Beinart: 'It's Not Ransom If You Are Giving People Their Own Money'

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Following the recent revelations from the Wall Street Journal, that the US payed Iran a large sum of money at the same time as they released American hostages, has led many to believe to US payed a ransom for their release. But that couldn’t possibly be the case according to CNN Commentator Peter Beinart who ridiculously declared, on Anderson Cooper 360 Thursday, “It's not ransom if you are giving people their own money, which is what we were doing here.

Beinart’s comment came as he was trying to write off people’s concerns and defend the Obama administration. When host John Berman noted that information about the unmarked plane and the timing of the transfer was new information Beinart brushed it off saying, “Sure, they had details in this Wall Street Journal.” But, “This was money that we owed the Iranians,” he argued.

He fumbled to put his defense into words as he invoked international law as a reason we needed to repay the Iranians. “The truth is, if they had not delivered this probably we were going to have to give significantly more. We would lose that case at The Hague.” The writer for The Atlantic seemed perturbed by the assertion that the $400 million, in seized Iranian money, could possibly be a ransom, exclaiming, “It's not ransom if you are giving people their own money, which is what we were doing here.” Beinart then went on to defend the Iran deal as a whole and hammered its critics.

But New York City Councilman Joseph Borelli was not standing for Beinart’s argument:

You have the Iranian state TV saying this is a ransom. The Iranian public believes this is ransom. Iranian leadership believes this is ransom … The American public believes this is ransom. For all intents and purposes it's ransom. You can call it whatever you want. But the American public sees it as ransom. Other countries see it as a ransom payment and that's the problem. Shame on the president for now seeing that if he couldn’t.

But of course one could pay off a ransom for a loved one with the kidnapping party’s own money. The fact that one had the kidnapping party’s money to begin with would be a good enough reason to commit the kidnapping.

Transcript below:

 

CNN
Anderson Cooper 360
August 4, 2016
9:11:19 PM Eastern

JOHN BERMAN: Here is the thing. Because we have heard from a number of Republicans on this today. They clearly think it is worth discussing right now, the $400 million and the timing of it. Yes, everyone knew $400 million was going to Iran. The president announced that the day the deal was culminated in January. But the timing of it and the plane arriving, that is new news.

PETER BEINART: Sure, they had details in this Wall Street Journal. The truth is, if we had not—this case was going to The Hague. This was money that we owed the Iranians. We—They had bought something from us and we had never delivered it to them. The truth is, if they had not delivered this probably we were going to have to give significantly more. We would lose that case at The Hague. It's not ransom if you are giving people their own money, which is what we were doing here.

And I think the larger case here is that neither Donald Trump nor even a more supposedly sophisticated Republican foreign policy expert, like Marco Rubio, is going to be able to convince people at this point that the Iran deal was a bad deal; given the fact they have gotten rid of 98 percent, of enriched uranium, they’ve submitted to the tough inspections and shut down their plutonium program.

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BERMAN: Hang on one second. Joseph Borelli I want to bring you into this discussion.

JOSEPH BORELLI: I think this is crazy. Because first of all, let's talk about something that's mostly true that Hillary Clinton said. Even though the Iran nuclear deal has been widely criticized by both parties, widely unpopular, she said she took ownership of it and had a role in it. Politicfact found that mostly true. So know she get to own this issue. And you saw in the last video, we just saw, the ultimate spin of the Obama administration. And this is what people are fed up from. You have the Iranian state TV saying this is a ransom. The Iranian public believes this is ransom. Iranian leadership believes this is ransom.

BEINART: They are always totally honest.

[Laughter]

BORELLI: The American public believes this is ransom. For all intents and purposes it's ransom. You can call it whatever you want. But the American public sees it as ransom. Other countries see it as a ransom payment and that's the problem. Shame on the president for now seeing that if he couldn’t.