When given a chance to offer this thoughts last week on the $400 million the Obama administration secretly flew over to Iran for the release of four American hostages, Lt. Col. Oliver North pulled no punches. “Been there, done that,” said North, arguing that the transfer of cash was “clearly a ransom.”
As the man who was at the center of the infamous Iran-Contra Affair, North provided a particularly poignant perspective on the administration’s Iran hostage deal. Asked Wednesday by Greta Van Susteren if he thought that the secret shipping of $400 million in cash via unmarked cargo plane the same day as Iran finally released four American prisoners was a ransom, North said absolutely.
“Been there, done that,” said North. “This is clearly a ransom. Why else would you move it in foreign currency, shrink-wrapped on an aircraft in the middle of the night? This is ransom.”
“How is this different from what you did?” asked Susteren.
“Well, first of all the Iranians paid us, we didn’t pay them. You may remember the transaction was Israeli [TOW missiles]—which had been doctored so they wouldn’t work—shipped. And for each shipment we received a hostage and millions of dollars, which I, of course, used for the Nicaraguan resistance. That’s a matter of congressional record, as they say. The reality of it is, this is blatant. It’s however not something that’s unique, it’s not a precedent.”
Van Susteren pushed on that idea, noting it’s not current U.S. policy to work such deals. In response, North stressed that he was not “justifying” ransom payments. The host underscored that despite all the evidence, the Obama administration keeps insisting that it was not a ransom, which North expanded on.
“This administration has consistently deceived people about as to what they’re doing,” said North, going on to list the administration’s high profile deceptions, including Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, Obamacare, Benghazi, and Clinton’s email server, among others.
North also discussed the issue with Sean Hannity last week, providing even more detail about the Iran-Contra deal and noting the similarities and differences in the two negotiations.
“Yes, this was a ransom,” North told Hannity concerning the Obama administration’s $400 million payment. “Look it, the very first demand by the Iranians when I met with them in 1985 was a refund of the $400 million from the Shah, a down payment on weapons he wanted to buy. That’s what they wanted from Jimmy Carter. That’s what they wanted from me.”
North worked in a soft jab at Secretary of State John Kerry: “You know, it turns out I was actually a better negotiator than John Kerry. We didn’t send money to the Iranians. They paid us. I know. I was the one who had to sit down on the other side of the table with the likes of Ahmadinejad and Rouhani.”
“What they wanted first of all was that $400 million. They got it from this administration,” he said.
North then explained some of the differences between the deal he helped negotiate and the one negotiated by the Obama administration, which, he suggested, was far worse.
“The Israeli ship TOWs, and we got hostages and Iranian money,” he said. “The TOWs were doctored so they wouldn’t work, and we had an interpreter, thank god, who was there and confirmed that. We used the money from the Ayatollah to support a pro-democracy unit in Central America. Is that the right thing to do? Apparently a lot of people decided otherwise. But we didn’t have to do things like they did it.”
“I mean think about this,” he concluded. “There’s an American transport plane right behind the shipment of money, and they’re telling me this isn’t ransom? It defies reality. Why didn’t somebody ask that at the press conference today?”
H/T Larry O’Connor