Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) says he will hold a hearing to get more information on the $400 million cash payment to Iran that critics say was ransom for the release of four hostages he told the conservative website ‘Washington Examiner’ in an interview.
Kirk is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, which has oversight over payments made from the Treasury Department.
The Obama administration has defended the payment, saying it was a refund of cash Iran paid in the 1970’s for weapons which were never delivered after its Islamic Revolution in 1979 which led to the capture and holding of American hostages. They do admit to using the cash as ‘leverage’ for release of the hostages after it was revealed the plane holding the cash was not allowed to take off until the hostages left Tehran.
Sen. Kirk is not only concerned about what appears to many as paying ransom in violation of U.S. policy, but fears the cash will be used to support Iran’s terrorist activities.
“Just as the administration last week reversed seven months of fierce denial that the $400 million foreign cash payment in any way related to Iran’s release of American hostages, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced the formation of a new terrorist ‘Shiite Liberation Army’ under Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani to fight in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen,” Kirk was quoted as saying in the article. “The American people have a right to know if any U.S. taxpayer money sent to Iran is going to finance the new ‘Shiite Liberation Army,’ Hezbollah or Hamas terrorists targeting our allies in Israel, or any other Iranian terrorist activities.”
In a separate interview with the editorial board of the State Journal-Register, he added, “We can’t have the president of the United States acting like the drug dealer in chief, giving clean packs of money to a … state sponsor of terror.”
Kirk is in a tight race for re-election against Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, whose campaign issued a statement Monday calling the comments out of line. “Sen. Kirk’s comments are misguided and deeply offensive, and beneath the dignity of the office he holds. He should apologize,” said Matt McGrath, deputy campaign manager.