talks between Jarrett and a leading Iranian nuclear official that had continued in secret for more than a year.
Israel’s Channel 10 said the Obama administration did not keep Israel fully informed on those talks.
White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan was quoted by Haaretz as saying the report, which relied on unnamed senior Israeli officials, was “absolutely, 100 percent false.”
The Channel 10 report said Jarrett led a U.S. team that met with the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, in various Gulf states.
According to Israeli TV, the secret channel marginalized Kerry and was overseen by the president.
Jarrett’s Iranian roots
Jarrett was born in Shiraz, Iran, to American parents James E. Bowman and Barbara Taylor Bowman.
After receiving his medical degree at Howard University in 1943, James Bowman joined the faculty of the University of Chicago as an assistant professor of medicine in 1962, where he worked as a pathologist who helped bring national attention to the need to cure sickle cell anemia. He became the first tenured black faculty member in medicine.
In 1953, Bowman was drafted into the Army and served at the Army’s Medical Nutrition Laboratory in Denver, Colorado, as chief pathologist.
Before moving to Denver, Bowman married Barbara Taylor, the daughter of the first black Chicago Housing Authority chief, Robert Rochon Taylor. In Colorado, Barbara Taylor Bowman, who had completed a master’s degree in education at the University of Chicago, taught at Colorado Woman’s College.
According to a biography posted on the University of Chicago Hospitals website, when James Bowman’s military service ended in 1955, neither he nor his wife could tolerate “anything that smacked of segregation.”
So, the couple decided to find a position overseas, relocating to Iran where James Bowman became the chairman of pathology at Nemazee Hospital in Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran, while Barbara Bowman taught preschool and lectured in psychology and anthropology at the hospital-affiliated medical school.
On Nov. 14, 1956, Valerie Jarrett was born in Nemazee Hospital, in Shiraz, Iran.
As noted by political science professor Paul Kengor, writing in the July/August 2011 issue of the American Spectator, the Bowman family left Iran for London when Valerie was 5 years old. They eventually returned to Chicago and settled in Hyde Park.
Kengor credited Jarrett’s excellent international education as the reason as an adolescent she spoke Farsi, the national language of Iran, as well as French and English.
Noting that the New York Times dubs Jarrett as Barack Obama’s “old hometown mentor,” he observed: “Valerie would become super-close to both Obamas, and especially to Barack and his political horizons, becoming arguably his top advisor over the course of two decades.”
Kengor noted that at each step in his rise to power, “Barack paused to check the boxes with Valerie, and she opened doors and greased the skids.”
He concluded one could argue “that no other person on the planet has done more to help the Obamas get to where they are today.”
Kengor pointed out Jarrett’s father-in-law, Vernon Jarrett, served on the Citizens’ Committee to Aid Packing-House Workers in Chicago with Frank Marshall Davis, the Communist Party USA member who mentored a young Barack Obama in Hawaii.