Obama should apologize for shameful cash payment to Iran

Since the elimination of Iranian terrorist leader Qassem Soleimani, much of the world has rightfully held its collective breath in fearful anticipation of what might be to come.

Iran is indeed a dangerous terrorist state that not only has a powerful standing army, air force, navy and advanced weapons systems — including ballistic missiles and a growing space program — but also controls multiple proxy terrorist organizations responsible for killing and injuring hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children.

Included on that list of victims are thousands of American military personnel and contractors.

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These were facts that former President Obama knew when he deliberately chose a policy of appeasement and cash payoffs instead of strength and accountability as the way to deal with Iran.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE spelled this out in no uncertain terms on Wednesday when he addressed the nation while seeking to dial down the imminent threat Iran may pose to our nation, the Middle East and the world.

Said the president in part, “Iran’s hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013 and they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash. ... Then, Iran went on a terror spree, funded by the money from the deal and created hell in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq. The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration.”

As we have seen and heard, some — especially Democrats, their allies in the media and Obama supporters — chose to challenge or quibble with Trump’s statement. That said, I spoke with a former senior intelligence official who said that much of the $1.8 billion cash payoff from the Obama administration was used explicitly to fund terrorism as an additional “screw you” from the leaders of Iran — including Soleimani —  to the United States. The rest of the money, my source believes, ended up in the bank accounts of corrupt Iranian leaders and terrorists.

The cash payment authorized by Obama is one of the most disgraceful and shameful “negotiations” in the history of our nation. It was a payment the Obama White House first denied, then ignored and then grudgingly acknowledged.

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We paid in cash, but not U.S. currency. Wary of using U.S. bills for a variety of reasons involving concealment, the Obama White House had the money converted to untraceable Euros, Swiss francs, and other foreign currencies. More troubling than those initial denials and deceptions was the fact that $400 million of that all-cash payment was used to pay a ransom to the government of Iran for the release of four American prisoners, in violation of standing U.S. policy.

In a pathetic attempt to hide behind semantics, the Obama administration finally did acknowledge that $400 million was delayed as “leverage” until the Americans were allowed to leave Iran.

While the Obama White House hid from the true definition of the word “leverage,” Iran’s state-run media was more than happy to brag that Iran had just forced the United States to pay a ransom.

Former Congressman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee at that time, condemned the deal: “Sending the world’s leading state sponsor of terror pallets of untraceable cash isn’t just terrible policy. It’s incredibly reckless, and it only puts bigger targets on the backs of Americans.”

Former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) seconded Royce’s warning: “Paying ransom to kidnappers puts Americans even more at risk. ... The White House’s policy of appeasement has led Iran to illegally seize more American hostages.”

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Said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), “President Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran was sweetened with an illicit ransom payment and billions of dollars for the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism.”

What many Americans don’t realize is that the Obama White House took the ransom money from something called the “Judgment Fund,” which is administered by the Treasury. That little-known account is entirely paid for by American taxpayers and was set up in such a way that Obama could bypass congressional approval to pay the cash to Iran.

Those who continually praise and defend Obama often describe him as “brilliant.” There is no doubt the former president is an intelligent person, certainly bright enough to realize — and admit, at least to himself — that the cash he turned over to the murderous regime leading Iran to ruin was not used for altruistic purposes. 

Any honest assessment would conclude that at least part of that secretive, massive payment was used to finance terrorist attacks against Americans, our allies and innocent civilians. Trump is correct on that point.

For that reason, Obama should apologize for the thousands wounded and killed in terrorist attacks since Iran took possession of that tainted cash. That is his debt to pay.

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.