A Democratic congressman and former Army intelligence officer on Monday disagreed sharply with President Joe Biden’s decision to swap prisoners with Iran and unfreeze $6 billion in oil assets, saying the deal only incentivizes further hostage-taking by rogue states.
Congressman Pat Ryan (D-NY) said the recent deal, which resulted in the release of five Americans held captive in exchange for the release of five Iranian prisoners linked to terrorism, will only weaken America’s future position at the bargaining table.
“I have real concerns about this deal,” Ryan said in a CNN interview. “I understand … the human side of it and the tragedy, but I am concerned that we’re rewarding bad behavior here — decades of bad behavior by the Iranian regime — so I think we have to look more closely at this.”
Rep. Ryan, a two-tour veteran of the nation’s war in Iraq, said he believes Iran is not bargaining in good faith and it is only a matter of time before the U.S. gets burned on a deal. While supporters of the Biden administration have called the deal a breakthrough in talks while negotiations remain frozen over the future of Iran’s nuclear program, Rep. Ryan said he is concerned that the proceeds the nation earned from Biden’s deal will only further its progress toward nuclear armament.
“I don’t look at this with a Democrat or a Republican lens. I look at it with the lens of my experience and service, my view of what’s good for national security,” he told CNN. “And you saw the comments from the Iranian president over the last week or two of, ‘We’re gonna use this money however we want.’”
Ryan continued: “I faced these guys directly in Iran where they were killing my fellow soldiers, I have very little tolerance for their continued behavior.”
Former President Donald Trump slammed President Biden in a post on Truth Social following the deal’s announcement, calling the incumbent “dumb as a rock” and contrasting his record of thawing relations with rogue states like North Korea as proof his strongman stance wields more influence on the international stage.
“I brought 58 HOSTAGES home from many different countries, including North Korea, and I never paid anything,” said Trump, the leading GOP candidate in the 2024 presidential race.
“They all understood they MUST LET THESE PEOPLE COME HOME! Toward the end, it got so that countries didn’t even start the conversation asking for money, because they knew they would not get it.”
“Once you pay, you always pay, & MANY MORE HOSTAGES WILL BE TAKEN,” the former president said. “Our grossly incompetent ‘leader,’ Crooked Joe Biden, gave 6 BILLION DOLLARS for 5 people. Iran gave ZERO for 5. He’s Dumb as a ROCK!”
Rep. Ryan is not the only Democrat anxious over the consequences of President Biden’s deal. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the powerful chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he is “concerned” that the White House is setting the precedent that it is willing to deal with future terrorists and hostile actors to take Americans hostage.
Menendez told reporters, “This is an example of why we have to go ahead and make it very clear to Americans that they cannot travel to certain places in the world where they are likely to ultimately become a hostage. Until we do that we will constantly be in a set of circumstances” in which the U.S. is put into the unsavory position of negotiating with terrorists.