GOP Lawmakers Furious Over Iran 'Ransom' by Obama Administration
GOP lawmakers are furious that the Obama administration reportedly airlifted $400 million to Iran in January just as four detained Americans were released — charging it amounts to a "ransom" that'll put more U.S. citizens overseas at risk of being taken hostage.GOP Lawmakers Furious Over Iran "Ransom" by Obama Administration
Published August 3, 2016
GOP lawmakers are furious that the Obama administration reportedly airlifted $400 million to Iran in January just as four detained Americans were released — charging it amounts to a "ransom" that'll put more U.S. citizens overseas at risk of being taken hostage.
The cash transfer, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, was the first installment paid in a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a failed 1979 arms deal dating from before the Iranian Revolution.
In a statement, Illinois GOP Sen. Mark Kirk said "paying ransom to kidnappers puts Americans even more at risk," Fox News reports.
"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."
"The logistics of this payment — literally delivering a plane full of cash to evade U.S. law — shows yet again the extraordinary lengths the Obama administration will go to accommodate Iran, all while hiding the facts from Congress and the American people," California GOP Rep. Ed Royce, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in his own statement, Fox News reports.
"Hundreds of millions in the pockets of a terrorist regime means a more dangerous region, period. And paying ransom only puts more American lives in jeopardy."
Since the cash was airlifted, Iran's Revolutionary Guard has arrested two more Iranian-Americans, and Iran has detained dual-nationals from France, Canada and the U.K. in recent months, Fox News notes.
Ohio GOP Rep. Bill Johnson said he'll call on House Speaker Paul Ryan to appoint a special committee to investigate what he called a "very serious violation" of foreign policy, the Washington Times reports.
"For decades, American foreign policy has been to not pay ransom for hostages, because to do so only encourages more kidnapping of Americans," Johnson said in a statement, the Times reports. "Not only did the Obama administration violate this common-sense policy, it did so secretly. If true, this would make the Iran-Contra affair look like jaywalking."
The four Americans released in January as the transaction was underway were Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian; Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine; Christian pastor Saeed Abedini; and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, whose case had not been publicized before the release.
State Department Spokesman John Kirby said the four Americans' January release was on a separate track from the settlement payment and, in an interview Wednesday with Fox News, said any suggestion it was tied to ransom is "utterly false."
"We just don't pay ransom. … This was not ransom," he tells Fox News.
And he said there was "no secret" about it.
"It was their money," Kirby tells Fox News, noting the funds had been frozen and it "made no sense for us to continue to drag out their claim."