Tags: iran | payment | obama | trump | clinton

Where's the Uproar Over the Iran Payments?

Image: Where's the Uproar Over the Iran Payments?

Demonstrators protest the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in front of the White House November 9, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Thursday, 08 Sep 2016 09:48 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Tweets were shared. Facebook statuses were updated. But where is the uproar over the fact that America agreed to pay Iran $1.3 billion in “interest” earlier this year just days after sending $400 million in euros, Swiss francs, and other currencies?

“State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau says the U.S. couldn't say more about the Jan. 19 payments because of diplomatic sensitivities. They involved 13 separate payments of $99,999,999.99 and final payment of about $10 million. There was no explanation for the Treasury Department keeping the individual transactions under $100 million,” The Associated Press reported on August 24.
 
As an American, voter, and tax payer, I demand an explanation.
 
This $1.3 billion “came from a little-known fund administered by the Treasury Department for settling litigation claims. The so-called Judgment Fund is taxpayer money Congress has permanently approved in the event it's needed, allowing the president to bypass direct congressional approval,” continued AP.
 
January. February. March. April. May. June. July. August.
 
Eight months passed from the time these payments were made to the time they were divulged. Why? I demand an explanation.
 
I recently sat in Lafayette Square, directly in front of The White House and U.S. Treasury, when two men approached me. One man held a microphone. I didn’t recognize the logo on it. It was orange. The second man carried a video camera. 
 
They introduced themselves politely with thick accents and asked if they could interview me for an international news station about the American elections. I gathered from the question and his accent that he was from a Middle Eastern news station — perhaps Iranian. 
 
He wanted to know if I planned to vote in November and if the Iran Deal was part of the equation of how I will vote. 
 
This reminded me of another time I was in Lafayette Square that pertained to US.-Israeli Affairs. On November 9, 2015, armed with my iPhone, I walked over to the Protest War Criminal Netanyahu rally. I wrote about this protest and libel that demonized The Jewish Democratic State of Israel the next day.
 
Netanyahu's visit to the White House followed the October 18, 2015, adoption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as The Iran Deal. The meeting preceded the deal's implementation date of January 16, 2016. Israel’s prime minister met with America’s president to discuss the policy disagreements between our governments on the deal and other issues of relevance between our allied nations — apparently just one day before the $400 million was sent to Iran and three days before the $1.3 billion was sent. 
 
I spoke to the reporters and shared my honest opinion on the JCPOA and my thoughts on the credibility and trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I did not mention Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, or Evan McMullin, or other candidates. I discussed the strong reservations that I had before the JCPOA became an Executive Order. I spoke about how I felt frustrated that it wasn’t approached as a treaty and how the Democratic process was sidestepped by the Obama administration. 
 
I spoke about how it was sold to Americans through the White House’s “distortion of democracy” – as defined by the Ben Rhodes feature in The New York Times. Perhaps we Americans need to look at these payments to Iran as a distortion of transparency?
 
Hillary Clinton was not a senator nor the secretary of state when the JCPOA was being negotiated and implemented. But she supports the deal. Donald Trump claims that he wants to renegotiate the deal. Neither voted on the JCPOA as they were both civilians when it was being debated. But Congress did vote on the deal – kind of.
 
Due to procedural measures, the U.S. Senate never voted for the Iran Deal. They did not have an up or down vote. The Senate Dems, minus four who sided against the filibuster, blocked the vote. The roll call was 58 to 42 to have a vote — two shy of the needed 60. The U.S. House held a symbolic vote to approve the Iran Deal; 162 legislators voted for it and 269 against it. Twenty-five House Democrats joined all but one of the House Republicans to vote against it — with a single libertarian-Republican outlier voting present. 
 
This fall, millions of Americans will go to the polls to not just vote for the 45th president of the United States. We will vote for federal, state, and local legislators.
 
As much attention has been focused on the top of the ticket with Clinton and Trump, it is always important to remember that a vote is also a check-and-balance against Congress’ policies and practices over the last two years.
 
So, I ask you what the Middle Eastern news agency asked me: How will you vote in 2016? And will the Iran Deal contribute to the equation on how you vote (specifically down ballot)?

Jason Langsner is an active member of the American Jewish professional community. Langsner formerly ran the digital strategy for B'nai B'rith International, the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, and participated in the Israel Diplomatic Fellowship program at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. He has been featured in The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, the Israel Video Network, Washington Jewish Week, eJewishPhilanthropy.com, and other publications. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Tweets were shared. Facebook statuses were updated. But where is the uproar over the fact that America agreed to pay Iran $1.3 billion in “interest” earlier this year just days after sending $400 million in euros, Swiss francs, and other currencies?
iran, payment, obama, trump, clinton
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2016-48-08
Thursday, 08 Sep 2016 09:48 AM
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