Monday, August 08, 2016

Ransom Notes

You can tell how much a story concerns a presidential administration by considering how shrill the denunciations of the story are. My social media feeds are telling me in no uncertain terms that I cannot, must not, dammit you'd better not believe the Pallet o' Euros the Iranians received last year was ransom money. Dammit, it's not. What the hell is wrong with you for even thinking such a thing?

Writing for the Orange County Register, Carl Cannon offers a few reminders:
Regarding the ransom angle, Obama simply re-asserted the official U.S. position that the American government does not make such payments; he chastised his critics for not acknowledging that the Iran deal “is working,” without amplifying on why he believes that’s true; and he concluded by saying that the only new bit of information in the Journal piece was the form of payment.

“It is not at all clear to me why it is that cash, as opposed to a check or a wire transfer, has made this into a new story,” he said. “The reason that we had to give them cash is precisely because we are so strict in maintaining sanctions, and we do not have a banking relationship with Iran, that we couldn’t send them a check, and we could not wire the money.”

“This wasn’t some nefarious deal,” he added.
That's the line. Dammit, you'd better believe it. Back to Cannon:
These answers are so thin they should undermine, rather than bolster, confidence in the Iran deal. For starters, the administration didn’t “announce” the $400 million payment in January: White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed it when it was reported elsewhere.

Second, where would anyone get the idea that it was a ransom payment for hostages? How about from the Iranians themselves. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi was quoted on Iranian state media as crowing, “Taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies.”

Finally, the $400 million being delivered in cash (mostly Swiss francs and Euros, apparently) is not a minor detail. It’s an alarming disclosure. The president’s explanation seems absurd. How does sending a cargo plane full of cash comply with existing sanctions while bank transfers do not? As far as not having “a banking relationship with Iran,” what does that even mean? Is the president really claiming that no bank in the world would have facilitated a legal transfer of funds – even if Obama had asked them directly?
You don't get to ask those questions. There's more, a lot more, at the link, including a gentle reminder about how Uncle Sam and other local agencies view large cash transactions. A taste:
Take the Burmese refugee – an American citizen for 10 years – who manages a touring Christian rock band, raising money for a Burmese orphanage. He was stopped for a taillight violation by Oklahoma sheriff’s deputies, who sent him on his way after relieving him of the $53,000 he’d raised for charity. Could be drug money, they said.
There's a lesson here -- put yer money on a pallet and convert it to Euros.

1 comment:

W.B. Picklesworth said...

And government could be a criminal enterprise. But it's okay. We do it together.