Sorry, Republicans, the $400 Million Wasn’t Ransom â€“ It Was a Brilliant Play
The U.S. State Department Thursday says the federal government held up a $400 million payment owed to Iran to ensure service members were released. Republicans for weeks have been falsely claiming the U.S. paid Iran ransom for hostages, and the news today from the State Department has given that lie more fuel.
What actually happened, according to the AP and others, is that President Barack Obama used the $400 million payment that had already been negotiated as a bargaining chip to ensure the Americans were released quickly and released unharmed.Â
The Wall Street Journal Thursday called it “a tightly scripted exchange specifically timed to the release of several American prisoners held in Iran.”
“U.S. officials wouldnâ€™t let Iranians take control of the money until a Swiss Air Force plane carrying three freed Americans departed from Tehran on Jan. 17. Once that happened, an Iranian cargo plane was allowed to bring the cash home from a Geneva airport that day.”
Donald Trump earlierÂ this month lied about seeing a top-secret video and lied when he falsely claimed that the U.S. paid $400 million in ransom to free sailors who had accidentallyÂ traveled into Iranian territory. Republicans for the past few weeks have been repeating these false claims, insisting the U.S. paid a ransom to free hostagesÂ â€“ which the U.S. does not do and which President Obama reminded journalists during a press conference that he himself told those same journalists that the U.S. would be returning to Iran $400 million the Iranians had paid to the U.S. in the 1970s for arms, which the U.S. never delivered after the Iranian government was overthrown:
In fact, it was not ransom as the U.S. owed Iran the fundsÂ â€“ which are part of a negotiated $1.7 billion agreementÂ â€“ and President Obama merely leveraged them to ensure safe return of our service members.
Donald Trump himself, were he not running for president, would likely call that good deal-making.
An op-ed in the WashingtonÂ Post last week called the deal “American diplomacy at its finest.”
It’s not ransom when we already agreed to give them something that was rightfully theirs, and all we did was later stipulate that we had to get the service members back first. It would be ransom if we didn’t already owe them the money. It’s really quite simpleÂ â€“ just not for conservatives.
Even the RNC flat out lied in a blog post on its official website: “State Dept. Admits Secret $400 Million Iran Payment Was Ransom.”
RNC Chair followed that up with an insane press release:
â€” Reince Priebus (@Reince) August 17, 2016
Right wing “news” sites and Republican extremists Thursday increasingly labeled the payment “ransom”:
Hillary said it wasn’t a ransom payment.
John Kerry’s spokesman says it was: https://t.co/WheViA8R1R
â€” Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) August 18, 2016
did John Kerry’s State Dept think he could slip out the ransom payment confirmation while DC reporters watched @RyanLochte?
â€” Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) August 18, 2016
â€” Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) August 18, 2016
â€” Trish Regan Intel (@TrishIntel) August 18, 2016
State Dept admits: $400 MILLION to Iran was ransom!
*GASP* I’m shocked.
â€” Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) August 18, 2016
â€” Linda Suhler, Ph.D. (@LindaSuhler) August 18, 2016
Insanity. Get these people a dictionary.
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‘Boldly Ignorant’ Ted Cruz Slammed by Retired NYPD Detective for His Suggestions to Protect Kids
Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Katie Phang Show,” a retired NYPD detective expressed disgust with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) over his attempts to dismiss the idea of new gun laws to protect children in schools and instead is insisting America needs to turn schools into fortresses.
In interviews and appearing at the NRA convention this weekend in Houston, Cruz has vociferously disregarded the easy availability of high-powered weapons and instead focused on a door that was left open at the elementary school where the shooting occurred.
After host Phang shared a clip of the Texas Republican making his case, she asked former law enforcement detective Marq Claxton his thoughts on what Cruz was proposing.
Calling the controversial senator “boldly ignorant,” he proceeded to rip Cruz’s proposal apart.
“Marq, I was a prosecutor for half my career, I never prosecuted somebody for leaving a door open. How absurd is this proposal by Ted Cruz that the solution is to make sure that we don’t have too many doors at our schools?” host Phang asked.
“Ted Cruz’s statements were boldly ignorant and dismissive of the clear obvious danger that is faced by so many people in society because of the prevalence of violence and gun violence in particular,” he replied. “It really shows just how so many political electeds lack the fortitude to move forward and do the right thing: save lives.”
“Instead of sloganeering, Mr. Cruz and his other elected colleagues really should be working on legislation that provides, or minimizes the risk of damage, and could quite possibly and probably save lives,” he continued. “That is some additional gun restrictions, some background checks, there are other things that are out there that will undoubtedly be effective and save lives, and prevent these gun violence deaths.”
Watch the segment below or at this link.
‘Taking Us All for Fools’: Critics Decimate Greg Abbott’s Claims and Defense of His Actions in Wake of School Shooting
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott in a press conference that left reporters frustrated defended his actions and insisted his earlier praise for law enforcement’s widely criticized response to the Uvalde school massacre was the result of being “misled.”
“I am livid about what happened,” Abbott declared, blaming others for his “recitation of what people in that room told me.”
“I was misled … the information that I was given turned out in part to be inaccurate. And I’m absolutely livid about that” — Greg Abbott on his initial false statement portraying Uvalde first responders as heroes pic.twitter.com/dUIdxnicjm
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 27, 2022
Critics aren’t buying his claims.
Abbott, who’s in the middle of a heated re-election campaign, appeared extremely defensive when reporters asked him questions.
“Let’s be clear about one thing. None of the laws I signed this past session had any intersection with this crime at all,” Abbott told reporters when asked if he would call the legislature back for a special session, as The Texas Tribune’s Sewell Chan noted.
“No law that I signed allowed him to get a gun,” Abbott insisted.
“The answers fell pretty flat,” opined MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, who noted the press event lasted just 36 minutes, less time than the police officers “stood outside and did nothing,” which was 47 minutes.
Abbott ended the press conference with many reporters almost begging him to take more questions. As the governor left one frustrated reporter was caught on a hot mic saying “unbelievable.”
Chan, who is the editor in chief of the Tribune, added on Twitter: “Abbott rejects background checks as a simplistic and ineffective fix. Wouldn’t have prevented Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe shootings, he says. Tries to turn focus to broken mental health system.”
Former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi on MSNBC delivered a strong rebuke to Governor Abbott’s remarks.
“No amount of free flights, no amount of free caskets, no amount of mental health counseling is going to bring back any one of those murdered children,” Figliuzzi said, referring to Abbott’s announcement an anonymous donor is putting up $175,000 for funeral expenses of those who were murdered in the shooting and said the state will pay for mental health treatment.
Abbott also insisted that since Texas became a state it’s been legal for 18-year-olds to buy long guns.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was murdered in the Parkland school shooting, blasted Abbott:
.@GregAbbott_TX responding to a question on long rifles “it seems like only in the past decade or two we have had school shootings.” Governor, the assault weapons ban ended in 2004. See the connection? You have actively helped to sell millions of weapons since then.
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) May 27, 2022
And long guns of today, as Figliuzzi noted, are often semi-automatic “killing machines.”
“The governor seems completely unable to understand that he can easily make a distinction when you’re talking about whether an 18-year-old should buy an assault rifle or not. And all he cares about is a century of history in Texas on long guns. We didn’t have the AR-15 style assault weapons back then. He can easily make a distinction and say, ‘you can go hunting, here are the rifles you can do, you can buy, you can possess – and here’s an assault-style rifle.'”
“If he thinks that people are stupid and unable to understand that there is a clear distinction between a killing machine and a hunting rifle, that he’s taking us all for fools.”
‘I Apologize for Interrupting Your Press Conference’: Tearful Texas Democrat Urges Greg Abbott to ‘Do Something’ on Guns
The Texas Democratic State Senator who represents Uvalde stood up during Greg Abbott’s Friday afternoon press conference and almost begged the Republican Governor to “do something” about gun violence after Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School that took 21 lives.
Abbott was trying to place the blame for the school shooting on mental health despite the gunman having no documented issues, and told attendees, “we’re focusing our attention on the wrong thing.”
That was not good enough for Democratic State Senator Roland Gutierrez, who politely introduced himself and said, “I’m not making a political speech.”
“My colleagues are asking for a special session, you’re getting a letter tomorrow,” from the Senate Democratic Caucus.
“We’ve asked for gun control changes – I’m asking you now, bring us back in three weeks.”
Gutierrez grew emotional, sounding as if he was choking up, and added, “I apologize for interrupting your press conference about the needs of this community. I’ve been here for three days with all of these elected officials – this county judge has been working his ass off,” he continued.
“I don’t know how to express the loss of the families that I’ve talked to,” he added.
“You have to do something, man,” Gutierrez said, all but begging the governor to take action, and saying his “own colleagues are calling me and telling me this is enough.”
“I’m sorry to interrupt your press conference… you have to do something” pic.twitter.com/OiRI1OQZWQ
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 27, 2022
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