The White House is on the precipice of providing Iran with an enormous cash windfall in return for five American hostages. And it’s clear the full scope of the Biden administration’s engagement with Iran is being kept as secret as possible for as long as possible, thus undermining any Congressional oversight of the high-stakes game the President is playing. This will have grave consequences for every American. So, let’s get into it.

The Hostage Industrial Complex

Back in August of 2016, as part of the Iran nuclear accords, the U.S. government sent a plane with pallets (literally) of cash, $400 million (but who’s counting), to Iran. The $400 million, which we can only assume was delivered in unmarked, nonsequential, small bills, was part of a $1.2 billion (but who’s counting) ransom payment that was itself part of the 2015 nuclear accords and was made to secure the release of four American hostages who’d been arrested by the Islamic Republic on trumped up charges. 

Here's the thing: a few months later, in October of the same year, Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American businessman, was arrested by Iranian authorities on trumped-up charges of espionage. Iran believes they can kidnap Americans and within a few years, the Americans will pay for their fellow citizens’ release. And while this may make your stomach churn, as it turns out, the Mullahs are right.

Recently it was announced that the U.S. government plans to unfreeze $6 billion (but who’s counting) in frozen Iranian assets. In sum, money that had been seized as part of international efforts to combat Iranian terrorism and tyranny will make its way to an Iranian government bank account, and in return, the Iranians will release five American hostages.

So, what do we all think is going to happen next? Will Iran finally, as President Barack Obama famously asked of the dictatorship, “unclench their fists…”? Unlikely.

Last time Tehran got $1.2 billion for four hostages and now they’re getting $6 billion for five. The price is going up, and since the Islamic Republic’s leadership views all human beings – save themselves – as expendable resources, the moment those American hostages are returned home (and we in no way begrudge the elation their families will feel when that happens) every American has, at a minimum, a $1.2 billion (but who’s counting) target on their backs. So, logic and history dictate that the repeated capitulation to Iran in this context will result in more Americans ending up in the Mullahs’ infamous Evin Prison.   

Aiding and Abetting Murder

Moreover, what is it we think the Iranians are going to do with the money? Sure, the Biden administration has assured us that it can only be used for “humanitarian purposes,” but that’s typical Washington spin, deserving of little more than an obvious eye roll. If In fact, the White House’s spin is so absurd that we’re a little insulted they didn’t even try to come up with something better.

First, money is fungible. Second, given that the Iranians have violated every relevant agreement they’ve ever made with the West, we’re not sure we can just take their word for it that the funds won’t be diverted through a few “charities” and not somehow magically end up being used to advance one of Iran’s myriad malign activities.

The real question is, where will they decide to spend the cash? Maybe they’ll divert the funds to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps or Hezbollah (both U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations). Perhaps they’ll use it for nuclear weapons or long-range ballistic missile research. Or, if they’re more focused on killing people in the short term, perhaps they’ll invest in further cracking down on their own citizens, or maybe they’ll invest in (and profit from) building weapons for Moscow to use against innocent Ukrainians. Obviously, when it comes to diverting that money for evil, Mahsa Amini’s murderers have many options.

Every Human Life Has Value

Let’s be clear, we’ve devoted an entire Action Update to this one topic because it is complicated and requires nuance. We desperately want the hostages to be returned home to their families. We cannot imagine the horrors these people have suffered, nor can we truly fathom the soul-crushing and heart-shattering experience their families have been forced to endure throughout their loved ones’ internment.

We also do not want to see such tragedies befall other innocents.

These are the horrible competing interests that presidents must balance. And we recognize that President Biden is faced with an exceptionally difficult choice in this context. There are no good options here, but as the President and every world leader of substance should be well aware, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  

Moreover, there are rumblings that this hostage deal is a precursor to some limited Iran nuclear accord. And that likely shorter and weaker deal is being negotiated in secret (just as the ransom payment was) in a deliberate attempt to avoid scrutiny of the Biden administration’s actions by the American people through their elected officials in Congress.

As more information - beyond rumors and perfunctory statements - on this potential new deal comes out, we’ll be sure to keep you informed. So, until next week, thanks for staying up to date on the vital issues facing both our own beloved nation and the Jewish and democratic state of Israel.


The CUFI Action Fund Team


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