When you spend your life as a businessman – money matters. As such, President Donald Trump says, he’s “never gotten over the fact that Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, the FBI or Justice called for an investigation!” Good point, sir. Last we looked that money came from the pockets of the U.S. taxpayer and an explanation to those of us who footed that nice tidy sum is long overdue.
At the time of the payment to Iran, the White House said the funds were “not ransom,” but some have long held that the enormous transfer of U.S. greenbacks seemed to have a nasty smell. And the odor has lingered.
“Tis a Long and Winding Tale
Back in 1970 some $400M of Iranian money was frozen by the U.S. government. This matter was passed from president to president until Barack Obama decided to return it to Iran in a nuclear deal he was negotiating. $400M plus $1.3B in interest was agreed upon. At the time, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian was essentially being held hostage in Iran after being convicted of espionage by the Islamist regime. Coincidentally, Mr. Rezaian was released from his Iranian prison cell on January 16, 2016 – the very same day America delivered $400M to Iran. As well, a prisoner swap of five Americans accompanied the $1.7B sent to Iran.
In return, the U.S. forked over seven international outlaws and dropped charges against another 14 – all fugitives. These were “nice” men who posed a variety of national security threats. In fact, when federal prosecutors learned of the releases they were infuriated. “They didn’t just dismiss a bunch of innocent business guys,” said one former federal law enforcement supervisor centrally involved in the hunt for Iranian arms traffickers and nuclear smugglers, according to Politico.
But of course, this was not ransom money.
It was all part of the Obama utopian vision of a nuclear-free world. It’s not worth digging into the weeds on this one. Suffice it to say that the U.S. got taken for a ride.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump called this “the worst deal ever negotiated” by the U.S. Government. Last month Trump waived sanctions against Iran but with a warning:
“This is a last chance. In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately. No one should doubt my word.”
It’s clear the president has not forgotten this troubling situation. While there seems no tangible way to recover the funds, there are lessons to be learned that should not be repeated. The problem with big government and runaway executive powers is that people think they can do anything they want with the taxpayer dollar. It seems doubtful that if you asked the average American if they wanted to apportion part of their paycheck to Iran, they would agree.
The question must be posed then: Why do these elected leaders feel they can play fast and loose with our money?
A widely published columnist, Leesa previously worked in the broadcast news industry as a television news anchor, reporter, and producer at NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates in Charlotte, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC.She is the author of "Free At Last: A Life-Changing Journey through the Gospel of Luke."
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