The GOP gets the Iran prisoner swap wrong

The seven released Iranians, none of whom has blood on his hands, were sanctions busters (and a hacker), and sanctions are essentially over now. The slate is clean.

But how unfair, say the critics. We released prisoners duly convicted in a court of law. Iran released perfectly innocent, unjustly jailed hostages.

Yes, and so what? That’s just another way of saying we have the rule of law, they don’t. It doesn’t mean we abandon our hostages. Natan Sharansky was a prisoner of conscience who spent eight years in the gulag on totally phony charges. He was exchanged for two real Soviet spies. Does anyone think we should have said no?

The one valid criticism of the Iranian swap is that we left one, perhaps two, Americans behind and unaccounted for. True. But the swap itself was perfectly reasonable. And cleverly used by the administration to create a heartwarming human interest story to overshadow a rotten diplomatic deal, just as the Alan Gross release sweetened a Cuba deal that gave the store away to the Castro brothers.