August 3, 2016

Did the Obama administration pay a $400 million cash ransom to free 4 Americans held captive by Iran?

You've probably seen this Wall Street Journal article — "U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed/Obama administration insists there was no quid pro quo, but critics charge payment amounted to ransom" — which is linked prominently at Drudge.
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....

Senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange. They say the way the various strands came together simultaneously was coincidental, not the result of any quid pro quo....

But U.S. officials also acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible....

Meanwhile, U.S. officials have said they were certain Washington was going to lose the arbitration in The Hague, where Iran was seeking more than $10 billion, and described the settlement as a bargain for taxpayers.

Iranian press reports have quoted senior Iranian defense officials describing the cash as a ransom payment. The Iranian foreign ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The $400 million was paid in foreign currency because any transaction with Iran in U.S. dollars is illegal under U.S. law. Sanctions also complicate Tehran’s access to global banks.

“Sometimes the Iranians want cash because it’s so hard for them to access things in the international financial system,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the January cash delivery. “They know it can take months just to figure out how to wire money from one place to another.”...
I'm just trying to understand the position of the Obama administration. There's a dispute dating back to the time of the Shah which is still in arbitration, which we were probably going to lose. I can't see when the arbitration was going to conclude or how much we were anticipating losing — only that the claim was for $10 billion and that our side is portraying $1.7 billion as a bargain. We're supposed to be happy our prisoners got free and to see the bargaining over the old claim as an independent deal, one that is advantageous to us because $1.7 billion is so much less than $10 billion. The other side made the deal, we're told, because they need the money and they get $400 million right away, in cash, without the delays and complications they'd have getting the money through the arbitration.

But they get one more thing: They can portray the payment as ransom for the prisoners.

My question is: How can they get the ability to boast that they got cash for the prisoners but we're not supposed to see it as cash for prisoners? Either it looks like ransom or it does not. How can it look like ransom for their purposes, in their propaganda, but not look like ransom in our propaganda?

One way out of that set of questions is to say: What matters is what it really is and not how it looks. It's not ransom. It's just 2 independent deals, and we got a great deal on one of them because we allowed the look of a ransom to be created, and they wanted that look so badly that they gave up a lot to get it. Yes, they are now doing their propaganda, and that's giving us an image problem, but we understood that was why we were getting that great $1.7 billion bargain. Now, the Obama administration is hoping that our people will be smart enough to understand that explanation and say thanks for resolving all those complicated problems to our advantage and for maintaining our longstanding commitment to not paying ransom.

But the reason to want a reputation for not paying ransom is to deter the capturing of Americans for ransom. If it is believed that we pay ransom — even if we did not — that deterrence is lost. I suppose the answer to that is that we did indeed lose something by giving some basis for thinking that we paid ransom, but it was worth it to get that $1.7 billion bargain.

114 comments:

David said...

Shouldn't this get the "sacrifice" tag?

rehajm said...

When a tax that isn't a tax is a tax.

Get used to much more of this.

damikesc said...

This is Iran/Contra --- except significantly worse and with no attempt to help an oppressed group fight a tyrannical regime.

And Obama was in on it from the word go.

And the press is perfectly OK with it because it is a Democrat doing it and they will simply ask the administration what is going on and just run with their talking points.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials have said they were certain Washington was going to lose the arbitration in The Hague, where Iran was seeking more than $10 billion, and described the settlement as a bargain for taxpayers.

Given that we aren't signatories to the ICC, The Hague's rulings have, literally, zero impact on the US. This is a total bullshit answer. I don't get how this Administration can paint "Well, this body that has no influence over us and that we are not obligated to abide by their rulings might give them MORE" is any sort of a valid argument.

We don't have to give them anything. They lost the money BECAUSE THEY TOOK OUR EMBASSY AND HELD AMERICANS AS HOSTAGES.

You forfeit shit for that type of behavior. But, we have to excuse the start of the Muslim campaign against the US by any means necessary, I guess. Our President has decided that America has wronged Muslims for no reason and must make amends, apparently.

But they get one more thing: They can portray the payment as ransom for the prisoners.

They've increased their pace of kidnapping --- sorry, "arresting" --- Western people in Iran now, so CLEARLY they saw it as ransom and an easy means to make money. We've basically killed off our long-standing policy of not paying ransoms because it leads to this because Obama was so desperate for ANY foreign policy "success" that he felt this was his best option.

My question is: How can they get the ability to boast that they got cash for the prisoners but we're not supposed to see it as cash for prisoners? Either it looks like ransom or it does not. How can it look like ransom for their purposes, in their propaganda, but not look like ransom in our propaganda?

Because us paying ransom hurts Obama and, therefore, we couldn't have paid ransom obviously.

Bill Crawford said...

No doubt this is being revealed now because Iran wants Trump to be elected.

Kevin said...

It depends on what the definition of "ransom" is...

In matters like this, Republicans require the avoidance of the appearance of impropriety.

Democrats only need plausible deniability for what's right in front of everyone's nose.

damikesc said...

Democrats only need plausible deniability for what's right in front of everyone's nose.

They seem negotiable on the "plausibility" thing.

rehajm said...

Democrats only need plausible deniability for what's right in front of everyone's nose.

They don't really need plausible anymore.

Jersey Fled said...

Damikesc has a good point. We've ignored judgements from the Hague numerous times in the past.

This is Obama's "the video made them do it" act again.

To call it plausible deny ability is to give outright lying a good name.

bbkingfish said...

I don't think that normal GOP propaganda is going to work this time.

Their electoral prospects are beyond redemption for 2016, and probably well beyond.

It will be vastly entertaining, for those who aren't on board the S.S. Trump, or GOP as it has been known formally.

Amadeus 48 said...

Hmmm...if you believe this wasn't paying ransom, Obama has a great healthcare program for you where if you like your policy, you can keep your policy. If you believe this wasn't paying ransom, Hillary wants to know what difference does it make at this point?!!

I think it was paying ransom. Note that Iran has jailed more US citizens since the payment. Six more months to get Obamacash!

EDH said...
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paminwi said...

It took how long for this information to be learned? Is it the fault of the Russians again? Barack would love to blame Bush but even he knows that can't work any more.
The story will be out there today, Trump will say something stupid instead of exploiting this travesty and the media will play along pumping THAT story instead of the one that makes Obama/Hillary look like weak leaders.

Susan said...

Obama could have the Supreme Court deem it a tax then it would be all good.

And Shari'a compliant too!!

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Who cares. I'm sure Trump has already said something dumb this morning to capture the media spotlight for the the day. In any event, it's not like Obama could ever be held responsible.

Darrell said...

Sometimes you need cash in hand because a nuclear device appears on the black market, or a ship load of Russian anti-tank weapons.

rhhardin said...

Abandoning the economic isolation of Iran is the problem.

They used to be a modern country.

EDH said...

"We have your money. A plane is waiting for you at the airport. We have acceded to all your demands...The pilot of this helicopter will fly you and your men to safety."

Notice the amusing "back to the 80s" credit roll afterward, with the NBC news tie-in to the Achille Lauro story.

rhhardin said...

Should have paid in Iran's currency, not foreign currency.

gspencer said...

For Muslims, Islam and its followers are supreme. In all aspects of life. All.

"You [Muslims] are (the) best (of) people raised for the mankind - enjoining the right and forbidding [from] the wrong and believing in Allah. And if believed (the) People (of) the Book [Christians and others] surely would have been good for them. Among them (are) [the] believers, but most of them (are) defiantly disobedient."
--- Quran 3:110

This verse and others entitle, to the vivid Muslim mind, Muslims to their supremacist attitudes. Odd of course since Muslims have contributed little, in their 1400 years, to the betterment of the world.

Brando said...

As an analogy, let's assume I planned to mow the lawn no matter what, and I want my wife to make me fried chicken so I tell her I'd mow the lawn if she makes the chicken. I can feel like I got ahead on the deal, because I was going to mow the lawn anyway and now I got fried chicken out of it. But she gets to feel like she got me to mow the lawn by making the chicken, so it wasn't just a chicken eating free-for-all.

Maybe I did get ahead on the deal, but now she feels like she can get me to do a chore if she makes me chicken in the future.

What I'm saying is I can really use some chicken and the food options here at work suck.

rhhardin said...

Or Russian currency.

tola'at sfarim said...

Does all this deal talk get a trump tag?

Brando said...

Though the issue in the Obama/Iran example is simple--Obama is claiming that the two deals were separate, the Iranian negotiators are claiming it was a quid pro quo (to justify to their people the freeing of the hostages). But as for a "no deterrent policy" (which we never really follow, it just sounds nice politically) the question is what did the Iranian negotiators really believe? If they think it's a quid pro quo, then they know they can expect us to pay for hostages in the future. If they believed (as Obama says) that the trades were unrelated, then we have kept to the "no deterrent policy" and we just allowed them to sell the idea easier to their rubes.

n.n said...

Financial ransom, military technology, and visual propaganda. The only way Iran could be the greater winner is to hold a sodomy and abortion session with our ambassador and a few forgotten Americans.

1.7 billion with nearly a 20 trillion dollar debt and trillion dollar deficits. The next president will have a difficult time topping this fish story.

Brando said...

"Obama could have the Supreme Court deem it a tax then it would be all good. "

If that doesn't work, John Roberts could say that the "money in exchange for hostages" language in the deal doesn't really mean money in exchange for hostages, because that could not possibly have been the intent of the drafters.

ndspinelli said...

I worked at a maximum security Federal prison. The FIRST rule all employees are taught is, THERE ARE NO HOSTAGES. If an inmate walks up to the front gate w/ a knife @ your throat, and says "Open the gate," the gate WILL NOT OPEN. And inmates KNOWING that keeps all people safe. Well, as safe as one can be in a building filled w/ killers.

A smart candidate would hit back on the sanctimonious "unfit" charge by our prez w/ this revelation. He would hit back on the "crossing a line" w/ Assad once again using gas on his people just yesterday. It is "unfit" to draw a line in the sand and then do nothing. These Iranians humiliated our sailors after this. WTF do you think that was about. It was a "fuck you" to Obama and this nation. You paid ransom and you will pay a bigger price whenever we feel like squeezing you, punk ass!!

Kyle's Practice said...
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Darrell said...

The Democrats of today root for all of America's old enemies. Whereas previous Presidents used to laugh at the rulings by the Lefties at the Hague, Hillary will treat the Hague as the new de-facto World Supreme Court. When the Hague orders amnesty for the fifty million illegal Mexicans, Hillary will issue the executive order by noon that day. When the Hague finds Americans guilty of war crimes, Hillary will and the new national police force to apprehend them and put them on a prison flight to Brussels.

Levi Starks said...

This story is so absurd on so many levels.
Seriously, could Obama be anymore of a pussy?

JAORE said...

And the weak kid on the playground gives the bully his lunch every day because he figures that when he hits middle age he may want to lose a few pounds.

Unknown said...

Glenn Reynolds is correct. If you want anything but a media that will literally cover up for the president and his party, a republican has to be in office.

The media and the democrat party has effectively melded together.

Crazy Jane said...

Extortion, and our government paid it. Think of all the times the government has kept families from trying to ransom Americans imprisoned in awful places, including ISIS captives who were executed later on live television. Am I the only one who remembers high school history? -- "Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute!"

Matthew Sablan said...

"I'm just trying to understand the position of the Obama administration."

-- That they know they won't be called on it long enough or hard enough that they can say "That's old news," and maybe cross their fingers and hope we can instead spend ink and digital ink on whoever says Trump is a big meanie instead.

Brando said...

"Am I the only one who remembers high school history? -- "Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute!" "

We were taught that, but I don't think our country followed this very closely over the years. We just usually keep it hush hush.

Freder Frederson said...

Seriously, could Obama be anymore of a pussy?

You mean like Reagan? Oh yeah, that's right, he only traded arms with Iran for hostages. He also may have sabotaged negotiations to free the Embassy hostages to sabotage Carter's reelection.

Darrell said...

The media and the democrat party has effectively melded together

Yeah. In 1991. Where have you been?

Matthew Sablan said...

"Yeah. In 1991. Where have you been?"

--> I wasn't grown up then, but I don't remember it being even this blatant in 2004/8 elections. I mean, you knew it was there, but Journolist and the reporters getting Democrat approval for their articles wasn't a thing -- at least, I don't think it was.

Levi Starks said...

I think there must be a great movie just begging to be made. How about "all the president's money exchangers"?

Darrell said...

Freder, you are an asshole and a liar. Reagan didn't interfere during the Carter Presidency because he couldn't. And the arm's deal was with members of the Shah's old military. They were going to overthrow the Ayatollah after they had the arms to fight Saddam's Iraq.

Freder Frederson said...

Whereas previous Presidents used to laugh at the rulings by the Lefties at the ways Hague

Gee, and I always thought that The Netherlands were our allies and members of NATO. You do realize that most of the organizations (World Bank, WHO, UN, IMF, etc.) you think we are being cowed by were founded by us.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Susan said...

Obama could have the Supreme Court deem it a tax then it would be all good.

The Danegeld (/ˈdeɪn.ɡɛld/;[1] "Danish tax", literally "Dane tribute") was a tax raised to pay tribute to the Viking raiders to save a land from being ravaged.

I find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!"

Darrell said...

1991 was the year the American media stopped pretending that they were fair and impartial.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

With regard to the Dane-geld:

The eleventh century called. They want their foreign policy back.

Tommy Duncan said...

"I'm just trying to understand the position of the Obama administration."

Because of the ongoing effort to find a plausible narrative the White House is unable to comment. Once the White House and the media have agreed on the narrative talking points a statement will be issued. Until such time there will be no further comment on this situation. Move along please. There is nothing to see here...

Darrell said...

We funded the Lefties because that was the only way to have them on our side against the USSR. America is not subject to the laws and rulings of the World Court--we never agreed to that. That is the difference now.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

... I'm just trying to understand the position of the Obama administration

Prostrate.

Bobby said...

damikesc,

"Given that we aren't signatories to the ICC, The Hague's rulings have, literally, zero impact on the US. This is a total bullshit answer. I don't get how this Administration can paint "Well, this body that has no influence over us and that we are not obligated to abide by their rulings might give them MORE" is any sort of a valid argument."

Given the context, the reference to The Hague (which is technically just the name of a Dutch city) is meant to refer not to the ICC, but to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), of which we are still subject to its adjudications on a case-by-case basis (i.e., we withdrew from its compulsory jurisdiction during the Reagan Administration, and even then enforcement of ICJ decisions is left to the Security Council, where we have veto power, so...).

None of this should indicate support for the Obama Administration's foreign policy or anything like that-- I happen to believe that's nothing short of a disaster. I'm just correcting your misunderstanding on a technical issue so you don't go around repeating that part of your argument and appear to be more ignorant than you really are.

Levi Starks said...

Wouldn't you love to hear the details of how it all went down?
It almost had to have been put together by a military officer, or possibly a CIA operative.
I'm just imagining the look on the face of the person task with chore of gathering up 400,000,000 in foreign currency when he first gets his orders.
It's hard to imagine all the laws designed to prevent money laundring that must have been violated.

Freder Frederson said...

Reagan didn't interfere during the Carter Presidency because he couldn't.

So are you saying if he could have you would have no problem with that? Anyway, the rumors, although unproven, are out there, and not just out there as in "I saw it on Twitter or Drudge".

And the arm's deal was with members of the Shah's old military.

Really?! Keep telling yourself that. Sometimes if you really believe a lie it becomes the truth.

Levi Starks said...

This story takes me back to the days when Obamas excuse to his loyal supporters for not yet having closed Guantanimo was that Congress wouldn't approve the money.

exhelodrvr1 said...

All Obama cares about is being able to pretend to the media and the Democrats/LIV (I know!) that he got a nuclear deal with Iran. The realities of the terms, the future nightmares carry no weight with him.

David Begley said...

There's a dispute dating back to the time of the Shah which is still in arbitration, which we were probably going to lose."

So we didn't lose and there was no legal judgment?

Bobby said...

Freder,

"Gee, and I always thought that The Netherlands were our allies and members of NATO."

There appears to be quite a lack of understanding going on here- The Hague just happens to be (among other things) the seat of the ICJ. There may or may not have been a single Dutch lawyer participating in these proceedings. That the Netherlands are our NATO ally (and as those of us who fought in Uruzgun are well aware, a quite reliable ally at that) really has nothing to do with the ICJ.

It would be like confusing the UN Security Council as being "American," because it happens to be located in New York City.

David said...

Keeping the payment a secret tends to make me think it was a quid pro.

And who says we were going to "lose" the arbitration? Or if we did that we would not have claimed offsets for other acts by the Iranians?

Big Mike said...

If it looks like ransom, it certainly is ransom. Part of the value of the US "no ransom" policy is that it used to deter people from doing stupid things to put themselves into a potential hostage situation. Doesn't always work.

Bob Ellison said...

I don't get any of this. We made a deal with the deposed monarch, the bandits seized our embassy (which is an invasion of our sovereign territory, by int'l law), that was decades ago, we get a few hostages free, we fly a plane with euros and Swiss francs into Iran, and that's not stinky?

cubanbob said...

Really?! Keep telling yourself that. Sometimes if you really believe a lie it becomes the truth."

I'm busting a gut laughing reading this from someone who is voting for Hillary Clinton.

Clayton Hennesey said...

Barack Obama is Iran's bitch.

Is that speech clear enough?

David Begley said...

How about a lawsuit for destroying our embassy and wrong imprisonment?

Big Mike said...

@Bobby, you could ask the citizens of Srebrenica about the reliability of Dutch troops, if you could find any left alive. The Serbs told the local Dutch commander that if he didn't abandon the villagers they would stick out their Serbian tongues and so "Boo," so he and his troops ran away.

There's a reason why the term "Dutch courage" refers to bolstering your bravery with a healthy dose of gin.

Roughcoat said...

From a military standpoint, the Dutch have been consistently loyal and active allies of the U.S. I don't know about their political alignments because I'm focused on and work in the military sphere. But they are rock solid and steadfast military allies. Excellent soldiers too. Fighters.

The same can and should be said about the Danes.

Just wanted to put a good word in for those who deserve it.

lgv said...

If the probability that the Iranians were going to win was say, 80%, then the value of the deal would be $8 billion. Why would they only take $1.7b? They had hostages and an high probability of winning.

The MSM is not covering this story. It is buried. Eight of 9 CNN headlines on their website were anti-Trump. The other was neutral.

Bobby said...

Big Mike,

I don't have to ask the citizens of Srebrenica anything about whether the Dutch are good allies. I conducted missions with the Dutch military in Afghanistan and saw them in action numerous times- special forces, conventional ground troops and Apaches. Perhaps they got better and/or braver since 1995 and you're operating off rather dated information? (Kind of a standard thing for Old Timers, to be honest)

But in any case, the Dutch contribution to the UN mission in Bosnia had nothing to do with being one of the US's more reliable allies (my initial point) -- Bosnia, at that point, had nothing to do with NATO; Uruzgun, at that point, had much to do with NATO.

David Begley said...

How much is Val Jarrett's cut?

Bobby said...

Roughcoat,

"From a military standpoint, the Dutch have been consistently loyal and active allies of the U.S. I don't know about their political alignments because I'm focused on and work in the military sphere. But they are rock solid and steadfast military allies. Excellent soldiers too. Fighters.

The same can and should be said about the Danes.

Just wanted to put a good word in for those who deserve it.
"

Well, that can't be true because Big Mike knows the Dutch military are feckless cowards from their mission in Bosnia (which wasn't even as a US ally, but let's not let facts get in the way of his understanding).

In Helmand, the Danish were tigers. I've yet to encounter a Marine who fought alongside them who doesn't swear by their skills.

damikesc said...

Gee, and I always thought that The Netherlands were our allies and members of NATO.

Being an ally of the Netherlands (and if we lost them as an ally, rest assured, ALL HELL WOULD BREAK LOOSE) does not require us to abide by the asinine Hague verdicts on anything.

of which we are still subject to its adjudications on a case-by-case basis (i.e., we withdrew from its compulsory jurisdiction during the Reagan Administration, and even then enforcement of ICJ decisions is left to the Security Council, where we have veto power, so...).

Your own wording shows we aren't subject to it AT ALL. You can argue a pointless technicality if you wish, but we aren't subject to it in the slightest. If they say "Pay Iran $10B", we are under literally no obligation to do so. We can say "fuck no" and be done with it.

Yancey Ward said...

The only viewpoint that matters is what the Iranians thought it was. There is a reason you have a no-ransom policy- it is designed to deter the taking of hostages in the first place. The Iranians apparently believe it was ransom, and I concur.

FullMoon said...

Freder Frederson said... [hush]​[hide comment]
(Some stuff)...
Anyway, the rumors, although unproven, are out there, and not just out there as in "I saw it on Twitter or Drudge".


Rumor is that Michelle is a tranny, Hillary services Huma, Reggie LOve and Obama had a thing, and O was born in Kenya. Just sayin'.......

Personally, I am not 100% sure of the validity, but, at this point, what difference does it make?

Bobby said...

damikesc,

Again, not intending to defend the Obama Administration's foreign policy, just correcting your mistake(s). So:

"Your own wording shows we aren't subject to it AT ALL. You can argue a pointless technicality if you wish, but we aren't subject to it in the slightest. If they say "Pay Iran $10B", we are under literally no obligation to do so. We can say "fuck no" and be done with it."

No, you misread me. We are under (treaty-derived) legal obligation to respect those decisions of the ICJ in which we agree to participate (i.e., case-by-case). As a de facto matter, enforcement of ICJ rulings comes from the UNSC, where we have veto power, so we could technically block any enforcement and Iran (or any other country, for that matter) wouldn't be able to do anything about it. But clearly that would be embarassing for an Obama Administration which prides itself on reversing the unilateral "cowboyism" of the Bush Administration (though it has maintained that aspect on a host of other issues).

None of this should be meant to suggest that the payment was not/not a ransom or that we were going to lose the decision or anything else. I'm just correcting your misunderstanding(s).

Roughcoat said...

Bobby,

Thanks for your comments.

Srebrenica was a failure on many levels. Mainly it was in the nature of a system failure compounded by political failure. You really had to be there to understand what a massive FUBAR it was. Not the fault of the Dutch snuffies -- they were pawns in badly played game.

Bobby said...

Yancey Ward,

"The only viewpoint that matters is what the Iranians thought it was. There is a reason you have a no-ransom policy- it is designed to deter the taking of hostages in the first place. The Iranians apparently believe it was ransom, and I concur."

Beg your pardon, sir, but I'd argue that in this case literally everyone's viewpoint matters. Even if we assume- just for the purposes of this discussion- that Iran didn't believe it was ransom, if some number of other actors do believe it's a ransom, then it still incentivizes hostage-taking. That is, if North Korea think this was a ransom payment, then Iran's viewpoint on this will do little to deter them from trying to cash in themselves in the future. Likewise, Abu Sayyaf, any successors to the FARC (or the FARC themselves, if the agreement with Manuel Santos breaks down), criminal elements like MS-13, etc. etc.

That's why you shouldn't do exchanges that even appear to be ransom payments and, if you do ransom payments, you better damn well keep it secret. But on the list of things this Administration has bungled.....

Hagar said...

The United States is at war with Iran.
The Obama administration is not.

AJ Lynch said...

Gangster government from Obama and Kerry. Hillary will take it to another level.

Bob Ellison said...

IIRC, the Dutch sent a Corvette to Afghanistan.

Don't bring an Aston-Martin to a drag race.

buwaya puti said...

This is head-spinning spin.
Simplest is best, and what the world cares to know, not just Iran. Out there, among the players, the US paid ransom.
Thats what the Chinese and Arabs get out of this, just to name some. Amd this adds to the paper tiger image.
How the US lies to itself is relevant only in the US.

AJ Lynch said...

I hope Trump will say over and over and over that these bad deals will be a thing of the past when he is president. The Dems are serving him some big fat pitches and he is not swinging at them.

traditionalguy said...

Big deal. The Mullahs ordered Obama to pay the Jizyah Tax for Americans occupying allah's North American land.

Naturally, he submitted to them.

Cornroaster said...

Ignorance is Bliss said...
With regard to the Dane-geld:

The eleventh century called. They want their foreign policy back.

Since the Islamic terrorists are still fighting the Crusades, maybe we need 11th century foreign policy.

Roughcoat said...

Ransom is as ransom does.

It was ransom.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Bobby said...

No, you misread me. We are under (treaty-derived) legal obligation to respect those decisions of the ICJ in which we agree to participate (i.e., case-by-case).

Bobby-

Thanks for the informed opinion. Do you know, in this case, who decided for the U.S. to participate in this arbitration? Was this an Obama administration decision, or was that decision made earlier?

khesanh0802 said...

"Black is white, up is down". Signed B. O.

The people in this administration are the most inept, or consciously most corrupt ( there's a better word but it won't register at the moment) I can remember. They put Nixon in the shade,and make Iran- Contra look like a Sunday School picnic.

MayBee said...

This is not even a top line news story this morning.

Donald Trump's twitter feed is.

Sebastian said...

"I'm just trying to understand the position of the Obama administration." Huh? Getting a deal with Iran, at any price, was O's main foreign policy goal. The position is to give Iran what it wants, to change the balance of power in the ME, and to screw the U.S. so thoroughly that no future president will be able to undo the damage. Anything else is peanuts.

Jupiter said...

FullMoon said...

"Rumor is that Michelle is a tranny, Hillary services Huma, Reggie LOve and Obama had a thing, and O was born in Kenya. Just sayin'......."

You've got the Hillary/Huma thing backwards.

Jupiter said...

Or, as Huma's handlers put it,

"Lie back and think of the Caliphate!"

Comanche Voter said...

This is what happens when you have Lurch and Obozo negotiating a deal.

And those two clowns will chastise Trump for his bankruptcies.

Of course the story is on the front page of the Wall Street Journal--but what do you hear about it in today's Los Angeles Times? Crickets, that's what. It never happened in LA Times land.

Roughcoat said...

Getting a deal with Iran, at any price, was O's main foreign policy goal. The position is to give Iran what it wants, to change the balance of power in the ME....

Entirely correct. Obama's aim is to make Shia Iran the regional hegemon. We can only speculate as to his reasons for wanting to do so. Is he sympathetic to/sympatico with Shia Islam, and hostile to Sunni Islam (and its political manifestations)? Perhaps. Does he sincerely believe that empowering Iran in a hegemonic role will served to enforce stability and establish some semblance of peace to the region? Maybe. Does he want to screw the U.S. because he fundamentally hates America and Americans? Possibly. Is he an incompetent, mendacious, malicious fool? Almost certainly.

Whatever his reasons, the fact is that Iran's rise comes at America's expense ... is bad for American, and for a whole lot other people too. Like, the Christians of the Middle East (e.g., Assyrians). Buh-bye folks. You're toast in Obama's scheme of things.

JAORE said...

"But clearly that would be embarassing (sic) for an Obama Administration ...."

Sadly, if the Obama Administration is not embarrassed to death by now, they have no such capacity...

Although, PERHAPS, if the NYT, NBC and WaPo were honest brokers... Nah.

Jersey Fled said...

Bobby:

My understanding is that we are only obligated to honor IJC judgements in cases where we originally brought the action.

Also, as a practical, their judgements widely ignored by virtually everyone. Example: China announced recently that they would not honor any judgements with respect to the South China Sea.

To use the ICJ as a justification is just a fig leaf.

Bobby said...

Ignorance is Bliss,

The Iran-US Claims Tribunal was established in January 1981; claims had to be filed by January 1982. (Btw, Freder, I'm told there are indeed no Dutch on the tribunal, though there's a Belgian and two Germans).

Yes, this really has been going on for this long ... and, yes, it certainly suggests that the 'imminent' ruling 'just happening' to coincide with the release of the prisoners seems rather dubious, at best.

The Drill SGT said...

But the reason to want a reputation for not paying ransom is to deter the capturing of Americans for ransom. If it is believed that we pay ransom — even if we did not — that deterrence is lost.

But if you are Obama, that is no concern. It won't be your problem in the future, when it happens.

All Obama concerns are short term, domestic and political

Bobby said...

Jersey Fled,

That I don't know. I'm told that the Iran-US Claims Tribunal was established in accordance with the Algiers Declaration, and approved by the governments of both countries more than 30 years ago. Apparently, it has the jurisdiction to decide claims of Iranian nationals against the US and US nationals against Iran which arise out of debts, contracts or other property rights measures, as well as official claims between the two Governments relating to purchase and sale of goods and services. It appears to have been an effort to enable discussion on certain economic matters while otherwise preserving diplomatic non-relations.

I guess you can blame Carter and Reagan for committing us to it.

Bobby said...

The Drill SGT,

Well, that's the thing, right?

Bruce Hayden said...

We may never know why the Iranians released their American hostages after Reagan was elected. But it may have had something to do with him maybe talking about B-52s and using daisy cutters for LZs in downtown Tehran. Did they fear the guy who had played a cowboy in the movies and owned a ranch, over the ineffectual President he was replacing? Likely, esp with the American MSM melting down over his election. The Russians, having dealt with Islam far longer than we have, know how to deal with this sort of thing - use overwhelming force and brutality. Even the 12ers running Iran, willing to bring forward the date of their last Iman's return, think twice about angering the Russian bear. Doing what Obama did here just emboldens militant Muslims.

damikesc said...

Beg your pardon, sir, but I'd argue that in this case literally everyone's viewpoint matters. Even if we assume- just for the purposes of this discussion- that Iran didn't believe it was ransom, if some number of other actors do believe it's a ransom, then it still incentivizes hostage-taking. That is, if North Korea think this was a ransom payment, then Iran's viewpoint on this will do little to deter them from trying to cash in themselves in the future. Likewise, Abu Sayyaf, any successors to the FARC (or the FARC themselves, if the agreement with Manuel Santos breaks down), criminal elements like MS-13, etc. etc.

The thing that gets me is...Obama kept it quiet.

Really quiet. We just learned about it.

I cannot fathom a reason why a "settlement" has to kept silent. If it was agreed to and acceptable, it should've been noted. The State Dept could've released a dull as hell press release mentioning it and it would've been ignored but they could say "We didn't hide it".

That we kept it silent --- that we seemed to hide it --- doesn't LOOK like "settlement". It looks like ransom.

None of this should be meant to suggest that the payment was not/not a ransom or that we were going to lose the decision or anything else. I'm just correcting your misunderstanding(s).

Thank you for the information.

Bobby said...

damikesc,

"The thing that gets me is...Obama kept it quiet.

Really quiet. We just learned about it.

I cannot fathom a reason why a "settlement" has to kept silent. If it was agreed to and acceptable, it should've been noted. The State Dept could've released a dull as hell press release mentioning it and it would've been ignored but they could say "We didn't hide it".
"

What? No, it wasn't kept silent- that's part of my issue! Here's a CNN article from 17 January 2016 entitled U.S. to pay Iran $1.7 billion in legal settlement. Here's a Wall Street Journal article from 21 January titled U.S. Payment of $1.7 Billion to Iran Raises Questions of Ransom: Wiring of disputed money to Tehran coincided with departure of plane carrying 3 Americans.

As far as I know, the only aspect that has been kept silent (i.e., that has only recently come to light) is the physical transfer of $400-million worth of foreign currency that was more or less flown in immediately. (And even that is not really "new": Eli Lake touched on it here six weeks ago).

These news reports were out there in plain view for quite a while- I'm not really sure how only now people are learning about it (and objecting for the first time to the parts that we already knew or should have already known about). Did Drudge post a link to this and the not the earlier stories or something?

Fabi said...

One hundred million per hostage is a lot! Almost the same price as a Jeb delegate!

Rusty said...

My only question is.
What was Obamas kickback?

Static Ping said...

These sort of diplomatic deals where one side claims A and the other claims B are not unusual. Face saving is normal and not especially important. However, the reality of it does matter and if the Iranians really think this was a ransom, which they have every reason to believe is true, then there will be more hostages. There are more hostages. "Great job."

Trump's foreign policy experience may be shallow and ignorant. Hillary's foreign policy experience is deep but utterly incompetent and corrupt, plus she has made herself extremely exposed to blackmail. I so don't want to vote for Trump but she's giving me no choice.

Yancey Ward said...

Bobby,

Iran is the proxy for all potential hostage takers. Yes, the it is the opinion of hostage takers that matters, not what the administration or other Americans think.

walter said...

Did they get an Obama curated iPod too?

Sammy Finkelman said...

They say it wasn't ransom because they didn't turn over the money until the prisoners were released, and it wa snegoitiated separately. The two deals were announced together in Washington, but separately in Iran.

They sent cash because Iran still is mostly cut off from the international banking system. The $400 million cash (in currencies other than Dollars) on a plane is what was news now.

Sammy Finkelman said...

They gave the money not for the prisoners, but so that Iran would not back out of the nuclear agreement.

Fernandinande said...

The four Americans are: two Iranian citizens, a CIA contractor and a muslim apostate.

Meet the Four Americans Held Hostage By Iran

Jason Rezaian is a 39-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen who was stationed in Tehran to cover regional affairs.

Robert Levinson was kidnapped in 2007 from Kish Island off of Iran, where he was working for a rogue CIA operation.

[Saeed] Abedini had traveled to Iran multiple times starting in 2009 in the efforts to construct an orphanage. [Muslim turned Christian]

Amir Hekmati, a dual citizen of Iran and the United States, served the United States from 2001 to 2005 as a Marine specializing in linguistics.

Unknown said...

Did anyone see the obama spokesman Josh Earnest this morning discussing the ransom payment? Man, did he look defensive. The press ignored his oft repeated comment that right wing republicans wanted the same thing as right wing extremist in Iran and kept asking if the prisoners would have been released unless $400 million dollars went immediate to the Mullahs. Too funny.

mockturtle said...

More bribery than ransom, IMO.

Chris Lopes said...

The timing makes it look like an exchange and the Iranians seem to see it as one. I do love the "Obama was just being as stupid as Reagan during Iran-Contra" excuse though. Reagan doing it does not make it any less bad when Obama does it.

Roughcoat said...

If it looks like a duck and walks like duck and quacks like a duck ... it's ransom.

cyrus83 said...

Unfortunately, if the Obama administration really believes that what is matters more than what is perceived, that explains why its foreign policy has been such a mess. Perception matters a lot more than the actual reality on the ground (see, for example, just about any armed conflict in history).

No matter what the administration claims, if the Iranians can plausibly make it seem like we paid a ransom, that perception will carry a lot more weight with malevolent actors around the world than a bloviating press secretary, secretary of state, or president.

Robert Cook said...

"This is Iran/Contra --- except significantly worse and with no attempt to help an oppressed group fight a tyrannical regime."

You obviously don't know anything about Iran/Contra.

We sold arms to a country whom we considered an enemy of the state at the time and on whom an arms embargo had been placed, in order to help free some American hostages being held in Lebanon, as well as to raise and then provide funds to the Contra death squads in Nicaragua, after Congress had passed the Boland amendment expressly outlawing further funding of them. Later, Oliver North destroyed evidentiary documents and perjured himself before Congress to conceal facts of the events and of his own participation in them.

The Contras consisted of right-wing rebel groups attempting to overthrow the democratically elected left-wing government of Nicaragua, and in their efforts they committed thousands of terrorist acts, including the murder of women, children, nuns, priests, health-care workers, as well as the kidnap and rape of civilians, nuns, torture, etc., etc.

We were not trying to "help" an "oppressed group" fight a "tryannical government," but were funding these terrorists to bring down the Sandinista government in order to protect the economic interests of American corporations in Nicaragua. Also, we viewed (and still view) any left-wing governments in the western hemisphere as a threat to our hegemonic domination of this half of the globe, and we wanted to stamp out the Sandinista government of Nicaragua for that reason alone.

This "ransom-that-is-not-a-ransom" that Obama's government just paid may be illegal or not, I don't know. If it's illegal Obama and his people should be raked over the coals for it. However, this hardly reaches the level of criminality--from what we know so far--as that of Iran/Contra.

Robert Cook said...

"We may never know why the Iranians released their American hostages after Reagan was elected."

Because the Reagan people reached out to to Iran before Reagan was elected and promised to work them to their mutual benefit if they waited until after the election to release them.

Robert Cook said...

"But it may have had something to do with him maybe talking about B-52s and using daisy cutters for LZs in downtown Tehran."

Hahahaha!

No.

Robert Cook said...

October Surprise

Paul Bird said...

If only the Obama administration had some Jedi on staff, where they could wave their hands around and say, "this is not a ransom", not unlike Obi Wan saying "these are not the droids you're looking for."