Quid pro quo

Ever since the release yesterday of the British sailors held by Iran, the question on everybody's lips is, "Was there some kind of back-channel deal?"

If there was, the most plausible explanation to date comes from Eli Lake in the New York Sun.  He says it's no coincidence an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in February and held in joint U.S.-Iraqi custody was released the day before the sailors:

The decision to release Jalal Sharafi on Tuesday was made at the White House, according to an administration official who asked to be anonymous because of the sensitivity of the information. The release took place over the objections of some commanders in the field. Mr. Sharafi, the second secretary of the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad, is believed by American military intelligence also to be a member of the lethal Quds Force, the terrorist-supporting organization whose members have been fair game for American soldiers and Iraqi allies since a change in the rules of engagement was issued in December.

Five other alleged members of the Quds force remain in U.S. custody.