By all indications, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is about to release the result of her Department’s court-mandated review of the January 2009 designation of the Iranian opposition MEK, as Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Legal experts agree that the mere observance of the Law, subtle suggestions of the US Court of Appeals, and the statuary requirements, would lead her to one and only one outcome: End the MEK’s designation. This could very well explain the State Department’s delaying tactics to announce the review.
It also explains the impetus behind the frantic outburst of the anti-MEK Tehran-instigated propaganda campaign in recent weeks. The main goal of this campaign, orchestrated by well-known Tehran lobbies in Washington and implemented by a web of similarly well-known advocates of the status quo in Iran is to shift the focus of Sec. Clinton’s review from a “Rule of Law” foundation and prevent the de-designation.
The truth – very hard to swallow by this anti-MEK crowd – is that the Sate Department does not have even an iota of credible evidence satisfying the statuary requirements. Members of Congress are at awe why the State Department does not remove the group from its blacklist or why it is so reluctant to even share its credible evidence – if it has any – with the Congress.
Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade noted last year when he chaired the Subcommittee that:
“I have been an advocate year after year for having the State Department explain what are the criteria under which the MEK has been put on the terrorist list … I have difficulty understanding what has the MEK done, anything remotely, in recent times, that causes the MEK to be on that list. I do know there is no entity more feared, more hated by the mullahs who run Iran than the MEK, which is perhaps the finest compliment that could be paid to that organization.”
Later in 2010, he remarked that:
“Our focus is on: Should the MEK be on the foreign terrorist list? The European Union says no, the US Court of Appeals says that the State Department failed to do its job, and sent them back to do their job… I asked the State Department for a classified briefing on this issue. Any of you who have gotten to know foreign policy from a congressional standpoint will understand when I say, “sometimes you learn more from the classified briefings they won’t give you than from the classified briefings they do give you.”
“The refusal to provide this not just to me, but to the relevant subcommittee was received just yesterday. I therefore asked the intelligence community to provide such a briefing… I’ve been pressing for this briefing for over a month and the variety of different excuses that I got shows that creativity is alive and well in the State Department…
Rep. Sherman, well-known for his anti-terrorism credentials and expertise, offers a very illuminating explanation for the State Department’s foot-dragging. “What it comes down to is that the State Department doesn’t know which way they want to slant the facts before they present it to us because they haven’t figured out what they’re going to do.”
Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) has also echoed similar dismay about the non-existence of terrorism-related evidence in the “classified” documents of the State Department. Late last year he told a Congressional briefing that:
“Why has the State Department refused to brief the Subcommittee chaired by Mr. Sherman on the delisting of the MEK?… I want to know what information the State Department has that it’s so relentless on your part that they should remain on this list. Do you know that information?”
The Texas lawmaker, after months of delay, eventually received the “classified” information and in June told the Houston Chronicle that “I have not been convinced they should remain on the list,” adding that he has received both classified and non-classified briefings from the State Department and has yet to see evidence that marks the group as a terrorists. “Iran wants them on the terrorist list. That should be a red flag,” Rep. Poe added.
Many respectable and die-hard patriots in America’s national security circles, from four-star generals to former heads of Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have gone on the record to say the MEK is not a terrorist entity, far from it; it is an ally and a regional partner for fight on terrorism and the Islamic fundamentalism.
Against this backdrop, Secretary Clinton must de-designate the MEK. To maintain the designation would constitute a travesty of justice and the Rule of law and would be viewed as a clear sign of submission to the pressure brought upon by the anti-MEK Tehran-apologists and their anti-Iranian sinister campaign against the MEK.