We have become wearily accustomed to the constant flow of lies in the presidential campaign. Some are important but most are not. They have become a tiresome reminder of why so many people have decided to ignore the whole mess.
Lies in a political campaign should matter but those lies that are the basis for national security decisions — lies that are a matter of policy — can create existential dangers. The lies that President Obama has been peddling surrounding his deal with Iran on nuclear weapons are just such a case.
The website PolitiFact has gotten into the habit of naming the Lie of the Year. In 2012, when it gave the shameful title to Obama’s statement on Obamacare that “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it,” the label was almost enough to rouse the Republican Party to action.
I began to be hopeful on July 5 when FBI Director James Comey held a press conference to recite the elements of Title 18 US Code Section 793(f) as those committed by Hillary Clinton by using a private, unsecured email system (“Clinton.com”) for top secret matters while she was secretary of state. But when Comey discredited himself and the FBI by saying no reasonable prosecutor would charge her with the crime, I thought we had a winner for Lie of the Year.
Comey didn’t distinguish himself by later describing an FBI interview with Clinton. But then Mizz Clinton told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that FBI Director Jay Comey said she’d been truthful in answering the FBI’s questions. Even the Washington Post’s fact checkers gave her their lowest rating — four “Pinocchio’s” — for that one. Another entry in the contest.
But the lies surrounding Obama’s Iran deal are so deadly, so obvious, and so much a part of his Iran policy that we must remind ourselves of them, expose them and examine them at every opportunity.
Four Americans were hostages. Some had been brought up on bogus charges of espionage, but none were held for any legitimate reason. When it was first revealed that there had been a payment of $400 million in cash to Iran at the same time the hostages were released, Obama denied that the payment was ransom. He said, “We were completely open with everybody about it, and it’s interesting to me that this suddenly became a story again. We do not pay ransom for hostages.”
Obama’s statement quickly overcame Hillary Clinton’s entries in the Lie of the Year contest, but Obama stuck to his story.
(Let’s be mindful of what a ransom is. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “ransom” as “to redeem from captivity or punishment; to procure the release of (a person) or restoration of (a thing) by payment of the sum demanded.”)
Last week, State Department flack John Kirby was cornered into admitting that the $400 million in cash that was paid to Iran to get four Americans released was a ransom.
Interviewed by CNN, Kirby said that the money was Iran’s, “But when the lines all came together, right there in January in a very short 24 hour or so period, it would have been foolish, we believe, for us not to hold on just a little bit longer to make sure that we had the right leverage to get those Americans out and that was the priority.” Interviewed by Fox News’s Martha McCallum, Kirby insisted that the payment wasn’t ransom but admitted that the money was withheld until the hostages were released.
The fact that the payment was contingent on the release is clear. That the payment was made at all — regardless of the timing of the release — makes clear Obama’s intention to ensure his nuclear weapons deal would be undisturbed. The hostage release was merely an ancillary political benefit he could claim.
Stop there for a moment. McCallum was interviewing Kirby about Obama’s strategy in Syria and got to the ransom story as an afterthought. But Obama’s failed Syria policy and the Iran nuclear weapons deal are two key parts of Obama’s Middle East policy. The lies Kirby, Obama and others tell are the foundation stones of that policy.
Kirby answered several of McCallum’s questions about Syria in terms of ongoing efforts designed to succeed. But she didn’t follow up with the obvious question: after five years of this, when should we begin to see success?
The same goes for the ransom payment to Iran. Yes, four Americans were released by payment of the ransom. But why was it made in cash?
When the payment was first admitted, Obama claimed it was made in cash because we had no banking relationship with Iran. That’s a lie of evasion. Bankers in Switzerland and other nations could have served as intermediaries for a non-cash payment, but Iran insisted on cash. Why?
Because cash is fungible and easily moved. Unless it’s marked for future identification, it can’t be traced. And you can bet that it wasn’t marked because Obama doesn’t want it to be traced to the terrorist networks that will receive it.
Even Vichy John Kerry admitted that some of the money paid to Iran at the end of sanctions would go to fund terrorism. $400 million in cash can go a long way to pay for acts of terrorism.
We have known for decades that Iran is the principal sponsor of Islamic terrorism in the world. The Field of Fight, the superb new book by Gen. Michael Flynn and Michael Ledeen, reminds us that when it comes to sponsoring terrorism Iran is ecumenical. It funds both Sunni terror networks such as ISIS and al-Qaida as well as Shiite terror networks such as Hizb’allah. (We use “Hizb’allah” rather than the bowdlerized “Hezbollah” because the literal translation from Arabic is “Party of God.” We must not allow political correctness to deny us the privilege of giving them and other terrorists the names they give themselves.)
Cash can be sent abroad from Iran quickly and easily to pay the cost of terrorist attacks.
It costs money to have hundreds of salaried clerics who incite terrorist attacks at every Friday sermon. Cars and trucks probably aren’t much more expensive but they have to be rented or bought, as do bomb-making materials.
And it costs a lot for Iran to maintain the 80,000 or more Shiite fighters it has in Iraq today.
As my pal Andy McCarthy has explained, the payment to Iran was illegal. Obama doesn’t care. Neither does Hillary.
This year, the truth is but a fading memory in the presidential campaign. While Donald Trump has, at least, a tenuous connection to the truth, Hillary Clinton is someone so used to lying that she will lie even when the truth would serve her better. The late great William Safire of the New York Times labeled Hillary a “congenital liar” in a 1996 essay that is very much worth reading today because it prophesies our future if she’s elected president.
Obama has said repeatedly that the deal blocks all of Iran’s paths to nuclear weapons, which is precisely the opposite of the truth. Hillary won’t disturb Obama’s lies about the Iran deal because it’s as much a part of her legacy as it is a part of his.
Obama’s lies — on Islamic terrorism, Iran, Syria, Russia, China and the rest — will remain undisturbed if, as seems likely, America elects the woman Safire labeled congenital liar as president. On Iran, Obama’s lies deserve the label “historic” because they will shape our history, and those of our allies.
When presidential lies are synonymous with policy, our nation is in great danger.