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Josh Block Misrepresents New Iran Sanctions Bill In SOTU Talking Points

A list of talking points sent by the head of the Israel Project to reporters ahead of the State of the Union address misrepresented Congress’ new Iran sanctions bill.

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I just received a copy of the talking points Josh Block, the head of the Israel Project, distributed to journalists and pundits ahead of tonight’s State of the Union address. The talking points, which are focused exclusively on pushing Iran sanctions and attacking the Obama administration, have some…serious problems.

Let’s tackle just one. After some perfunctory all-caps exhortations to use his talking points, Block gets right into the issue of piling on more Iran sanctions. (I addressed why this is a bad idea yesterday.) This is from Block’s e-mail:

1.     Menendez-Kirk bipartisan Iran legislation is a DIPLOMATIC INSURANCE POLICY; it is NOT new sanctions legislation.

Contrary to administration claims, this bill does NOT IMPOSE NEW SANCTIONS ON IRAN. To suggest otherwise is false.

That this is not a sanctions bill should come as a surprise to Sen. Mark Kirk, the hawkish Republican from Illinois and lead co-sponsor of the bill. You see, Kirk’s office posted a draft of the proposed bill online (h/t Ryan Costello). Block should check it out. If he did, he would see that literally the first words of the proposed law, which explain its purpose, read:

To expand sanctions imposed with respect to Iran and to impose additional sanctions with respect to Iran, and for other purposes.

So Block contends it is “false” to claim that this bill imposes sanctions, but the bill itself declares as its purpose to “expand” and “impose” sanctions. If Block wants to press his case with journalists, he ought to at least read the bill he is pushing.

(A word of disclosure: Block and I have something of a complicated history. You can read this and follow the links in the disclosure here to get the background if you wish.)

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