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.
Gov. Ed Rendell: Washington D.C., April 6, 2012 – Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, All. I never knew obtaining a subpoena from your own government would be so much fun. (Laughter.)
You know, we watched the tape before the speaker started. We’d seen that tape before; I’d seen it on-line, not nearly as vividly as the tape that was shown here. But it made me think about the whole short history I’ve had with all of you with the PMOI and MEK with Madam Rajavi and it made me just absolutely disgusted that our government has spent so much of our treasure, money, yes, but more importantly the lives of over 4,000 men and women to put in place a government that would do that, it’s absolutely stunning.
I’ve always believed, your leadership has heard me say this over and over again, that we have not done a good job. We have done a good job in moving the ball in some ways, but we have not done a good job in getting what this is all about in front of the American people.
If the American people saw that tape, if that was on a show like 60 Minutes, there would be outrage sweeping this country that 4,000 of our sons and daughters died to install a government that would do that. I don’t care who they did that to, to kill defenseless people using U.S. vehicles and U.S. weapons.
Some of you heard me say the hardest thing I did as Governor of Pennsylvania, and I never expected it when I took office, but the hardest thing I had to do was contact parents, wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters of Pennsylvania guardsmen who were killed in Iraq, over 45, and try to console them and make some sense out of why their son or daughter had died.
And I always said, particularly at the beginning, I always said, look, we’re trying our best to restore freedom to a wonderful land, a land whose culture gave this world so much and contributed so much to the early development of man and womankind. And those people are going to be better off. We’re going to give them a government, a democratic government and we’re going to place their own faith in their own hands and they can be free again and that’s why your son died.
And if I were Governor today, I’m not sure I could say that again. How in God’s name did we let that happen? How in God’s name did we pull our troops who were nearby during the ’09 and 2011 incidents, how did we pull our troops out and not use those troops to say, hold it, we fought hard for freedom here and we’re not going to let any slaughter take place.
I would love to find out who issued the order to pull American troops back. I just can’t understand. I can’t understand anything about this.
You know, I’ve always considered myself to be very smart, not as smart as Professor Dershowitz or General Mukasey, but I’ve always considered myself to be very smart. For the life of me I can’t understand what we are doing here. I can’t understand why we are so afraid to honor our commitment.
General Mukasey and Professor Dershowitz told you, we made a commitment, maybe a legally enforceable commitment to each and every resident of Ashraf. But it sure as heck was a more laterally enforceable commitment when the United States from one of its generals says, we’re going to protect you. That should have a full faith and credit of the United States Government behind it and we should never have violated that. We should never have pulled our troops. We should never have agreed to have this process where we’re vacating Ashraf from the beginning.
What was the need to leave Ashraf? Nobody has ever explained to me why the Iraqi government is so insistent on that.
The only explanation we ever got was, well, there might be intimidation in Ashraf and the UN immigration process couldn’t take place. Well then set up a little venue half mile down the road to do it and drive people to that if you’re worried about intimidation.
None of the problems we’re facing today would have occurred had we stayed in Ashraf and we should have put our foot down. We still have tremendous leverage in the Iraqi government, we’ve been reluctant to use it.
This is a jungle of contradictions. Think of the contradictions here. Some of them Professor Dershowitz and General Mukasey already pointed out.
First of all, the contradictions involving of us, all of us under investigation for having spoken before rallies like this and rallies in Europe and taken some compensation for it. On the one hand we’re being investigated by the Treasury Department of the United States of America. On the other hand the State Department meets with us by telephone conference regularly every couple of weeks and asks us to persuade the leadership in Paris to do something.
So the Treasury is investigating us for contact with the MEK, the State Department asked us to have contact with the MEK. (Applause.) Can someone explain that to me? (Laughter.) I’m not smart enough to understand. (Laughter.)
The second contradiction, in the midst of all this, the Secretary General of the United Nations urges people, including Americans, to give money to the MEK to help the relocation process. Wait a second. If every American citizen, who heeds the Secretary General’s call, are they going to be subject to investigation. It’s like Alison In wonderland in the mad hatter is in charge here.
Next, Secretary Clinton, a person who I respect and admire deeply, said that we fully support the MOU; the U.S. fully supports the MOU that was executed between the United Nations and government of Iraq in December. Well, we fully support it but we have let the government of Iraq systematically violate tenant after tenant of the MOU and the United States Government has stood by and done nothing to enforce the MOU that we support. Why? Can anybody tell me why?
We have leverage over the Maliki government, they need our supplies and our arms. Why are we afraid to stand up and say no, you agreed to this MOU, you agreed to things that you are violating right now. To say that the people of Ashraf can’t take their personal property, the cars, all of the things in the MOU. We were originally promised, what, 80 acres and now we’re down to less than two acres. Where has the U.S. Government been? We fully support the MOU, but not really.
Next contradiction, we always heard, don’t get upset if the conditions in Liberty are not as good as the conditions in Ashraf because Ashraf was somewhat permanent residence. Liberty is going to be a transitory camp, temporary transitory camp. People are going in and out and you can’t expect the same conditions. It’s not a refugee camp; it’s a transitory camp.
Well, the UNHCR process is moving along at a pace of one real interview a day. If you extrapolate that, it will take eight to nine years for all 3,400 residents to be relocated to other countries. Eight to nine years.
Doesn’t the U.S. have the power to go to the UNHCR and say, uh-uh, six a day. If we did six a day, everyone is gone in 18 months and maybe that could be considered to be a transitory camp. But if we’re not going to do that, let’s build the refugee camp with the standards of a refugee camp and let’s let the refugees of Camp Liberty to have movement and leave the camp at will like any refugee camp, either/or, right? (Applause.)
There’s no excuse for the pace that’s been undertaken. If we need more personnel, get more personnel. When I was Governor, if somebody reported something like this to me and it was because there weren’t enough personnel, I’d have found personnel.
Ambassador Bolton, how many employees does the UN have?
MR. BOLTON: Tens of thousands.
MR. RENDELL: Do you think we can find a few people to expedite the process? You bet we can. All we need is the will to do it.
In America, we praise our troops as we should, brave men and women who put their lives on the line fighting for our deals.
We lionize our generals, they’re great heroes and leaders and people who defended this country under difficult circumstances and yet seven generals are being investigated because of their contact with the MEK.
If the American people knew that, you know, I know why they’d pick me first, I was only second lieutenant. If I were a general, they never would have picked me first. Can you imagine if the first subpoena went out to General Shelton. We’d had a riot in this country. What’s wrong with that? Aren’t generals heroes? They’re not allowed to speak their word or mind? And the generals are ones that knew more than the politicians and General Mukasey and Professor Dershowitz. The generals were there. They know the people of Ashraf. They know what’s going on over there. Are we listening to them? We listen to them on other important things, we should be listening to them here. (Applause.)
And then you have Professor Dershowitz showed me on the iPhone what he just told me about the New Yorker article. If that’s true, I’m not only going to ask for a withdraw of the subpoena, I’m going to ask for an apology. If the U.S. Government was doing what they’re accusing us of doing, I’m going to ask for an apology. (Applause.)
But lastly the biggest contradiction of all is the contradiction of American values and ideals.
I grew up as an idealist. I grew up being taught that America was a very special place. That we stood for things that no other country in the history of the world has stood for. That we were the beacon of hope and democracy and freedom and that we were going to make sure that people around the world weren’t brutalized and terrorized and subject to genocide and I believe that.
And a long time later from the time I grew up, I still believe it. I still believe that’s what we should be. I still believe that that’s what America should stand for. I still believe there are people in China and Benghazi who look to America as the last hope to enforce freedom and decency and liberty in this world and I believe we have got to get back to those I deals.
The MEK should be de-listed. But more importantly, every single person in Ashraf should be protected. We should expedite them. We should let them go on living their lives because they counted on us. They relied on the good faith and credit of the United States Government and darn it, if this country stands for anything, we have got to fulfill that promise. Thank you. (Applause.)