Democratic New York Rep. Pat Ryan condemned the Biden administration’s prisoner swap with Iran, saying during a Monday CNN appearance that the exchange was “rewarding bad behavior.”
Five Americans detained in Iran have been released as part of a deal the Biden administration struck with the country that including releasing several Iranian nationals along with unfreezing $6 billion in assets. The deal has been called a “ransom” payment by critics.
“We’ve been covering all morning the breaking news: it looks like [five] Americans on their way from an airport in Tehran to be freed … What we heard from Republicans in the lead-up to this agreement, which we knew was in process, was the $6 billion that would be unfrozen and administration officials say would be used for humanitarian aid only, is the equivalent of a ransom payment. What’s your response to that?” host Phil Mattingly asked.
“I think we have to look at the history of bad faith with the regime,” Ryan responded. “I don’t look at this with a Democrat or a Republican lens: I look at it with the lens of my experience and service, my view of what’s good for national security, and you saw the comments from the Iranian president over the last week or two of, ‘We’re gonna use this money however we want.'”
“Sure, we can say that we have some ability to have oversight over that, but I have real concerns about this deal,” Ryan continued. “I understand, and I understand the human side of it and the tragedy, but I am concerned that we’re rewarding bad behavior here, decades of bad behavior by the Iranian regime, so I think we have to look more closely at this.”
“Is this something you raised to the administration or will raise to the administration in terms of tracking that money [and] seeing where it goes?” Mattingly asked. (RELATED: Ted Cruz Blasts Biden’s Iran Deal, Says It’s ‘A Metaphysical Certainty’ The Money Will ‘Fund Terrorism’)
“Of course, I think in a bipartisan way, we have seen calls that, especially in the face of what the Iranian president has said, we have to follow this very closely,” Ryan answered. “We come in good faith — as we should, we should always be working towards diplomacy — but we come in good faith, they break that good faith, and yet we continue in the same pattern. So not only for this deal, which you said, is largely being executed today, actually, but going forward, we need to tighten the ratchets and tighten the oversight when it comes to the Iranian regime.”
“I faced these guys directly in Iran where they were killing my fellow soldiers, I have very little tolerance for their continued behavior,” he added. Ryan served an a U.S. Army intelligence officer from 2004 to 2009 and did two tours in Iraq.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave the green light last week for the deal, which allows Qatar to dole the $6 billion in assets back to Iran. The Biden administration granted the payment on the condition it would be used for humanitarian aid. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said, however, that Tehran has the “authority” to use the funds however it sees fit.