CBS: Obama administration shocked that Iran still pursuing Americans as hostages

posted at 12:41 pm on January 19, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

The kidnapping of three Americans in Iraq came after intelligence warnings that Iranian-backed militias sought US hostages, CBS News reported late last night. The intel surprised the Obama administration, according to CBS’ sources, because they figured the deal they had negotiated for the prisoner swap that took place this weekend had convinced Tehran to call off their proxies on further hostage-taking.

Oops:

“Gunmen in military uniforms came in five or six SUVs, they entered the building and then left almost immediately,” said Mohammad Jabar, 35, who runs a shop down the street from the three-story apartment building where the Americans had been invited by their Iraqi interpreter.

“A few hours later we heard that three foreigners had been kidnapped by these gunmen,” Jabar said.

The three were abducted in Dora, a mixed neighborhood that is home to both Shiites and Sunnis. However, they were then taken to Sadr City, a vast and densely populated Shiite district to the east, and there “all communication ceased,” an Iraqi intelligence official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. …

A State Department source told CBS News that the U.S. embassy received threat information last week that an Iranian-backed Shiite militia group wanted to seize an American or an American contractor.

Officials in Washington had hoped the Iranian government would tell the militia group to hold off because of all the negotiations surrounding the prisoner swap that saw the release of five Americans. The State Department source said the fear was that one of the groups might have “gone off the reservation.”

Hoped? That’s a solid basis for dealing with antagonists in the Middle East. It also follows the Iranian attempts to seize two members of Jason Rezaian’s family as hostages before the prisoner swap, repeatedly keeping his wife and mother from joining the Americans on the plane arranged by the Swiss government.

What do these two incidents tell us? It tells us that the Iranians respond to perverse incentives. If we dispense with our leverage on American hostages to get a worthless nuclear-arms deal with Tehran and then pay Iran $1.7 billion and free up 21 Iranians to get back five Americans, then Iran understands the value of hostaging … again, let’s not forget. Iran’s proxy army Hezbollah conducted a series of long-term abductions of Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s, too, leading to the deeply misguided Iran-Contra scandal and weapons sales to the mullahs.

Michael Totten also sees this as a case of perverse incentives favoring the mullahs:

A fair swap would have been three innocent prisoners for three innocent prisoners, but the United States doesn’t randomly grab foreign nationals off the streets to use as bargaining chips, so that was never an option.

If the Iranian government had released innocent people because they’re innocent like it’s supposed to—then we could say we had a good day. But that’s not what happened. That’s not even close to what happened. …

Iran committed three criminal acts against American citizens and paid no price. We put kidnappers in prison for a very long time in this country, but the Iranian government was rewarded.

What’s to stop that government from doing it again?

Nothing.

Why should the Iranian government stop? Kidnapping and ransoming hostages works. And the regime is already gearing up to do it again.

Whether Iran wants more leverage for broader purposes or just another opportunity to humiliate the US is anyone’s guess, but we’d better hope it’s the latter. That seems to be the basis of our foreign policy lately anyway. It certainly isn’t dealing from strength.


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CBS: Obama administration shocked that Iran still pursuing Americans as hostages

Iran knows Hussein still has other people’s money in his “stash”. No extortionist ever stops at one round of extortion do they?

Besides, Obama now has only 366 days left (assuming, of course, he leaves, an assumption I will NOT make) and they know that 367 days from now such acts might well get BOMBS raining down on them…

ConstantineXI on January 19, 2016 at 12:45 PM

You give a pig a pancake….

southpaw23 on January 19, 2016 at 12:46 PM

Can they take Lurch hostage?

steveracer on January 19, 2016 at 12:49 PM

The Obama administration seems to be completely flummoxed by reality.

If they work real hard, someday they may attain “incompetence” in foreign policy…but it’s going to be a long haul.

landlines on January 19, 2016 at 12:50 PM

Can they take Lurch hostage?

steveracer on January 19, 2016 at 12:49 PM

They would. But they love hearing him join in with them when they chant DEATH TO AMERICA! because he shouts it so well with his French accent.

ConstantineXI on January 19, 2016 at 12:50 PM

Not giving them enough “free stuff”?

Sorta like Obama’s voters still attacking cops and making Ferguson / Baltimore / Detroit into paradise?

viking01 on January 19, 2016 at 12:51 PM

If they work real hard, someday they may attain “incompetence” in foreign policy…but it’s going to be a long haul.

landlines on January 19, 2016 at 12:50 PM

It’s not incompetence when it’s deliberate.

ConstantineXI on January 19, 2016 at 12:52 PM

urgent message!
Pro tip to Obama: Iran is our enemy.
-end of pro tip–

Doc Holliday on January 19, 2016 at 12:53 PM

No worries, mate.

We have smart diplomacy going for us.

FOWG1 on January 19, 2016 at 12:53 PM

Winning!

/

Aizen on January 19, 2016 at 12:53 PM

#smartpower

Aizen on January 19, 2016 at 12:55 PM

Obama still hasn’t figured out that he’s Iran’s b!tch.

Bitter Clinger on January 19, 2016 at 12:57 PM

This tells me that the Obama administration has been paying ransoms all this time for 7 years. The Iranians know it, their proxies know it, but Americans have been ignorant of it.

jake49 on January 19, 2016 at 12:59 PM

Obama still hasn’t figured out that he’s Iran’s b!tch.

Bitter Clinger on January 19, 2016 at 12:57 PM

That is exactly where Barack HUSSEIN Obama Jr wants us to be.

ConstantineXI on January 19, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Maybe Rand Paul should just explain to them why it’s nothing to worry about.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 19, 2016 at 1:01 PM

BTW, I’m getting suspicious that there’s more to the story of the fifth hostage in Iran that elected to stay behind. As in, he possibly “chose” to stay in Iran to prevent family members from being targeted.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 19, 2016 at 1:03 PM

Whether Iran wants more leverage for broader purposes or just another opportunity to humiliate the US is anyone’s guess, but we’d better hope it’s the latter.

Why not both? iran certainly seems to have the upper hand over obama here.

Johnnyreb on January 19, 2016 at 1:07 PM

Wait until Obama’s check clears Iran’s bank account.

tej on January 19, 2016 at 1:08 PM

obama and his are all traitors.

Schadenfreude on January 19, 2016 at 1:10 PM

Germany is considering going into Libya. If you go, then no hearts and minds:

1) Invade with overwhelming force.
2) Install dictator to crush jihadists. Please Note: This dictator will have to kill people to stay in power.

German defence minister raises prospect of Libya mission

Oil Can on January 19, 2016 at 1:11 PM

Wait until Obama’s check clears Iran’s bank account.

tej on January 19, 2016 at 1:08 PM

This wing of the Obama Presidential Library was funded with a generous donation from the Iran nuclear power and warhead company.

Oil Can on January 19, 2016 at 1:13 PM

What do these two incidents tell us?

That 0bama has fatally weakened the nation. And that Valerie Jarret should be … dealt with in a non-political fashion.

the United States doesn’t randomly grab foreign nationals off the streets to use as bargaining chips

How would that go over if we did? Since there aren’t many Iranians here, they would have to be grabbed elsewhere. How about we send teams into Iran itself, nab a few mullahs, extract them to an “undisclosed location” and then ask Iran if it really wants to play this game. Our military is certainly good enough to pull this off (for now).

Obama still hasn’t figured out that he’s Iran’s b!tch.

Bitter Clinger on January 19, 2016 at 12:57 PM

Only if he doesn’t know Jarret is Iranian. Which would make him even stupider than I thought possible.

Can they take Lurch hostage?

steveracer on January 19, 2016 at 12:49 PM

Can we trade him to them for these three contractors?

GWB on January 19, 2016 at 1:15 PM

Germany is considering going into Libya. If you go, then no hearts and minds:

1) Invade with overwhelming force.
2) Install dictator to crush jihadists. Please Note: This dictator will have to kill people to stay in power.

German defence minister raises prospect of Libya mission

Oil Can on January 19, 2016 at 1:11 PM

Didn’t work out too well for them in ’42. I expect a repeat if they do choose to go.

Johnnyreb on January 19, 2016 at 1:17 PM

Uh, hello? Valerie Jarrett? The woman is Iranian, you know.

If Bush had an Israeli Jew as his “consigliere,” you’d hear nothing but conspiracy theories about Bush caving to “those Zionists” in Israel.

Aizen on January 19, 2016 at 1:22 PM

Didn’t work out too well for them in ’42. I expect a repeat if they do choose to go.

Johnnyreb on January 19, 2016 at 1:17 PM

This time they won’t be saddled with Italian troops, and they won’t have Monty opposing them. But, then again, they don’t have Rommel, either.

GWB on January 19, 2016 at 1:24 PM

What was that about how caving to the demands of the hostage-takers in Iran is helping Rand Paul again?

mankai on January 19, 2016 at 1:31 PM

Germany is considering going into Libya. If you go, then no hearts and minds:

1) Invade with overwhelming force.
2) Install dictator to crush jihadists. Please Note: This dictator will have to kill people to stay in power.

German defence minister raises prospect of Libya mission

Oil Can on January 19, 2016 at 1:11 PM

Desert Fox II

mankai on January 19, 2016 at 1:32 PM

The plot thickens. Bubble Boy is still patting himself on the back for the latest swap, while the Iranians are two steps ahead in the game of thrones. What a tool, what a maroon (as Bugs would say).

vnvet on January 19, 2016 at 1:34 PM

Soon as Obama reads about this in the newspaper he’s really going to be upset with those Iranians.

DDay on January 19, 2016 at 1:36 PM

It’s an inescapable economic fact that when you pay (a lot!) for something, you get more of it.

redshirt on January 19, 2016 at 1:36 PM

Didn’t work out too well for them in ’42. I expect a repeat if they do choose to go.

Johnnyreb on January 19, 2016 at 1:17 PM

Unlike `42-43 they won’t have Patton or Montgomery to deal with…

ConstantineXI on January 19, 2016 at 1:37 PM

This time they won’t be saddled with Italian troops, and they won’t have Monty opposing them. But, then again, they don’t have Rommel, either.

GWB on January 19, 2016 at 1:24 PM

The Bundeswehr will do just fine and they will not be facing the Brits, and we have no Patton around either.

And were it not for Alexander/Montgomery and Friends, all of coastal North Africa would be speaking German by now.

Missilengr on January 19, 2016 at 1:38 PM

Uh, hello? Valerie Jarrett? The woman is Iranian, you know.

If Bush had an Israeli Jew as his “consigliere,” you’d hear nothing but conspiracy theories about Bush caving to “those Zionists” in Israel.

Aizen on January 19, 2016 at 1:22 PM

This.

I bet obama is in pout mode a lot because he is sunni muzzie (like ISIS0 while ValJar is shia, and she pulls his strings.

IDontCair on January 19, 2016 at 1:38 PM

The plot thickens. Bubble Boy is still patting himself on the back for the latest swap, while the Iranians are two steps ahead in the game of thrones. What a tool, what a maroon (as Bugs would say).

vnvet on January 19, 2016 at 1:34 PM

These hostages will be freed on 1/20/17 after noon. Because like 1/20/81 we will be transitioning from a pansy President to a President that will launch the bombers that day if they aren’t freed…

ConstantineXI on January 19, 2016 at 1:39 PM

And our ‘Media’ is OK with it…

… Just like ISIS attacks inside of our Country while Obama keeps our borders open and imports thousands of Unvetted Syrian Refugees.

So, what’s Trump doing today…?

Seven Percent Solution on January 19, 2016 at 1:44 PM

OT…
U.S. Rescue Team Was on Its Way to Benghazi, But Was Turned Back

At a conference in Maryland last weekend, Benghazi security officer Kris “Tanto” Paronto revealed that two AC-130H “Spectre” gunships were “on call” that night, both within range of Benghazi.

One of them was a six-hour flight away, co-located with a U.S. special operations team in Djibouti. The other was at Naval Air Station Sigonella, in Sicily. “That’s a 45-minute flight,” Paronto said.

dmacleo on January 19, 2016 at 1:56 PM

Germany to succeed in Libya you must
1. Take Malta
2. Secure Tobruk
3. Then onto Alexandria!

Wrong German Campaign?

JFKY on January 19, 2016 at 1:58 PM

The other was at Naval Air Station Sigonella, in Sicily. “That’s a 45-minute flight,” Paronto said.

dmacleo on January 19, 2016 at 1:56 PM

That’s not true. For an AC-130 it would be closer to two hours (it’s ~460 miles to Benghazi). It could be 45 minutes for something like an F-16 or FA-18, but it couldn’t really hang around once it had arrived.
I’m not saying it shouldn’t have gone, but we shouldn’t argue from a false premise.

GWB on January 19, 2016 at 2:18 PM

GWB on January 19, 2016 at 2:18 PM

I did wonder about that 45 min timeframe and if it was 45 OUT (either enroute or already flying) or 45 total which yeah…way wrong .
iirc max speed at altitude is only 290 kn +/- so approx 330 mph

the point is many said there was not anything nearby.

dmacleo on January 19, 2016 at 3:14 PM

iirc max speed at altitude is only 290 kn +/- so approx 330 mph

the point is many said there was not anything nearby.

dmacleo on January 19, 2016 at 3:14 PM

didn’t know j mods went to 355 kn/410mph, unsure what the AC mod status is anyway.
just thought it cool they got one to 400+ LOL

dmacleo on January 19, 2016 at 3:17 PM

dmacleo on January 19, 2016 at 3:14 PM

And you have to throw in climb to altitude (at much less than 300mph), etc. I agree that the question of “was there anything available?” has been answered in the affirmative – they could have gotten something there to help. It might have been later than some think, but something is better than nothing.

dmacleo on January 19, 2016 at 3:17 PM

I think they had an A-10 outside, pushing, to get it that fast. ;)

GWB on January 19, 2016 at 3:28 PM

I immediately assumed it was the Iranians and their Shiite proxies in Iraq. Just refilling the hostage bank account after letting the others go for a windfall.

jnelchef on January 19, 2016 at 3:38 PM

I think they had an A-10 outside, pushing, to get it that fast. ;)

GWB on January 19, 2016 at 3:28 PM

LOL used to love seeing the A10 seemingly hover over my MP van in germany. we were governed to approx 60mph and they didn’t seem to fly much faster LOL

cannot tell for sure but seems to me all AC variants hold to the 290 KIAS max speed, possibly due to all the external stores and weapon ports.

dmacleo on January 19, 2016 at 3:43 PM

iirc max speed at altitude is only 290 kn +/- so approx 330 mph

the point is many said there was not anything nearby.

dmacleo on January 19, 2016 at 3:14 PM

didn’t know j mods went to 355 kn/410mph, unsure what the AC mod status is anyway.
just thought it cool they got one to 400+ LOL

dmacleo on January 19, 2016 at 3:17 PM

The J-models are definitely faster, but there are still a lot of H-models in use. I’d use the lower speed in any estimates of time or distance, unless you know for sure it’s a J-model.

But yes, even a single F-15 would have been miles better than nothing.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 19, 2016 at 3:48 PM

Yeah, Ed, where’s Taylor Millard to tell us hos good that treaty is?

SDN on January 19, 2016 at 3:53 PM

dmacleo on January 19, 2016 at 3:43 PM

Only so fast you can make a prop-job go, too.

GWB on January 19, 2016 at 4:00 PM

I think we all know this is his plan to turn Iran into a military power that can wipe out Israel.

goflyers on January 19, 2016 at 4:17 PM

Ojesus, Kerry, and Co. signed a deal with people who cannot possibly keep their end of the bargain, and know it. The people of the United States are being played daily by this bunch.

The strength of the United States in the wider world is not a goal of this administration, obviously.

hillbillyjim on January 19, 2016 at 4:29 PM

Take one hostage; lose one oil well to a well-placed bomb.
Every day.
Two hostages: FOUR oil wells daily.
Three hostages: NINE wells.

Guess who runs out, first?

THAT is ‘Middle Eastern diplomacy’.
Not the surrender-monkey, effete tap-dancing nonsense served up by Lurch, Dear Leader and Cankles.

For those who clutch their pearls and utter dismay over my ‘simplistic, barbaric and unhelpful’ suggestion: Who are we dealing with here, the Berkeley Womens’ Studies Department?
The mullahs are narrow, vicious, backward scheming terrorists. They respond to power, and force. Period.
Seen them kidnap any Russians, lately?

orangemtl on January 19, 2016 at 6:18 PM

Who didn’t see this coming?

Besides Obama and Kerry.

Oxymoron on January 19, 2016 at 6:25 PM

Lets see…take a hostage and get a reward…take two hostages and get more reward…it doesn’t take long until Iran gets the idea. It should be the converse and a heavy penalty for taking a US citizen hostage.

jaywemm on January 19, 2016 at 7:23 PM

What do these two incidents tell us? It tells us that the Iranians respond to perverse incentives. If we dispense with our leverage on American hostages to get a worthless nuclear-arms deal with Tehran and then pay Iran $1.7 billion and free up 21 Iranians to get back five Americans, then Iran understands the value of hostaging … again, let’s not forget. Iran’s proxy army Hezbollah conducted a series of long-term abductions of Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s, too, leading to the deeply misguided Iran-Contra scandal and weapons sales to the mullahs.

Totten’s article is definitely a must-read.

Why should the Iranian government stop? Kidnapping and ransoming hostages works. And the regime is already gearing up to do it again.

In October of last year they grabbed Siamak Namazi, one of the founders of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). He’s still being held hostage despite the prisoner swap.

NIAC lobbied hard for the nuclear deal signed earlier by Washington and Tehran. Its principle founder and president Trita Parsi has been fighting even longer—since 1997—to have sanctions against Iran lifted.

One of those guys is Iran’s current hostage. Not some CIA spook. Not a wannabe revolutionary. Not even a crusading journalist. No. The regime’s current hostage is a man who worked for years to normalize relations with Iran.

AesopFan on January 19, 2016 at 10:30 PM