De-listing of the MEK
September 24, 2012 3:53 AM   Subscribe

In 2008, Vanguard sent their correspondent Mariana van Zeller to investigate PJAK, a Kurdish group that many have alleged to be both engaging in terrorism targeting Iran and to be benefitting from support by the American government,

Vanguard : America's Secret War With Iran: Vanguard (24:57)
posted by Blasdelb at 3:57 AM on September 24, 2012

Gah, they finally did it. MEK is really very scummy indeed, and isn't above borderline cult tactics. The BBC did an excellent From Our Own Correspondent radio program on this, but there's a simplified written BBC piece based on it here.

The radio program features interviews with audibly unhappy MEK-paid US politicians specifically discussing the 18 USC § 2339B issues, and also details the fact that "the going rate for a pro-MEK speech seems to be $20,000 (£12,500) for 10 minutes."

I have to hand it to their US lobbyists though; it's hard to argue with the delisting result.
posted by jaduncan at 4:34 AM on September 24, 2012

Looks like Howard Dean has been "sunbathing" with Romney.
posted by O Blitiri at 4:37 AM on September 24, 2012

Looks like Howard Dean has been "sunbathing" with Romney.

There's a whole beach full of sunbathers:

"Other prominent voices outside government, such as Alan Dershowitz and Elie Wiesel, have been enlisted to the cause and are steadfast MEK advocates."

According to Al Jazeera, the Ugly Truth is that:

"In its repertoire of political violence, the MeK is credited with blowing up schools, mosques, churches, libraries, government buildings and various market places, in addition to the various ‘personalized’ assassinations it has performed, including (as assumed by those ‘in the know’) the 5 Iranian nuclear scientists murdered in recent years.

As such, the MeK being duly listed as an FTO by the USGOV means that receiving money from or advocating on behalf of this group is a federal offense, punishable by fine and/or imprisonment, just as it would be (and has been) for individuals convicted of providing ‘material support’ for other FTOs such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, etc.

And now, in underscoring just what a truly bizarro world we find ourselves living in, we have a whole gaggle of individuals—high profile ones at that–engaging in what can only be termed very open, blatant and in-your-face violation of this criminal statute, getting paid very handsomely in the process and without (as of this moment) so much as a polite tap on the shoulder from the long arm of US law enforcement…

And when we say ‘high profile’ we mean as high as an elephant’s ear, a short list of which includes:

–Former New York City Mayor and federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani…

–Former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey…

–Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Hugh Shelton…

–Former NATO Commander General Wesley Clark…

–Former FBI Director and federal prosecutor Louis Freeh…

–Former Philadelphia Mayor and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell…

–Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean…

–Former Pennsylvania Governor and Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge…

…again, to name but a few…"
posted by three blind mice at 5:03 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Where does MEK get the money to pay these people?
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:13 AM on September 24, 2012

  • "How about we follow an Arab Spring with a Persian Summer?" asked Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, during his speech, as an American flag waved on the screen behind him. "We need regime change in Iran, more than we do in Egypt or Libya, and just as we need it in Syria."
  • Michael Mukasey, the former US attorney general, declared: "There is one organization and one alone, that stands for immediate democratic change in Iran, and that is the MEK."
  • Andrew Card, former White House chief of staff under George W. Bush, told the crowd the gathering was a "great reflection of support for the people of the MEK. It is truly time ... for the people all over the world who care about democracy to stand with the Iranian people and the MEK in the struggle for democracy."
  • Tom Ridge, the former US homeland security chief, also took the podium: “It’s an extraordinary honor for me, and a great privilege for my colleagues from the United States," Mr. Ridge said, “to have the opportunity…to work with an individual that we believe clearly is one of the most inspirational, great leaders of the 21st century: Viva Maryam!"
  • Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, hailed Rajavi in Berlin last March. "Madame Rajavi does not sound like a terrorist to me; she sounds like a president," Mr. Dean said, gesturing toward the MEK leader from the dais. "And her organization should not be listed as a terrorist organization. We should be recognizing her as the president of Iran." [He] told an MEK-linked audience in July: "Let's stop the name-calling and foolishness and look at this for what it is. This is genocide, and we will not have it!" Then he spoke of broader ambitions: “We will free the people of Ashraf, and we will free the people of Iran from the tyranny of the mullahs.” Mr. Dean confirmed to the Monitor that he received payment for his appearances, but said the focus on high pay was “a diversion inspired by those with a different view.” ”
  • Lee Hamilton, former co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, told the Monitor he received a "good fee" to speak in Washington. He "approved" of the MEK's 10-point platform, which enshrines democracy, gender equality, and freedom, but added: "We all know it's a piece of paper.... Now is that in fact their practice? I don't think I am the one to judge that."
  • Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell also spoke at an MEK-linked event and was paid $20,000 for a 10-minute speech. Mr. Rendell confirmed that figure to the Monitor, and said: “No amount of money could make me say something I didn’t believe.” During his mid-July speech in Washington, however, Rendell stated that he had received a call on Monday, inviting him to appear the following Saturday. He told the audience that at first he declined, telling his would-be hosts: "I don't know hardly anything about this subject, so … I don’t think I’m qualified to come." Rendell thanked them for convincing him to come anyway, for briefing him during the week, for the material they sent, and for further discussions that morning. "It's been a great learning experience for me, and as a result of what I've learned, on Monday I will send a letter to President Obama and Secretary Clinton, telling them ... that the United States is morally bound to do everything we can to ensure the safety of the residents of Camp Ashraf," said Rendell. That comment prompted a standing ovation, followed by Rendell's call for removal from the terrorist list if, as his fellow speakers had indicated, the "MEK is a force for good, and the best hope we have."
  • “You are credible, you are connected, you are respected. And I am amazed that we’ve not reached out,” Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former commander of CENTCOM, said at a January event in Washington. “No one is asking for money, for military support, and guns. They are asking for a hand to be reached out, a light to be shined on what they are doing.”
  • Nearly 100 members of Congress have co-sponsored a resolution demanding the Obama administration to delist the MEK.

  • Top-flight speakers also included Bill Richardson, the former secretary of Energy; Gen. Peter Pace, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO; and James Jones, President Obama's former national security adviser. Speakers also include former CIA chiefs James Woolsey, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden. Several others confirmed to The Financial Times that they received cash to speak, including John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN; Louis Freeh, former FBI director; Gen. James Conway, former Commandant of the Marine Corps; and Shelton.

    "So it's just another aspect of the Obama administration's not-so-covert Neo-Con war on Iran."

    Funny, I don't see Obama anywhere on this list. I get the temptation to see politics as a simple game played by recognisable actors, but Obama does not represent the totality of American politics any more than Reinfeldt represents the totality of everything Sween does in the world. Let Netanyahu tell you how concerned he has been with how much Obama has done to de-escalate our position with Iran. Honestly, Obama is almost entirely othogonal to any of the shocking or interesting aspects of this story and its a pretty ignorant derail.
    posted by Blasdelb at 5:43 AM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

    It's astonishing to me how blind people can be to the actions of their tribe.

    This kind of crap happens anywhere else in the world, especially somewhere that Americans are prejudiced against (Russia, China, anywhere Arab), and the chatter about corruption never ends. If it happens at home though, it's ignored, because America isn't a corrupt scumbag, America is a shining city on a hill!

    I hate people.
    posted by Ickster at 5:45 AM on September 24, 2012

    "Where does MEK get the money to pay these people?"

    When pressed members have claimed the money comes from rich European Iranians, but with how fantastically unpopular the cult actually is with Iranian ex-pats, I think the smart money is on one or some combination of Israel, right-wing Israelis, and American eschatologically millenialist Christians with an eye towards provoking war with the United States.
    posted by Blasdelb at 5:49 AM on September 24, 2012 [5 favorites]

    Honestly, Obama is almost entirely othogonal to any of the shocking or interesting aspects of this story and its a pretty ignorant derail.

    Orthogonal means at ninety degrees; at right angles. The Obama administration, including Mrs. Clinton the Secretary of State, has their fingerprints all over this and that isn't even six degrees of separation from Mr. Obama himself.

    Where does MEK get the money to pay these people?

    Moreover, as Al Jazeera mockingly pointed out how could all of these people accept money FROM the MeK while it was still listed as a terrorist organisation? Isn't receiving money from a terrorist organisation as illegal as giving them money?

    It is only in neo-con world does this stuff make sense and it shows just how much the neo-cons remain in control of American foreign policy.

    Last time they at least felt like the had to "sell" us the Iraq war. This time I think they don't even care what the American public thinks.
    posted by three blind mice at 5:50 AM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

    I think the smart money is on one or some combination of Israel, right-wing Israelis, and American eschatologically millenialist Christians with an eye towards provoking war with the United States

    Plus, very probably, Sunni Arab regimes, and in particular Saudi Arabia and Bahrein. They loathe the Iranian regime even more than the Israelis, and they are even less discriminating in their choice of allies.
    posted by Skeptic at 5:52 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

    I think the smart money is on one or some combination of Israel

    Killing 5 nuclear scientists within Iran with reasonably competent hits doesn't come cheap. Mossad are almost certainly very happy to pay just to keep that on the ground capability; Saddam certainly was and Mossad already do with the Kurds.
    posted by jaduncan at 5:54 AM on September 24, 2012

    Honestly, Obama is almost entirely othogonal to any of the shocking or interesting aspects of this story and its a pretty ignorant derail.

    While Obama isn't the central figure in this whole mess, he and his administration (hello Justice and State departments!) are clearly as complicit and corrupt as Congress. He doesn't deserve to have the whole thing hung on his neck, but he sure as fuck doesn't deserve a pass on it either.
    posted by Ickster at 6:00 AM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

    >Where does MEK get the money to pay these people?
    A mixture of global fundraising and local illegal operations, according to the Monitor article, but who knows if there's a traceable source.

    What I want to know is: how can these politicians and ex-government officials speak such flowery prose about the necessity of democratic change in Iran and in the same breath claim that the MEK is the best if not only option for this? Oh, right. They're being paid. On preview, I also would like to know the legality of political speakers receiving funds from a currently listed terrorist organization.

    The warmongering and manipulation of the concept of "terrorism" has become so arrogant and blatantly obvious that it infuriates me. Even though this strategy of using financial wealth to lobby a state department (the State Department!) is fairly familiar in our time, I refuse to call it any normal representation of foreign policy or democracy. It's just another perverted business transaction that will ultimately cost much more than money.

    If you're in or from Iran and you're reading this, I want you to know the majority of Americans harbor no ill will toward you or your people.

    As-Salāmu `alaykum السلام عليكم
    posted by Johann Georg Faust at 6:00 AM on September 24, 2012

    Dang. I have to say I would normally take Howard Dean's word as a character witness and all. So did the MEK undergo one of those deals where a bunch of guys buy a failing but listed company so as to not go through the hassle of a vetting?
    posted by drowsy at 6:11 AM on September 24, 2012

    Mod note: A couple of comments deleted; however disappointed one may be with Obama, resorting to racist stereotypes to express your frustration is not okay here.
    posted by taz (staff) at 6:11 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

    Meet the new boss friend, same as the old boss enemy.
    posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:34 AM on September 24, 2012

    BTW, I remember seeing these freaks demonstrate in Holland or Germany: there definitely was a cultish thing going on, even more so than with the LaRouchites.
    It's somewhat worrying when "our" Iranians make Ahmadinejad look like the sane, balanced alternative.
    posted by Skeptic at 6:58 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Iraq was on the original State Department list of State Sponsors of Terrorism and was temporarily removed during the 80s so that the Reagan Administration could sell it arms and anthrax.
    posted by XMLicious at 7:10 AM on September 24, 2012

    See also this New Yorker article in April, discussing American training and support of MEK members.
    posted by inire at 7:14 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend...(MEK motto)
    Good idea, but where do we get the money? (MOSSAD)
    I always wanted to visit Nevada (anonymous)
    posted by mule98J at 8:02 AM on September 24, 2012

    I generally laugh at the hand wringing over the evils of Obama on Metafilter. But I think this is one of the things the Obama administration really will have to answer for. There's no way it gets to walk away with clean hands. Unfortunately, they may have to answer for this in the textbooks of the future, because I don't see this ever becoming a big popular issue among the populace of today.
    posted by 2N2222 at 9:22 AM on September 24, 2012

    The system works!
    posted by Renoroc at 9:35 AM on September 24, 2012

    In a gentler, less jaded era, this would have been a scandal the size of Iran-Contra. But now it just looks like everyday politics. At least their support is bipartisan.
    posted by Apocryphon at 9:35 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

    I am glad a process for this exists and I am sure Hamas, the PKK, etc. will eventually want to be delisted as well. And perhaps MEK has truly "turned over a new leaf," but I agree with many of the others here... I think more transparency and consistency about this whole process would have been good.

    If people think the process is more about "sides" than it is about reconciliation then I don't see how this benefits the U.S. (or anyone).
    posted by rosswald at 11:30 AM on September 24, 2012

    Chances of War With Iran Just Went Up
    posted by homunculus at 11:54 AM on September 24, 2012

    Lessons from an Iranian war game
    posted by homunculus at 11:57 AM on September 24, 2012

    The expression going to hell in a handbasket comes to mind.
    posted by BlueHorse at 1:43 PM on September 24, 2012

    MEK has been so helpful in delaying the Iranian nuclear program, are we just supposed to pretend we don't know them when they start showing up at the parties. What are we the popular girl who got math homework help from the nerdy guy and now won't even say hello or thanks in the hallway? Do you really want us to be that way.
    posted by humanfont at 5:11 PM on September 24, 2012

    In other news: Iran readies domestic Internet system, blocks Google
    posted by homunculus at 5:50 PM on September 24, 2012

    I wonder what the Chinese and the Russians think about a possible American military adventure in Iran. I read that Obama story in the New York Times today and it is almost unbelievable.
    posted by bukvich at 3:15 PM on September 25, 2012

    What exactly so you find so unbelievable? What did you expect him to say? The US has been pretty clear that if we can't negotiate an agreement that limits Irans nuclear cab abilities we are going to bomb them because we don't think it is a good idea for Iran to be in possession of nuclear weapons or even be close to able to assemble a bomb. This position is very popular in congress and with the public. 40 days before an election isn't the time when Obama is going to challenge that position, even if he wanted to, and he doesn't want to.
    posted by humanfont at 4:41 PM on September 25, 2012

    Hey homunculus, I just wanted to stop by again and thank you for all of the great links you post in the tail ends of threads.
    posted by Blasdelb at 6:13 AM on October 6, 2012

    You're quite welcome.
    posted by homunculus at 9:30 AM on October 6, 2012

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