The State Department admitted recently that a plane laden with $400 million in cash—settlement of a weapons deal from the shah era, the administration insists, and not ransom—wasn’t transferred to Iranians until after American hostages had taken off from Tehran. The timing was structured just in case the Iranians would “play games,” press secretary John Kirby noted, and holding the money until after the release was just maintaining “maximum leverage.”
But America’s leverage when it comes to retrieving hostages in Iran was shattered a long time ago.
Five U.S. hostages were released in January as seven Iranians convicted of sanctions violations and illegal procurement for the regime were released from U.S. custody. Rep. Brad Sherman warned at the time of the swap that “America paid a big price” as Iran got to send the message “we are still holding two American hostages after this deal, and if those aren’t enough, we’ll seize more.”
Iran, Sherman stressed, was “now able to inspire their network of terrorists and their network of illegal military procurement folks” like never before.