August 23 2016
featuring Claudia Rosett
The White House is still bizarrely obsessed with claiming the $400-million ransom paid to Iran for the release of American hostages was not a ransom, but the State Department has a bigger problem: It claims to have lost track of the other $1.3 billion paid to Iran as part of Barack Obama’s nuclear deal.
“The State Department confirmed Monday that the Obama administration has paid Iran another $1.3 billion to settle a failed arms deal from 1979, but couldn’t describe who in the Iran government it paid, and couldn’t say what form that payment took – cash, check or otherwise,” the Washington Examiner reports. “The State Department also admitted it can’t guarantee that the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps wouldn’t be able to get its hands on the money eventually.”
“I believe it was Iranian officials, Iranian government officials, I don’t know particularly who individually it was… We can always hand it over to someone who can hand it over to the IRGC,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner. That’s exactly what the strongest critics of Obama’s nuclear deal said, except they didn’t shrug when they said it.
Toner implied that some of his evasiveness was meant to protect the anonymity of the entities that helped ferry these bags of loot to Iran, which won’t exactly be comforting to the American people.
Writing for the New York Sun, Claudia Rosett notes the Judgment Fund database has no other payouts related to the State Department that could account for Iran’s $1.3 billion. The database contains no details about where these 13 mysterious payments went, and the Treasury Department did not respond to her request for comment.
Rosett further observes that the Judgment Fund normally pays using electronic funds transfer, and if such transfers were employed to steer this $1.3 billion in U.S. taxpayer money to Tehran, it would detonate President Obama’s talking point that the $400 million cash ransom he flew to Iran in a cargo jet was necessary because “we could not wire the money.”
As one final snub to the American people, if the Judgment Fund was indeed employed to circumvent Congress and pay off Iran, the mullahs received incredibly swift VIP service. The Fund’s website says to expect 6 to 8 weeks of processing time for payments, but the 13 fishy payments Rosett describes were made only two days after the Iran settlement was announced on January 17, and one of those days was a federal holiday.
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), who sits on the Armed Services Committee, blasted the Judgment Fund payments in an op-ed for the Omaha World-Herald on Tuesday, calling it “unacceptable” and vowing that “it must not happen again.”
Fischer, who has been investigating the 13 mystery transactions since earlier this year — and seems to have little doubt they were indeed the Iran payments — has introduced legislation to “give the American people and members of Congress greater oversight of the Judgment Fund.”
“Events have proved that our bills are desperately needed to ensure responsible stewardship of both taxpayer dollars and something far, far more precious: American lives,” she wrote. “By paying ransom to a foreign government in exchange for hostages, the Obama administration has sent a signal to the world that it can be bought. Service members stationed overseas, families on vacation and college students studying abroad are all now at greater risk because of it.”