As I reported on Thursday, the Biden administration and the Islamist regime in Iran reached an agreement in which five imprisoned Americans would be freed in exchange for several Iranian nationals serving prison sentences for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran — and the unfreezing of $6 billion of Iranian assets in held in South Korea.
With good reason, Republicans were quick to accuse Joe Biden of paying ransom to secure the freedom of the Americans. One such Republican was former Vice President Mike Pence, who tweeted:
While I welcome the release of American hostages, the American people should know that @POTUS Biden has authorized the largest ransom payment in American history to the Mullahs in Tehran.
While I welcome the release of American hostages, the American people should know that @POTUS Biden has authorized the largest ransom payment in American history to the Mullahs in Tehran. https://t.co/7uUAoIXXa4
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) August 10, 2023
Au contraire, said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
During an appearance on Thursday’s episode of CNN’s “The Lead,” with card-carrying left-wing host John Tapper, Kirby hilariously claimed that the reported unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian assets for the release of the Americans “is not ransom.” No, really.
Instead, Kirby insisted, an account “that has not been … accessible” to Iran would now become “more accessible to the Iranians.”
The lie-fest began after Tapper asked Kirby about Pence’s statement:
Just this afternoon, Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence said, ‘Biden has authorized the largest ransom payment in American history to the mullahs in Tehran.’ What would your response to that be?
Translation: “I’m going to throw a slow pitch right down the middle of the plate so you can hit it out of the park, John.”
Kirby jumped all over it.
That he’s wrong, just plain and simple. Look, while I can’t tell you everything that we’re doing and everything that this is, I can certainly tell you what it’s not. And there’s not going to be a ransom payment. There’s not going to be sanctions relief.
There [are] no U.S. taxpayer dollars that are going to be applied to getting these Americans home. And this $6 billion, without getting into the details of the negotiations, I think there’s a little confusion about what this account is all about.
This is part of a system of accounts that were set up in the previous administration that allowed some countries to import Iranian goods, non-sanctionable goods, and that the Iranians could pull on those accounts, those payments, through a special system only used for humanitarian purposes.
And that’s what we’re talking about here. It’s a pre-existing account that was set up in the previous administration, which they allowed other countries to set up, that has not been made accessible to the Iranians. They’d be able to have some access to it, but only for humanitarian purposes.
Spoiler, Mr. Kirby: The Islamist extremists in Tehran don’t give a damn where the $6 billion comes from; they only care about gaining access to it— in response to freeing five Americans held on bogus charges.
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby tells CNN’s @jaketapper that former Vice President Mike Pence is wrong for calling the deal President Biden worked out with Iran, which includes releasing from Americans from prison, a “ransom” payment. pic.twitter.com/CoIck7D578
— CNN (@CNN) August 10, 2023
To Tapper’s credit, he followed up with a more-than-reasonable question.
What would you say to somebody out there…who says, okay, so, this money — let’s say it’s $6 billion, because I don’t have another figure to go by and you didn’t offer an alternating one — $6 billion in Iranian assets that are unfrozen.
Whether it’s — you say it’s not American taxpayer dollars, and that’s accurate, still, it does seem like we are giving the Iranians something. And certainly, I could understand why the common man or woman out there might say, that’s a ransom payment, I’m glad these Americans are getting home, but that’s a ransom payment?
Kirby happily dug his ridiculous hole even deeper:
Well, a couple of things here: First of all, negotiations are about giving and taking, and there was no universe in which we were going to get these five Americans home without some bartering, some compromising with the Iranians. And that bargaining is ongoing right now. So, again, I don’t want to get too far ahead of what it’s going to actually look like, the terms — the scope of the negotiation and the deal. But on this ransom, this is not a ransom.
And it’s important to remember that the account from which money could be accessed by the Iranians is an account set up in the previous administration that allowed other countries to import non-sanctionable goods. It’s not something that the Biden administration created, but it’s a series of accounts that Iran has pulled on before.
They haven’t been able to pull on one account, and what we’re talking about is the possibility of making that one account that has been in existence for several years more accessible to the Iranians. But it would be, again, under the same level of limits. They could only pull from that account for humanitarian purposes, and there is an oversight mechanism that’s already built into that process. So, it’s not ransom, and again, no U.S. taxpayer dollars [are] involved here.
“But on this ransom, this is not ransom.” Huh?
So let’s imagine for a nanosecond that Donald Trump was still president and he cut a deal with Iran to release $6 billion to the Islamists, for any reason — other than complete abandonment of Iran’s nuclear program, with regular international inspections. How would the Democrats and their sock-puppet media react? You know the answer: With a level of histrionic hysteria unseen since the evil Orange Man won the 2016 presidential election.
The Bottom Line
The payment — or “release” — of money in exchange for the release of innocent people is indeed ransom. Moreover, it sends a clear and dangerous signal to the world’s bad guys that snagging Americans can be a very lucrative endeavor. In Joe Biden’s America, that is.