Martha Roby: Behavior toward Iran baffling

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As more details surface about the Obama Administration’s decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion in settlement money, arguments that it was anything less than an ill-conceived ransom deal are becoming pretty flimsy.

In January, President Barack Obama announced the United States had reached a settlement with Iran over a decades-long arms deal dispute, in which $1.7 billion would be transferred from a Treasury fund set up to cover court judgments and settlements. Even though the deal directly coincided with Iran’s release of five Americans it was holding hostage, the President and other Administration officials repeatedly denied that this deal was a ransom payment.

However, such denials proved phony when, in August, The Wall Street Journal reported in stunning detail how the first installment actually took place. “Wooden palletes stacked with Euros, Swiss francs, and other foreign currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plan,” the story said. The plane reportedly sat on the tarmac until U.S. officials confirmed the release of American hostages. That’s pretty much the definition of a ransom.

Why does it matter? Because paying a ransom would violate long-standing U.S. policy, including President Obama’s own. Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 30, released by the White House in June 2015, states that “It is United States policy to deny hostage-takers the benefits of ransom, prisoner releases, policy changes, or other acts of concession.”

Why is it important for our country not to pay ransoms? Because it endangers Americans. As the PPD goes on to say,

“This policy protects U.S. nationals and strengthens national security by removing a key incentive for hostage-takers to target U.S. nationals, thereby interrupting the vicious cycle of hostage-takings, and by helping to deny terrorists and other malicious actors the money, personnel, and other resources they need to conduct attacks against the United States, its nationals, and its interests.”

Almost as if to prove this point, since the cash shipment, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has detained two more Iranian-Americans, according to The Wall Street Journal. And why wouldn’t they, seeing as how Iran’s military will now apparently be the beneficiary of the $1.7 billion influx from the United States. Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he found this development “troubling” because it would enable Iran’s military to spread “malign influence.” Unfortunately, President Obama did not consult with Gen. Dunford – his top uniformed military commander – or Secretary of Defense Ash Carter about the payment scheme before this critical decision was made.

These latest revelations have prompted Congress to act. This week the House passed H.R. 5931, the Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act, which essentially codifies into law the policy against ransom payments. I wish it wasn’t necessary to enact a new law in order to stop a president from executing foreign transactions that go against long-standing policies put in place to protect Americans. However, given President Obama’s baffling behavior toward Iran, Congressional action is absolutely necessary.

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Martha Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband, Riley and their two children.

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5 Comments

  1. You know what you are masterfully avoiding…
    Reagan negotiated with the “terrorists” to hold the American Diplomats LONGER so that he can win the election against Carter….
    The Republican sweet heart and his team are directly responsible for the hostages remaining in captivity LONGER than necessary…
    Who know when they started talking to hostage takes anyway…..
    Maybe before they took the hostages? Although I doubt that….

    New Reports Say 1980 Reagan Campaign Tried to Delay Hostage Release

    http://www.nytimes.com/1991/04

    Did Iran Delay Hostages Release To Ensure Reagan’s Election?

    http://www.wrmea.org/1987-octo

    So yes Republicans have taught a few lessons to Iran and one of them is how to fool their own citizens!

    Then please google TPAjax…..CIA removed a democratically elected Prime minister in Iran because UK was going bankrupt!

    https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol.-56-no.-2/pdfs/McMurdo-The%20Economics%20of%20Overthrow.pdf

    Then US supported Saddam Hussein in his 8 years war and invasion of Iran leading to millions of deaths!

    So let me get it clear you say to do as you say not as you do correct?

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