Republican Sen. Mark Kirk from Illinois said on Thursday that the Obama administration should not have sent $400 million in cash to Iran that coincided with the release of four detained Americans, stating that the US didn't need to get its hostages back.
"I chair a committee of Senate Banking on international security," Kirk said on the Steve Cochran Show on Thursday on WGN Radio. "We're going to be doing a hearing coming up on the $400 million ransom payment that was made by the administration to Iran. I would note, when we look at the details, they made the payment in cash. It was 500 euro notes and the irony is the European Union has already discontinued the 500 euro note because they worried that note was so heavily used in drug trafficking and terror."
Cochran interjected, "It's just so clumsy because we had to get our guys back but there had to be a way to get them back without making—"
"But you know, we didn’t have to get our guys back," Kirk replied. "We shouldn’t have paid the ransom. The irony is the State Department, shortly after the payment was made, issued a worldwide travel alert to Americans saying, ‘you know there are a lot of people out there looking to kidnap an American in return for a ransom payment.’"
A Kirk spokeswoman clarified his comments in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
"Senator Kirk has been clear that paying ransom for American hostages to the world's biggest state sponsor of terrorism puts more Americans in danger and believes the Iranian prisoners released from the U.S. to Iran should have been the sole basis for exchange."
Kirk explained in the radio interview that he wanted to make sure a price wasn't put on Americans heads for kidnappers when traveling abroad.
"And I want to make sure you as an American citizen, you get to travel to any country that you want to," said the senator, citing the Beirut bombing of a U.S. barracks in the 1980s. "We shouldn’t put a price on the heads of Americans, in this case it was $400 million. $100 million per person. I've just backed legislation by Senator Rubio of Florida to block any ransom payments and make sure that any money from the judgement funds, which the president used as the source for this payment, go to the victims of Iranian terror."