Secretary of State John Kerry has confirmed what we all suspected: President Obama had no intention of making the release of Americans held in Iran a condition of his nuclear deal with the country. It wasn’t an oversight or a diplomatic slip-up. The lives of four Americans is a price he is willing to pay to give President Obama a legacy for the history books.
National Review detailed Kerry’s response when a Washington Post reporter asked about making the release of the Americans a condition of the deal.
“The families themselves of these hostages knew exactly what our strategy was and why it was important not to hold a nuclear agreement hostage to hostages,” Kerry said in a press briefing Tuesday. “It was the right thing to do because it could have complicated both [the captives’ situation and the deal] significantly and perhaps have resulted in nothing happening on either.”
It is shocking that the sitting Secretary of State would make such a callous statement about four human beings held prisoner by one of the world’s biggest human rights violators.
Republican House members Mike Pompeo (Kan.), Peter Roskam (Ill.), and Lee Zeldin (N.Y.) all criticized the lack of commitment by the administration to free the hostages, noting in a statement “The lives of Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Robert Levinson should not be a ‘concession’ in President Obama’s Iran deal.”
Rezaian is a Washington Post reporter who held on espionage charges by Iran for 444 days (the same amount of time American hostages were held by Iran in 1979 and 1980) before being convicted by a secret court. Amir Hekmati is a former marine who was arrested in 2011 while he visited his ancestral homeland. He was sentenced to death for espionage, but had his sentence reduced to ten years.
Pastor Saeed Abedini has been held since 2012 on charges of comprising national security, but as a Christian who had set up home churches across the country, many feel his arrest is retaliation for his faith. Robert Levinson is a former FBI agent who has been held since 2007, and after denying he was in their custody, Iranian officials now confirm they have him held on unspecified charges.
Despite proof all four Americans are being held on trumped-up charges, the Obama administration has made no progress towards their release, and approved a nuclear deal with Iran without making their release a condition.
Like the four lives lost in Benghazi, the four lives in Iran don’t seem to be a priority to Obama, Kerry, and the rest of the administration. The only difference is this time, President Obama gets to take a political victory lap at their expense.