They knew it’d look like a ransom payment.
The Department of Justice did not want the Obama administration to send $400 million as Iran released four Americans due to the image it may portray. The administration struck down the request:
The timing and manner of the payment raised alarms at the Justice Department, according to those familiar with the discussions. “People knew what it was going to look like, and there was concern the Iranians probably did consider it a ransom payment,’’ said one of the people.
When The Wall Street Journal reported the payment, eyebrows indeed raised because it looked like a ransom payment. President Barack Obama said the payment “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 DOJ said they did not object to the settlement, but just wanted the administration to think and schedule it for another time:
Justice Department officials didn’t object to the $1.7 billion settlement, which they viewed as a bargain given decades of inflation and the circumstances of the original deal, these people said.
But their concerns show that even within the Obama administration there were worries that the pallets of cash could send the wrong signal to Iran—and potentially to others—about U.S. policy when it came to hostages.
The U.S. has a longstanding policy of not paying ransom to hostage-takers. The issue has long been a difficult one for the Justice Department and the FBI, which was criticized last year for providing intelligence assistance to a U.S. family as it tried to buy the freedom of an American aid worker in Pakistan.
The payment also came when Iran and the West agreed on a nuclear deal. Obama celebrated the deal and the release by saying “the time was right to resolve this dispute as well.” However, Obama never mentioned that they just sent $400 million “in an unmarked cargo plane.”
The DOJ was correct. Senators do not buy the administration’s explanation.
Now Congress wants to pass legislation that will stop the administration from sending more money to Iran and provide details of this $1.7 billion deal:
“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.”
CIA Director John Brennan insists Iran has used the money “for development projects” like supporting its own currency, providing “moneys to departments and agencies, build up its infrastructure.”DONATE
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