Obama’s Iran-Contra Moment


As you should know by now, the Wall Street Journal reported

“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….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….Iranian press reports have quoted senior Iranian defense officials describing the cash as a ransom payment. 

Isn’t this, then, the equivalent of paying ransom for hostages?

Sure it is, and the Administration’s predictable denials are technically accurate but not germane to the issue. The WSJ also reported yesterday that..

“…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. After announcing the release of the Americans in January, President Barack Obama also said the U.S. would pay $1.7 billion to Iran to settle a failed arms deal dating back to 1979. What wasn’t disclosed then was that the first payment would be $400 million in cash, flown in at the same time…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.”

As law professor Ann Althouse deftly explained,

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?…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. 


As always, the integrity-light Obama enablers will deny reality, and the news media will bury it, but the continuing incompetence and weakness of this administration–and its arrogance while being so incompetent and weak—is the stuff of satire.


Sources: AlthouseWSJ 1, WSJ 2

11 thoughts on “Obama’s Iran-Contra Moment

  1. It’s… complicated… Because it really could be seen as a win/win for America. You DO get those soldiers back, You DO get the claim settled at 18 cents on the dollar…. And it’s great, Middle Eastern nations have been producing so much oil they’ve flooded the market, tanked the price, and now they’re having a hard time keeping up appearances, America effectively leveraged their destitute opulence to get a bellringer of a deal. But you’re right in that this HAS to be seen as a ransom payment.

    I think this will fall alongside partisan lines for a couple of reasons: First and foremost, America is so politically charged it isn’t even funny, and WaPo will probably run an Op Ed the next time Trump passes gas… But also because of the symbolism. Remember what I wrote a couple weeks ago? “Fuck yo Flag?” The right will be more interested in the symbolism of this: “America is negotiating with terrorists”. The left will be more interested in the material measurable successes here.

    • But it shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and it really is like Iran Contra, with parties reversed, except that Reagan was defying the Democratic Congress’s ban on aid to the Contras. Still, this could be and was defended by GOP hardliners as “win-win.”

      • I regrettably am too young to remember Reagan, and to be completely honest, I thought Contra was a video game. It’s germane, so I’ll do some reading, but I’m not going to be an informed opinion on that angle.

          • “First, let me say I take full responsibility for my own actions and for those of my administration. As angry as I may be about activities undertaken without my knowledge, I am still accountable for those activities. As disappointed as I may be in some who served me, I’m still the one who must answer to the American people for this behavior.”

            How… Profound.

          • Speaking of Oliver North, do you remember when the Virginia Republicans nominated him to run for the Senate against Chuck Robb, thereby picking the only known Virginia Republican who could lose to Robb. Remind of of anything going on today?

  2. One more reason I’m glad that Obama will be gone and left to build his Presidential Library celebrating his non-accomplishments. At least Oliver North’s plan was to sent the money he got for the arms to send to the Contras who were fighting Daniel Ortega and his thugs. Ransom money for hostages is another thing. How many more terrorists states will now be encouraged to take hostages for ransom?

    • I’d say a lot, and the disingenuous denials by the President and others also tell us something important, although it’s something important we already should have figured out: they lie.

  3. “They want $400 million? Fine. Call the Pentagon and have them rack up $400 million worth of bombs and guided munitions, and then inform Tehran that we’ll start delivering them in 24 hours…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.