‘ACT OF SUPPRESSION’
A top House Republican denounced the Treasury Department on Thursday for investigating former U.S. officials campaigning to remove an Iranian dissident group from the State Department terrorist list.
“This is a travesty, a sin, that our government is going after these people trying to support the people of Iran,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California.
“This is an act of suppression in our country. This is as un-american as I have seen.”
Mr. Rohrabacher, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs oversight and investigations subcommittee, vowed to find out who “is behind this effort.”
The Washington Times earlier this month reported that the Treasury Department is investigating speaking fees paid to former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a longtime Democratic Party leader. Mr. Rendell said he received fees from Iranian exiles and American citizens who support their cause. Payments to U.S. citizens from groups on the terrorist list are illegal.
Mr. Rendell is among a group of prominent Americans demanding that the State Department remove the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran from the terrorist list. The group includes a former attorney general and a former secretary of Homeland Security. More than 250 members of Congress also support the Iranian dissidents.
Mr. Rohrabacher spoke at a reception held in the House Foreign Affairs Committee Room to mark the Iranian New Year.
Retired Army Col. Wesley Martin said he developed close ties with the Iranian resistance when he served as the U.S. counterterrorism commander in Iraq, where the group has been based since the 1980s.
“They are not our enemy. They are our ally,” he said.
He accused the State Department of ignoring a 2004 law that requires terrorists on the list to be foreign, to present a threat to the United States and to possess an intent to attack America.
“Since 2004, they have been grossly and illegally on the list,” he said of the dissidents.
Iranian-americans from as far away as Texas and California traveled to Washington for the celebration of the year 1391 on the Persian calender.
Rep. Ileana Ros-lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and host of the reception, noted that the New Year marks the 33rd since the Iranian theocracy rose to power in 1979.
“Maybe this New Year will mark a new day for human rights and freedom in Iran,” the Florida Republican said.