Although State Department spokesman John Kirby didn’t actually use the words ransom payment, he has finally admitted that the $400 million paid to Iran was — effectively — a ransom payment for the release of four American hostages.
Asked at Thursday’s press briefing: “In basic English, you’re saying you wouldn’t give them $400 million in cash until the prisoners were released, correct?” Kirby replied, “That’s correct.”
Nevertheless, as everybody knows:
In an Aug. 4 press conference, President Obama said the opposite.
“We do not pay ransom. We didn’t here, and we won’t in the future,” the president told reporters, speaking of the Jan. 17 payment and hostage release.
Families “know we have a policy that we don’t pay ransom. And the notion that we would somehow start now, in this high-profile way, and announce it to the world, even as we’re looking in the faces of other hostage families whose loved ones are being held hostage, and saying to them ‘We don’t pay ransom,’ defies logic,” Obama added at the time.
He lectured the press for even raising the issue.
President Obama can call that payment of $400 million in cash — flown to Iran in an unmarked plane in the dead of night — anything he likes, but, to paraphrase a line in a Shakespeare play, a ransom payment by any other name is still a ransom payment.