Gary Bauer / Jan. 20, 2016

American Hostages Freed

Every American celebrates the release over the weekend of five Americans held by Iran. Let's call them what they were — hostages. Predictably, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry were trumpeting the exchange as evidence of the value of their diplomatic strategy.

Every American celebrates the release over the weekend of five Americans held by Iran. Let’s call them what they were — hostages. Predictably, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry were trumpeting the exchange as evidence of the value of their diplomatic strategy.

Kerry bragged about his negotiating skills that sealed the nuclear deal. Obama crowed that this is what hope and change looks like, demonstrating the wisdom of his “smart, patient and disciplined” diplomacy. But any gains made with Iran came at the expense of our allies, particularly Israel.

Like everything the Obama administration does, the devil is in the details. Iran didn’t release the Americans as a gesture of goodwill or because it was the right thing to do. As usual, Tehran demanded more concessions from Obama and it got them.

In exchange for releasing the American hostages, Barack Obama pardoned or dismissed charges against 21 Iranians accused of violating sanctions.

It is worth noting that not one of the Americans held by Iran committed any crime. But at least three Iranians that Obama released had gone through our criminal justice system and had been found guilty. They had attempted to deliver technology to Iran that would have benefitted its missile and nuclear programs, threatening Europe, Israel, other Arab states in the region and us.

Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, blasted the Obama administration for exchanging U.S. hostages for Iranian criminals and terrorists. “Hardly a fair swap in my book,” McCaul said.

Lost in the shuffle of the celebratory news is this interesting tidbit: When Iranians seized our embassy in 1979, we froze an Iranian account with $400 million. Obama not only released the $400 million, but he paid Tehran, with your money, interest on those funds totaling an additional $1.3 billion! Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) suggested that the coincidental timing of the payout looks like ransom for the freed hostages.

In addition, many conservatives expressed concern that the way the hostages were released makes it much more likely that more Americans overseas will face greater risks and that additional Americans will be captured to be used as bargaining chips. Not surprisingly, within 24 hours of the release of the Americans from Iran, three Americans were kidnapped by Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq.

Mixed Messages

[Monday], Secretary of State Kerry was crowing on MSNBC about our rapprochement with Iran. “The world is safer today. Before we had this agreement, Iran had a completely invisible, unaccountable, unverified nuclear program,” Kerry said. “Today, that is not true. That is entirely reversed.”

The world is safer? As bodies continue to pile up throughout the Middle East, killed by the Iranian proxies of Hamas and Hezbollah, I suspect quite a few mourning families would beg to differ with Kerry’s analysis.

Moreover, the Treasury Department announced Sunday that it had imposed new sanctions against Iran because of its ballistic missile program. As you may recall, Iran recently carried out two tests of nuclear-capable missiles in violation of U.N. resolutions.

The Iranians responded by vowing to accelerate their missile program. A statement from the Iranian Foreign Ministry said, “We will respond to such propaganda stunts and disruptive measures by more robustly pursuing our lawful missile program and promoting our defense capabilities and national security.”

Justices Take Up Obama’s Amnesty Orders

The Supreme Court announced [Tuesday] that it would take up a lawsuit from dozens of states challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s executive orders granting a quasi-amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.

The president’s “deferred action” program has been suspended for nearly a year since a federal judge declared that Obama exceeded his authority. An appeals court upheld that ruling in November. Oral arguments are expected to take place in April with a decision coming this summer.

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