Looking for Moderates in All the Wrong Places

Hassan Rouhani in front of a portrait of Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini / AP

In the summer of 1988, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordered thousands of political prisoners to be executed in secret over a two-month period. About 4,500 people were murdered, with the massacre covered up by a media blackout inside Iran. Twenty-eight years later, the official website of Khomeini’s then-heir apparent, the late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, released an audiotape of an Aug. 15, 1988, meeting on the purges. Montazeri can be heard lashing out at the clergymen present for facilitating the mass-killings, declaring, “You all will be judged as the biggest criminals in history.” The audiotape shows the ruthlessness of the committee of clergymen, some of whom hold senior positions today in President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet–men like Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the current minister of justice–and elsewhere in the regime–like Hossein Ali Nayeri, now a senior judiciary official.

Congress Votes to Ban Further ‘Ransom Payments’ to Iran

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy / AP

An overwhelming number of lawmakers voted Thursday evening in favor of legislation that would legally bar the Obama administration from making further cash payments to Iran amid a congressional investigation into how the White House secretly sent nearly $2 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars to Tehran in what many have described as a ransom payment.

Obama Admin Seeks Pathway for Future ‘Ransom Payments’ to Iran

John Kerry

The Obama administration is pushing a pathway to ensure that it can continue sending Iran cash payments amid mounting accusations it laundered some $1.7 billion to the Islamic Republic as part of “ransom payment” to free U.S. hostages earlier this year, according to statements by the White House and sources familiar with the matter.

The White House late Wednesday promised to veto new legislation—first disclosed by the Washington Free Beacon—that would bar the administration from making “future ransom payments to Iran,” according to a statement that has drawn outrage from key members of Congress who have been investigating how U.S. officials delivered nearly $2 billion in cash to Iranian officials.