Opinion

What Will Trump Do About Obama’s Iran Ransom Deal?

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Washington Post reporter and former Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian and former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on January 28, 2016, in Washington, D.C. Michael Rubin writes that the deputy intelligence director of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps bragged on February 23 that Iran forced the United States to pay $1.4 billion in ransom to win Rezaian's release. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

This article first appeared on the American Enterprise Institute site.

Back in September, I testified before the House Financial Services Committee on the allegation that the Obama administration had paid Iran a ransom—at the time it was believed to be $400 million, but it was later revealed that the figure was more than three times that amount—in cash for the release of American hostages held by Iran.

At the hearing, it is now clear that State Department officials lied outright to the committee.

Lest there be any question about how the Iranian government perceived the payment received from the United States, Hossein Nejat, deputy intelligence director of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, bragged on February 23 that Iran forced the United States to pay $1.4 billion in ransom to win the release of imprisoned Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian.

Related: Iran payment was not ransom, White House says

What does this mean for the United States? Unfortunately, the damage is already done. The cash the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps received (for they were the entity that took possession of the ransom) will fuel greater terror as well as Iran’s campaigns in Syria, Yemen and perhaps Bahrain as well.

In 2010, the United States busted the Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington because the U.S. intelligence community was monitoring bank accounts known to be operated by the Quds force. Cash makes it far easier for Iran to move money without risk of detection.

Ironically, President Donald Trump kept on the official whom Barack Obama and Secretary of State Kerry placed in charge of the hostage negotiation. At the very least, it is time to publish the hostage agreement. Obama promised he would preside over the most transparent administration in history.

Five weeks after Obama left office, Trump has the power to hold his predecessor to that promise and expose the true mendacity of Obama’s ransom deal.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. A former Pentagon official, his major research areas are the Middle East, Turkey, Iran and diplomacy.