“A little bit of money” revisited

The Democrats can’t wait to realign American policy on Iran consistent with the inclinations of the mullahcracy. It is a bloody disgrace. Lee Smith performs a great service reminding us of the essential elements of Obama’s policy in the Tablet column “Obama passed the buck.” I had forgotten some of the details. I strongly recommend Lee’s refresher course.

The cash and other financial resources made available to Iran in part as ransom and in part to secure the JCPOA aren’t the worst of it, but they have done great damage. Lee puts it this way (and I think he has it right):

There were several money streams the former White House poured into the regime. One was sanctions relief, worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Last month Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that in leaving the JCPOA and reimposing sanctions, Trump cost the regime $200 billion. The Obama administration provided another source of income by unlocking escrow accounts when the deal was implemented in January 2016, flooding the regime with some $100 billion in previously frozen oil receipts.

The most infamous payoff was the $1.7 billion in cash the administration shipped off to the IRGC on wooden pallets in exchange for U.S. citizens held hostage by the regime. The White House said that there was no “quid pro quo,” that it was Iran’s money to begin with—$400 million the pre-revolutionary government had deposited in 1979 to buy U.S. arms, plus interest. But the U.S. had already used the $400 million to compensate terror victims of the Islamic Republic. That was Iran’s money. The $400 million the Obama administration used to “pay back” the Iranians belonged to the U.S. taxpayer.

Of course, that’s not how Obama administration Secretary of State John Kerry puts it. We have the spectacle of John Kerry defending Obama’s policy with an explanation like this one last week reported by the Washington Free Beacon: “Kerry on $1.7 Billion Payment to Iran: ‘We Gave Them a Little Bit of Money’”

Kerry appeared on the CBS Sunday morning gabfest and was pressed mildly on this point by host Margaret Brennan (transcript here). The clip below captures the exchange.

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