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‘A $400 million payoff in laundered money, delivered in the dead of night in an unmarked cargo plane, isn’t what it looks like!’

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 ‘We would not, we have not, we will not pay ransom to secure the release of US citizens.’

Jonah Goldberg writes: One of my all-time favorite lines is from Henry Thoreau: “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

It came to mind this week when the White House and State Department insisted that the charge the US paid a ransom to get back American hostages was purely circumstantial. Sometimes, a $400 million payoff in laundered money, delivered in the dead of night in an unmarked cargo plane, isn’t what it looks like.

“Sometimes you just have to marvel at the way smart people can talk themselves into stupidity.”

Jan. 16 was “Implementation Day” for the nuclear deal between the United States and Iran, in which the state sponsor of terror received sanctions relief possibly worth as much as $150 billion — which would be roughly equivalent to 40 percent of its GDP — in exchange for some guarantees against developing nuclear weapons … for a while. (The merits, and even the nature, of the Iran nuclear deal are hotly disputed, but that’s a topic for another time.)

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That same day, the Obama administration announced a prisoner swap between the US and Iran, in which we traded seven Iranian criminals and removed another 14 from an Interpol “most wanted” list. In exchange, they returned four innocent Americans, illegally held by the Iranian regime.

[Read the full story here, at New York Post]

Back then, Secretary of State John Kerry boasted about what a masterful diplomatic breakthrough it was. Those Americans were freed thanks to “the relationships forged and the diplomatic channels unlocked over the course of the nuclear talks,” Kerry preened.

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Yes, well, maybe. But few things really cement a solid working relationship like $400 million in cash. Kerry failed to mention that part in his press conferences or congressional testimony. In fact, the Obama administration kept the whole thing a secret.

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“The whole point of not paying ransoms to terrorists isn’t to save money. The reason we don’t pay kidnappers is that we understand that it will only encourage more kidnapping.”

The White House concedes that it all looks very bad. But it insists this was in no way a ransom payment; the trout got in the milk for perfectly normal reasons. You see, the Iranians were suing for funds deposited with the Pentagon in 1979 for a weapons purchase that was later blocked when the ayatollahs deposed the Shah. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] WELL, THAT SETTLES IT: White House Denies Ransom Payment to Iran

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Film History: François Truffaut’s 12-Hour Interview with Alfred Hitchcock (1962)

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Got 12 hours to spare? Love movie history? Truffaut’s interview with legendary director Alfred Hitchcock isn’t for casual film hobbyists, it’s for heavyweights, hardcore cinema enthusiasts. Or Truffaut admirers with a Hitchcock itch.

From Open Culture:

 Back in 1962, François Truffaut, the inspiration behind French New Wave cinema, met with Hitchcock. And, assisted by a helpful translator, the two directors talked through Hitchcock’s life and vast filmography, moving from his early films shot it Britain (BlackmailThe 39 StepsSecret Agent), to his later Hollywood productions – North by NorthwestPsycho and Vertigo. In total, Truffaut and Hitchcock talked for over 12 hours, and, several years later, Truffaut published a now classic book based on these conversations: Alfred Hitchcock: A Definitive Study (1967).

Read the rest of this entry »