Op­pro­brium for friends of Ira­nian dis­si­dents

Honor de­mands bet­ter treat­ment for refugees and their de­fend­ers

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion - By Lord Clarke

The events of the decade since Sept. 11 ac­cen­tu­ate the re­al­ity that fight­ing ter­ror­ism and de­fend­ing the se­cu­rity and wel­fare of the civ­i­lized world is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of ev­ery cit­i­zen, es­pe­cially those in public ser­vice. But when the pur­ported combat against ter­ror­ism turns into a witch hunt, with tac­tics like us­ing slurs, mud­sling­ing and dis­sem­i­nat­ing un­sub­stan­ti­ated claims, that is the time to sound the alarm and to stand in de­fense of the in­sti­tu­tions and val­ues that dis­tin­guish democ­ra­cies from the rest of the world. Un­for­tu­nately, these tac­tics have been em­ployed by some at the U.S. State Depart­ment in deal­ing with the most or­ga­nized and arch-op­po­nents of the cler­i­cal regime rul­ing Iran; namely, the mem­bers of the Peo­ple’s Mu­ja­hedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

What makes the at­ti­tude of the State Depart­ment of­fi­cials even more strik­ing is that in re­cent days they have gone into a higher gear and are us­ing the same tac­tics vis-avis the Amer­i­can dig­ni­taries and for­mer se­nior na­tional se­cu­rity, for­eign pol­icy and in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials and mil­i­tary com­man­ders who be­lieve in the U.S. prin­ci­ples and de­fend the rights of Ira­nian dis­si­dents.

The saga of Ira­nian dis­si­dents ex­tends back to 1997, when the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion — fu­tilely reach­ing out to il­lu­sion­ary mod­er­ates in the Ira­nian regime — placed the PMOI/MEK on the list of For­eign Ter­ror­ist Or­ga­ni­za­tions (FTO). How­ever, the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion goes back to the end of last year.

Af­ter two Tehran-in­spired mas­sacres by the Iraqi armed forces at Camp Ashraf, where 3,400 PMOI mem­bers have been re­sid­ing in Iraq for the past 25 years, Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-ma­liki agreed to let the dis­si­dents be moved to Camp Lib­erty, where they could be in­ter­viewed by the United Na­tions refugee agency prior to evac­u­at­ing them to third coun­tries.

Even though there were great mis­giv­ings, Maryam Ra­javi, the pres­i­dent-elect of the Na­tional Com­mit­tee of Re­sis­tance of Iran (NCRI), which in­cludes the PMOI/MEK, per­suaded 400 Ashraf res­i­dents to go to the new fa­cil­ity, but only with as­sur­ance of their se­cu­rity by the United Na­tions and the United States. How­ever, the Iraqis re­neged on many of the terms, re­duc­ing the size of the camp and adding ev­ery ob­sta­cle pos­si­ble to the Ashraf res­i­dents.

Fi­nally, on Feb. 18 and March 8, two groups to­tal­ing 400 men and women were moved to Camp Lib­erty. But de­spite the lip ser­vice of the State Depart­ment in pro­vid­ing as­sur­ances for the wel­fare and se­cu­rity of the res­i­dents, the con­di­tions at Lib­erty are ob­scene and in­hu­mane. Iraqi armed guards roam all over the place. The area is sur­rounded by high walls, there is no free­dom of move­ment and not even run­ning water.

These con­di­tions — and the be­trayal to U.S. val­ues that they rep­re­sent — have in­vited outrage from an im­pec­ca­ble group con­sist­ing of dozens of for­mer se­nior na­tional se­cu­rity, for­eign pol­icy and in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials and mil­i­tary com­man­ders of four ad­min­is­tra­tions, in­clud­ing three chair­men of the Joints of Chief of Staff, two di­rec­tors of the CIA, an at­tor­ney gen­eral, the first Home­land Se­cu­rity sec­re­tary and a for­mer di­rec­tor of the FBI. They all have re­it­er­ated the United States’ writ­ten com­mit­ment to Ashraf res­i­dents and their pro­tec­tion.

But what was the re­sponse by the State Depart­ment? It pro­duced a salvo of slurs and mud­sling­ing by a face­less anony­mous of­fi­cial.

There are not many is­sues agreed upon by Howard Dean, a for­mer chair­man of the Demo­cratic Party, and John R. Bolton, a U.S. am­bas­sador to the U.N. in the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion. But Mr. Dean and Mr. Bolton, as part of a widerang­ing coali­tion of for­mer U.S. of­fi­cials, have sup­ported the guar­an­tee of min­i­mum rights of Camp Lib­erty res­i­dents and delist­ing of the PMOI/MEK, as the con­se­quence of a rul­ing by the U.S. Court of Ap­peals in Washington. Such an un­com­mon unity points to­ward only one con­clu­sion: There must be some merit to the po­si­tion of these of­fi­cials.

It is shame­ful and dis­grace­ful con­duct for some at the State Depart­ment to slur the most se­nior U.S. of­fi­cials in or­der to con­tinue a de­funct, failed pol­icy and in or­der to ap­pease the tyrants in Bagh­dad and their mas­ters in Tehran.

As W. Clement Stone said: “Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing be­cause it is right. These are the magic keys to liv­ing your life with in­tegrity.” I be­lieve at this cru­cial time for the peo­ple of Ashraf, the United States must pick up the keys and un­lock the truth.

This is ex­actly what these for­mer se­nior Amer­i­can of­fi­cials are do­ing. What do those anony­mous of­fi­cials at Foggy Bot­tom stand for? The safety and se­cu­rity of 3,400 Ira­nian dis­si­dents aside, is the valor and pres­tige of the free world a mat­ter of bar­gain­ing?

The an­swer is a re­sound­ing no.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY JOHN CAMEJO

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