Buying Your Way Off The US Terrorist List

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK/MKO) has been designated a terrorist organization since 1997 when the Clinton administration put the MEK on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The Bush administration added two alleged MEK front organizations to the State Department’s terrorist list in 2003.

The MEK is currently engaged in an extensive campaign to get delisted, and a decision by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due shortly . The MEK is spending the big bucks to influence that decision.

Private jets to speaking engagements and fees that range from $25,000 to $100,000 have gone to a wide political spectra of speakers:

Lee Hamilton, former co-chair of the 9/11 Commission; former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee; Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York; Michael Mukasey, the former US attorney general; Andrew Card, former White House chief of staff under George W. Bush; Tom Ridge, the former US homeland security chief; 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; James Jones, President Obama’s former national security adviser; Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former commander of CENTCOM; former CIA chiefs James Woolsey, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden; Louis Freeh, former FBI director; Gen. James Conway, former Commandant of the Marine Corps; and P.J. Crowley, the former US State Dept. spokesman.

That list is depressing. That these people would sell their names and reputations is shameful. The speaking fees are paid by local Iranian-American groups and contracts specifically state that “We are not a front organization for the MEK,” in a crude effort to skirt US laws regarding the support of terrorist organizations.

David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown, argues that via Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, “such speech could contribute to the group’s ‘legitimacy’ and thus increase its ability to obtain support elsewhere that could be turned to terrorist ends.” In Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, Chief Justice Roberts writes:

The statute reaches only material support coordinated with or under the direction of a designated foreign terrorist organization. Independent advocacy that might be viewed as promoting the group’s legitimacy is not covered.

However, the speakers are not independent advocates.

In an article for National Review Online, Michael B. Mukasey, Tom Ridge, and Rudolph W. Giuliani wrote that the MEK was not a terrorist group without mentioning that they are paid agents of the MEK. The authors credit the MEK with supplying “valuable intelligence.” This claim deals with Iran’s undeclared uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz. However, senior U.S. national-security officials say that all the major revelations regarding nuclear advances in Iran were reported in classified form–and from other sources–to U.S. policymakers before MEK made them public. Others claim that the Natanz information was funneled through MEK by Israel, who has a long history of supporting and funding MEK.

Iranian Green Movement spokesmen Mohsen Kadivar and Ahmad Sadri wrote that removing MEK from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations “promises to spell disaster for the pro-democracy movement in Iran, and will be a devastating setback in the country’s attempts to move forward.” The Iranian Green Movement doesn’t want anything to do with MEK.

Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari, who was jailed in Iran amid the unrest that followed the country’s contentious 2009 presidential election, believes the move could have damaging implications: “The delisting of the MKO would send the wrong signal to those young Iranians who have been pushing for democracy peacefully in the past 2 1/2 years.”

H/T: Murtaza Hussain, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, Michael Isikoff.

9 thoughts on “Buying Your Way Off The US Terrorist List”

  1. There are some truly innocent parties who would do almost anything — anything legal, that is — to get their names off the U.S. terrorist watch list… Many aren’t permitted to know if their names are even on the list — the typical government response seems to be one of “we can neither confirm nor deny….”

    In this particular case, we seem to be, once again, dancing with the devil…, believing that it will somehow end well…

  2. why should the saudis be the only ones to buy their way out. (israeli’s don’t count, the fundys need them for armageddon)

  3. I don’t know what to make of this post (my default intellectual process is one of chaotic confusion) as you don’t make clear what the current (or past) sins of the MEK are. Your list of paid lobbyists for them is depressing, not for their particular speech, but just indicative of the revolving door.

    Regardless, there are some people in that list I do respect, I find it difficult to believe they would either sell their names to front terrorists or that they have been duped.

    Because of the above, with the exception of your last paragraph as I read your post, I almost wonder if it isn’t dry wit.

    That said, I am still amused that about six months before 9/11, the Taliban were involved in a similar PR drive in the United States that included hiring an advertising agency and having a woman interview on NPR, on On The Media, and in all the usual places to tell us how misunderstood the Taliban were and how cool they were. (At the time, the Bush Administration had just given $43M to the Taliban for anti-drug efforts, and there was various debates in the US if it wasn’t time to bury the hatchet or why we should think the Taliban weren’t the bastards they are. (And of course, that debate still continues, doesn’t it?))

  4. The one place Republicans and this current crop of Democrats come together is on a steaming pile of cash. Then we wonder why the Masters Of the Universe control our world.

  5. The speaking fees are paid by local Iranian-American groups and contracts specifically state that “We are not a front organization for the MEK,” in a crude effort to skirt US laws regarding the support of terrorist organizations.

    Uh huh….That makes it all legitimate….So, my take is so long as its for a political purpose…it makes it alright….

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