Iranâ€™s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari warned Western officials this week that if they do not put pressure on the Trump administration the Iranian regime will leak the names of all Western officials who were bribed to pass the weak deal.
The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.
Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.
The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iranâ€™s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
The settlement, which resolved claims before an international tribunal in The Hague, also coincided with the formal implementation that same weekend of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran, the U.S. and other global powers the summer before.
â€œWith the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,â€ President Barack Obama said at the White House on Jan. 17â€”without disclosing the $400 million cash payment.
Senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange. They say the way the various strands came together simultaneously was coincidental, not the result of any quid pro quo.
â€œAs weâ€™ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claimâ€¦were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home,â€ State Department spokesman John Kirby said. â€œNot only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side, including, in the case of The Hague claims, by technical experts involved in these negotiations for many years.â€
But U.S. officials also acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible.
Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas and a fierce foe of the Iran nuclear deal, accused President Barack Obama of paying â€œa $1.7 billion ransom to the ayatollahs for U.S. hostages.â€
â€œThis break with longstanding U.S. policy put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizuresâ€ of Americans, he said.
Since the cash shipment, the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guard has arrested two more Iranian-Americans. Tehran has also detained dual-nationals from France, Canada and the U.K. in recent months.
Olivia Nuzzi, at the Daily Beast, is a typical example of the commentators going after Trump for declining to reverence John McCain’s POW sufferings, when Trump himself avoided military service in the Vietnam War.
Trumpâ€™s decision to criticize McCainâ€™s military record is all the more puzzling given the circumstances surrounding his lack of one.
Trump claimed, in an April interview on WNYW, that he avoided the Vietnam War because â€œI actually got lucky because I had a very high draft number.â€ He said, while attending the Wharton School of Finance, that â€œI was watching as they did the draft numbers and I got a very, very high number and those numbers never got up to me.â€
But The Smoking Gun reported that Trumpâ€™s draft number was 365, and when it was drawn on Dec. 1, 1968, â€œ18 months after Trump graduatedâ€ from the Wharton School, Trump â€œhad already received four student deferments and a medical deferment,â€ according to records obtained by the publication.
Rieckhoff joked, â€œHe was so interested in seeing the presidentâ€™s birth certificate, Iâ€™m sure heâ€™d be willing to provide the documentation about that.â€
Despite his lack of service, Trump, in the post-insult statement, said, â€œI am not a fan of John McCain because he has done so little for our Veterans and he should know better than anybody what the Veterans need, especially in regards to the VA. He is yet another all talk, no action politician who spends too much time on television and not enough time doing his job and helping Vets.â€
It just isn’t that simple, folks.
John Kerry, just for example, graduated from Yale in 1965, before the Anti-War Movement had really developed. John Kerry had been planning to run for president presumably since pre-school, so he naturally did go into the Armed Forces, taking the comparatively safe choice of the Navy.
Kerry wound up serving on Swift Boats and saw minor combat. Kerry then came home with a collection of medals, which some of those who served with him say he had written himself up for, grotesquely exaggerating his alleged valor and falsely describing some accidentally self-inflicted wounds as resulting from hostile fire. Kerry then went AWOL; joined the Anti-War Movement as a principal national spokesman, then testified before Congress that his fellow American servicemen behaved like “Genghis Khan,” burned villages, and routinely killed women and children. Kerry even traveled to Paris in order to participate in private planning sessions with North Vietnamese negotiators.
Someone like Trump, who didn’t go to war at all, deserves to be rated as a whole lot more patriotic than a scoundrel and traitor like John Kerry.
The Vietnam War was grossly mismanaged by two administrations, and — at the time — anybody with an IQ over room temperature could see we were never going to win, all the lives lost would be wasted, and the end was merely going to be withdrawal. By the later 1960s, nobody who was clever or well-connected was going.
John McCain served in the war because he was the son and grandson of Navy admirals. He attended Annapolis, following in his father’s footsteps and simply going into the family business. Graduates of the service academies and members of military families had less choice.
There were all sorts of ways to avoid being conscripted, and since American lives and efforts were obviously being wasted and serving in that war could easily be recognized as futile, I’d say that nobody has any right to reproach anybody for draft dodging.
Reproach Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon for not dropping a blocking force of a couple of airborne divisions somewhere north and west of Hanoi, and then not sending in an amphibious corps of Marines to assault Hanoi and Haiphong. We could have won the War in Vietnam. We needed only to capture the enemy’s government, military high command, principal supply center, and general staff. We always had the military power to do that. We just knuckled under to Soviet and Chinese saber-rattling (the same way we did in Korea), and never did. We fought a limited war, on terms dictated by the enemy, until the left destroyed the war’s legitimacy and our domestic morale, which forced us to give up.
Donald Trump was obviously smart enough to tell which way the wind blows, and he merely took the practical approach of stepping off the tracks and out of the path of the speeding railroad engine of History. A lot of people did exactly the same thing. I don’t think anybody ever had an obligation to be a sucker and have his time, efforts, and potentially his life wasted by venal and incompetent political leaders. Nor do I think that being smart enough not to be used and played, being able to avoid being taken advantage of, disqualifies anyone from political office or participation in later debates of foreign policy.
We all read that poor John Kerry broke his leg recently, bicycling at age 70 near the French border, then winding up in a hospital in Geneva before being flown home to Massachusetts General at the expense of the US taxpayer.
But the Jerusalem Post reported subsequently that the Iranian media exploded this week with stories claiming that Kerry was actually shot in the course of a meeting with ISIS representatives that turned out to be an assassination attempt.
The latest Iranian report, first published by the Nasim news agency and subsequently picked up by dozens of Iranian news sites, based its information on “an American news website” which cites a Russian foreign intelligence service report as the source of the information.
According to the report in Nasim, Kerry secretly met with one of the leaders of Islamic State on Sunday. The meeting eventually led to an armed clash and an attempt to assassinate the US secretary of state.
Kerry’s meeting, in which the alleged assassination attempt took place, was with Gulmurod Khalimov, a senior Tajik police commander, trained in the United States, who announced his defection to Islamic State in a video released last week, the report states.
Having received training from the US State Department previously, Khalimov was well aware of State Department security procedures and he used the knowledge to get another member of his entourage into the secret meeting with Kerry, with the intention of assassinating him, the report claims.
The report cited communications intercepted by Russian intelligence from France, the US and Switzerland as confirming that two other people were shot in the incident, one of them fatally.
The story of Kerry breaking his femur in a bicycle accident in Switzerland was then concoted to hide the real source of his “grave injuries,” according to the report.
The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia announced their intention to block Blackberry reception in response to Research In Motion (RIM)’s failure to facilitate government monitoring of transmissions. Mohammed Al Ghanem, director general of the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), said “In their current form, certain Blackberry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns for the UAE.”
[L]awmakers say the dearth of calls for Rangelâ€™s head reflects a mix of respect for both him personally and the institution. They see a veteran member of Congress and a war hero who has served the nation and Harlem in Washington and donâ€™t want to â€œjump on his bones,â€ as one Democrat put it. …
Second, Democrats believe the Rangel scandal isn’t really hurting them all that badly back in their home districts. Some House Democrats think the media are overplaying the possible national implications of the case.
“I am not aware of anyone who is going to lose their election over this,” said one senior Democrat. “Until it becomes a problem for other members, they will stick with Charlie.”
Rangel’s three-stage defense: “I didn’t do it. I did it, but was inattentive. Others lawmakers were allowed to do the same thing without penalty.”
Reality is strange. The draconian immigration law passed in Arizona is bad for Republicans in the long run, but even the worst blunders can sometimes have a silver lining.
Arizona’s passage of an anti-illegals bill is precipitating a democrat party Congressional response. Democrats want to defy current majority opinion one more time by taking up (with customary partisanship) immigration reform.
The democrat grab for the Hispanic bloc will anger many centrists, and it had incidentally the amusing effect of flushing Lindsey Graham out of a (shudder!) bipartisan environmentalist coalition with John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman that was getting ready to introduce tomorrow a major climate change bill.
Instead of reaching across the aisle to destroy further the American economy and empower the federal government to regulate and tax some more, Graham petulantly withdrew his support from the absolutely marvelous bill which he assures us would have gone a long way toward making America energy independent while preserving our environment pristine and unspoiled and instead he denounced the democrats change of priorities as “a cynical political ploy.”
I’d rather see the immigration debate conducted rationally and responsibly but, hey! what issue in American politics ever is?
If immigration is going to be a stupid and divisive issue, at least this time it seems to have put a spoke in a very deserving wheel, the looming “climate change bill.” Let’s fight over immigration some more instead.