Former Justice Department Attorney Says Obama’s ‘Ransom-for-Hostages’ Transaction With Tehran Violates US Criminal Law
A former Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York this weekend cautioned against obfuscating a much larger issue surrounding last week’s revelation of President Obama’s “ransom-for-hostages” payment to Tehran.
National Review contributing editor Andrew C. McCarthy, famous for his prosecution of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, wrote that the reason for the “bizarre form” of the transfer of $400 million in cash to Iran was to “camouflage” what amounted to a number of felonies Obama was knowingly committing.
McCarthy called the now days’-long debate over whether the transaction constituted ransom “a waste of time,” since,
The Iranians have bragged that the astonishing cash payment was a ransom… The hostages were released the same day the cash arrived. One of the hostages has reported that the captives were detained an extra several hours at the airport and told they would not be allowed to leave until the arrival of another plane — inferentially, the unmarked cargo plane ferrying the cash.
McCarthy, author — among other books — of How the Obama Administration Has Politicized Justice, argued further, “It is not a federal crime to pay a ransom; just to receive one,” adding that the objections of the Justice Department – shot down by the State Department — were likely due to concerns about the illegal nature of the transaction.
He explained: “Contrary to the nuclear sanctions that [the] Iran deal attempts to undo, the sanctions pertinent here were imposed primarily as a result of Iran’s support for terrorism. That is significant. In pleading with Congress not to disapprove the JCPOA, Obama promised lawmakers that the terrorism sanctions would remain in force.”
McCarthy said that it is precisely due to Iran’s “atrocious record” – acknowledged in the State Department’s own report on State Sponsors of Terrorism – “that Congress pressed Obama to maintain and enforce anti-terrorism sanctions, which the administration repeatedly committed to do.”
This commitment was reaffirmed by Obama’s Treasury Department on January 16, 2016, the “Implementation Day” of the JCPOA. Treasury’s published guidance regarding Iran states that, in general, “the clearing of U.S. dollar- or other currency-denominated transactions through the U.S. financial system or involving a U.S. person remain prohibited[.]”
In other words, McCarthy explained, “The claim by administration officials, widely repeated in the press, that Iran had to be paid in euros and francs because dollar-transactions are forbidden is nonsense; Americans are also forbidden to engage in foreign currency transactions with Iran.”
Moreover, he wrote, “[W]illful violations of the regulations constitute serious felony offenses under federal criminal law — punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment.” Nor, he said, are the above the only criminal statutes Obama breached. Two others, he said, are the law against providing material support to terrorists and money laundering – a form of which can be “a financial transaction involving money used to facilitate unlawful activity. And if money is transferred outside the United States, it can be illegal to use it to promote criminal activity.”
President Obama, concluded McCarthy, “has violated the law.”
Meanwhile, the Iranian regime’s semi-official news agency Fars reported on Sunday that a top Islamic Republic official issued a warning to the United States about its not having lifted all sanctions.
“They shouldn’t think that Iran’s hands are tied… [where the] the nuclear issue [is concerned],” said Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s chief adviser for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati in an interview with the pan-Arab, Beirut-based al-Mayadeen TV.
According to Fars, this warning echoed less veiled threats Velayati made earlier this month that “Tehran can resume its frozen nuclear activities in case of the opposite side’s disloyalty” to the JCPOA, reached last year between Iran and world powers.