Iran is now reporting – after first revealing, John Kerry disgorged vital information endangering U.S. policy and allies – that Biden is privately seeking to buy the release of U.S. hostages with seven billion dollars in U.S. taxpayer dollars. If true, this would not only be another outrage – but illegal.
While Biden’s team says “there is no agreement to release” the four American hostages held by Iran, the White House does not deny negotiations or money on the table – perhaps in some disguised way – to buy the hostage release, contrary to U.S. law. See, e.g., https://news.yahoo.com/biden-administration-denies-report-prisoner-151926945.html.
The law is clear – America does not pay terrorists for hostages, period. The reason is obvious. If the U.S. paid money for American hostages, more would be taken. The deterrent to taking U.S. hostages is that the U.S. will never – ever – buy them back. See, e.g., https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/part-I/chapter-113B; and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_negotiation_with_terrorists.
Ironically, Democrats went ballistic in the 1980s when they saw a 1981 arms sale to Iran as an unlawful quid-pro-quo for Iranian intercession to release hostages held by the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon. See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran–Contra_affair.
Notably, while the so-called Iran-Contra dispute got more complicated, adding possible national security council violations tied to support of freedom fighters in then-Communist Nicaragua, the initial charge of buying hostages back was vigorously denied by Ronald Reagan – and his case was made, Democrats eventually conceding.
Said Reagan – in a nationally televised address: “The charge has been made that the United States has shipped weapons to Iran as ransom payment for the release of American hostages in Lebanon, that the United States undercut its allies and secretly violated American policy against trafficking with terrorists – Those charges are utterly false.”
Reagan went on to say: “The United States has not made concessions to those who hold our people captive in Lebanon. And we will not. The United States has not swapped boatloads or planeloads of American weapons for the return of American hostages. And we will not.”
Interestingly, while then-Senator Joe Biden eventually defended Reagan’s position – admitting no hostage buying was afoot – he initially was loudest to attack Reagan. Biden said that if Reagan tried to buy hostages from Iran, it was illegal – and “if. the president is lying, he’s finished …He is absolutely finished.” See, e.g., https://theintercept.com/empire-politician/biden-iran-contra-investigations-reagan/.
That was then; this is now. One must wonder what the former Senator might say to his present self if aiming to sneak seven billion taxpayer dollars directly to Iran to release four hostages. That would appear an unambiguous violation of U.S. law and policy.
The question is sharper in view of Obama’s 2015 Presidential Decision Directive (PDD-30), which stated: “Our longstanding commitment” is “to make no concessions to individuals or groups holding U.S. nationals hostage,” noting “this policy protects U.S. nationals and strengthens national security by removing a key incentive for hostage-takers to target U.S. nationals and by helping to deny terrorists and other malicious actors the resources they need to conduct attacks against the United States….” See https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/06/24/fact-sheet-us-government-hostage-policy.
Can there now be any question that Iran is a “malicious actor,” “hostage-taker,” and “terrorist” nation? No, the State Department is clear. “Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity in 2019, including support for Hizballah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq, and throughout the Middle East.” Iran has acknowledged support for terror. Biden’s State Department has not changed the policy – nor is there any basis too. See https://www.state.gov/reports/country-reports-on-terrorism-2019/iran/.
So, to point a fine point on it: If Biden’s White House, National Security Council, State Department, or any agent of the Biden White House – including self-absorbed John Kerry – negotiate dollars for hostages with Iran, dare to pay money to Iran – in any guise – for release of hostages, they are in violation of clear laws, established precedents, and longstanding national policy. If that happens, even if the Department of Justice is unwilling to investigate Kerry’s release of operational information to Iran, this should trigger a clear, direct, immediate investigation.
America does not pay terrorists to release hostages, period. No disguise can muffle, justify, obscure, or excuse such an outrage – if it happens. If Biden moves in that direction, the law should fall on him – and whoever advances this action. As Trump made clear, the right policy toward terrorists is to go after them. That deters terrorism, hostage-taking, and those who would support either.