Op-Ed: Ransom by another name

  • By Cal Thomas
  • Tuesday, August 9, 2016 9:36am
  • Opinion

You’ve probably heard the very old riddle: When is a door not a door? When it’s ajar.

An updated version might go like this: When is a ransom not a ransom? When the Obama administration says it isn’t.

President Obama and his State Department want us to believe that $400 million in foreign cash that was flown into Iran under cover of darkness on an unmarked cargo plane was merely money “owed” to the world’s No. 1 sponsor of terrorism from a failed arms deal negotiated with the Shah of Iran more than 35 years ago.

The president’s explanation is that the money was part of the nuclear deal reached with Iran and the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement resolving claims at an international tribunal at The Hague. The president says settling the claim now is actually saving money, the full amount of which might have had to be paid if the case were fully litigated before the court.

We are to ignore a statement by one of the four Americans held hostage by the Iranian regime (one of them since 2011) before being released in January. Christian pastor Saeed Abedini told Fox Business Channel last week: “I just remember the night at the airport sitting for hours and hours there, and I asked police, ‘Why are you not letting us go?’” Abedini said the policeman answered, “We are waiting for another plane so if that plane doesn’t come, we never let [you] go.’”

What was the “other plane” carrying that was so important to the Iranian government that only its arrival would trigger the release of Abedini and the three other hostages, and its failure to land would keep them in captivity? Food? Toilet paper? Western movies? Or money?

It is a sad day when one must choose between believing the American president or the Iranian government that has vowed to wipe out Israel and then come after America and subject the world to fundamentalist Islam. The administration refuses to say how many Americans have died directly or indirectly from Iran’s support of terrorism.

The Washington Free Beacon reported last fall that the administration has stonewalled a request from Congress to release figures on the number of Americans and Israelis killed by Iran and its terror proxies since the 1979 Iranian revolution. Undoubtedly this was to ease opposition to the deal with Iran not to proceed with the creation of nuclear weapons, which they most assuredly are creating in secret, or will create when the “restrictions” expire in a maximum of 15 years, depending on one’s interpretation of the deal. Iran is permitted to enrich uranium in the meantime.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal last week, former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey thought he knew the reason for the foreign cash and the secrecy behind the January transfer of funds: “There is principally one entity within the Iranian government that has need of untraceable funds. That entity is the Quds Force — the branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps focusing particularly on furthering the regime’s goals worldwide by supporting and conducting terrorism.”

The Iranian regime clearly sees the $400 million as ransom for the illegally held Americans. A video showing pallets of foreign cash has surfaced on the Internet. The administration won’t confirm that is the money it sent, but does it matter? The money was sent.

Consider the definition of “ransom” and whether this fits what occurred in January: “the redemption of a prisoner, slave, or kidnapped person … for a price.”

A rose is a rose is a rose. And so is ransom by whatever name one may disingenuously call it.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

More in Opinion

Larry Persily (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: State’s ‘what if’ lawsuit doesn’t much add up

The state’s latest legal endeavor came July 2 in a dubious lawsuit — with a few errors and omissions for poor measure

The entrance to the Homer Electric Association office is seen here in Kenai, Alaska, on May 7, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: Speak up on net metering program

The program allows members to install and use certain types of renewable generation to offset monthly electric usage and sell excess power to HEA

Gov. Mike Dunleavy signs bills for the state’s 2025 fiscal year budget during a private ceremony in Anchorage on Thursday, June 25, 2024. (Official photo from The Office of the Governor)
Alaska’s ‘say yes to everything’ governor is saying ‘no’ to a lot of things

For the governor’s purposes, “everything” can pretty much be defined as all industrial development

Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board members, staff and advisors meet Oct. 30, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The concerns of reasonable Alaskans isn’t ‘noise’

During a legislative hearing on Monday, CEO Deven Mitchell referred to controversy it’s created as “noise.”

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Crime pays a lot better than newspapers

I used to think that publishing a quality paper, full of accurate, informative and entertaining news would produce enough revenue to pay the bills

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo
Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom addresses the crowd during an inaugural celebration for her and Gov. Mike Dunleavy at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Jan. 20, 2023.
Opinion: The many truths Dahlstrom will deny

Real conservatives wouldn’t be trashing the rule of law

Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his veto of a wide-ranging education bill during a press conference March 16 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Governor, please pay more attention to Alaskans

Our governor has been a busy guy on big issues.

Priya Helweg is the acting regional director and executive officer for the Region 10 Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Happy Pride Month

This month is dedicated to acknowledging and uplifting the voices and experiences of the LGBTQI+ community

A roll of “I voted” stickers sit at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Juneau in 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Strengthening democracy: Native vote partners to boost voter registration

GOTNV and VPC are partnering to send over 4,000 voter registration applications this month to addresses and P.O. boxes all over Alaska

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict

Ballot booths are set up inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Perspective from an election worker

Here is what I know about our Kenai Peninsula Borough election system

Apayauq Reitan, the first transgender woman to participate in the Iditarod, tells the House Education Committee on March 30, 2023, why she opposes a bill restricting transgender rights. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The imaginary transgender sports crisis

House Bill 183 is a right-wing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist now and never will.