The 400 million dollar quagmire
By Don Valentine
Less than 100 days to go before the election. President Obama was going to be able to exit office without any significant, scarring scandal. This will not be the case. In the course of the Iran nuclear discussion a controversial ancillary clause was included. The negotiations accomplished allowing the world to monitor any evolution by the rogue nation to progress to nuclear weapons. Their “carrot” was for them to have their assets gradually unfrozen. That allowed for the “stick” of blocking said assets if Iran did not conform.
Oops, there was a clause that might be the “Achilles heel” in the President’s legacy. This clause returned the Iranians $400 million of disputed money. That closed the chapter to a long time litigated claim to these funds. Where the problem arises is that in another clause they agreed to release four American hostages. The President’s problem ensues because the exchanges happened on the same day. That propounds the argument that this was basically a ransom payment. The U.S. policy is firmly adverse to paying ransoms. We have never done that, and will never do that to paraphrase President Obama.
How does the Administration dodge this obvious dichotomy? The President states, correctly, that it was clearly in the agreement that Congress ratified. His strongest plank by an odd turn of chance is the “Donald” to his rescue. The President is getting pulled out of this potential quagmire because of all of Trump’s shenanigans. In a normal year the Republicans would get up early every morning to pounce on this scandal. Unfortunately, they have too much on their plate picking up after Trump’s mess to focus much attention on this issue. Normally this incident would mandate Senate hearings and headline setting news placement. Mr. Obama, be sure to send Donald a Christmas card.