Don’t worry though. This was definitely not ransom!
But don’t take our word for it. Just check out what White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Wednesday: “Well, what I will say is that the United States, under President Obama, has not paid a ransom to secure the release of Americans unjustly detained in Iran, and we’re not going to pay a ransom.”
Ok, fine. So the Wall Street Journal did report that the Iranians have long characterized the $400 cash infusion as a ransom payment for American hostages. And we also learned that President Obama’s own Justice Department objected to the payment out of concern that it would be received as ransom, but they were overruled by the State Department.
But c’mon. As the White House said, it’s only hardliners in Iran and right-wingers in Congress who think this was ransom.
After all, it’s longstanding U.S. policy to not pay ransoms because doing so encourages countries like Iran to take more hostages. We’re not really sure why the regime already arrested more Americans since releasing prisoners in January, but it obviously had nothing to do with this payment.
We’ve also heard what the critics are saying. Speaker Ryan argues that this scandal exemplifies the lengths the administration will go to in order to accommodate Iran. He also points to a series of dangerous concessions to Tehran that go well beyond the requirements of the nuclear agreement. And the speaker asserts that this episode demonstrates how the administration continues to mislead the American people about its dealings with Iran.
Look, we get it. The timing was odd. The payment method was downright bizarre. And the explanation has been iffy at best. But just trust us on this one: this was definitely not ransom.