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Former Attorney General Says $400 Million Airlift to Iran Is “Legal But Not Right”
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Michael Mukasey

Michael Mukasey. Photo courtesy of NBC.

Summary: A former Attorney General slams the government for airlifting money to Iran.

This week, news that the United States had airlifted $400 million to Iran around the same time that four American hostages were released went viral. While the official government statement was that the payment was part of an arms deal, many prominent Republicans denounced the cash, saying it was a ransom for the detainees. Additionally, a prominent legal expert wrote a scathing opinion in The Wall Street Journal, denouncing the cash payment as “legal but not right.”


Former U.S. Attorney General and former New York district court judge Michael B. Mukasey was vocal yesterday in the Wall Street Journal.

“If you want a piece of evidence that not everything that is lawful is also right, look no further than the Obama administration’s January shipment of $400 million in euros and Swiss francs to Iran—in cash in an unmarked cargo plane,” Mukasey wrote.

According to Mukasey, the payment was legal because it was not from taxpayer funds. Instead, it derived from a 1970s deposit on a weapons purchase from Iran. The money that was airlifted was also not U.S. dollars, but a combination of European monies, thus making it lawful to transfer.

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Mukasey joined critics of the money transfer by pointing out that a cash payment could not be traced and was thus dangerous. Although CIA Director John Brennan has assured that the money will be spent on things like infrastructure, prominent Republicans have said that there is no guarantee Iran will not use the money to fund terrorist groups.

“But why cash, and why in an unmarked cargo plane?” Mukasey continued. “How come the U.S. did not simply transfer the $400 million we are told actually belonged to Iran to a foreign entity, to be converted into foreign funds for conventional banking transmission to Tehran? That would have permitted the U.S. to keep track of how Iran spent the money, at least to some extent.”

Mukasey goes on to explain how the federal government avoided money laundering legally, but that does not stop the damage from being done. He pointed out that if a private citizen had done what the government had, despite the legality, he or she would still be at risk of serving time in jail.

Do you agree or disagree with Mukasey? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Wall Street Journal


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