Alan Dershowitz: Solution to Ashraf crisis is in the hands of US President

Stop Fundamentalism – In a conference held in Paris on Camp Ashraf December 10, Alan Dershowitz, renowned civil liberties lawyer and a distinguished defender of individual rights, warned President Obama about the consequences of inaction and silence against the looming humanitarian tragedy in Ashraf before meeting with Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“What the United States can do is so simple and so obvious.  We have the power to prevent this from happening.  We have the power to prevent the camp from closing.  We have the power to make the Iraqi government act responsibly,” said Dershowitz.

 “This (Ashraf) is a problem that is easily solvable and the solution is in the hands of this administration.  It is in the hands of the president of the United States, who is meeting with the head of Iraq, and if the president of the United States sits silent during that meeting, the head of Iraq will leave that meeting thinking he has an imprimatur to go ahead and close Camp Ashraf,” warned Dershowitz adding, “Silence is not an option for the president.  Silence is complicity.  Silence is facilitation. Silence is permission.  And silence in some contexts can be a crime.” 

“The criminal law criminalizes omissions, criminalizes the failure to act when there is a responsibility to act.  Crimes are not only actions—they are inactions as well,” Said Dershowitz. “International law has previously been applied to those who by their inaction have allowed or facilitated massacres and the United States government is in a position whereby its silence, it may become complicit in a crime.  Our country doesn’t want to do that.  We are a great country.  We have a moral president, a moral secretary of state.  We have moral people in positions of authority.  We want to do the right thing.”

Quoting from the Bible, he continued, “It’s easy not to act, but failure to act clearly is a responsibility.  The Bible says, ‘Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.’  It could have been describing Camp Ashraf today.  We cannot stand idly by the blood of the inmates of that camp.”

“So we must not sit silently by.  We must not see it happen yet again.  We must act to protect these vulnerable individuals.  If we fail to do so, the blood of innocents will be on our collective hands.  There is no time to wait.  The clock of death is ticking.  If not now, when?”

Dershowitz was speaking at a conference in Paris about the fate of the residents of Camp Ashraf as the December 31 deadline set by Iraq’s PM Nouri al-Maliki, who is visiting Washington today, is nearing.  Guest speakers at the conference included General Phillips, US Army; Governor Richardson, former US Ambassador to United Nations; Andrew Card, former White House Chief of Staff; Mitchell Reiss, Former director of the Office of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department; and Congressman Patrick Kennedy.