Just when the Obama administration thought that Hillary and Trump had distracted the media enough from the farcical $400 million 'payment' to Iran that 'coincided' with the delivery of four hostages, The Wall Street Journal reports senior Justice Department officials raised objections to the Iran cash handover- warning it "would look like a ransom payment."
As a reminder, The Hill reported that, President Obama chastised the press for their coverage of the payment, noting that the deal with Iran was announced months ago as part of a larger diplomatic settlement.
"This wasn’t some nefarious deal," Obama said.
“It’s been interesting to watch this story surface,” the president said. “Some of you may recall, we announced these payments in January. Many months ago. There wasn’t a secret, we announced them to all of you.”
"What we have is the manufacturing of outrage on a story that we disclosed in January,” he added later.
"The notion that we would somehow start now in this high-profile way, and announce it to the world, even as we’re looking in the faces of other families whose loved ones are being held hostage and say to them, ‘we don’t pay ransom,’ defies logic," Obama said.
Defies logic indeed - because having slammed the press for suggesting this was a "ransom payment," we discover that is exactly what The Justice Department warned...
In his remarks, the president didn’t mention the objections raised by his own appointees within the Justice Department, where, according to people familiar with the discussions, many officials raised alarms that the timing of the cash payment would look like ransom. (via WSJ)
The head of the national security division at the Justice Department was among the agency’s senior officials who objected to paying Iran hundreds of millions of dollars in cash at the same time that Tehran was releasing American prisoners, according to people familiar with the discussions.
John Carlin, a Senate-confirmed administration appointee, raised concerns when the State Department notified Justice officials of its plan to deliver to Iran a planeful of cash, saying it would be viewed as a ransom payment, these people said. A number of other high-ranking Justice officials voiced similar concerns as the negotiations proceeded, they said.
The U.S. paid Iran $400 million in cash on Jan. 17 as part of a larger $1.7 billion settlement of a failed 1979 arms deal between the U.S. and Iran that was announced that day. Also on that day, Iran released four detained Americans in exchange for the U.S.’s releasing from prison—or dropping charges against—Iranians charged with violating sanctions laws. U.S. officials have said the swap was agreed upon in separate talks.
The objection of senior Justice Department officials was that Iranian officials were likely to view the $400 million payment as ransom, thereby undercutting a longstanding U.S. policy that the government doesn’t pay ransom for American hostages, these people said. The policy is based on a concern that paying ransom could encourage more Americans to become targets for hostage-takers.
Of course the official line now from the Justice Department is that the agency “fully supported the ultimate outcome of the administration’s resolution of several issues with Iran," including the settlement of the long-running arms case, “as well as the return of U.S. citizens detained in Iran."
The Wall Street Journal notes that the department has declined to discuss interagency deliberations.
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As a reminder, the four hostages that were allegedly exchanged for the $400 million ransom are the following.
L to R: Matt Trevithick (Photo Credit Robin Wright) Amir Hekmati, Jason Rezaian
(Photo Credit AP), Saeed Abedini (News 4).
And last week, one of the US Iranian hostage shown above, Saeed Abidini, spoke to FOX Business and explained that the Iranian regime would not let his plane leave Tehran until the ransom plane arrived, Gateway Pundit reports.
They waited on the tarmac for hours.
Saeed Abidini: 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: 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.
As far as we are aware there has still been no official confirmation of the timing of the arrival of the payments and the departure of the hostages... and maybe, just maybe, reporters were not so crazy to 'think' that this was indeed a hostage ransom.