Surrounded by his yes-men at the Pentagon on August 4, President Obama, with trademark smugness, hammered the media and his political opponents for claiming that his $400 million cash payment to Iran in January was tied to the simultaneous release of four American hostages.
“We do not pay ransom for hostages,” the President declaimed.
Just two weeks later, State Department spokesman John Kirby acknowledged in response to a reporter’s question that Iran’s release of the hostages was “contingent” upon the $400 million cash payment.
Much of the elite media continues to see Emperor Obama clothed in all his finery. But increasingly, the American people now see him for what he is: a bald-face liar.
This president is a master at projecting his own failings on his opponents. Dripping with contempt, he accurately explained why ransom payments were bad, and why his administration — and no administration past or future — would engage in such behavior. Except that he did.
The problem, of course, is that paying ransom to hostage-takers only encourages them to take more hostages. It was true when Jimmy Carter released billions of dollars of Iranian assets as he was heading out the door of the White House in January 1981, and it is true today.
The money-for-exchange in January wasn’t the first time that President Obama has caved in to the demands of terrorists. One week before the ransom payment, Iran captured a U.S. naval patrol boat and 10 American sailors, claiming they had strayed into Iran’s territorial waters, and brazenly paraded them blindfolded on Iranian TV — just as Khomeini’s “students” did with U.S. diplomats in 1979.
By design or good fortune, the incident occurred early in the morning of Obama’s last State of the Union speech. Obama pretended it hadn’t happened and dispatched Secretary of State John Kerry to apologize to the Iranians.
The message sent to Iran’s Islamic thugs was simple: you hit us and the United States will reward you, not punish you.
Iran is responding predictably — by taking more hostages.
Gholamreza “Robin” Shahini, 46, traveled to Iran this May to visit his family in the northern city of Gorgan just days after graduating from San Diego State University.
He had come to the United States 16 years earlier, became an American citizen, and worked his way up. He eventually bought a pizza shop that he sold to go back to school.
In mid-July, goons from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps burst into his mother’s home, presented a search warrant, and took him into custody. He was only allowed to meet with a lawyer when he had a medical emergency last week.
On Monday, he was brought into court and charged with “acting against national security,” “participating in seditionist protests in 2009” and “collaborating with the Voice of America,” family members tell me. A hard-line publication called him an American spy and absurdly claimed he had been sent to Iran “on a mission from the U.S. government … to create chaos in the country.”
Those are serious charges that could lead to a lengthy jail sentence, and perhaps – given the Islamic regime’s current execution rampage — much worse.
In his August 4 comments, President Obama claimed that his administration “stood up an entire section of interagency experts who devote all of their time to working with these families to get these Americans out, but those families know that we have a policy that we don’t pay ransom.”
No one from the administration has met or even spoken with any member of Robin Shahini’s family. Worse, State Department spokesman John Kirby and Secretary of State John Kerry have refused to answer questions from reporters about the case.
I attempted to reach various offices at the State Department last week when I initially wrote about Shahini’s plight but received no reply. Today, after contacting Kirby, an official said that the State Department has “seen reports of the detention in Iran of a person reported to be a U.S. Citizen,” and was “looking into it.”
One additional lie that has gotten little attention: Kirby today repeated Obama’s claim that the $400 million “was Iran’s money,” and was the resolution of a dispute over Iranian payments to the United States for military equipment before the 1979 Revolution.
The problem is, the $400 million in the Iran’s frozen Foreign Military Sales account at the Pentagon was paid out to victims of Iranian state terrorism in December 2000 by then President Bill Clinton. At least, that’s what the Clinton administration told the families.
“We all believed that Iran would pay our damages, not U.S. taxpayers,” said Stephen Flatow, a New Jersey real estate lawyer whose 19-year-old daughter was murdered by Iranian-backed terrorists in a 1995 bus bombing. “And now, 15 years later, we find out that they never deducted the money from the account. It makes me nauseous. The Iranians aren’t paying a cent.”
This obscene $400 million cash payoff to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps has provided much-needed cash for Iran’s terrorist operations overseas and is an insult to the American victims of Iranian state terrorism and their families.
Worse: it has put a price tag on any American citizen who travels to Iran, starting with the roughly 30,000 Iranian-Americans who visit family in Iran every year.
Once you start rewarding terrorists, their demands just never seem to end.
Kenneth Timmerman is author of Deception: The Making of the YouTube Video Hillary and Obama Blamed for Benghazi, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize in 2006. He is a Donald Trump supporter.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Hill.