New York Times Says Obama Didn’t Pay Ransom, Changes Definition Of Ransom

New York Times Building. REUTERS.

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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The indignant Tuesday editorial at The New York Times declaring the Iran ransom accusations levied at the Obama administration “fake,” ignores several key facts and ignores the definition of “ransom.”

The NYT emphatically declared “the Obama administration did not pay $400 million in ‘ransom’ to secure the release of three American detainees.” This declaration reveals TheNYT is parroting the Obama administration’s narrative that the U.S. was required to pay Iran the money already, and used the existing payment as “leverage.”

When the hostage release was announced on January 17, Obama only credited “strong American diplomacy.” Obama went on to hold up the release as an example of what was possible with his restoration of relations with Iran. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised “the relationships forged and the diplomatic channels unlocked over the course of the nuclear talks.”

This narrative held until The Wall Street Journal reported Obama authorized a secret airlift of wooden pallets stacked with various currencies totaling $400 million to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the exact same day the hostages were released. Obama claims he announced the payment concurrent with the hostage announcement, and declared on August 4, “The United States does not pay ransom and does not negotiate ransoms.”

Obama insisted The $400 million was promised by the U.S. to Iran under a larger $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration made with Iran. The Shah of Iran reportedly paid billions of dollars for weapons that the U.S. never delivered after the Islamic revolution in 1979. Obama agreed to repatriate the money, saying the U.S. would likely have to pay the sum back under a Hague arbitration settlement, and that his solution would save taxpayers money.

Days later the Wall Street Journal further reported that Saeed Abedini, a hostage released in the exchange, said his plane could not take off until the movements of a second plane were confirmed. The second plane was the U.S. cargo plane carrying $400 million in cash.

In the wake of the Journal’s report, State Department spokesman John Kirby was forced to admit the link between the payments and the hostage release but continued to insist it was not ransom. Kirby told reporters August 18 “We of course wanted to seek maximum leverage in this case as these two things came together at the same time.”

The Times and the Obama administration are spuriously using the word leverage, to deny the clear exchange of U.S. money for captive prisoners held by Iran. This action is by definition ransom. Whether Iran was owed the money by the U.S. or not, circumstances confirm that the hostages release was directly tied to the money’s release. These circumstances all but confirm Obama paid ransom to Iran, emboldening the regime’s practice of kidnapping Americans.

“We now know it was ransom. And on top of that it put more American lives at risk. And we’ve emboldened Iran. We’ve encouraged them, frankly, to take more hostages and put more American lives at risk of being taken hostage,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce told The New York Times on August 18.

The Times and Obama administration officials dispute the ransom narrative, claiming the payment was part of a series of scheduled payments and happened to coincide with the hostage release. The $400 million was promised by the U.S. to Iran under a larger $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration made with Iran.

“It seems the Obama Administration will bend over backwards to accommodate the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism,” Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Jeb Hensarling said in a statement. Hensarling has dispatched letters to the Department of Justice, the Treasury, and the Fed to investigate the further details of the administration’s payments. The administration has refused to acknowledge the method of payment for the balance of the 1.7 billion dollar payment.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps General Reza Naghdi further confirmed the ransom story in January, telling Iranian state media “Taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies.”

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