President Joe Biden appears to be on the brink of pulling off one of the deals of the century with a possible prisoner swap with Iran — and it’s driving Donald Trump insane.
The deal would involve sending five Iranians held by the United States for crimes that all involve something that screams “spy,” while the United States gets five Iranian-held Americans — some of whom spent Trump’s entire term locked up in Iran.
The deal would also unlock six billion dollars of Iranian money frozen by South Korea for violating international sanctions. The six billion could be sent to Qatar, where the United States will still have some say in how the money is released in installments for humanitarian relief only.
It sounds like a near-perfect deal if it goes through amidst rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
Indeed, it could be considered one of the best deals made in recent years because we would only be returning “spies” back to Iran. They’ve already spent time in prison here, and they will never be allowed in the United States again. Thus, there is no real loss in repatriating them back to Iran.
As for the Americans, The Hill has the only information available in their report:
“On the U.S. side, Washington seeks the release of Siamak Namazi, who was detained in Iran in 2015 and later sentenced to 10 years in prison on internationally criticized spying charges; Emad Sharghi, a venture capitalist sentenced to 10 years; and Morad Tahbaz, a British-American conservationist of Iranian descent who was arrested in 2018 and also received a 10-year sentence.
“The fourth and fifth prisoners were not identified. All five are under house arrest at a hotel in Tehran.”
Without question, some countries arrest wholly innocent Americans to use them as leverage in prisoner swaps. But it would be pretty naive to think that not one of the Americans detained was involved in spying on Iran. We will never know with certainty.
What we can be certain of is that the six billion dollars is Iranian money.
It was being held by South Korea. The deal contemplates the money being sent to an account in Qatar and only used for humanitarian purposes, though that will be difficult to enforce.
That Biden is so close to a triumph is, of course, driving Trump insane.
President Biden keeps getting things done! Even things Trump couldn’t do! As Trump posted to his Truth Social account:
“So, lets get this straight! We did a hostage TRADE with Iran. We gave them 5 very tough, smart people that they desperately wanted. We likewise got back 5 people BUT, we also gave them 6 BILLION DOLLARS!How much of a kickback does Crooked Joe Biden get? Does anyone realize how much money 6 Billion Dollars is? When I was President, I got back 58 hostages for ZERO money. Remember Pastor Brunson? It sets a TERRIBLE precedent. Republicans, call out the 25th Amendment, NOW! Biden is INCOMPETENT!” (Emphasis added).
Yes. We “get five people back.” And Iran “desperately wanted” those prisoners? Is there some block in Trump’s head that prevents him from realizing that we desperately want our citizens back?
Trump also brags about people he got back. He didn’t get these people back.
It is tough to tell whether Trump purposefully mixed the six billion as “America paying Iran six billion” — and is manipulating his MAGA following — or just doesn’t understand the deal. It could go either way. Who needs the 25th Amendment?
Ted Cruz is most certainly lying about the deal and confusing the issues.
Report continues below tweet:
President Biden has established a secret nuclear deal with the Iranian regime that is being kept from Congress and the American people.
Today’s news confirms there has already been a side deal including a $6 billion ransom and the release of Iranian operatives.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) September 12, 2023
But if Iran’s six billion dollars was released on conditions that it only be used for humanitarian relief — and if it is easily enforced — one could see that portion of the deal as another American win!
We would have (in partnership with South Korea) taken six billion that Iran could’ve used to enrich uranium or build drones and now force them to use it to feed the hungry. It’ll be hard to enforce, but if one can, that is a win for the United States.
Yet again, we see President Biden at his absolute finest (or at least on the brink; he’s close enough that Republicans are criticizing him). Of course, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and his people did most of the legwork, but in the end, it’s up to the President to make the call.
We’re seeing Biden use his experience to do things that Trump couldn’t get done.
And yet again, we see Trump crying like a baby, acting as though something horrible happened.
That is crap. Iran gets its spies back after chilling in our prisons, and they’ll never be allowed re-entry into the U.S. We get our people back, which is the government’s sacred duty no matter what they were involved in.
And there’s a chance we force Iran to spend its own money to do some good.
If you can think of a better deal, well — get to work with our government because you’re needed.
I can’t think of anything better — but I wonder about Trump mentioning a kickback. He does do a lot of projection.
This column is based on original reporting by John Gambrell of the Associated Press via The Hill.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter “X” at @JasonMiciak.
Editor’s Note: This is an opinion piece reflecting the opinion of the author alone
Jason Miciak is an associate editor and opinion writer for Occupy Democrats. He's a Canadian-American who grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He is a trained attorney, but for the last five years, he's devoted his time to writing political news and analysis. He enjoys life on the Gulf Coast as a single dad to a 15-year-old daughter. Hobbies include flower pots, cooking, and doing what his daughter tells him they're doing. Sign up to get all of my posts by email right here: