Yesterday Barack Obama gave a brief presser at the Pentagon. The subject was ISIS and we learned a couple of things. First, that the defeat of ISIS is inevitable despite all the evidence we see to the contrary. I guess that in the same way we’ve always been at war with East Asia, the defeat of ISIS has always been inevitable. Second, he warned us about the danger of “lone wolf” attacks and remains oblivious to the possibility that if you have enough “lone wolves” you have a “pack.” In short, it was quintessential Barack Obama. There was denial, wishcasting, obfuscation, dishonesty, arrogance, and cravenness all stirred together in a potent stew and slung about as though it was meaningful.
What was most amusing, though, was Obama denying that the United States had paid a $400 million ransom to free four captive Americans when he had portrayed that release, back in January, as a triumph of his diplomacy. I posted on the story here. Here you see him, for seven long minutes, denying to reporters that the $400 million IN CASH that was delivered to the Iranians was ransom.
The core of Obama’s argument consists of two lies. First, he conflates the settlement of a decades long legal battle with Iran and the
hostage prisoner release. According to the administration statements at the time, the two things were not part of the same deal. They were separate. The prisoner release, specifically, was portrayed as something attributable to improving US-Iran relations. He repeatedly brings the discussion back to that argument. Secondly, he claims that the terms of the prisoner release was known to Congress. It wasn’t.
Let’s look at these one at a time.
In this interview, one of the released prisoners, Pastor Saeed Abedini, talks about the release on Fox Business News
ABEDINI: I just remember the night that we’ve been in an airport – you know – just take hours and hours there. And I asked one of the intelligence police heads that was with us – that why we were not letting us to go to the [inaudible] plane and he told me we are waiting for another plane. And if that plane takes off then we are going to let you go.
REGAN: So did they actually take you out of the prison that you were in? And I want to get to the conditions that you had to live through in just a moment, but they took you out of your prison and brought you to an airport?
ABEDINI: Yeah we were at the airport for a night and you know they told us –
REGAN: – so you slept there at the airport?
ABEDINI: Yes for a night. And, you know, they told us you are going to be there for 20 minutes but it took like hours and hours. We slept at the airport and when I asked them why you don’t let us go – because the plane was there, pilot was there, everyone was ready that we leave the country – they said we are waiting for another plane. And until that plane doesn’t come we never let you go.
REGAN: So eventually another plane came, and did they then put you on that plane or were they just waiting for that plane, and I think you know where I am going with this, were they effectively waiting for the money to come in before they then let you take off?
ABEDINI: Yeah they didn’t talk about money they just told us about – they told me – about the plane. And you know the plane of Prime Minister of Switzerland was already in Iran, which you know we came back with that plane actually – so their reason that they said you are here in the airport was just because we were waiting for another plane.
REGAN: Okay so what happened did the other plane eventually land or did it land at another airport somewhere else?
ABEDINI: After that they never told anything to me and I didn’t see anything, you know –
REGAN: So do you have any idea how many hours you actually waited for this other plane?
ABEDINI: For a night. You know we went to the airport I think it was like 2, 3pm and we waited there for a whole night. And we, you know, fly back I think the day after at 10 in the morning.
And the State Department does not deny the chronology even thought they continue to say there was no ransom paid. This on Wednesday:
ROSEN/FOX: Can you at least assure us that the hostages were in the process of being set free prior to the touching down of this plane with the pallets of cash?
TONER: I’m – so – and I’m going to be very precise here. So – and I was actually with the Secretary in Vienna, I want to say, when we did reach the – this was the night of the implementation of the JCPOA. And as I said, it was a moment where three separate lines of effort were culminating at the same time. And all of them were, as I said, separate but distinct lines of effort operating concurrently. You had the JCPOA implementation day, you had the freeing of the American hostages or detainees, and you also had this Hague settlement taking place. So as to the timing, I simply don’t – I can’t answer conclusively that these hostage – or these detainees, Americans, were on a plane before that money arrived. I might be able to get you an answer on that, but what I can say —
ROSEN/FOX: If you could take it as a taken question.
MR TONER: Sure. What I can say though categorically is that there was not any kind of understanding on the part of the Iranians and certainly not on the part of us that these two were linked, that one had to happen before the other would.
And this on Thursday:
LEE/AP: And then, yesterday, I believe you agreed to take the question from my colleague James Rosen about the timing of the plane carrying the – I won’t say cash; I’ll say just carrying the method of payment for the 400 million.
LEE/AP: Did it land in Tehran before or after the plane carrying the prisoners left Tehran for Geneva?
TONER: And I don’t believe we’ve gotten clarity on that as well either. In terms of the timing, I don’t have it.
Given the high profile this payment has received, do you really think it plausible that State couldn’t get an answer? No. They are sandbagging this and hoping the tsunami passes.
We also know, conclusively, that Congress was not informed. Rep. Mike Pompeo, a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence asked the Administration on January 21: “Did the $400 million claim or the $1.3 billion… ever come up, explicitly or vaguely, in conversations with the Iranians about the release of American hostages?” We also know that Rep. Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committed, asked on February 3: “Separate lists of all U.S. officials who participated in the negotiation with Iran over each of the following -this settlement agreement; -the release of the five American hostages.” The idea being that if these issues were not the same, then there should be separate negotiating teams.
The Administration ignored the requests.
This was a ransom of hostages that set the going price for an American anywhere in the world at $100 million. Obama, through his craven behavior, has just turned every American in the Third World into a cash machine for anyone with enough ambition to take them hostage.
Ironically, back in the 1980s it was the Democrats who were appalled that Ronald Reagan did something very similar to try to free US citizens held hostage by the Iranian funded, mentored, and led Lebanese Hezbollah. It nearly resulted in his impeachment.