July 29, 2014

#NYTimes forgets when Reagan sold $165M in arms as ransom to terrorists

If the President says it's not "arms for hostages," then it's not!
Ronald Reagan Library via Wikipedia
Oh, those spineless Europeans, with backbones like chocolate eclairs! Why can't they be like tough Americans?

The New York Times gives Western European governments an official Old Gray Lady (or would that be Old Grey Lady, in Times-speak?) spanking for giving Al Qaeda groups as much as $165 million in the last six years to ransom European citizens taken hostage:
While European governments deny paying ransoms, an investigation by The New York Times found that Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates have earned at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008, of which $66 million was paid just in the past year.

In various news releases and statements, the United States Treasury Department has cited ransom amounts that, taken together, put the total at around $165 million over the same period.
Sounds horrible, does it not?

But, the Times article neglects to mention that the US did similar almost 30 years ago. I'll bet this stash was worth at least $165M in today's values, because Wiki gives us a nice Iranian shopping list about the Iran-Contra affair:
The following arms were supplied to Iran:
  • August 20, 1985 – 96 TOW anti-tank missiles
  • September 14, 1985 – 408 more TOWs
  • November 24, 1985 – 18 Hawk anti-aircraft missiles
  • February 17, 1986 – 500 TOWs
  • February 27, 1986 – 500 TOWs
  • May 24, 1986 – 508 TOWs, 240 Hawk spare parts
  • August 4, 1986 – More Hawk spares
  • October 28, 1986 – 500 TOWs
Too bad the Times neglected to tell us this.

Fortunately, we don't even have to guess. Weapons plutocrat Raytheon tells us that its current version of a TOW runs $58,000 per. Rounded to that even dollar value, all the TOWs alone?

A cool $140 million.

And, everything those naughty Europeans did sounds like it came from the pages of Ronald Reagan, Oliver North, John Poindexter, Robert McFarlane, Caspar Weinberger, George H.W. Bush, Bill Casey, Richard Secord and others:
These payments were made almost exclusively by European governments, who funnel the money through a network of proxies, sometimes masking it as development aid, according to interviews conducted for this article with former hostages, negotiators, diplomats and government officials in 10 countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. ...

Yet the fact that Europe and its intermediaries continue to pay has set off a vicious cycle.

“Kidnapping for ransom has become today’s most significant source of terrorist financing,” said David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a 2012 speech. “Each transaction encourages another transaction.”
Yep ... exactly the same happened after Iran-Contra.

Going back to Wikipedia:
In September and October 1986 three more Americans—Frank Reed, Joseph Cicippio, and Edward Tracy—were abducted in Lebanon by a separate terrorist group. The reasons for their abduction are unknown, although it is speculated that they were kidnapped to replace the freed Americans.
So, if the Times is writing as a tsk-tsk mouthpiece of America's bipartisan foreign policy establishment, it needs to shut up.

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