CBS senior White House correspondent Major Garrett during a press conference today asked President Barack Obama pointed questions.
“As you well know, there are four Americans in Iran. Three held up on trumped-up charges according to your administration, one whereabouts unknown. Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content with all the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscious of this nation, the strength of this nation, unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans? And last week the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said under no circumstances should there be any relief for Iran in terms of ballistic missiles or conventional weapons. It is perceived that was a last minute capitulation in these negotiations. Many in the Pentagon feel you left the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff hight out to dry. Could you comment?” Garrett asked.
President Obama responded, “I have got to give you credit Major for how you crafted those questions. The notion that I am content as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails… Major, that’s nonsense, and you should know better. I’ve met with the families of some of those folks. Nobody’s content. And our diplomats and our teams are working diligently to try to get them out.”
President Obama continued to address why the Administration didn’t make the four Americans who have been taken prisoner (one of whom is Christian pastor Saeed Abedini who was jailed three years ago for proclaiming his Christian faith):
Now if the question is, why we did not tie the negotiations to their release, think about the logic that that creates.
Suddenly Iran realizes, ‘You know what, maybe we can get additional concessions out of the Americans by holding these individuals.’ Makes it much more difficult for us to walk away if Iran somehow thinks that a nuclear deal is dependent in some fashion on the nuclear deal.
And, by the way, if we had walked away from the nuclear deal, we’d still be pushing them just as hard to get these folks out. That’s why those issues are not connected. But we are working every single day to try to get them out, and won’t stop until they’re out, and rejoined with their families.
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