August 3, 2016

Today's effort to run interference for Donald Trump comes from the likes of Rep. Mike Pompeo and the Wall Street Journal, who have ginned up a bogus story about a "secret payment" of $400 million to Iran, delivered in cash in return for the people being held hostage in Iran.

If the press had the collective memory of a peanut, this would be a complete non-story. But because we have a right-wing echo chamber, social media, and many distractions, it's now blowing up into a story devoid of facts and even logic.

The facts, in bullet form:

  • When the U.S. Embassy was taken over in 1979, the Carter Administration declined to deliver weapons the Shah had ordered and paid $400 million for.
  • When the Iran deal was struck, it was agreed that the United States would refund the $400 million with interest accrued over the years, for a total of $1.7 billion.
  • As a good-faith gesture, Iran released hostages at the same time the agreement went into effect.

The video at the top is President Obama's full statement. Here is the relevant part, from his published statement which is available to everyone, including reporters paid a lot more than me.

So, nuclear deal implemented. American families reunited. The third piece of this work that we got done this weekend involved the United States and Iran resolving a financial dispute that dated back more than three decades. Since 1981, after our nations severed diplomatic relations, we’ve worked through a international tribunal to resolve various claims between our countries. The United States and Iran are now settling a longstanding Iranian government claim against the United States government. Iran will be returned its own funds, including appropriate interest, but much less than the amount Iran sought.

For the United States, this settlement could save us billions of dollars that could have been pursued by Iran. So there was no benefit to the United States in dragging this out. With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well.

As you can clearly see, there was no quid pro quo. Prisoners were released and financial claims were settled.

Republicans are desperate to turn the news cycles back to something more positive than their nominee's constant stream of nonsensical and insane behavior, so they're simply inventing something to make it seem as though there's another non-scandal.

I fully expect a Congressional inquiry into this as well, but spread the word and spread the video. This is just noise to cover their pathetic candidate for President.

In case you don't believe that, here's Mark Kirk (who has denounced Trump) affirming Trump's tweet about it, where he called it a "scandal."

“We were right in January 2016 to describe the Administration’s $1.7 billion transfer to Iran as a ransom payment," Kirk said in a statement. "Paying ransom to kidnappers puts Americans even more at risk. While Americans were relieved by Iran’s overdue release of illegally imprisoned American hostages, the White House’s policy of appeasement has led Iran to illegally seize more American hostages, including Siamak Namazi, his father Baquer Namazi, and Reza Shahini.”

Neocons being neocons in an effort to save their own bacon. Nothing new to see here, folks.

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