Patterico's Pontifications

8/3/2016

I Guess It Depends On What The Definition of “Ransom” Is

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:54 pm

[guest post by Dana]

It looks like it was a $400 million ransom payment, but Josh Earnest is saying Hell no!

First this:

The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.

The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

The settlement, which resolved claims before an international tribunal in The Hague, also coincided with the formal implementation that same weekend of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran, the U.S. and other global powers the summer before.

“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” President Barack Obama said at the White House on Jan. 17—without disclosing the $400 million cash payment.

Lest you think the timing of the payment and the prisoner release suspicious, don’t. It was just a happy coincidence:

“As we’ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claim…were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. “Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side, including, in the case of The Hague claims, by technical experts involved in these negotiations for many years.”

At a presser today, Josh Earnest demonstrated that famous most-transparent-administration-ever attitude:

Untitled

Here are the arguments that it was a ransom:

U.S. officials acknowledged that Iranian negotiators wanted the cash to show they had gotten something in return.

Despite Secretary of State John Kerry claiming the prisoner release “unlocked” diplomatic channels, Iran has since arrested two additional Iranian-Americans.

Senior Iranian defense officials claimed the cash was indeed a ransom payment.

Iranian news sites reported the money arrived on the same day the American prisoners went home.

Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi, a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, bragged: “Taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies.”

And arguments that it was not:

Earnest and senior U.S. officials denied the cash was ransom. (Hahahaha!)

The payment was part of a settlement between Iran and the U.S. over a failed arms deal from 1979.

Different teams in both Iran and the U.S conducted the negotiations for the payment and prisoner release.

It was the first installment of the settlement, which is worth $1.7 billion overall.

Then, this afternoon we learn that not everyone thought this was a good idea:

Senior Justice Department officials objected to sending a plane loaded with cash to Tehran at the same time that Iran released four imprisoned Americans, but their objections were overruled by the State Department, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The timing and manner of the payment raised alarms at the Justice Department, according to those familiar with the discussions. “People knew what it was going to look like, and there was concern the Iranians probably did consider it a ransom payment,’’ said one of the people.

Apparently, there was also concern that this could weaken the president’s Iran deal before leaving office.

Further, the exorbitant dollar amount wasn’t even seen as exorbitant to officials. Their concerns centered around the world’s perception of the U.S. paying a ransom.

And there were other concerns:

The Justice Department raised other objections to the Iran deals. Prosecutors were concerned that the U.S. would release too many Iranian convicts and drop too many pending criminal cases against people suspected of violating sanctions laws.

They prevailed regarding some of the suspects—those accused or suspected of crimes of terrorism or other violence—but the objections on others were overruled, according to the people familiar with the discussions.

The cash transfer and prisoner exchange coincided with the formal implementation that same weekend of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran, the U.S. and other global powers the summer before.

Funny, no comment from Hillary Clinton

–Dana

Thomas Sowell on the Decision We Face

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:44 am

Thomas Sowell:

Voting for an out of control egomaniac like Donald Trump would be like playing Russian roulette with the future of this country. Voting for someone with a track record like Hillary Clinton’s is like putting a shotgun to your head and pulling the trigger. And not voting at all is just giving up.

Nobody said that being a good citizen would be easy.

In case you’re thinking: Trump is so scary we’d better vote Hillary, Sowell points out some hard facts:

With Hillary Clinton as president and Democrats in control of the Senate, she can appoint Supreme Court justices with as much contempt for the law as she has demonstrated herself, and Senate Democrats would rubber-stamp her choices.

Democrats have already shown their desire to stifle the free-speech rights of people who disagree with them on global warming and other issues. Hillary Clinton has made no secret of her desire to have the Supreme Court reverse its decision that corporations and labor unions both have free-speech rights.

The Obama Department of Justice has already been looking into ways that anti-racketeering laws can be used to threaten individuals and organizations that challenge the global warming scenario that has been used to promote more government control of what fuels can be used.

The Second Amendment right to have a gun is at least as threatened as the First Amendment right to free speech would be if Hillary Clinton gets to pick Supreme Court justices. The lifetime tenure of federal judges means that whoever is in the White House for the next four years can change the course of American law for decades to come, losing our freedoms irretrievably.

So if you want to give the country to a shrill harpy bent on eroding all our constitutional protections and entrenching incentive-crushing entitlements even further, vote Hillary.

In case you were thinking: I’m convinced! Let’s vote Trump! today’s news has some sobering reality for you:

Donald Trump asked a foreign policy expert advising him why the U.S. can’t use nuclear weapons, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said on the air Wednesday, citing an unnamed source who claimed he had spoken with the GOP presidential nominee.

“Several months ago, a foreign policy expert on the international level went to advise Donald Trump. And three times [Trump] asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked at one point if we had them why can’t we use them,” Scarborough said on his “Morning Joe” program.

Scarborough made the Trump comments 52 seconds into an interview with former Director of Central Intelligence and ex-National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden.

Stupid Joe Scarborough! We can’t trust him! Surely he made this up! Except . . .

The full transcript makes it clear that Trump is not eager to be the first to use a nuclear weapon. But if you’re honest, you know that to Trump, only his ego matters. He’s busy saying “I’m not there yet” regarding endorsing Paul Ryan, who has endorsed him, because those are the words Paul Ryan first used when asked about endorsing Trump. Party leaders are going ballistic, but it helps Trump’s ego. Trump has said he doesn’t mind losing the Senate to Democrats, even though that would mean he could never get a decent judicial nominee confirmed, or get any meaningful legislation passed. Why? Because losing the Senate wouldn’t hurt his ego. All that matters is that he wins. The country can go hang.

So if you want to entrust nuclear weaponry to a guy whose decision whether to use them will be based primarily on whether it will vindicate his bruised ego, vote Trump.

There’s only one conclusion, which Allahpundit has been pushing hard as of late.

Harambe 2016!

P.S. In case you’re concerned that your vote for Harambe may not count, I’ve checked California rules for the general election, and there are appear to be no rules against writing in an ape with no brain activity. Indeed, under well-established California law, candidates fitting that description may be elected governor or even Senator.


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