Embarrassing Spin: State Department Says $400 Million Was Just Leverage, Not Ransom

Posted: Aug 19, 2016 9:15 AM
Embarrassing Spin: State Department Says $400 Million Was Just Leverage, Not Ransom

Yesterday after weeks of denying a connection, the State Department finally admitting the $400 million cash payment made to Iran in January was contingent upon the release of four American hostages being held in the country, but is still denying the payment was a ransom. 

Last night on CNN, State Department Spokesman John Kirby argued the cash wasn't a ransom payment because of the order in which the hostages were exchanged. He also said the cash was simply used as leverage. 

"The way I think ransom works is you have to pay first and then you get your hostages back and that's not what happened here. We got our American citizens out first and then because we wanted to have the leverage to get them out safely then the $400 million that was Iran's was released to them," Kirby said. 

Lets address a few things. First, Kirby argues this wasn't a ransom because it is "Iran's money." The $400 million belonged to the Shah of Iran 35 years ago, not the current and extreme regime. Second, exchanging hostages for cash in the possession of the United States is in fact a ransom. Third, the idea that this wasn't ransom because the U.S. got its citizens back before, rather than after,delivering the $400 million is absolutely laughable and absurd. 

Kirby argues he understands why people view this exchange as a ransom. This is precisely the problem. The White House and State Department can argue forever this wasn't a ransom payment, but it looks like one. Terrorists and bad actors all over the world see it as the ransom it was and the price of Americans have gone up substantially as a result of this exchange.