Alan Dershowitz: Camp Liberty, a fraud involving threats to human life

“This is a scandal.  This is a fraud; a fraud not involving money, but a fraud involving threats to human life.

What we need immediately is a commission of inquiry to determine how this fraud was perpetrated. Who certified, who approved that hell hole, that garbage dump?  Who said that it met United Nation’s standards?”

Text of speech by Prof. Alan Dershowitz in a symposium in Washington D.C. on February 25, 2012.

Prof. Alan Dershowitz:  That incredible video must be seen by every American, by every government official and by everyone who cares about human rights.  It is evidence, evidence of an unfolding scandal and an unfolding humanitarian crisis.

I look at our brilliant panel and I wonder what Rudy Giuliani would have done if somebody had tried to file a stock offering which showed Camp Liberty in the way it was originally shown when the reality is what we’ve seen, they’d be in jail so fast for stock fraud, for violating the expectations of people.  This is a scandal.  This is a fraud; a fraud not involving money, but a fraud involving threats to human life.

What we need immediately is a commission of inquiry to determine how this fraud was perpetrated. Who certified, who approved that hell hole, that garbage dump?  Who said that it met United Nation’s standards?

Somebody is responsible for perpetrating that fraud and for getting 400 innocent people to risk their lives and their health to be exposed to that kind of trash and that kind of hazard to their health.  We have to get to the bottom of this In my view, I’m not making these decisions, but I don’t believe that anybody should be required to live under those circumstances and unless and until the 400 that are there are moved to safe places out of Iraq where nobody can trust the Iraqi government to protect them and into safe havens, no one else should be required to move from the safety and beauty, self-made beautifully built residences and schools and athletic facilities and other facilities at Camp Ashraf to this horrible, horrible place Look, if it truly is designed to keep people for a couple of days until they are moved to a safer place, one could understand perhaps, even justify that.  But if this is to be a place where people are expected to live, my God, what kind of humanity would compel people who are protected individuals under the United Nations to whom the United States made a sacred promise to make this their home.  This is not a home.

This is not something that people should be required to live in but let me tell you what is going on.  It is much more serious than that because I’m on the phone repeatedly with people from the State Department and from the United Nations and we know that they are blaming the victims, they are blaming the victims.

They are issuing reports saying, well, it was the victims who threw the garbage, it was the victims who turned on the water and used up the waterspouts, it was the victims who made the place unlivable.  That is the oldest excuse in the world.

Look at what they built at Camp Ashraf when they had an opportunity to create and to build and look at what was being given to them.  Don’t blame the victims.

We have two emergencies:  Now, we have the existing emergency of the facility itself.  But we also have the continuing humanitarian emergency that every day, every day that a member of Camp Ashraf lives in Iraq is a day that they do not know whether they will complete that day in safety or alive.

We have seen what the Iraqis are prepared to do.  Now, that Iraq has become basically a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iran, now that Maliki is taking orders from the Mullahs, we know what the Mullahs would do with the residents if they could get their hands on them.  There is just no basis for continuing trust.  And therefore the main issue is to get these innocent people out of Iraq and to safety in places around the world where they can live in peace.

Both of these humanitarian crises are exacerbated by the fact that the MEK continues to be listed as an armed terrorist organization.

The State Department, our State Department, is sending conflicting messages. On the one hand we’re hearing from Ambassador Fried and from others, and I believe him, that we really want to help the people from Camp Ashraf.  We want to get them out.  That’s the State Department’s goal.

On the other hand, the State Department has refused to delist.  They’ve had a mandate from a court in front of them for a year and a half, and they’ve refused to act on it.

They have violated the will of Congress that gave them a certain number of days to act on the decision and they’ve refused to do so and third, they continue to place the problem on the Ashrafies as does the United Nations.

Look, this is part of a larger problem. This is not the time to speak about it here; Part of a larger problem.  The United States administration today is talking with two voices on Iran itself.  On the one hand we will not tolerate nuclear weapons; on the other hand maybe Iran really hasn’t decided to make a nuclear bomb.

We’re hearing conflicting voices and they send a green light message:  Do what you’re doing, don’t change; we do not have a unified approach.

Let me tell you, one of the greatest privileges of my professional life, which is going on half a century now, is what I’m doing right now.  I am representing a group of the best clients I’ve ever represented in my life.  I am representing the former Attorney General of the United States, the former mayor of New York, the former Governor of Pennsylvania and head of National Security, the variety of generals we have decided to file an amicus brief.

They are filing the brief.  They’re the clients; I’m merely the lawyer. They are the clients and they are speaking with one voice, one voice.  And the message they are sending the court and message they are sending the State Department and the message they are sending the world is MEK is not a terrorist organization.  It should be delisted immediately.

I not only speak for these distinguished people who have served their country. They have served their country with such distinction; some of them on the field of combat; some of them in the most responsible positions of government.  They are speaking with one voice and I’m pleased to be able to represent them.

But I can also speak for others.  I can speak for Elie Wiesel, my dear friend who I spoke to recently about this and who said I should communicate to you and I should communicate to the world on his behalf his commitment to this humanitarian issue and he said he will not rest until he can be sure that these folks are safe.

Elie Wiesel, his family was lost because we did not prevent a genocide in 1939 to 1945. It’s a rare opportunity for human rights advocates to be in a position where we can prevent harm.  That’s rare.  Normally we come in after the fact.

We look at genocides that have been committed in Rwanda and Darfur.  We look at what’s going on in Syria and say we can’t do anything and we’ll moan and groan after it’s all over.  We’ll look to hold people responsible.  We’ll take some people and bring them in front of the International Criminal Court for trial.  But this is a opportunity to prevent the humanitarian disaster.  How rarely in life do we get that opportunity? As I said to you before, both the Torah and the Koran say, he who saves a single human life it’s as if we have saved the world.

We have an opportunity to safe more than 3,000 human lives.  We cannot fail.  We must keep up the pressure.

There are those in the government who have criticized us for putting pressure on them.  Pressure is the weapon of democracy.  That’s what democracy is all about. Everybody on this panel believes to the depth of their soul that America has not kept its promise.  America must keep its promise.  We must keep up the pressure.  It is the essence of democracy to petition our government for redress of grievances.

It’s easy to do when we petition for a redress of grievances against us.  But it’s so much holier and so much more important and influential when we are advocating on behalf of others and we here today must continue to petition our government for a redress of grievances against those who are living in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty and most important to prevent a greater humanitarian crisis.

So keep up the pressure and thank you very much.


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