Archive for the ‘Iran – hostages’ category

Congress ‘Disgusted’ With White House Lies on Iran ‘Ransom’ Payment

August 10, 2016

Congress ‘Disgusted’ With White House Lies on Iran ‘Ransom’ Payment, Washington Free Beacon, August 10, 2016

UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., speaks during a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, June 28, 2016, to announce the Select Committee on Benghazi report on the 2012 attacks in Libya that killed four Americans. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

UNITED STATES – JUNE 28: Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Members of Congress expressed “disgust” with the White House this week and are demanding Obama administration officials come clean about the circumstances surrounding a $400 million cash payment to Iran that is widely perceived as a ransom for the recent release of U.S. hostages, according to conversations with multiple lawmakers and senior congressional sources.

Growing tensions between the White House and Congress came to a head following comments by White House spokesman Josh Earnest in which he compared Republican critics in Congress to Iranian regime hardliners.

Earnest’s comments came in response to multiple unanswered questions about the circumstances surrounding the delivery of $400 million in cash to Iran ahead of the release of several U.S. hostages earlier this year.

When faced with questions about this cash exchange, White House officials such as Earnest have lashed out at Republican lawmakers for their continued efforts to unearth details about the so-called ransom payment.

“It sounds to me like they are once again in a position where they’re making the same argument as hardliners in Iran in an effort to undermine the Iran nuclear agreement,” Earnest said responding to questions from reporters about administration efforts to suppress key details about the cash payment.

“The president made clear a year ago that right-wingers in the United States were making common cause with right-wingers in the Iranian government,” Earnest added. “And, again, if they’re doing it again to try to justify their opposition to an agreement that has benefited the American people, they can do that, but I think that’s going to be pretty hard for them to explain.”

Asked about Earnest’s comments comparing Republicans to Iranian hardliners, a White House official said the spokesman’s comments speak for themselves and are in line with past remarks from the administration.

Earnest’s comment elicited a sharp response from leading GOP lawmakers, who said to the Washington Free Beaconthat Congress is “disgusted” with White House efforts to suppress vital information from the American public and malign Congress for performing its oversight duties.

“Josh Earnest should provide answers, not insults,” Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said to the Free Beacon. “The American people have grown disgusted with this type of politics.”

Pompeo has led several unsuccessful inquiries into the administration’s multiple cash payments to Iran, which have totaled more than $1.7 billion. In each case, the administration declined to provide Pompeo with the information he requested about the payment.

“The Obama administration needs to stop with the excuses and personal attacks and start providing truth on why the U.S. is delivering millions of dollars in pallets of cash to the Iranians and why the regime still has U.S. citizens hostage,” Pompeo said. “For Earnest to once again compare critics of the nuclear deal to the Ayatollah [Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] is part of a tired and unconvincing press-manipulation playbook that his colleagues have already admitted to using.”

Other Republican critics of the nuclear deal and subsequent cash payments to Iran said to the Free Beacon that the White House is trampling on Americans’ right to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent, particularly when it comes to Iran, which remains the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism.

“I can understand the rhetorical challenge of defending ransom payments to a state sponsor of terrorism, but still–these latest comments are just plain offensive,” Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), a leading critic of the nuclear deal with Iran, said to the Free Beacon. “I’m deeply concerned about unmarked cargo planes secretly ferrying cash to Iran.”

Those concerns, Roskam added, “don’t put me in the same camp as radical clerics in the Islamic Republic–they put me in the same camp as the administration’s own Justice Department. These are the actions of an increasingly brazen, rogue regime–and I’m not talking about the one in Tehran.”

Since news first broke of the $400 million cash payment–which was delivered by the United States to Iran in an unmarked plane carrying pallets of hard currency–multiple lawmakers have initiated inquiries into the administration’s behavior, which some say is illegal under current sanctions against Iran.

While the White House, including President Obama, has insisted the exchange was not part of a ransom payment, Iranian officials have claimed otherwise. Iranian state-controlled television also has broadcast footage of what they claim is the cash delivered by the administration in exchange for the release of U.S. hostages.

“The Obama administration sent Iran $400 million in stone cold cash, and then the Iranians gloated about how they forced the U.S. to provide money which they immediately transferred to the Iranian military,” said one longtime congressional adviser who was not authorized to speak on record. “But the White House spokesperson says that Americans concerned about sending money to terrorists are just like Iranian hardliners. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so disgusting.”

A senior congressional aide who is familiar with congressional efforts to ascertain further details about the cash payment said to the Free Beacon that the administration has no good defense for its behavior, which is why top officials are resorting to blanket attacks on GOP lawmakers.

“The administration is once again resorting to its signature defense mechanism: demagogue the issue and accuse the other side of lying,” the source said. “The notion that only hardliners in both countries oppose the nuclear deal is demonstrably false and brazenly patronizing.”

“A strong bipartisan coalition in Congress voted to kill this dangerous agreement,” the official continued. “And this type of spin and demonizing rhetoric is exactly why a majority of Americans oppose the nuclear deal.”

RIGHT ANGLE: The $400M Iran Deal

August 10, 2016

RIGHT ANGLE: The $400M Iran Deal via YouTube, August 10, 2016

The blurb beneath the video states,

Iran takes hostages. Phone calls are made. Hostages are released. And $400M IN CASH finds its way into the hands of the world’s leading sponsor of state terrorism. So who are you going to believe: Barack Obama, or your own lying eyes?

State Department Doesn’t Say Whether Hostages Left Iran Before Money Arrived

August 8, 2016

State Department Doesn’t Say Whether Hostages Left Iran Before Money Arrived, Washington Free Beacon via YouTube, August 8, 2016

(Please see also, State Dept Rep FINALLY being honest and laughs hysterically about US gov transparency and democracy. — DM)

The Mendacity Behind Obama’s Mockery of the Cash-for-Iran Story

August 6, 2016

The Mendacity Behind Obama’s Mockery of the Cash-for-Iran Story, PJ Media,  Claudia Rosett, AUGUST 5, 2016

(Iran did not allow the aircraft sent to bring the hostages home to depart until the cash had arrived. The funds apparently are going to the Iranian military. — DM)

obama ransom

“It is not at all clear to me why it is that cash, as opposed to a check or wire transfer, has made this into a news story.”

   — President Barack Obama, Pentagon Press Conference, August 4, 2016

Thus did President Obama scold those who are now asking why his administration secretly airlifted $400 million worth of cash to Iran this past January, just as Iran was releasing four American prisoners. By Obama’s account, there’s nothing to see here. Not only did Obama deny, despite the striking coincidence of timing, that the payment was a ransom. He also mocked anyone who might see the story of the cash itself as troubling news, or newsworthy at all. Obama dismissed such reactions as “the manufacturing of outrage in a story that we disclosed in January.”

Welcome, once again, to the vertigo of the Obama “narrative,” in which the priority of his “most transparent” administration is not to deal honestly with the American public, but to spin a web of half truths, enmeshed in complexities, to cover up highly questionable uses of power — and then, if caught red-handed, use the bully pulpit to deride and dismiss the critics.

In this case, the thrust of Obama’s remarks was to write off the story of the cash shipment to Iran as a bit of out-dated trivia, the sort of thing no serious person would care about. At his Pentagon press conference on Thursday, he went on to speculate that maybe the tale is generating interest simply because it is colorful to picture pallets of cash: “Maybe because it feels like some spy novel or some crime novel.”

Yes, it does. But there are reasons that spy and crime novels — plus a fair number of felony cases in U.S. courts — are prone to feature such episodes as stacks of cash delivered secretly to the bad guys. Such behavior reeks of shady activity. Cash is highly fungible, and harder to trace than checks or wire transfers. (A word to the wise: If you ever find yourself making a multi-million dollar payment to someone, and he asks for it in stacks of cash, you might want to walk away).

For a government, such as Iran’s regime — world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism — cash lends itself less to financing national infrastructure (the use to which the administration suggestsit has likely been put) than to funding terrorists and pursuing illicit weapons. Whatever Iran’s regime might be doing in the way of sewer and road repair, its demonstrated priorities include its continued testing of ballistic missiles, in violation of UN sanctions. The prime use of ballistic missiles is to carry nuclear warheads — which suggests that Iran’s likely intent is, at a moment of its choosing, to scrap Obama’s vaunted Iran nuclear deal (on which Iran is already cheating). As far as that entails buying weapons and technology from, say, nuclear-testing North Korea, or procuring illicit inputs on world markets, hard cash is a big help.

Obama’s justification for sending the $400 million installment in cash is that the U.S., due to its strict sanctions on Iran, has no banking relationship with the country — thus the air-freighted pallets of banknotes. Except that doesn’t add up. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey asks; “How come the U.S. did not simply transfer the $400 million we are told actually belonged to Iran to a foreign entity, to be converted into foreign funds for conventional banking transmission to Tehran?”

It’s also disturbing that Obama’s administration still seems unable or unwilling to officially disgorge such basic information — relevant to the accusation of ransom — as precisely what time, on what date, the $400 million worth of cash arrived in Tehran. Nor has Obama’s administration disclosed how or when it conveyed to Iran a further $1.3 billion payout, which was part of the same deal. Was it sent by check? By wire? Or were there yet more pallets of money delivered door-to-door to Tehran?

One might almost suppose Obama knows quite well that cash shipments to Tehran are actually a very big story. A story that quite reasonably raises glaring questions about his dealings with Iran, and the integrity of the narrative he offers the public.

What’s now clear is that Obama misled the public months ago, with an artfully crafted tale — omitting any mention of all that colorful cash. On Jan. 17, the same Saturday that Iran freed the American prisoners, Obama delivered a long statement, celebrating the formal implementation a day earlier of the Iran nuclear deal. In the same statement, Obama announced as if it were a separate issue — “a second major development” — that “several Americans unjustly detained by Iran are finally coming home.” Framing this strictly as a prisoner swap, Obama added that “in a reciprocal gesture” seven Iranians charged or convicted of crimes in the U.S. were being released (he neglected to add that the U.S. was also dropping extradition requests for another 14 Iranians).

Then, as if turning to yet another, independent issue, Obama mentioned the payment to Iran, but without naming any actual amount, or time frame, or how the funds would be conveyed. He said, “the third piece of work that we got done this weekend involved the United States and Iran resolving a financial dispute that dated back more than three decades.” Obama advertised this settlement as a terrific deal for America, while omitting entirely such eye-catching specifics as the information that he had directly approved a $1.7 billion payout to Iran, starting with a $400 million airborne stash of cash that we now know was touching down in Tehran within hours — give or take — of his public remarks.

Instead, Obama announced the payment in generic terms, further smoothing over the implications by using the passive voice: “Iran will be returned its own funds, including appropriate interest, but much less than the amount sought.”

To the extent Obama used his high-profile podium to name any particular sum, he mentioned not the payout, but his rough estimate, purely hypothetical, that this deal might ultimately save America money. He said (the italics, highlighting the speculative nature of his statement, are mine): “For the United States, this settlement could save us billions of dollars that could have been pursued by Iran.” Obama then used that bait-and-switch bit of guesswork about “billions” in savings to justify the timing: “So there was no benefit to the United States in dragging this out.”

Actually, it’s far from clear that there would have been no benefit to dragging out any settlement. Four previous American presidents had already dragged it out, quite rightly postponing the day that terror-sponsoring Iran might get its hands on a payout. But not Obama.

Obama deflected to Secretary of State John Kerry the job of handling the public “messaging” about the actual sum the U.S. had agreed to pay Iran, which totalled $1.7 billion. On that same day of Obama’s statement, and Iran’s prisoner release, Jan. 17, Kerry put out a press statement saying the U.S. and Iran had settled a dispute over roughly $400 million paid by Iran long ago, under the Shah, for a U.S. arms deal that fell through after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. Kerry described the agreement as if it were relatively routine, saying it was: “the latest in a series of important settlements reached over the past 35 years at the Hague Tribunal.” Citing “litigation risk” as the reason the Obama administration had chosen to settle this dispute that dated back well over three decades, Kerry said Iran would receive the $400 million plus “a roughly $1.3 billion compromise on the interest.”

Like Obama, Kerry made no mention of how or when or where any payment might take place. Instead, the Obama administration stonewalled relevant questions from Congress and the press, for months.

Finally, this week, The Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon and Carole E. Lee  broke the news of the secret Obama-approved cash airlift in mid-January to Iran. Their story included such details as the U.S. government swapping $400 million U.S. dollars into euros, Swiss francs and other currency via the Dutch and Swiss central banks, loading the cash on pallets and flying the loot to Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport aboard an unmarked cargo plane. The Journal cited a report from an Iranian news site close to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Tasnim agency, which said the cash arrived on the same day the American prisoners left, Jan. 17.

Forced to admit that the cash shipment took place, the Obama administration now appears to be having great difficulties locating information on what time the cargo plane landed in Tehran — before or after the American prisoners took off? Asked about this at a press briefing on Thursday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner replied: “I don’t believe we’ve gotten clarity on that.

There’s also no clarity to date on how the Obama administration handled the payout to Iran of the additional $1.3 billion in interest. On Thursday The Wall Street Journal reported that “Administration officials said the remaining $1.3 billion was later paid out of a fund used to pay judgments and settlements of claims against the U.S.”  But the Journal story included no information on how or when the U.S. made that additional payment, most likely because the administration won’t say. Also this Thursday, the New York Times reported: “White House officials have declined to say whether the rest of the $1.7 billion payment (including $1.3 billion in interest) was also made in cash.”

Where does that leave us?

1. For all Obama’s denials and derision of his critics, the $400 million payment in January sure looks like a ransom, a cash-for-captives deal that can only encourage Iran to imprison more Americans — which it has already done.

2. If indeed there was a quid pro quo, and if the Iranians have any evidence of that, then Obama’s denial that he paid any ransom opens the door to Iranian blackmail of the administration over this payola.

3. The U.S. airlift of cash to Tehran quite likely sends a signal to the world that those strict U.S. sanctions need not deter others from airlifting into Iran crates, or pallets, of cash, which can then be used for Iran’s terrorist and military ventures. The U.S. government itself has set the example.

4. If there was nothing wrong with Obama’s $1.7 billion settlement with Iran, and his administration’s handling of the payments, then why won’t his office provide full information about the logistics, for both the $400 million and the additional $1.3 billion, and answer in good faith the questions of Congress and the press?

5. Finally, there’s the ugly matter of Obama belittling anyone who might question or criticize his cash payola for Iran. That shows an utter disregard for his own promises of transparency, and gross disrespect for the American public. It’s terrible policy for an American president to secretly ship $400 million — or is it by now $1.7 billion? — worth of cash to the terror-sponsoring ballistic-missile-testing Islamic Republic of Iran. It’s even worse when the president, caught out by the press, chooses to defend himself by denigrating the reporters, and his fellow citizens generally, as sensation-seeking fools. The best retort by now, no matter what the presidential mockery, is don’t stop following the money.

Iran: $400 Million In Cash Was Part of ‘Expensive Price’ to Free U.S. Hostages

August 5, 2016

Iran: $400 Million In Cash Was Part of ‘Expensive Price’ to Free U.S. Hostages, Washington Free Beacon, , August 5, 2016

(Please see also, OBAMA LIED! US-Iranian Hostage Says Iran Would Not Let Plane Leave Until Ransom Plane Arrived. — DM)

An Iranian flag flies in front of the building where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, July 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

An Iranian flag flies in front of the building where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, July 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Iranian television has broadcast what some say is purported footage of the $400 million pallets of cash that officials claim was part of the “expensive price” paid by the Obama administration to free several U.S. hostages.

The footage, which could not be independently verified, shows images of large stacks of hard currency and features claims that the Obama administration sent this money over as part of an effort to free several U.S. hostages. The White House vehemently denied these claims this week following new reports about the cash exchange.

BBC Persian reporter Hadi Nili posted the footage on Twitter and describing it as showing the “pallets of cash” and quoting officials as saying “this was just part of the ‘expensive price’ to release Americans.”

The footage, which is from an Iranian documentary published a few months ago, contradicts claims by Obama administration officials maintaining that the payment was completely unrelated to the release of these U.S. hostages, despite the payment having been supplied on the same day these individuals were freed by Iran.

Iran experts who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon said that it is impossible to verify if the images show the same pallets of cash transferred by the Obama administration.

The footage also claims that the Obama administration insisted the negotiations over the matter take place in secret and threatened Iranian officials who may have leaked information to the media.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump referenced the footage in remarks this week, claiming that it is part of an effort by Iran to embarrass the United States.

“They have a perfect tape, done by obviously a government camera and the tape is of the people taking the money off the plane, right?” Trump said. “That means that in order to embarrass us further, Iran sent us the tapes, right?”

“It’s a military tape; it’s a tape that was a perfect angle, nice and steady, nobody getting nervous because they’re gonna be shot because they’re shooting a picture of money pouring off a plane,” Trump said.

The footage is part of a February documentary published by Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, which is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The documentary purported to reveal behind-the-scenes details of the negotiations with the United States to free the American hostages. It maintains the negotiations were tied up in efforts to push the Iran nuclear agreement forward as it moved towards implementation.

Obama’s Ransom Payment (4)

August 4, 2016

Obama’s Ransom Payment (4), Power LineScott Johnson, August 4, 2016

As in all matters related to the Obama administration’s dealing with Iran, the abasement of the United States is complete, the humiliation thorough, the lying pervasive, the damage devastating, the scandal hiding in plain sight.

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The United States purchased $400 million of cash in European currencies from European central banks; the cash was purchased with American dollars. The United States then delivered the $400 million in cash to the Iranian regime in an unmarked cargo plane on the day that four Americans held by the Iranian regime were released. The transaction was kept secret from the American people. Among other things, the Obama administration sought to conceal the obvious.

Jay Solomon and Carol Lee reported the transaction in a page-one Wall Street Journal story earlier this week. The Journal’s Devlin Barrett has now followed up with a story on the Department of Justice’s objections to the transaction.

Solomon and Lee explain the indirection in the cash payment: “The $400 million was paid in foreign currency because any transaction with Iran in U.S. dollars is illegal under U.S. law.” This is the kind of workaround that would land lesser mortals in prison.

Solomon and Lee somewhat cruelly note: “Since the cash shipment, the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guard has arrested two more Iranian-Americans. Tehran has also detained dual-nationals from France, Canada and the U.K. in recent months.”

In following developments related to the nuclear deal with Iran, I have frequently found the Iranian press and Iranian authorities to be a more reliable source of information on their dealing with the Obama administration than the administration itself. I believe that is the case here as well. Solomon and Lee add: “Iranian press reports have quoted senior Iranian defense officials describing the cash as a ransom payment. The Iranian foreign ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.”

Obama administration spokesman Josh Earnest is not so shy. He was asked about Solomon and Lee’s story at his daily press conference yesterday. C-SPAN has posted the video here. The White House has posted the transcript here.

Earnest was in a tough spot. He defends the indefensible. He denies the undeniable. He castigates those who have observed that Emperor Obama wears no clothes. According to Earnest, they are liars and worse. It is truly a disgusting performance.

I have gone through the transcript to extract questions and excerpt answers of interest. I can only say that it is worth reading. What he says is as interesting as what he doesn’t say.

Has any of the cash gone to support Iran’s terrorist activities? Earnest responds at various points:

[T]he Iranian government has spent the money largely in the way that we expected that they would.

The analysis that we’ve done confirms what we predicted — is that, largely, that money was spent to address the dire economic condition of the nation of Iran.

The President was quite forward-leaning, in advance of the nuclear deal even being completed, in acknowledging that we know that Iran supports terrorism. We know that Iran supports Hezbollah and the Assad regime. And it certainly is possible that some of the money that Iran has is being used for those purposes too.

I think, Ron, the point is right now that we do know how Iran has spent a lot of that money. And the amount of money that Iran has received is far less than what critics predicted. So they were either wrong or lying. You can go ask them.

I trust you can translate the double-talk and disparagement on your own. It sets the pattern here.

Why are we only learning about this particular transaction now? Drawing on the classic scandal playbook, Earnest asserts that this is old news. This is almost laughable:

I guess the point that I’m trying to make, Margaret, is we could not possibly have been more transparent about this arrangement than to have the President of the United States announce it to all of you on live national television on the day that the agreement was reached.

What about the timing of the cash payment coincident with the release of the American prisoners? Analyze this:

Q This financial dispute you mentioned has been going on for 35 years. Why was it necessary to airlift in the pallets of cash on the very weekend that the American prisoners were released?

MR. EARNEST: Again, Scott, the reason is simple. The United States does not have a banking relationship with Iran. So —

Q That explains that it was cash, but it doesn’t explain the timing.

MR. EARNEST: Because we reached the agreement and Iran wanted their money back. So, again —

Q They waited 35 years.

MR. EARNEST: Right, so you might expect that they would be eager for them to get their money back. Again, this all stems from a payment that Iran had made into a U.S. account related to a military sale that didn’t actually go through. The military equipment wasn’t provided. So, again, you could understand why they’re quite eager for the money.

You also would understand that they’re quite eager for the money when you consider that the value of their currency has plummeted, that they haven’t been able to invest in infrastructure, that they’ve got debts that need to be paid, and that they’re in the middle of a recession. So at the time, they were eager to try to address the legitimate concerns of the Iranian people about the state of the Iranian economy.

Q And why was the U.S. government so eager to pay —

MR. EARNEST: I’m sorry?

Q Why was the U.S. eager to deliver the money so quickly?

MR. EARNEST: Well, again, I would not describe the United States as eager — I would describe the Iranians as eager. I think what the United States is, is we’re a country that lives up to the commitments that we make. And that’s exactly what we did.

Another reporter takes a whack:

Q So it’s been called a ransom payment by Iran. That’s not exactly surprising. But would those prisoners have been released had this payment not been made at the time that it was? And so it isn’t essentially a ransom payment then, even if the U.S. does not view it that way?

MR. EARNEST: No. It is not a ransom payment. The United States does not view it that way, and it’s not accurate to describe it that way.

Q So would those prisoners have been released then if this money hadn’t been paid then?

MR. EARNEST: Well, again, I think what is true is that there were a team of negotiators — let me just start from the beginning. What I know is true is there were a team of negotiators in the United States that were interacting with Iranian officials to secure the release of five Americans who were unjustly detained in Iran. That negotiating work was successful and those Americans are at home….

Hmmmm. He really doesn’t want to answer the question. He seems to be taking a long way around avoiding the answer. Then another reporter pursues the point and Earnest resorts to the ad hominem attacks that should be a red flag to sentient observer:

Q I think a lot more people find this interesting than just people who are opposed to it. But, again, would those prisoners have been released then if this money had not been paid then?

MR. EARNEST: What I can tell you is that our negotiators who were talking with the Iranians about what was necessary to secure the release of American citizens in Iran succeeded. That was different than the group of negotiators who were involved in The Hague negotiating with their Iranian counterparts to settle these longstanding financial claims.

Q So because U.S. policy is opposed to ransom payments, even if it were only for the appearance of this not being a ransom payment, why would you not have made Iran wait even a week longer? I mean, why would Iran’s eagerness to get their hands on their money be more important than making sure that this was not a quid pro quo that was based on the exact timing being right?

MR. EARNEST: Well, I think the answer to that is pretty obvious, which is that even a week delay would not have prevented Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio from falsely claiming that they’re a ransom. Because, Michelle, come on, I saw you sigh. If we announced this financial settlement on the same day that the prisoners were released, that’s fodder to our Republican critics. I get that.

After other questions a reporter comes back to the question of ransom:

Q Thanks, Josh. If I can circle back to Iran briefly. Is it your contention that it is not a ransom payment because there was no quid pro quo or because it was Iranian money that was flown in?

MR. EARNEST: It is our contention that there was no ransom paid to secure the release of U.S. citizens who were being unjustly detained in Iran because, A, it’s against the policy of the U.S. government to pay ransoms. And that’s something that we told the Iranians that we would not do. We would not — we have not, we will not pay a ransom to secure the release of U.S. citizens. That’s a fact. That is our policy and that is one that we have assiduously followed.

You don’t have to be a student of logic to observe that there is a certain circularity in Earnest’s answer.

As in all matters related to the Obama administration’s dealing with Iran, the abasement of the United States is complete, the humiliation thorough, the lying pervasive, the damage devastating, the scandal hiding in plain sight.

Obama’s Ransom Payment (2)

August 3, 2016

Obama’s Ransom Payment (2), Power LineScott Johnson, August 3, 2016

Iran has taken more hostages since the deal and now is looking for another ransom – Tehran went back to arresting American hostages after releasing the last round, and are now seeking another billion dollar deal in the last six months of the administration

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In the adjacent post Paul Mirengoff extracts the key points from the page-one Wall Street Journal story by Jay Solomon and Carol Lee reporting the Obama administration’s covert cash payment of $400 million to our enemies in Iran as they released four Americans they had detained. Omri Ceren has also emailed a useful summary of key points. Despite the repetition, I thought readers might find it of interest. Omri writes:

(1) It was indeed a ransom payment – negotiators originally established a formula of people for people: American nationals held by Iran for Iranian nationals held by America. But then the Iranians started demanding billions of dollars as well. Iranian officials later bragged they coerced the ransom out of U.S. diplomats —

The U.S. and Iran entered into secret negotiations to secure the release of Americans imprisoned in Iran in November 2014… The discussions… initially focused solely on a formula whereby Iran would swap the Americans detained in Tehran for Iranian nationals held in U.S. jails… But around Christmas, the discussions dovetailed with… the old arms deal. The Iranians were demanding the return of $400 million… They also wanted billions of dollars as interest accrued since then… a report by an Iranian news site close to the Revolutionary Guard, the Tasnim agency, said the cash arrived in Tehran’s Mehrabad airport on the same day the Americans departed. 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.

(2) The administration hid the details from Congress – Lawmakers have been pressing the administration for six months to provide more details about how and where the money went, among other things because Iran has been transferring money for military purposes. They’ve made little progress —

The Obama administration has refused to disclose how it paid any of the $1.7 billion, despite congressional queries, outside of saying that it wasn’t paid in dollars. Lawmakers have expressed concern that the cash would be used by Iran to fund regional allies, including the Assad regime in Syria and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization. The U.S. and United Nations believe Tehran is subsidizing the Assad regime’s war in Syria through cash and energy shipments. Iran has acknowledged providing both financial and military aid to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and deploying Iranian soldiers there.

(3) The administration used cash to dodge the effects of sanctions against Iran – banks don’t want to touch Iran’s financial system because of years of sanctions for terrorism, money laundering, etc. The State Department and Treasury Department enlisted the Swiss and Dutch governments to route hard cash to Iran to circumvent those problems —

The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said… “Sometimes the Iranians want cash because it’s so hard for them to access things in the international financial system,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the January cash delivery. “They know it can take months just to figure out how to wire money from one place to another.”… Mr. Kerry and the State and Treasury departments sought the cooperation of the Swiss and Dutch governments… the Obama administration transferred the equivalent of $400 million to their central banks. It was then converted into other currencies, stacked onto the wooden pallets and sent to Iran on board a cargo plane.

(4) Iran has taken more hostages since the deal and now is looking for another ransom – Tehran went back to arresting American hostages after releasing the last round, and are now seeking another billion dollar deal in the last six months of the administration —

Since the cash shipment…the Revolutionary Guard has arrested two more Iranian-Americans. Tehran has also detained dual-nationals from France, Canada and the U.K. in recent months. 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.”… 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… 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.