The Little Story That Couldn't
The other day, a friend wrote me about a news story that had popped up and was getting some coverage about how Obama-people had lied about Iran getting access to financial accounts in the United States. I admit that I didn't understand what it was all about but did sounds bad. I do of course remember that Iran got airplane shipments of money from US when hostages were freed. At the time, it looked like a ransom, but that was debunked: it was Iran's own money which had been owed to them for years. But this story isn't that. This is about how Iran was not supposed to have access to U.S. financial account, but Obama officials never explained there was some access.
This here is a Washington Post story about it.
Honestly, I don’t grasp all the convoluted details, but as near as I can make it, the details are unfortunate, but not a horrific problem that causes me to lose any sleep.
First, this comes from a report from a Republican sub-committee. Given that the last Republican committee report we have is from the House Intelligence Committee that refused to interview all witnesses and closed its investigation down before actually doing a full study, I remain skeptical to what actually went on.
Second, once upon a time, I’d be overwhelmingly more bothered by this. But we’re no longer in “once upon a time.” Something from 2-1/2 years ago that’s over and done and not a massive issue, nor even necessarily even a real problem, is – to me – paltry compared to an administration that studies have shown literally lies six times EVERY DAY, and has worked to undermine intelligence services and the Justice department, traded information with the House Intelligence Committee, closed a blind eye to checks-and-balances, and conspired with Russia to fix the U.S. election. So…I just can lose any sleep.
As best as I can tell, this is the issue --
Under the nuclear agreement we had with Iran, Iran actually was entitled to withdraw funds from a bank in Omani. But they screwed up, and the money was held in Omani currency which is a very difficult currency to convert, and they wanted the money in euros. The U.S. apparently worked hard to get this to work out, but couldn’t. So, as a last resort, they – apparently, as the charge goes – let Iran access the money That They Were Entitled To, but did so through a U.S. bank. Or something like that.
This Republican subcommittee “believes it has found at least one example” where this happened, where the Obama Treasury and State departments bent the rules for Iran.
So – at worst – 2-1/2 years ago – a Republican subcommittee thinks may it has found ONE example where the U.S. helped Iran get its own money that it was actually entitled to, but through a mistake couldn’t access. And from all accounts, when the Obama officials helped work this out, it wasn’t an illegal action at all, but – at worst – they were deceptive and misled Congress. Which they did in order to ensure a nuclear disarmament treaty would go through and make the world safer.
I’m okay with that. I wish it didn’t happen. I wish they'd have been upfront. I'm sure they figured that Republicans would have been up in arms and tried to muck up the whole Iran nuke deal over something actually legal, and so kept it quiet. I wish it had all worked out probably, all around. And years back, I’d be more bothered. But given what it is AND given the near-treason and multiple daily lies we live with now, conspiring with Russia and kissing up to the despotic Kim Jong-un – I just can’t be moved to outrage, or even concern.
Maybe the issue is something different. But that’s the best I can figure out. To me, the worst thing is not what was done (IF it was done), but that it's the kind of story that gives Trump and the Republicans a disingenuous issue that they can make seem awful and run with and call for investigations, and distract from very real, massive problem we are actually dealing with today.
But as for the issue itself, if I’m reading it correctly? Honestly, I couldn’t care less. Except that now we might possibly have to address it, just like the other meaningless non-issues that Trump and Republicans are grasping at the building in false bonfires to burn down the country.
But the thing is, the day after the story broke, I watched news all that day, the story wasn't even mentioned. That doesn’t mean Trump and Republicans won’t try to make some of it down the line, but it does point to how little meaning it has for serious news reporters. Especially when there are other, actual serious scandals and indictments in the news flying off the shelves. Yes, Trump and conservatives might make it so, but at best it’s a Fox story. Maybe the others news services will have to report on it then, if Republicans call for hearings, but it just looks to me like “We need a distraction to shout ‘Obama!!!’” and nothing more. But it seems unlikely that, if it didn't break out on the day it became news, it doesn't seem like it will.
As I told my friend, not only don't I think it's a Banner Headline Story, I don’t think it’s even a story – until someone wants to try and twist it into something, which I’m sure they will. But that doesn’t mean there’s anything there as actual news. As far as I can tell, it wasn’t even illegal. Just a little unfortunately dicey in how it was handled.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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