The Corner


Sorry ‘Factchecker,’ Nikki Haley Is Right — Obama Sent Iran a Planeload of Cash

Flag in front of Iran’s Foreign Ministry building in Tehran (Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters)

The Washington Post’s “factchecks” of the first night of the Republican National Convention mostly represent Democratic Party rebuttals to what are debatable political contentions. One, however, stuck out as especially misleading. Here is a statement by former ambassador Nikki Haley that the Post takes exception to:

Obama and Biden let Iran get away with murder and literally sent them a plane full of cash. President Trump did the right thing and ripped up the Iran nuclear deal.

Why was this fact-checked at all?

The first part of Haley’s assertion is indisputable. The Obama administration sent the Iranian terror regime a planeload of cash. It says so right there in Glenn Kessler’s piece: “An initial payment of $400 million was handed over on Jan. 17, 2016, the day after Iran released four American detainees, including The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian.”

The second part of Haley’s contention is merely an opinion — debatable, perhaps, but not fact-checkable.

Kessler’s claim that “the initial cash payment was Iran’s money,” on the other hand, is highly misleading. The cash in question only became “Iran’s money” after Obama secretly sent it to the Mullahs in an unmarked cargo plane — or, in the same way a bag of cash becomes the “kidnapper’s money” once it’s delivered.

In reality, the United States was under no obligation to pay Iran in the summer of 2016, or ever. We were in the middle of a long, unresolved dispute in front of the Iran–United States Claims Tribunal at The Hague over cash advances that were owed to the Shah’s government for military equipment we refused to deliver after the 1979 revolution.

You might recall that, in 1979, the Islamic Republic began prosecuting its war against the United States — taking hostages, targeting civilians, and funding anti-American terror groups that began murdering U.S. servicemen in 1982.

In any event, for over 37 years, through five administrations, the United States didn’t think it was “Iran’s money.” It was only Obama who secretly sent pallets of euros and Swiss francs to Iran, just as Haley contends. And that money was almost surely used to fund proxies that were not only perpetuating conflicts across the Middle East but also killing Americans, as Haley also contends.

Even John Kerry was forced to acknowledge that the money Obama shipped to Tehran would likely end up in hand of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard — a group that is putting bounties on American soldiers and is behind the murder of 600 American servicemen.

Obama’s defenders rarely, if ever, mention that in 2000 President Bill Clinton signed the “Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act,” which dictates that no money should be refunded until U.S. court judgments held against Iran for damages due to terrorist acts against American citizens are resolved. They have not been.

The Iranian government, Iranian entities, and Iranian officials still owe Americans somewhere around $53 billion in outstanding federal court judgments.

And even if such a law didn’t exist, the ethical and moral course for any administration would be to make its citizens whole before sending untraceable bills to a group such as the Revolutionary Guard. The fact that the Obama administration was more deferential to The Hague and more concerned about the Iran Deal than the law might not be surprising. But it doesn’t make legacy-boosting “factchecks” any more convincing.


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