Debunked conspiracy theory about ransom to Iran, still debunked


The conservative media entertainment complex thrives on conspiracy theories. Since facts do not matter in the right-wing noise machine, literally everything is spun into a conspiracy theory in support of right-wing propaganda.

I covered this story last week in McCain attack ad relies on debunked conspiracy theory about ransom to Iran. After the post, there was some additional reporting about the “timing” of the exchange of prisoners held by Iran for the money that was already owed to Iran by the United States.

The right-wing noise machine spun this tick-tock “timing” story into an assertion that it supports its conspiracy theory that the Obama administration paid “ransom” for the prisoners held by Iran. (They are confusing President Obama with their sainted President Reagan, who actually did pay ransom for hostages held by Iran). Still not. Money paid to Iran was ‘leverage’ not ransom, State Department says:

Cartoon_18The State Department acknowledged Thursday that it delayed releasing a $400 million cash payment to Iran in January until it was assured that a plane carrying three released American prisoners had left Tehran.

State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters that negotiators had “deliberately leveraged” Iran’s desire to get its money from a decades-old arms deal to make sure the authorities there would not renege on freeing three Americans. They were flown out Jan. 16, the same day the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers was implemented.

“We felt it would be imprudent not to consider that some leverage in trying to make sure our Americans got out,” Kirby said, noting the deep mistrust between the countries.

Kirby’s remarks marked the first time the administration has acknowledged there was any degree of linkage between separate negotiations for the release of five Americans, including two who left Iran independently, and money paid to Iran in foreign currency piled onto pallets aboard an Iran Air cargo plane in Geneva.

Kirby insisted, however, that there was no quid pro quo of money for prisoners.

“We don’t pay ransom,” he said. Rather, he added, “there were opportunities we took advantage of, and as a result we got American citizens back home.”

Zach Beauchamp at goes through all the facts again of what actually happened. The US did not pay a $400 million “ransom” to Iran. Here’s what actually happened.

The New York Times editorializes today, The Fake $400 Million ‘Ransom’ Story.

It is simply exhausting to have to deal with people who live in the Epistemic closure of the ‘conservative misinformation feedback loop’ media bubble. These people are beyond help, and are beyond redemption.


  1. AzBM, the conspiracy theory is never going to go away on this because of the timing. The hostages were released and the payment was made at almost the same time. It was a very bad move on the part of the Obama Administration because it invites speculation as to whether it was truly just a routine payment of money we owed them them, or money we owed them paid on the conditional release of hostages. Either way we owed them the money, but one way looks suspiciously like a form of ransom. The Obama Administration has only itself to blame for this conspiracy theory.

    • You do realize that critics of Obama literally spin everything as a conspiracy theory assigning evil motive or intent to Obama? If Obama responded to what the idiots on the right concoct, government would be paralyzed.

      • I think you are probably correct about that, but it doesn’t help when the Obama Administration makes it so easy.

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