At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday to answer questions about the Iran nuclear deal, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said he couldn’t determine whether Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had religious motivations to destroy the Great Satan and the Little Satan.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) first asked Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, “Do you believe the Iranians have been trying to build a bomb or a nuclear power program for peaceful purposes all these years?”
“I believe they have a militarization aspiration,” Dempsey carefully replied.
GRAHAM: Who’s the commander in chief of the Iranian armed forces, Secretary Carter? Who calls the shots?
CARTER: The supreme leader.
GRAHAM: Who decides if Iran goes to war? The supreme leader, right?
CARTER: I believe so, yes.
GRAHAM: Who decides if they try to break out, the supreme leader?
GRAHAM: Does the supreme leader’s religious views compel him over time to destroy Israel and attack America?
CARTER: I — I — I don’t know. I don’t know the man, I only…
GRAHAM: I can tell you, I do.
CARTER: … read what he says.
GRAHAM: I know the man.
CARTER: I don’t.
GRAHAM: I know what he wants, and if you don’t know that, this is not a good deal. Could we win a war with Iran? Who wins the war between us and Iran? Who wins? Do you have any doubt who wins?
CARTER: No, the United States wins the war.
GRAHAM: We win.
Graham then pressed Carter about Saudi Arabia’s real thoughts about the deal, to which the Defense secretary replied, “This is a little bit like what is the Ayatollah thinking. I only read what he says and I take at face value.”