Thursday, the Biden administration announced it reached an agreement to swap five American prisoners unjustly held by Iran, in exchange for the United States releasing an unstated number of Iranian prisoners, as well as unfreezing six billion dollars in Iranian funds; money held in South Korea.
According to Biden administration officials, these funds will be provided to Iran through an intermediary – Qatar – which supposedly will ensure this money is only used for humanitarian purposes such as medicine and food.
The full details of the prisoner exchange have not been announced.
The five Americans (some of them dual American/Iranian citizens) were jailed at Iran’s brutal Evin Prison on false espionage charges.
They were released from that facility and are now under house arrest in Iran.
A Biden administration spokesperson said the prisoner exchange has not been finalized, claiming that "negotiations for their eventual release remain ongoing and are delicate."
Biden officials must address two troubling issues related to the prisoner swap immediately.
First, it's likely, based on press reports of ongoing talks between Iran and the U.S. over the last few months, that the prisoner swap is part of a new, secret agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.
This reportedly will be a dangerous deal that will give Iran a total of $20 billion in sanctions relief, allow it to enrich uranium to the near weapons-grade level of 60% uranium-235, and permit Iran to keep all of its nuclear weapons-related infrastructure.
This secret deal reportedly is silent on Iran’s sale of attack-drones and other weapons to Russia for it to use in its war against Ukraine.
Making this worse, the Biden administration reportedly has negotiated this deal as an oral, unwritten agreement to hide it from the American people and evade congressional oversight.
Second, although the release of Americans unjustly imprisoned is cause for celebration, we need to be clear that Iran deliberately detained these Americans as hostages to later trade away for some form of ransom. Sound familiar?
Moreover, the U.S. paying ransom to Iran to release American hostages in the past set bad precedents that led it to take more American hostages.
Former Iranian Republican Guard Corps commander-in-chief Mohsen Rezaei appeared to confirm this in 2021 when he called for taking 1,000 American hostages to get billions of dollars "to solve our economic problems."
As a result, this is at least the third time the U.S. has paid ransom to Iran to win the release of unjustly imprisoned Americans.
In 2011, the Obama administration paid Iran $500,000 "bail" through Oman to win the release of three American hikers who accidentally wandered into Iranian territory in July 2009 and were charged with espionage.
In 2016, the Obama administration paid Tehran $1.7 billion to free five Americans as part of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (the JCPOA).
These funds were famously paid using "planeloads of cash" secretly flown by the U.S. from Geneva to Tehran.
Most of the 2016 prisoner swap details were kept from Congress and the American people, until The Wall Street Journal revealed them in August of 2016.
As part of that 2016 swap, the U.S. also released seven Iranian criminals, and 14 other Iranians wanted by the United States for illegally transferring military technology to Iran were removed from an INTERPOL watch list.
In light of the Obama administration's deception, on its nuclear and prisoner exchanges with Iran, and the Biden administration’s reported effort to negotiate a secret, unwritten nuclear deal, one must ask:
- What other components are there to the new prisoner exchange agreement?
- What concessions did the Biden administration give Iran that it does not want to reveal?
- What strings are attached to the swap agreement?
The Biden administration should be compelled to provide Congress and the American people with full details of the U.S.-Iran prisoner swap, and all other agreements and ongoing negotiations with Iran.
Given the history of past U.S. deals with Iran, the American people need to know just what the price is to free American prisoners.
And given the checkered history of this administration, as well as prior left occupants of the White House, that cost is more likely than not lastingly exorbitant.
The American people wholly deserve the answer to that question. Now.
Fred Fleitz is a Newsmax TV Contributor. He previously served as National Security Council Chief of staff, CIA analyst, and as a member of the House Intelligence Committee staff. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.
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