Zeeshan Aleem · Monday, April 24, 2017, 4:52 pm
His prison swap was a bigger gift to Iran than he ever let on.
The Obama White House’s high-profile prisoner swap with Iran in 2016 was a much bigger gift to Iran than the administration ever let on.
That’s the takeaway from an investigative report from Politico published Monday, which details how the Obama administration deliberately obscured and downplayed the national security threat posed by the seven Iranian-born prisoners and 14 fugitives freed as part of a deal to bring back five American prisoners held captive in Iran.
A number of them were involved in helping Iran procure lethal technology for its military, and at least one of them was accused of helping Iran procure critical equipment for the very nuclear programs the Obama administration was trying to halt with the nuclear deal it struck the year before, according to the article.
If fully substantiated, the report would underscore that the White House was willing to go to extraordinary lengths in order to keep Iran on board with the nuclear deal — so far, in fact, that it was willing to undermine its own efforts to track and crack down on Iranian weapons programs. It would also mean the White House was willing to mislead the American public in order to do so.
The prisoners Obama sent back to Iran weren’t random businessmen
When the Obama administration announced in January 2016 that it was dropping charges against seven Iranian-born prisoners as part of the swap, the president and other senior officials described them as “civilians” and “businessmen.” The administration said the individuals “were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses,” and were merely charged with things like violating sanctions or the trade embargo against Iran.