Donald Trump’s inability to keep classified information secret or even to tell the truth at all was highlighted in an amusing incident on Wednesday, when he told a crowd that he had seen a “top secret Iranian-military produced video” of the Iranian government rushing to collect hundreds of millions in dollars in cash.
The cash transfer that Trump is referring to is transfer of some $400 million dollars that the United States returned to the Islamic Republic Iran around the time that an American cruiser accidentally drifted into Iranian waters and was seized in January. Right-wing media is having a field day in their shameless attempts to paint this as evidence that President Obama gave a $400 million ransom for the return of our servicemen, but as usual, they refuse to do their homework and acknowledge the facts.
Yes, the State Department did return $400 million to the Iranian government, but it was money that we owed them. In the 1970s, the United States made a deal to sell $400 million of fighter jets to the Shah of Iran. The Shah paid upfront but was then deposed in the Iranian revolution, so the United States never delivered the jets. As part of the nuclear disarmament deal, the Iranian government simple wanted their money back if we weren’t going to cough up the jets .
In contrary to what the lying Wall Street Journal believes, this is not a secret. Obama announced he was going to do this when the nuclear disarmament deal was signed in the first place. But right-wing liars like Trump would rather paint the United States as a weak nation easily bullied by others than give the President credit for turning an enemy into a potential ally and sending a message to the world that the United States is a trustworthy nation who follows through on their ends of a bargain.
Whether or not the White House agreed to hasten the speed of the transfer is still up for debate. But that cash was going to be given back to Iran no matter what, and in any case why is the right-wing complaining that the President brought home five Americans held prisoner without firing a shot? Would they rather see our brave servicemen sit in a cell in Tehran?
This is in stark contrast to Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has already promised the world that he will not honor our nation’s international treaties. He’s been working overtime to propagate a false narrative about the money transfer, claiming it’s a ransom and that he’s seen “top-secret” footage of the transfer.
“I’ll never forget the scene this morning. Iran—I don’t think you’ve heard this anywhere but here—Iran provided all of that footage, the tape, of taking that money off that airplane. “Over there, where that plane landed, top secret, they don’t have a lot of paparazzi, you know. The paparazzi doesn’t do so well over there. But they have a perfect tape, obviously done by a government camera, and the tape is of the people taking the money off the plane. It’s a military tape. It’s a tape that was a perfect angle, nice and steady” said Trump.
This is an outright fabrication, of course. When the State Department was pressed for comment, one official said “It didn’t happen. That was not part of any briefing” and another literally began to laugh at Trump.
Whatever you may feel about Iran, the most basic law of business is the exchange of currency for goods. If goods are not delivered, the currency should be returned, or else it is stealing. End of story. There’s no scandal here – but Republicans are jumping at the change to call our President weak and to demean our nation in the eyes of the world.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.