Transcription of exchange between CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett and President Obama over Iranian hostages.Indeed, how come they don't seem to be a prime concern? Obama's answer is like this:
Major Garrett: As you well know, there are four Americans in Iran - three held on trumped up charges according to your administration, one, whereabouts unknown. Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content, with all of the fanfare around this [nuclear] deal, to leave the conscience 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 was perceived that that was a last-minute capitulation in these negotiations, making the Pentagon feel you've left the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff hung out to dry. Could you comment?I can't seem to understand anything he says. If they really wanted to free the hostages, they'd be demanding Iran release them and ensure they make it across the borders safely, and only afterwards give them any deal. But apparently, that's not what was done, and it only makes the whole pact look all the more awful as it truly is.
President Obama: I've got to give you credit, Major, for how you craft 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.
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 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.