CLIN­TON UN­DER PRES­SURE

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY JAMES MOR­RI­SON

Mem­bers of the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee this week pressed Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton on her fail­ure to re­move the Ira­nian re­sis­tance from the U.S. list of ter­ror­ist groups.

They warned that the lives of more than 3,000 dis­si­dents liv­ing in a camp in Iraq are in dan­ger be­cause of the State Depart­ment’s re­fusal to take them off the list. The Iraqi gov­ern­ment has even used the list as an ex­cuse to at­tack the un­armed dis­si­dents, one com­mit­tee mem­ber said.

Rep. Ted Poe told Mrs. Clin­ton that Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-ma­liki last year cited the U.S. ter­ror­ist des­ig­na­tion as a rea­son to refuse to al­low a con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion to visit the rebels of the Peo­ple’s Mu­ja­hedeen Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Iran (PMOI) in Camp Ashraf, north of Bagh­dad.

Mr. Poe, Texas Re­pub­li­can, re­called that Mr. al-ma­liki said his gov­ern­ment treats the peo­ple there as ter­ror­ist groups be­cause the United States lists them as such.

“So he dumped it back on our des­ig­na­tion as the rea­son he was treat­ing them the way he was treat­ing them,” he said.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher­warned Mrs. Clin­ton that the rebels are “in grave dan­ger.”

“There are 3,000 Ira­nian ex­iles who have been re­sid­ing in Iraq . . . be­cause they are en­e­mies of the Ira­nian mul­lah dic­ta­tor­ship,” the Cal­i­for­nia Re­pub­li­can said.

Mrs. Clin­ton de­fended her depart­ment’s han­dling of the group’s nearly 4year-old re­quest for re­moval from the list. As Sec­re­tary of State, Con­doleezza Rice re­jected the re­quest from Camp Ashraf in 2008, but a fed­eral ap­peals court two years later or­dered the State Depart­ment to re­view the re­quest.

“We are deeply con­cerned about the se­cu­rity and safety of these res­i­dents of Camp Ashraf,” Mrs. Clin­ton said. “We con­tinue to work on our re­view of the [PMOI] des­ig­na­tion.”

At­tor­neys for the PMOI this week in­creased pres­sure on the State Depart­ment by fil­ing a re­quest that the fed­eral ap­peals court in Washington or­der Mrs. Clin­ton to re­move the group from the ter­ror­ist list.

Viet Dinh, a for­mer top Jus­tice Depart­ment lawyer now rep­re­sent­ing the re­sis­tance, noted that Mrs. Clin­ton has rec­og­nized the group’s re­unuci­a­tion of vi­o­lence and is “legally bound to delist their or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

“She can­not pocket veto PMOI’S ap­pli­ca­tion for re­vo­ca­tion of its ter­ror­ist sta­tus,” he said.

The group op­er­ated as an armed re­sis­tance against the Ira­nian regime from the Iraqi base as a guest of dic­ta­tor Sad­dam Hus­sein, a bit­ter en­emy of Iran’s.

The rebels sur­ren­dered their weapons to U.S. forces who top­pled Sad­dam in 2003. The U.S. later de­clared them pro­tected un­der in­ter­na­tional law, but Washington turned them over to Iraq on Jan. 1, 2009.

The re­sis­tance has been on the ter­ror­ist list since 1997, when Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton de­clared it a ter­ror­ist group in an at­tempt to im­prove re­la­tions with Iran.

Mr. Dinh on Tues­day filed a writ of man­damus, a le­gal ma­neu­ver that asks a judge to or­der a public agency to ful­fill a statu­tory duty. He said the PMOI’S at­tor­neys want the fed­eral court to “or­der the sec­re­tary of state to delist the group as a for­eign ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Mr. Dinh drew im­me­di­ate sup­port from many for­mer U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials who joined a le­gal brief filed by Alan Der­showitz, a Har­vard Law School pro­fes­sor and one of the top U.S. de­fense lawyers.

Mr. Der­showitz said the for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials and re­tired gen­er­als who joined him in his brief all had ac­cess to in­tel­li­gence on the PMOI or had first­hand deal­ings with the re­sis­tance.

They be­lieve “there is no ev­i­dence that PMOI has the ca­pa­bil­ity or in­tent to en­gage in ter­ror­ism or ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties,” Mr. Der­showitz said.

He also com­plained that the State Depart­ment’s “foot-drag­ging” is “pow­er­ful ev­i­dence” that it can­not jus­tify keep­ing the PMOI on the list.

Oth­ers who joined Mr. Der­showitz in the brief in­clude: for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Michael B. Mukasey; for­mer Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Tom Ridge; for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor Louis J. Freeh; for­mer New York City Mayor Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani; and re­tired Gen. Hugh Shel­ton, a for­mer chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.