Iran: 3 Americans could be tried for espionage

posted at 10:11 am on August 5, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

How has Barack Obama’s “unclenched fist” policy toward Iran worked thus far?  About as well as we predicted.  After three hikers got lost traversing Iraqi Kurdistan and wandered across the Iranian border, Tehran has openly suggested that the Islamic Republic will try the three for espionage:

An Iranian lawmaker and member of parliament’s National Security Committee rejected the suggestion the Americans were tourists and said authorities were investigating whether to charge them with espionage.

“Surely we can say that they came as spies,” said Mohammad Karim Abedi, a hard-line lawmaker, speaking on Iran’s state-run Al-Alam TV. “The concerned authorities will decide whether they were spies or not. If it is proven that they were spies, the necessary legal procedures will be sought against them.”

“The U.S. forces are trying to leave some security elements behind, after leaving Iraq,” Abedi added. “It’s unacceptable to penetrate Iran’s borders this way. … We condemn this.”

He sought to compare the matter with a case involving British military personnel seized by Iran in March 2007 after Tehran said they had entered Iranian waters from Iraqi territory. The 15 sailors and marines were held for nearly two weeks, and some were paraded on Iranian television to deliver supposed confessions of trespassing.

The better parallel is with Roxana Saberi.  The mullahcracy arrested Saberi earlier this year, claiming that she had committed journalism without permission as well as violated a morals law by buying alcohol.  The Iranians kept her until last month, when they traded Saberi for a handful of Quds Force members held for the last two years by the US in Iraq.

This time, the leverage for whatever bargain Iran will demand next literally walked into their hands.  The Iranians know the value of Americans when they have them in their custody; the Obama administration all but set the price with the Saberi trade.  Kim Jong-Il was happy enough with a visit from Bill Clinton and an apology for the trespasses committed by two journalists, but the Iranian mullahs will hold out for a better bargain.

What will Obama trade to get these three back into US custody?

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Think we can buy them off with the devalued dollar? Heh; They’ll probably only settle for GBP!

Cybergeezer on August 5, 2009 at 12:02 PM

Obama’s shown himself to be thoroughly spineless. As John Bolton said about North Korea, their actions amounted to state terrorism, with their capture of the Americans Clinton ‘got released’. This is looking like the same thing, and Obama’s feeding into this machine that’s seeing Americans as easy targets for a payday. If they are CIA, they messed up bad, but do need to be exfiltrated. If they are actually tourists, I have a lot less regard for them, but they do, I guess, need rescue, in spite of the incredible stupidity in walking around a region I believe to be patrolled by Ansar al-Islam, an al-Qaeda affiliate/subsidiary terrorist organization.

Virus-X on August 5, 2009 at 12:13 PM

As far as I’ve heard these hikers were huge libs. Maybe they just didn’t believe that Iran was actually as awful as we’ve been saying. Nevertheless, I’ve been waiting for the call to go get them. If we had a conservative in charge on the first day, “Release them. Now.” When will the One get around to protecting Americans instead of apologizing for us?

unrealcitizen on August 5, 2009 at 12:15 PM

So, is Iran taking its cues from “Mr. Ill” or vice versa? Now we’ll have to fly Bill Clinton to Teheran. (Will they take Jimmy instead?)

RD on August 5, 2009 at 12:33 PM

So… try ’em. Anybody stupid enough to go “hiking” in that part of the world is looking for trouble. It appears they found it.

n0doz on August 5, 2009 at 12:48 PM

What will Obama trade to get these three back into US custody?

American dignity and security.

Maquis on August 5, 2009 at 12:53 PM

Send George W. over to apologize for the US’s Stupidity… then he can with Dine Achmadinijad and pose for pics with a grumpy face.
Oh, and the side-bar deal:
“Keep your nukes!
These three idiots are more precious than the Free World.”

You gotta love our Naked Emperor.

SayNo2-O on August 5, 2009 at 12:59 PM

Much like John Bolton in today’s WaPo, Ed Morrissey offers no suggestion of what should be done. Typical of the right these days: criticizing what’s going on without offering any real solutions of their own.

orange on August 5, 2009 at 11:28 AM

So now you are looking for conservatives to tell you how to get out of trouble?
Maybe there is no solution to the stupidity of the left…if a civilian is so stupid as to walk along the Iran/Iraq border, then wander into Iran, there is no “solution”. Common sense tells normal people not to do that or go there, there is no solution to that kind of stupidity
It is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute, you don’t do that, and by the time you realize it, it is too late.
My suggestion, if you are concerned, go over there with some of your liberal friends and help them out…please.

right2bright on August 5, 2009 at 1:02 PM

unrealcitizen on August 5, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Right now they are praying for one of our generals to come marching in and save them.
What they need is to see one of their own having their head taken off…that is the only way they will realize they are in way over their head (pun intended).

right2bright on August 5, 2009 at 1:04 PM

I’m utterly sick of the idea that people who want to do truly stupid things should get a bailout. I say whatever Iran does to them let Iran do it! If Iran kills them, our gene pool will benefit.

And if people want to vacation with grizzly bears, then they shouldn’t medical care if the bears get aggressive.

thuja on August 5, 2009 at 1:18 PM

UC-Berkeley idiotarian sneers;

I just graduated from Cal as a PACS major, and the people who have commented above have no idea what they are talking about. PACS majors are some of the smartest, sharpest, geopolitically aware, and interesting individuals you’ll encounter. We are versed in foreign languages, political science, foreign policy, geography, demographics, economics, sociology- you name it. Interdisciplinary at its core! Sure hiking in Kurdistan is risky, but it looks like these hikers were far from Nineveh Province and Mosul, where most of the violence is currently in Northern Iraq. Them stepping over a border and getting detained has nothing to do with what they did or didn’t study in college; they got unlucky and made a mistake. I bet Shane will handle this better than any engineering or mass comm or english major would. Try taking a couple PACS classes and seeing what us Alums are doing in the world- and then see if you still believe it’s ok to bash a major and a person YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW

-PACS Grad in DC, working at an peace/conflict oriented NGO

“us Alums” (ah-yuk)

/smarter than you

Terp Mole on August 5, 2009 at 1:45 PM

send jesse jackson and al sharpton, maybe we can get a trade.

workingforpigs on August 5, 2009 at 2:54 PM

I wonder if Hillary feels upstaged since they were making fun of her in Korea and then they send bill back with the journalists. She must be incompetent.

workingforpigs on August 5, 2009 at 2:56 PM

The Iranians don’t want to be outdone by the Koreans. They want to see Bill’s famous penis op.

workingforpigs on August 5, 2009 at 3:10 PM

What kind of moron would major in something called Peace and Confict Resolution?The title of the course tells me that it has to be nothing but BS.

DDT on August 5, 2009 at 3:37 PM

Wasn’t it in Follett’s The Key To Rebecca that something like this happened?

I remember thinking, “I’m glad this is fiction. No American is stupid enough to go backpacking in Soviet occupied Afghanistan in the middle of a friggin’ war.”

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 5, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Hey, it worked for the North Koreans. Shall we send Carter?

Sign of the Dollar on August 5, 2009 at 7:44 PM

Remember those of use predicting Obama’s first term would be Carter’s second term?

We now have an Iranian hostage crisis. Recession. Malaise. Weak leader in the WH. Coming stagflation. Rationing. Bowing before petty tyrants and thugs around the world. Constant apologizing for America.

Welcome back, Carter!

Good Lt on August 5, 2009 at 10:42 AM


silenced majority on August 5, 2009 at 7:46 PM