State Department refuses to say when cash plane landed in Iran

The U.S. State Department agreed with an Associated Press reporter’s suggestion that it would be a “waste of time” to continue asking about the timing of a $400 million cash delivery to Iran because the department was not going to answer the question. From CNS News:

“I just want to try and get this cleared up,” Associated Press reporter Matt Lee said during a daily briefing. “Am I ever going to get an answer to the question about the planes?”

“I’ve given you the answer I can give,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau replied.

“So it’s basically a waste of time to keep asking about it? Is that what you’re saying?” Lee asked.

“Pretty much,” Trudeau said.

This is the Obama administration’s response to claims made on Fox Business last week by one of the released prisoners, Saeed Abedini. Abedini claimed, “everyone was ready that we leave the country—they said that we are waiting for another plane and until that plane doesn’t come, we never let you go.”

The administration denies this is true. It admits the plane was delayed however it claims that delay was because one of the prisoners’ wives was not included on the flight manifest. However, as I pointed out last week, even if that’s true it doesn’t mean that Abedini’s claim is false. It’s possible that both things happened, i.e. there was a delay because of the manifest and because Iran was waiting for the cash which it saw as a ransom payment.

At least some officials in Iran did see the transfer of $400 million in cash, which happened on the same day as the prisoner release, as a ransom payment. A Daily Caller story quoted an Iranian Brigadier General who said (back in January), “This money was returned for the freedom of the U.S. spy [Jason Rezaian] and it was not related to the [nuclear] negotiations.” Even some at the DOJ were concerned that Iran saw it this way.

All the administration would have to do to really refute this story is show that the plane full of prisoners took off before the cash plane landed. That would prove Abedini’s claims are false. Alternatively, if they could show the plane full of cash landed hours before the prisoners took off, that would at least suggest the money wasn’t the reason for the delay. In other words, there seem to be lots of ways in which explaining the details could help the administration clear this up.

And yet, they’ve chosen not to answer this simple question about the timing. As you watch this clip of Monday’s State Department briefing (created by the Washington Free Beacon), ask yourself: Why they are so determined not to give us the facts?