Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., blasted the Obama administration Thursday for ignoring the longstanding U.S. policy of not paying ransom for U.S. hostages.
McCain was reacting to news that the State Department, which didn't agree a ransom was paid, admitted that it made a $400 million cash payment to Iran only after four U.S. hostages were released this year.
"The State Department's acknowledgment that the Obama administration's $400 million cash payment to Iran in January was contingent upon the release of American prisoners in Iran confirms what was already obvious: that the Obama administration paid ransom to the world's number one state sponsor of terrorism and has been trying to deny it ever since," McCain said.
"The Obama administration manufactured and manipulated a narrative to sell the reckless Iran deal to the American people," he added. "It thanked Iran for its conduct in illegally detaining 10 American sailors in a flagrant violation of international law.
"And for the last two weeks, the administration has made a mockery of the United States' long-held policy against paying ransoms and put Americans in danger in the process," McCain said. "Only time will tell to what new embarrassing lows the Obama administration will stoop to curry favor with our enemies in Iran."
McCain joined other Republicans who were outraged by State's admission, which they said all but made that payment a ransom payoff.
The Obama administration had said there was no connection between the two events, and that the release of hostages just happened to be timed with the huge cash payout. U.S. officials say the payout was actually a payback for a failed arms deal that never went through in 1979, during which Iran paid the U.S. money but never received the goods.