Unable to keep the $400 million cash drop to Iran off the front pages, the Obama administration came out swinging today with denials, conspiracy-theory-accusations, and allegations of biased reportingas the mainstream media was forced by the striking actions of The White House to ask uncomfortable questions.
Bloomberg reports that critics of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran say the payment was ransom, a contention the White House has strongly denied; that it will encourage Iran to take more Americans hostage; and that it’s likely the money will be funneled into terrorist groups.
“If true, this report confirms our longstanding suspicion that the administration paid a ransom in exchange for Americans unjustly detained in Iran," House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said in a statement.
"It would also mark another chapter in the ongoing saga of misleading the American people to sell this dangerous nuclear deal."
Obama administration officials have, of course, dismissed the controversy as old news, noting that the settlement was fully disclosed by the White House and State Department at the time the Iran nuclear deal was announced.
“The United States of America does not pay ransom and doesn’t negotiate ransoms with any country -- we never have and we’re not doing that now," Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday in Buenos Aires.
As The Hill reports, 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, like the logic of "keeping your doctor if you like him" or the logic of "no boots on the ground in Syria"? But to summarize, today we got "look over there at Donald Trump"-distractions and "We do not negotiate ransoms with any country" jabbed Kerry; "We do not pay ransom for hostages" lambasted Obama; "it defies logic" snapped Earnest.
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Still, one big question has yet to be answered, for the second day in fact. It's a simple question: did the hostages' plane leave before or after the plane arrived carrying pallets full of $400 million worth of non-USD-denominated cash?
Yesterday the question was asked by James Rosen... and not answered: "I might be able to you an answer on that..."
,,, and today, none other than The Associated Press' Matt Lee asked again: "we're still looking into it"
Still no answer: Odd for the "most transparent adminstration ever" not to have this kind of basic, flight information at their fingertips: tracking $400 million worth of US taxpayer money - in cash - and the lives of four members of the American military?
Of course, we suspect the explanation is simple and the two planes just happened to coincidentally arrive on the tarmac at the same time and the hostages and the money carriers merely discussed grandkids and golf games.
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And then, later today, we may have stumbled what really happened.
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).
Today, one of the US Iranian hostage shown above, Saeed Abidini, spole 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.
Hopefully, this can jog Mr. Toner's memory if the hostage plane left before or after the "non-rasom" cash arrived.