First, Iran was going to release American hiker Sarah Shourd this weekend.
Then the Iranian government then reneged on its word.
Now, Iran is prepared to release Shourd - if they get $500,000 presumably in U.S. dollars.
As far as I am concerned Shourd is a hostage (as are Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer) and this is a ransom demand. It's a shakedown.
This is a demand that should not be met. First, there is no reason believe Iran wouldn't just pocket the money and keep Shourd in jail. The Iranians cannot be taken at their word. Second, it tells Iran and all other anti-American interests they can wantonly kidnap Americans and the U.S. government will fund their activities in exchange for their release.
Yet I suspect this is precisely what will be done. I would not be surprised to see either Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter dispatched to Tehran to secure their release (it would look really bad if an American emissary didn't come home with all three hostages.)
You might recall that in August 2009 Clinton travelled to Pyongyang to meet with Kim Jong-Il and came home with American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee who had been in North Korean custody since March for allegedly entering the country illegally. The Obama Administration denied any involvement in Clinton's intervention. Yeah surrre.
Last month, Carter travelled to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong-Il to secure the release of Aijalon Gomes, a resident of Boston who had allegedly crossed into North Korea from China where he had been teaching English.
If Carter were to be sent to Tehran to obtain the release of Shourd, Fattal and Bauer it would be a feather in his cap given his ineptness during the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979-1980.
The bottom line here is that the Iranian government is playing games with the lives of these hostages and we should not play their games.