'Leverage'...because the Obama administration does not pay ransom

The Obama administration has admitted that it paid the Iranian regime $1.7 billion for what the administration describes as payment and interest on an obligation incurred during the Carter presidency.  Payment was made in several installments in January and February, and in cash – piles of cash, stacked on wooden pallets, shrink-wrapped, and delivered via private plane.  These cash transactions were necessitated, we are told, by us.  And those pesky financial sanctions we've imposed against Iran.

Nothing to see here.  At least not until we start loading fleets of planes with the $150 billion or so we've promised them for the nuclear agreement.  How many planes will it take to transfer that much cash?

The Iranians happened to release four American hostages the same day they received the first payment of $400 million.  This coincidence raised concerns at the Defense Department that the cash payments sure looked like ransom.  But the United States does not pay ransom.  Period.  And notwithstanding the 2014 exchange of five terrorist leaders for Private Bowe Bergdahl.

But one of the hostages, Pastor Saeed Abedini, reported he was told by an Iranian intelligence official that his release from Iran was being delayed for the arrival of "another plane."  That plane was later acknowledged to be the cash carrier, and the administration changed its narrative.  Yes, there was a connection between the hostages and the cash, State Department spokesman John Kirby allowed, but the reason was "leverage," not "ransom."

So which was it?  Leverage or ransom?  And how can we tell?

Ransom is paid before an exchange.  It's a familiar plot: the bad guys send a note demanding cash, the drop is made, and the hostage is released.  Leverage, as employed by the State Department, is very different.  A deal is made, complications arise, and one party sweetens the pot: "You do what you've already agreed to do, and once you've done that, I'll do something I've already agreed to do about an entirely unrelated matter, and I'll do it immediately."

This is the story the administration is pushing.  Iran had already agreed to release the hostages, and we had already agreed, separately, to pay the thirty-seven-year-old obligation at some future date.  But on one particular weekend in January, Secretary of State John Kerry decided to use leverage "to make sure they got out safely and efficiently."

So the question is, which occurred first?  The drop, which would imply ransom?  Or the release?  Iran says it was ransom, and the message conveyed to Pastor Abedini suggests that it was.  The administration has refused to release the time of the cash carrier's arrival in Iran.

Meanwhile, Iran has imprisoned three more U. S. citizens.

Whom do you trust?  The mullahs?  Or our government?

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