Did Obama Pay a Ransom to Iran? The Answer May Surprise You
The Obama administration sent $400 million in cash to Iran via an unmarked cargo plane carrying wooden pallets at the same time the president was negotiating the release of POWs held in the Middle Eastern country.
Normally this would indicate that a sitting US president paid a ransom for those prisoners; however the White House denies that that is the case.
Josh Earnest, press secretary for the White House, explained : “I don’t know how much more transparent the president of the United States can be than to call all of you into the Roosevelt Room … on live national television, and announce the fact that we have reached an agreement with Iran.”
Donald Trump used this opportunity to tell one of his infamous lies , claiming that he had watched video provided to him by Iran showing the Iranians “taking that money off that airplane”.
Trump told an audience in Florida: “I’ll never forget the scene this morning and remember this, Iran — I don’t think you’ve heard this anywhere but here — Iran provided all of that footage, the tape of taking that money off that airplane, right, $400 million in cash. How does a president do that? How do you do that?”
He went on to describe the video: “Now here’s the amazing thing. Over there where that plane landed, top secret, they don’t have a lot of paparazzi, you know the paparazzi doesn’t do so well over there, right, and they have a perfect tape done by obviously a government camera, and the tape is of the people taking the money off the plane, right. That means in order to embarrass us further Iran sent us the tapes, right. It’s a military tape. It’s a tape that was a perfect angle, nice and steady. Nobody getting nervous because they are going to be shot, because they are shooting a picture of money pouring off of plane.”
In reality, as revealed by the Trump campaign, Donald “was referring to the B-roll footage” aired on Fox News of the hostages being released; exiting the plane that carried them from Iran to Geneva in January.
This footage does not show pallets of cash, nor was it produced by the Iranian government.
According to Iran, this cash exchange was actually monies owed to them due to an unfulfilled contract for military equipment that a previous US president had purchased from the nation.
House Speaker Paul Ryan pointed to concerns about whether or not the money was a ransom, saying that this would “mark another chapter in the ongoing saga of misleading the American people” for the sake of the Iran Nuclear Deal arranged by the Obama administration.
Earnest denies this scenario emphatically and reiterated that the US “does not pay ransoms.”
To answer the question of whether or not this actually was a ransom payment, Journalist Zack Beauchamp pointed out that the “Wall Street Journal story is actually describing a payment that President Obama announced back in January. This payment is the first installment of a refund for a weapons purchase America never delivered. It starts in 1979, the year of the Iranian Revolution.”
Beauchamp explained that the “legal status of the $400 million” had been in question for several decades, until the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal was set up and ruled that the US must hand over the money to Iran.
Beauchamp writes: “The $400 million payment, delivered in foreign cash because US law prevents the government from giving Iran dollars, was the first installment toward the $1.7 billion total. Getting together large amounts of foreign cash is hard, apparently — hence the installment plan.”