Sheldon Adelson and the wave of TV ads opposing the Iran deal

A recent headline at The Intercept seems to have been crafted to deceive its readers:

Wave of TV Ads Opposing Iran Deal Organized By Saudi Arabian Lobbyist

Parse those words very carefully, avoid the grammatical trap of assuming that a Saudi Arabian lobbyist would be Saudi Arabian, and you might grasp that the ads, though organized by the said lobbyist, may or may not have any connection to Saudi Arabia.

But most people don’t dissect headlines with such lawyerly exactness and thus wouldn’t hesitate in jumping to this conclusion:

Saudis Financing TV Ads Opposing Nuke Deal with Iran

That headline appears above a report appearing at the Macedonian International News Agency which is simply The Intercept report re-published without attribution.

So what’s the deception?

The ads in question are being run by a group called the American Security Initiative whose president is former Republican Senator Norm Coleman.

Coleman now works for the major lobbying law firm Hogan Lovells, where he provides legal services for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia and legal services for other existing firm clients.

On that basis — and not much else — The Intercept’s Lee Fang has constructed a report that will lead many readers to believe the Saudis are behind the ad campaign, even though that conclusion is never spelled out. The report doesn’t make its conclusion explicit — even though it’s strongly inferred in the headline — presumably because it’s a claim for which there is no direct evidence.

But maybe it’s true. Maybe the Saudis are sinking millions of dollars into this ad campaign. It’s possible.

Yet there already is a much more plausible source for the funding for the American Security Initiative: the casino boss who bankrolls Benjamin Netanyahu, Sheldon Adelson.

The reason for believing it’s Adelson’s money rather than the Saudis’ isn’t simply because the tycoon’s opposition to the Iran deal is well-known. It’s because his financial links to the American Security Initiative have already been reported.

In Washington this March, Adelson co-chaired a fundraising event where Coleman made a pitch for the American Security Initiative.

Coleman is a close ally of Adelson — both are board members of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

The primary goal of the Coalition right now is to kill the Iran deal.

Following the March fundraiser and Coleman’s pitch for the American Security Initiative, the Daily Beast reported: “A GOP source said Adelson is expected to help fund the new security group, but Coleman declined to comment.”

So why is The Intercept now pointing at the Saudis when Adelson’s already been fingered?

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