EDITORIAL – When truth becomes a casualty of politics

On a dark January night, an unmarked cargo plane filled with $400 million in unmarked bills took off for a secret destination, which we now know was Mehrabad Airport in Iran’s capital city of Tehran.

The cash on board – there was so much that it had to be strapped onto pallets – was a mixed “green” salad, composed of Swiss francs, euros and an assortment of other currencies.

It was a classic money-laundering operation which, if conducted from an offshore jurisdiction such as Panama or (even better for John Grisham purposes), the Cayman Islands, the media uproar would require BOSE noise-canceling earphones.

But it was not. The scheme originated on U.S. soil and was an attempt on the part of the Obama administration to hide a ransom payment for five American hostages. For 37 years, the funds, part of a larger sum, were frozen in legal limbo in a dispute between Iran and the United States. As soon as the cash arrived in Tehran, the hostages, who were waiting in a plane on the runway, were released.

President Obama, with a straight face (actually it was not a straight face; he was smiling inappropriately), explained the delivery of the money and the release of the hostages, was a “coincidence.” The events, he said, were unrelated.

The ostensible purpose for delivering the funds in untraceable cash was that the U.S. had imposed sanctions on Iran and, therefore, did not have the financial mechanisms in place to make the transfer in a more orthodox manner, such as a wire transfer.

Please. Here the financial acumen in abundance in the Cayman Islands could have helped. Even a junior attorney at Maples, Walkers or Appleby could have improvised a suitable solution.

(Our choice, of course, would have been Jeffrey Webb, already being held on house arrest on U.S. soil for his role in CONCACAF/FIFA money misappropriation scandal. We’re confident Mr. Webb would have been a willing consultant in exchange for perhaps a few days off his soon-to-be-imposed sentence.)

What concerns us more than the payment of the ransom is the ease and nonchalance with which national leaders purposely mislead or withhold information from the very people who elect them.

As Cayman and the United States enter their election cycles, we recommend that voters keep two tomes on their bedside tables: One is a copy of their respective Constitution, the other a copy of a book titled “Spy the Lie,” written by the CIA’s leading interrogators.

“Spy the Lie” is a remarkably easy and entertaining read, empowering nearly anyone to determine when someone (from job applicants to unfaithful spouses) is being less than truthful. Even “good liars” are fairly easy to detect.

We are not so cynical to subscribe to the idea that if a politician’s lips are moving, he’s lying. In fact, quite the opposite. Most elected representatives, in our experience, are well-meaning, hard-working and, yes, honest.

Nevertheless, there are those in elected positions of power who are too often economical – not with taxpayers’ money – but with the truth. As Cayman enters its quadrennial campaign season, voters should be listening carefully – and critically.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Cayman Compass, can you send this Editorial to the Washington Post Journal and the Miami Herald to be published as it is written in the Cayman Compass.
    I think that USA would enjoy reading some true and good journalism for a change .

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  2. Good sound advice to the voters of Cayman about their voting, but are they listening, or heading to the ravine? I believe they are listening.
    Obama has a good right to smile when questioned about this because “He has been caught red handed” who would be so fool as to think this was not money laundering, and just in time was the hostage negotiation.

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  3. So much for the much trumpeted U.S. policy of never paying ransom for hostages, but it seems it only applies to their allies, and guess which country has the biggest stockpile of chemical weapons?

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  4. The lesson you draw from this shameful episode is spot on. But there is another lesson to be learned which is just as important – the country’s chief law enforcement officer, in the U.S. it is the attorney general, should never be a political appointee. Obama chose the two attorneys general he has had and neither would ever enforce the law when he was breaking it. The Supreme Court has reversed his mischief several times labeling his actions as illegal (e.g., EPA overreach, unilateral amendment of immigration laws, etc). But the route through the Supreme Court is very slow and in the meantime the illegal acts go on. The Attorney General is supposed to enforce the law against whomsoever is breaking it. Obama’s chosen attorneys general have never enforced laws against him.

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  5. Of course the Compass has shamefully and ironically distorted the facts in an editorial about getting the facts straight.

    You had one sentence correct: “For 37 years, the funds, part of a larger sum, were frozen in legal limbo in a dispute between Iran and the United States.” It’s too bad you didn’t follow up with that fact as it is the one that matters. This payment was the result of a long standing international legal dispute which most experts in the US felt was about to be lost by them and a much larger judgement enforced. The US settled for a smaller amount and made a payment toward that settlement as you mentioned in foreign cash. The fact that the hostages were released at the same time is coincidental as far as the US side was concerned, even though it does look bad. No surprise though as the Iranians wanted to use the payment/hostage release as propaganda on its ignorant public (and apparently just as ignorant western media outlets…ahem) by making them think they were related. The negotiations on the US side were completely separate and had nothing to do with each other. The US can’t control the Iranian’s motivations and propaganda methods, they only did what they were obligated to do which was pay the money to settle the legal dispute.

    So the actual facts:
    The US settled a decades old international legal dispute for much less than they most likely would have at trial. In either case they would be legally obligated to make payment to Iran.
    The US was to make the payment to Iran regardless of the hostage situation.
    The US in fact has no mechanism to lawfully make said payment via the banking system or via US dollars.
    For propaganda purposes Iran connected the payment to the hostages even though the payment would have been made whether the hostages were released or not.
    Some media outlets have taken it upon themselves to assist Iran with their propaganda.

    So congratulations on furthering the propaganda of the Iranian government.

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  6. Christoph,

    The fact that the hostages were released at the same time is “coincidental ” so then are you saying that the US didn’t know that the hostages would be released at the same time as the payment is made.

    The Iranians wanted payment / hostages release propaganda on it’s ignorant public by making them think they were related. This coin has two sides.

    The negotiations were completely separate. How do anyone except who made this deal that it were separate? How did the US know to send another plane for the hostages? There were two planes involved, one with hostages, one with money. One of the hostages said they were on board but we’re told that they could not leave until the other plane arrived.

    Did President Obama and Mr Kerry tell you they were separate? Or were you there in the negotiations? If not, then you really don’t know the TRUTH. SO then you are as ignorant as the public on this issue ” RANSOM PAYMENT “. It’s hard to believe what Politicians tell you, I have seen that all my life.

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  7. Christoph
    You are absolutely right this was fought over for 37 years. Almost half a century.

    And it just so happened it was resolved and the money landed on the runway in Iran just as the hostages were waiting in another plan to take off for home.
    And by the greatest of coincidences the moment that plane arrived with the money the hostage plane was allowed to take off.
    Seriously. If you think this is “just a coincidence” then I have a bridge I want to sell you.

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  8. Well if you care to read a detailed analysis of this:.
    http://www.vox.com/2016/8/4/12370848/ransom-iran-400-million

    One thing the above link points out that can’t be disputed: This payment was part of the settlement of the legal dispute. Iran was going to be awarded this money and likely far more no matter what as a result of the legal process. They simply had a legal standing for it. So why would they release valuable hostages for ransom money they were going to eventually get anyway? They would have to be the world’s worst hostage takers.

    So as I stated, propaganda.

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  9. Christoph,

    I am talking about the propaganda of that same article link you gave us . That is what the News Media’s and President Obama wants you and me to believe.
    Like I said it’s hard to believe what politicians say , I have seen it all my life .

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    • OK you believe what you want to believe. I choose to believe well researched and thought out articles like I linked to. You said it’s hard to believe what politicians say, and you are choosing to believe what politicians say from one of the world’s most corrupt and terrible countries, who have an agenda to push against the US.

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  10. Oh my , Chirstoph .

    I didn’t say that I believed the Washington Post or any politicians. You need to go back and read your comments and the link you gave us , and put aside your political party Republican or Democrat aside so you can understand the difference between the story and the issue. And stop believing what politicians tell you , and believe it when it is put in Law.

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  11. Christoph you said in your comment that the Cayman Compass Editorial , only had one sentence wright in the Editorial on that Iranian / US / hostage scandal . And this payment the US made was much less than if it went to trial .
    Why did the US pay Iran $ 1. 3 billion yesterday ? That is talked about in the US news today .

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