Why are Howard Dean and Rudy Giuliani Lobbying for a Terrorist Group?
Monday, March 19, 2012
Howard Dean and Rudy Giuliani (AP Photos)
The answer to the question in the headline, of course, is money, and quite a lot of it. Although exact amounts are unknown, the Iranian dissident group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) (People’s Mujahedin of Iran)–which the State Department has designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization since 1997–has paid tens of thousands of dollars to politicians and other opinion-leaders for speaking to or on behalf of the group over the past few years. It has been a rare bipartisan effort, including Democrats Dean, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, and former Congressmen Lee Hamilton and Patrick Kennedy; as well as Republicans Giuliani, former Congressman Porter Goss, former National Security Advisor Fran Townsend, and former Transportation Secretary Andrew Card.
MEK, which was formed in 1963 to oppose the regime of the former Shah of Iran, now seeks to overthrow the Shi’ite government that has been in power since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. During the 1970s, MEK perpetrated several bombings that killed some Americans, leading to its inclusion on the terror list. Since the U.S. also considers Iran an enemy, and MEK publicly renounced violence in 2001, its supporters argue that the U.S. should remove MEK from the terror list, as the European Union did in 2009. Critics note, however, that MEK has been linked–although by no means definitively–to a series of killings of Iranian nuclear scientists allegedly masterminded by the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad.
Until MEK is removed from the terror list, however, it is a felony to provide material support to it, and according to the Supreme Court decision of Holder v. Humanitarian Law (2010), merely speaking in favor of a designated terrorist organization constitutes material support if the speech is coordinated with that organization. Thus in 2009 a Staten Island satellite TV salesman was sentenced to five years in prison just for selling a satellite TV package that happened to include a Hezbollah TV channel. In that light, the fact that the Treasury Department recently opened an investigation into MEK’s payment of speaker fees to former Governor Rendell is not surprising. Given the political prominence and social status of the other pro-MEK speakers, the question will be how seriously these issues will be investigated and prosecuted.
To Learn More:
The Top Five American Politicos Getting Paid To Shill For A U.S.-Designated Terrorist Group (by Zaid Jilani, Republic Report)
Washington’s High-Powered Terrorist Supporters (by Glenn Greenwald, Salon)
Iranian Group's Big-Money Push to Get off US Terrorist List (by Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor)
Ex-US Officials Investigated over Speeches to Iranian Dissident Group on Terror List (by Michael Isikoff, msnbc.com)
Terrorist Group Lobbies Congress for De-Listing (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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