A group of prominent former officials say they refuse to abandon their support for the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and their efforts to have the group removed from the State Department’s terrorist list, despite indirect warnings from the Treasury Department that their support for the group could constitute a crime.
Ambassador Reiss: Washington D.C., April 6, 2012 – Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests and all those in the audience and watching around the world who cherish freedom and democracy, thank you for being here today. I’m honored to be with you and be on this dias with so many remarkable Americans…
We have some of America’s most distinguished published servants, most decorated military officers, and most respected diplomats. A true collection of outstanding American leaders. Or, as the Treasury Department would prefer to call us for our supporting the de-listing of the MEK, potential criminals.
We come here today at a time when members of the media are trying to slander our efforts to safeguard the brave men, women and children at Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty. We come here today at a time when anonymous State Department officials are trying to question our motives and our morals.
We come together today at a time when some people in the U.S. Government are trying to intimidate us from speaking out on behalf of what we know is right and just.
Our presence here this morning is a rebuke to those who oppose this cause. We will —
We will not be intimidated, discouraged and we will not be silenced.
And most importantly, most importantly, we come here today at a time of grave concern over the situation at Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty.
The State Department has continued to refuse to de-list the MEK, even after almost two full years since it was directed to address this issue by the DC District Court.
The excuse for this delay we’re told is that the Secretary of State is too busy. That she has frequent travel. That her full attention is devoted to rapidly changing events elsewhere around the world.
Now, I’ve worked at the State Department and I can appreciate the heavy burdens that the Secretary has to bear. But even though we think the case for de-listing is clear and overwhelming, no one really expects Secretary Clinton personally to pour through all the file about the MEK; she has help.
The State Department has over 55,000 employees. The Secretary has a personal staff of highly competent people. She has an entire legal department at her disposal and her department of near-eastern affairs is one of the largest in the entire building.
In other words, there really is no excuse for her delay in determining the status of the MEK.
Now, it’s possible that one reason for this delay may be the State Department’s confusion over who belongs on a foreign terrorist organization list and who doesn’t.
Let me see if I can help by describing to you some of the activities of the Haqqani network, a militant group based in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
According to the New York Times, the Haqqani are the Sopranos of the Afghanistan war. A ruthless crime family that built an empire out of kidnapping, extortion and smuggling. The American officials consider the Haqqani network the most deadly insurgent group in Afghanistan. It’s responsible for killings across the country and terrorizing the population on both sides of the Afghan-Pak border. Units of the Haqqani network act as death squads and one of these units alone has been responsible for at least 250 assassinations and public executions.
Another unit is possible for a mass beheading of 10 people last summer.
Further, American and Afghan officials attribute the deadly attacks last September on the American Embassy and NATO command in Kabul to the Haqqani network.
The New York Times article goes on, it says that the Haqqani network is a crucial ally of al-Qaeda along the Afghan Pakistan border.
By any definition, the Haqqani network is not only a terrorist organization, it is one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations and it continues to target and kill Americans.
But if you thought that the Haqqani network was listed by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization, you’d be wrong. Remarkably the State Department has not listed it as a foreign terrorist organization.
But for some reason the MEK is listed. The people who turn Camp Ashraf into an oasis in the middle of war torn Iraq. The people who formed an orchestra that plays classical music. Helped U.S. identify covert nuclear sites inside Iran. The people that put their faith in the protection by the U.S. Government. These people are listed as members of a foreign terrorist organization.
So it’s easy to see why some folks at the State Department might be confused, even bewildered. And in a sense that’s where we’re here today.
It’s clear that Secretary Clinton and the State Department need our help. They need us to explain to them why the MEK does not belong on this list.
As you know, this is not the first time we have tried to explain this to them. Many of us have done so repeatedly over the past few years. It appears they have some slow learners at the State Department. Sadly this happens. We all have schoolmates that never read the homework or pay attention to the teacher. That appears to be the case now.
The good news is that we have some expert teachers with us this morning and they, and all of us, will continue to try to educate and explain why the State Department needs to de-list the MEK immediately.
MR. REISS: Before we introduce our speakers today, I understand we will first see a brief video. Thank you