While I still haven’t seen anything which scream “illegal” regarding the Giant Pallets of Cash (hat tip Jim Geraghty) that Barack Obama sent to Iran in what was most-certainly-not-a-ransom payment, I’ve been unable to escape the feeling that there was something going on there under the covers that might be a huge landmine. Everything about it looked and smelled bad. The secretive nature of the transfer, the fact that it had to be essentially in unmarked, non-sequential bills, the media blackout and the dark of night delivery all added up to something which sounded like it should be able to bring an administration down. Nothing concrete on that front has materialized yet, but Congress isn’t done asking questions. The latest inquiry has to do with who actually took possession of the mountains of money. If it happened to be members of the notorious Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) then the situation shifts from the odor of day old garbage to an all out dumpster fire. (Washington Free Beacon)
New admissions by the Obama administration that American officials physically handed some $1.7 billion in cash to the Iranian government are fueling a congressional investigation into still-hidden details surrounding the deal, according to congressional sources and previously unreported-on letters seen by the Washington Free Beacon.
Lawmakers now suspect the Obama administration may have dealt with members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and officials from its intelligence ministry when carrying out the cash exchange, which coincided with the release by Iran of several U.S. hostages.
This line of questioning raises a couple of issues, but yet again I have to wonder where it ends up no matter what facts are revealed. Obviously the IRGC is considered a terrorist group and with good reason. Their record of bloody infamy goes before them without saying. And the United States isn’t supposed to be doing any business with or providing funding to terrorists. (A point which goes beyond the simple question of paying ransoms.)
But at the same time they are still “legitimately” (for lack of a better word) part of the Iranian governmental structure. If we did come up with an admission or some sort of incontrovertible video evidence that the Americans handed off the billions of dollars directly to IRGC members, what changes in the legal considerations of the case? The money is still going to the Iranian government. In that sense we can compare it to political donations in the United States or around the world. Money is fungible, so if you pour some into the mouth of the snake it still winds up nourishing the entire beast eventually.
Still, the optics are horrible. Handing off Giant Pallets of Cash to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is about as bad as it gets in terms of sending a message. But I’m not sure what Congress can do with that information even if it’s revealed to be the case.