While rumors of an “October Surprise” -- purported secret talks between the United States and Iran -- appear to have done little to affect the outcome of the presidential election, new reports suggest Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s senior adviser, may have been facilitating communication between the two adversaries.
The reports suggest that Jarrett, who was born in Iran to American parents and who served as senior adviser to Obama’s presidential campaign, may have held clandestine meetings, bringing together officials from the Obama administration and the Iranian regime.
Jarrett was born in Shiraz, Iran, where her father worked in a hospital. The family left Iran when Jarrett was five years old. Many believe she speaks Farsi, or Persian, the official language of Iran.
Now, speculation is running high, particularly among Iranian bloggers, that secret negotiations indeed took place. Such talks would be the first formal one-on-one negotiations between the two countries in more than 30 years.
"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 one independent Persian-language blog, which also published a number of pictures of Jarrett.
The blog said Jarrett "attempted to facilitate communication between officials on both sides."
"Mrs. Valerie Jarrett has been recognized as President Obama's most influential adviser. She is also a close family friend to the Obama family," the blog said.
The claims of the blog have not been independently verified, and it isn't clear how the blogger, who didn't cite official sources, would know such details.
A few days before the Oct. 22 foreign policy presidential debate between Obama and Mitt Romney, some media outlets reported secret talks between the administration and the Iranian regime over its ongoing nuclear agenda, though those reports were never confirmed.
Officials on both sides vigorously deny the reports, but Jarrett’s foreign policy record offers insight into why her name would come up in rumors of such talks.
Jarrett allegedly urged Obama on three different occasions to cancel the operation to kill Usama bin Laden, before Obama giving the final OK on the Navy SEALs mission on May 2, 2011, according to accounts revealed in Richard Miniter’s new book, “Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him.”
Other 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.”
Jarrett has held positions in both the public and private sector, including the chairwoman of the Chicago Transit Board, Chicago's commissioner of planning and development and deputy chief of staff for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. She also practiced law with two private law firms.
Iranian government-tied news sites, for the most part, continue to deny that negotiations were held, but they say that the regime is preparing “grounds for future negotiations.”
“There’s no such thing as negotiations between the U.S. and Iran,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Thursday.
Fars News, a government news site, quoted White House Press Secretary Jay Carney saying that Obama is open to having bilateral talks with Iran about its nuclear program, but Fars said the U.S. has not done anything yet to further plans for negotiations.
“Obama no longer fears the backlash of negotiating with the Iranian regime as his re-elction is over,” one blogger wrote. “The Iranian regime, on the other hand, will find a challenge in explaining to its people why they are now making nice with its enemy of over 30 years.”
Another blogger explained that the Iranian regime is motivated to keep any talks under wraps, as it will lose its pro-government constituency if it should make public the news of negotiating with Americans.
“They will no longer have a common enemy to unite the masses,” he wrote.
Tabnak, a pro-regime news outlet close to Ayatollah Khamenei, also echoed the idea of talks with the U.S. without confirming or denying any previous meetings or future plans.