Paying ransom for captured citizens is one of the worst things a government can do.
It obviously launches a lucrative industry, signaling that it will be profitable to go on capturing them wherever they may be found.
Obama paid a $400 million cash ransom for the release of American hostages held in Iran. It’s against the law, but such a triviality never bothered Obama. He tried to hide the transaction by sending Swiss francs and Euros packed in wooden crates in an unmarked cargo plane to Tehran. The American hostages were released.
Now more have been taken, of course.
When rumbled, the crooked administration came up with a cock-and-bull story about the money being a debt owed to Iran since the days of the Shah.
From the WSJ by Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee:
The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.
Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.
As usual, the administration lies to the American people, insisting that there is no connection between the money and the hostage release. Instead:
The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
The settlement, which resolved claims before an international tribunal in The Hague, also coincided with the formal implementation that same weekend of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran, the U.S. and other global powers the summer before.
“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” President Barack Obama said at the White House on Jan. 17 — without disclosing the $400 million cash payment.
Senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange. They say the way the various strands came together simultaneously was coincidental, not the result of any quid pro quo.
“As we’ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claim… were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. …
Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas and a fierce foe of the Iran nuclear deal, accused President Barack Obama of paying “a $1.7 billion ransom to the ayatollahs for U.S. hostages.”
“This break with longstanding U.S. policy put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizures” of Americans, he said.
Since the cash shipment, the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guard has arrested two more Iranian-Americans. …
At the time of the prisoner release, Secretary of State John Kerry and the White House portrayed it as a diplomatic breakthrough. Mr. Kerry cited the importance of “the relationships forged and the diplomatic channels unlocked over the course of the nuclear talks”. …
Iranian press reports have quoted senior Iranian defense officials describing the cash as a ransom payment. …
The $400 million was paid in foreign currency because any transaction with Iran in U.S. dollars is illegal under U.S. law. Sanctions also complicate Tehran’s access to global banks.
According to the New York Post, there is proof that the administration is lying about there being “no link between the payment and the prisoner exchange”:
One of the American hostages who was released the day the United States sent $400 million to Iran said his plane to freedom was not allowed to take off until “another plane” arrived in Tehran, according to a report.
Pastor Saeed Abedini, who was among four Americans released this past Jan. 17, told Fox Business he wound up waiting for an extended time for the second plane to reach the Iranian capital and was never told why the arriving aircraft was so important.
“I just remember the night at the airport sitting for hours and hours there, and I asked police, ‘Why are you not letting us go?’ ” Abedini said. “He said, ‘We are waiting for another plane so if that plane doesn’t come, we never let you go.’ ”
The WSJ report concludes:
Revolutionary Guard commanders boasted at the time that the Americans had succumbed to Iranian pressure. “Taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies,” said Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi, commander of the Guard’s Basij militia, on state media.
Among the Americans currently being held are an energy executive named Siamak Namazi and his 80-year old father, Baqer, according to U.S. and Iranian officials. Iran’s judiciary spokesman last month confirmed Tehran had arrested the third American, believed to be a San Diego resident named Reza “Robin” Shahini.
Friends and family of the Namazis believe the Iranians are seeking to increase their leverage to force another prisoner exchange or cash payment in the final six months of the Obama administration. Mr. Kerry and other U.S. officials have been raising their case with Iranian diplomats, U.S. officials say.
Iranian officials have demanded in recent weeks the U.S. return $2 billion in Iranian funds that were frozen in New York in 2009. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the money should be given to victims of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks.
Members of Congress are seeking to pass legislation preventing the Obama administration from making any further cash payments to Iran. One of the bills requires for the White House to make public the details of its $1.7 billion transfer to Iran.
“President Obama’s … payment to Iran in January, which we now know will fund Iran’s military expansion, is an appalling example of executive branch governance,” said Sen. James Lankford (R., Okla.), who co-wrote the bill. “Subsidizing Iran’s military is perhaps the worst use of taxpayer dollars ever by an American president.”
The only surprise is that Obama did something – though very much the wrong thing – to get American captives freed. Why? That’s the deeper mystery, the answer to which we may never know.
(Is one of the released hostages related, or closely connected, to one of Obama’s henchmen? To John Kerry, for instance? A good investigative journalist is needed to find out.)