Patterico's Pontifications

8/23/2016

Did Obama Lie About Not Being Able to Wire the Ransom Money to Iran?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:35 am

The lie is relevant to why they paid cash — a mechanism that looks like ransom, but which Obama hastened to explain was necessary for other reasons.

On August 4, Obama said we couldn’t wire money to Iran to settle a longrunning legal dispute:

“This wasn’t some nefarious deal,” Obama told reporters at the Pentagon. He pointed out that the payment, along with an additional $1.3 billion in interest to be paid later, was announced by the administration publicly when it was concluded in January, a day after the implementation of a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran. “It wasn’t a secret. We were completely open about it.”

Obama allowed that the one piece of new information, first reported this week by The Wall Street Journal, was that the $400 million was paid in cash. It was delivered to Iran on palettes aboard an unmarked plane.

“The only bit of news is that we paid cash,” he said. “The reason is because we couldn’t send them a check and we couldn’t wire the money. We don’t have a banking relationship with Iran which is part of the pressure we applied on them.”

Let’s talk about that “additional $1.3 billion in interest to be paid later.” Claudia Rosett at the New York Sun reports that Treasury transferred just under $1.3 billion to State in 13 identical payments, each a penny under $100,000,000. The transfers were made on January 19, 2016 — two days after the announcement of the settlement of the legal dispute.

Congressional investigators trying to uncover the trail of $1.3 billion in payments to Iran might want to focus on 13 large, identical sums that Treasury paid to the State Department under the generic heading of settling “Foreign Claims.”

The 13 payments when added to the $400 million that the administration now concedes it shipped to the Iranian regime in foreign cash would bring the payout to the $1.7 billion that President Obama and Secretary Kerry announced on January 17. That total was to settle a dispute pending for decades before the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in at The Hague.

The Sun raises the question why the payments were all barely under $100MM. Our pal Morgen Richmond, who brought this story to my qttention, surely has the answer:

So here’s another question. Was that money wired to Iran? The administration says it has already been paid. How? Lee Smith at The Weekly Standard asks the question.

Rosett continues: “State has refused to disclose even such basic information as the date on which Iran took receipt of the $1.3 billion. As recently as August 4, a State spokesman told the press: ‘I don’t have a date of when that took place.'”

However, last week Obama administration officials briefed reporters to explain that, according to Associated Press reporter Bradley Klapper’s Twitter feed, the $1.3 billion has already been paid. And, they said, paid “through [the Department of] Treasury” in an “‘above-board way.'”

It’s not clear what the senior administration officials meant by “above-board” but as the Judgment Fund website explains, the “preferred method” for payments is “by electronic fund transfer.”

If, as Rosett’s story suggests, the 13 payments the Judgment Fund sent to the State Department represents the $1.3 billion in interest, the administration has some questions to answer. Was the interest paid in cash like the $400 million, or by wire? If the latter, why was the $400 million paid in cash?

I think we all know the answer.

It was ransom. A very public and obvious ransom.

Well, I’m sure our brilliant, tenacious, and fair Big Media complex will dig further into it.


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