The Obama administration’s denial that the $400 million cash payment to Iran — a payment that coincided to the day with the release of hostages — was a ransom would be hilarious, but for the fact that the money went to a regime whose motto is “death to America.”
To my knowledge, the administration does not dispute the fact that without the payment, the hostages wouldn’t have been released. That’s what the Iranians say, and they would know.
Nor is it possible to believe that without the release of the hostages, the Obama administration would have forked over such a large amount of money in cash and in such a bizarre manner, over the objections of the Department of Justice. Even Barack Obama is not that craven.
Finally, the Wall Street Journal’s reporting that the payments were agreed upon in the context of negotiations over releasing hostages appears to be undisputed.
Thus, the transaction easily meets the definition of a ransom: “a sum of money or other payment demanded or paid for the release of a prisoner.” Here the payment was demanded and paid for the release. That other issues were resolved in the process does not change this.
Ironically, State Department spokesman John Kirby, who is dutifully pushing the “this was not a ransom” line, said around the time of the hostage release, “nobody is handing [Iran] some sort of windfall of cash.” Another State Department official added, “[T]here’s a common misperception that on implementation day a big suitcase full of cash shows up in Tehran and all of a sudden they have all this money, which I think is really – does a disservice to what actually is going to happen.”
They were referring to sanctions relief and they were right that this relief entailed no immediate handover of cash. But, in effect, a big suitcase full of cash did show up in Tehran the day of the hostage release. To claim this was a coincidence may not be the biggest lie of the Obama administration, but it is probably the most brazen.