July 24th, 2024


Arms or money for hostages: What's the difference?

Cal Thomas

By Cal Thomas

Published August 15, 2023

Arms or money for hostages: What's the difference?


The Biden administration is transferring $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets in South Korea to an account in Qatar, which Iran will be able to access, in what appears to be an attempt to get Iran to release five imprisoned Americans.

National Security Communications Coordinator John Kirby offered this twisted explanation to Jake Tapper of CNN: "(This is) "not a ransom." Instead, Kirby claimed the account containing the money is one "that has not been made accessible" to Iran, and the administration is simply "making that one account that has been in existence for several years more accessible to the Iranians."

Kirby claimed the money can only be used for "humanitarian purposes." Does anyone believe that the world's number one sponsor of terrorism will be using this money, or the $400 million in cash previously sent to Iran by the Obama administration on a cargo plane the same day Iran released four American prisoners and formally implemented the nuclear deal, for humanitarian purposes? Then, Republicans reacted by claiming that paying what they regarded as a ransom for the release of the U.S. citizens, "puts even more Americans at risk," said then-Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill). Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark) echoed Kirk's criticism, accusing Obama of paying "a $1.7 billion ransom to the ayatollahs for U.S. hostages."

As with these and other payments dating back to the Carter administration, once the money has been received, there will be no way to retrieve it, no matter how the U.S. intends or wishes it to be used.

During the Reagan administration when arms were given to Iran in exchange for U.S. hostages, Democrats and the media were highly critical of the deal. Now with Biden, it's crickets.

The latest transfer of frozen Iranian assets back to Tehran comes at a time when its rulers are moving closer to testing a nuclear weapons device and "has sought to obtain illicit technology for its active weapons program," reports the Jerusalem Post. The unfrozen assets are likely to speed up the process, allowing the ayatollahs to reach their goal more quickly.

People should be reminded of the recent history of the Iranian regime because we have such short memories. The Endowment for Middle East Truth, a pro-Israel lobbying group based in Washington, D.C., has listed some of Iran's most recent actions that we know about: The regime "has attempted to kidnap former American officials on US soil, such as (former) Ambassador John Bolton, (former) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, (former) diplomat Brian Hook, as well as some courageous Iranian expatriates such as journalist and blogger Masih Alinejad."

Beyond that, notes EMET, the International Atomic Energy Administration reports that Iran has been enriching uranium at the 83.7 percent level, a very far cry from the 3.67 level that Iran had vowed to in the JCPOA of 2015, and is perilously close to the 90 percent of enrichment that is nuclear bomb capable."

It should not come as a surprise that Islamic radicals, believing they are doing the will of Allah, continue to advance their earthly agenda, which includes destroying Israel and attacking America.

Any agreement made with Iran is supposed to be reviewed by Congress. That agreement restricts the president from unilaterally waving sanctions on Iran for 30 days so that Congress can decide whether to accept or reject it. That the administration is not doing so is a violation of law. Where are the howls from Congress and the media?

Not that long ago the American "doctrine" was never to pay ransom to terrorists for the reason former Sen. Kirk and others have said. Calling the $6 billion now headed for Iran something other than a ransom doesn't change what it is.


Cal Thomas, America's most-syndicated columnist, is the author of 10 books.