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Media ‘fact-checkers’ fail in fact check of Trump

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During President Trump’s acceptance speech for the nomination at the closing of the Republican National Convention, an NBC News reporter, Heidi Przybyla, retweeted an attack on Trump under the guise of a “fact check.”

“AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s Iran cash story oft-told, still bogus,” Przybyla tweeted during the president’s speech. The tweet linked to an April 25, 2018 AP story that stated:

“President Donald Trump likes to tell a story about the U.S. paying out billions of dollars to Iran as part of the multinational deal freezing its nuclear program and easing sanctions against it. What he doesn’t say is that most of that money was Iran’s to begin with. The rest relates to an old debt the U.S. had with Iran.”

The money that the AP refers to as “Iran’s to begin with” is very complicated, as it deals with frozen assets of Iran’s previous government before the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Since that time, Iran has accumulated large sums in terrorism cases against it and other litigation for damages done by the Ayatollahs responsible for the overthrow. In short, critics say that the frozen assets the Obama Administration agreed to return to Iran, under the 2014 nuclear agreement, may not belong to the current government of Iran anyway.

But the “old debt the U.S. had with Iran” part of the “fact check” is far clearer cut. Trump has referred to “pallets of cash” that the Obama administration delivered to Iran following the nuclear agreement, about $1.8 billion, in which part was delivered in cash, to Iran ostensibly to satisfy the $400 million the AP refers to as “an old debt” plus interest.

“The payout of about $1.8 billion is a separate matter. That dates to the 1970s, when Iran paid the U.S. $400 million for military equipment that was never delivered because the government was overthrown and diplomatic relations ruptured,” says the AP, which also reported that there was cash delivered to Iran as part of the deal:

“The day after the nuclear deal was implemented, the U.S. and Iran announced they had settled the claim over the 1970s military equipment order, with the U.S. agreeing to pay the $400 million principal along with about $1.3 billion in interest. The $400 million was paid in cash and flown to Tehran on a cargo plane, which gave rise to Trump’s dramatic accounts.”

Did that $400 million belong to Iran? An international court had already settled that question. In July of 2009, in an international court set up under the Algiers Accord, specifically to adjudicate claims between the U.S. and Iran, ruled against Iran in a 5-4 decision. According to an October 22, 2009, report in the Washington Post:

“In July, the tribunal dismissed, 5 to 4, Iran’s claim for $2.2 billion in compensation for military equipment that had been ordered by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi but that the U.S. government had refused to allow U.S. companies to deliver after the hostage crisis.”

According to the Post, there were three Iranian judges on the panel which had conducted over 300 hearings spanning three decades.

In the final analysis, Trump’s claim is supported by the international court that ruled on the matter. The claim by the AP, NBC News, and other media outlets that the president’s claim is “bogus” is itself, bogus.

PHOTO: Evan Vucci / Associated Press

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