Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., believes the 52 Americans who were held hostage in Iran between 1979 and 1981 should be compensated for what they endured, and he has introduced a bill that would help do that.
When the United States negotiated the hostages' release, the final deal took away the hostages' right to seek compensation from Iran. Isakson's bill would place a temporary 30 percent surcharge on the fines paid by companies that violate U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran.
Compensation is normally given in such circumstances, Isakson tells Newsmax TV, including when Libya gave funds to victims of the Lockerbie bombing.
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"It's been traditional that people have been compensated for their suffering, but in this case in the Algiers Accords that was negotiated away," Isakson tells Newsmax. "It's only appropriate they be paid and compensated for the time they were held."
None of the money would come from American taxpayers, he stressed, but from businesses violating the sanctions by doing business with Iran.
"So it costs the taxpayer nothing," he said.
Compensation for victims and their families could reach as much as $10,000 per day for each of the 444 days they were held hostage, Isakson said, which would be about $4.4 million per person.
"What we're trying to do is right a wrong that took place back then and be sure these families have the opportunity to recover from the pain and suffering they did on the behalf of the United States of America," Isakson said.
Even with its newly elected president Hasan Rowhani, whom many hail as a moderate, Iran will probably never apologize for taking the hostages, Isakson said, even though, much like the circumstances in Benghazi, the host country failed to provide adequate security for the U.S. embassy.
Turning to the economy, Isakson said quantitative easing — essentially printing money — has gone too far.
"We've been fooling ourselves by buying our own debt for some period of time and have, almost like drug addiction, got ourselves used to it," he said. "So coming off of it is going to have to be a slow process or you might have an overreaction by the markets coming back."
Retiring Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's has done a good job, Isakson said, though he has issues with some of his actions. "It's probably time to get a fresh face and look at the agency, look at what the Federal Reserve is doing, and look at what's in the best fiscal health of the United States of America."
Isakson, who helped write the Patriot Act, views NSA leaker Edward Snowden as committing treason. Isakson says the NSA efforts are needed to protect Americans from more acts of terrorism.
"We've got to monitor it, we've got to be careful we don't ever cross the line but it's absolutely essential to have a safe America in the 21st century," Isakson said.
President Barack Obama has vowed to use executive orders to address gun violence after the defeat of a bill pushing stricter gun regulations earlier this year.
Isakson said Congress can act if Obama's orders cross a line and infringe on constitutional rights, such as the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
"There are limited things you can do by executive order, and we have three distinct branches of government to have checks and balances to see to it nobody goes too far and we have the court to oversee us," Isakson said. "So we'll be watching closely."
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