The Wall Street Journal published a blockbuster report on Wednesday exposing the fact that "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." The $400 million in cash was part of a $1.7 billion settlement over a military arms deal the U.S. made with Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi's government in 1979 before the Iranian Revolution. President Barack Obama's critics have rightly described this as a ransom payment.
Obama attempted to spin it by declaring in a news conference, "We announced these payments in January, many months ago. They weren't a secret. This wasn't some nefarious deal."
State Department spokesman John Kirby responded to the Journal's report by saying, "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."
1. Despite what Obama and his media sycophants are claiming, the payment was conducted in secret. Media Matters, which has a bad habit of carrying water for the Obama administration, is using reports that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry announced the $400 million payment back in January. In attempting to defend their leftist godking, Media Matters committed a classic bait-and-switch fallacy: the $400 million payment itself may not have been secret, but the talks with Iran certainly were, as was the fact that they delivered the money to the Iranian regime via an airplane with foreign currency in blatant disregard of the law.
"Nothing screams 'this is legitimate and required under international law' like flying an unmarked cargo plane packed with foreign currency into a rogue regime's capital -- conduct that the US government typically forbids and punishes," writes Townhall's Guy Benson.
This naturally begs the question of why this was conducted in secret if it wasn't a ransom payment.
2. Iran is making it loud and clear that they view it as a ransom payment.
Hot Air's John Sexton also links to other key pieces of evidence that Iran views this as a ransom payment:
- Iranian Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi is quoted as saying: "This money was returned for the freedom of the U.S. spy [Jason Rezaian] and it was not related to the [nuclear] negotiations."
- Iran's TV networks showed a documentary that seems to claim that "pallets of cash" were used as "part of the 'expensive price' to release Americans."
3. One of the released prisoners said it was a ransom payment. Saeed Abedini, one of the released prisoners, said the following in an interview with Fox Business's Trish Regan, via Independent Journal Review: (emphasis bolded)
Saeed Abidini [sic]: I just remember the night at the airport sitting for hours and hours there and I asked police— why you not letting us go — And he told me we are waiting for another plane and if that plane take off we gonna let you go.
Trish Regan: You slept there at the airport?
Abidini [sic]: Yes, for a night. They told us you going to be there for 20 minutes but it took hours and hours. And I ask them why you don’t let us go, because the — was there, pilot was there, everyone was there to leave the country. And he said we are waiting for another plane so if that plane doesn’t come we never let us go.
Given the Journal's report exposing the fact that the $400 million payment was delivered by aircraft, it's only logical to infer that that's the plane that Abedini is referring to in the interview.
4. The Obama administration has paid ransom to Iran before. According to National Review's Fred Fleitz, the administration "paid $500,000 each to free American hikers captured by Iran in 2011 through the government of Oman," meaning that the administration has already shown that it's more than happy to pay ransom to the Iranian government.
5. The Obama administration has also lied repeatedly about the Iran deal. Benson has chronicled how security advisor Ben Rhodes lied to help sell the Iran deal to the American people and how the State Department edited out a key segment of a video where "then-spokeswoman Jen Psaki appeared to confirm to Fox News correspondent James Rosen that misleading the press is sometimes a necessary element of secret diplomacy." Those two key instances demonstrate the Obama administration's willingness to lie about its dealings with Iran in order to ram through their agenda. There's no reason to believe that the Obama administration is being truthful with regard to the $400 million payment as well.