Weekly Columns

The Most Transparent Administration in History?

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Washington, September 14, 2016 | Tiffany Haverly (202-226-8072) | comments

Earlier this year, media outlets began reporting that the prisoner swap announced the same time President Obama shared the details of his misguided and dangerous Iran deal could be the result of a $1.7 billion payment included in the deal to “settle an arms dispute”. Unsurprisingly, the Obama Administration denied these claims, but a Wall Street Journal investigation this summer uncovered the administration secretly sent a plane loaded with cash, equal to about $400 million, to Iran just as four Americans being held by the country were released.

Common sense tells you this is ransom. Why else would we send a plane full of cash to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism? Further, the State Department admitted to holding on to the cash for leverage until the Americans were free. This is unacceptable, but Republicans in Congress aren’t the only ones concerned about the president’s apparent reversal of the longstanding policy of not paying ransom for American hostages: John Carlin, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Department of Justice, also allegedly raised concerns about this payment during negotiations. Still, the administration pressed on, secretly sending cash to Iran while putting Americans traveling abroad at greater risk.

Just when you think the Iran deal couldn’t possibly get any worse, we receive these disturbing revelations – which come on top of the discovery that the administration purchased heavy water from the Iranians. Let me be clear: I believe we can and should work to get Americans held hostage safely to freedom, but we cannot secretly negotiate side deals with aggressive countries just because it’s politically expedient. What’s next? Will we be sending suitcases filled with cash to terrorist groups around the world in exchange for Americans? How does this not incentivize the capture of Americans? This is outrageous, and a new foreign policy low for the Obama administration.

I’ve opposed the Iran nuclear agreement at every turn. I voted against it when given the opportunity; I voted for increased sanctions on Iran; and I voted to stop the purchase of 32 tons of heavy water from the Iranians that came with an $8.6 million price tag. Unfortunately, it seems the president and his allies still don’t get it, and I am increasingly disturbed and frustrated by the new and serious allegations about more secret side deals.

That’s why this week I signed on as a cosponsor of H.R. 5931, the No More Cash Ransoms to Iran Act. This bill was introduced on September 9th by Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce. This legislation will stop future ransom payments to Iran by making clear the Obama administration violated longstanding U.S. policy when they paid ransom in exchange for the release of Americans in Iran. It also demands transparency on any future settlements with Iran while prohibiting all cash payments to the country. This isn’t a joke. Plain and simple: this reckless move by the administration puts Americans at risk. The president should be ashamed, and you can rest assured I will continue to oppose the Iran nuclear agreement, the president’s shady side deals and fight to bring transparency to this process. What happened to President Obama’s “most transparent administration in history”?

Feel free to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you or your family. 
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