When there’s no good answer, people sometimes – actually often – try to obfuscate with false information. That surely was the case at the recent U.S. Court of Appeals hearing involving the terrorist designation of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK). I was present during the hearing and was stunned with how the Government handled this case.
This case has been dragging on for almost two years, as the State Department continues to block efforts by the PMOI to have the wrongful listing removed. Similar efforts in the UK and EU were successful years ago, but the U.S. – for reasons still unknown – continues to resist.
Finally, on May 8, the judges of the appeals court for the District of Columbia, asked the State Department lawyers why they should not issue a writ of mandamus implementing the court’s earlier ruling to review the terrorist designation.
Simple question – but astonishing answer.
The State Department’s lawyer replied that the U.S. had not had the opportunity to inspect Camp Ashraf, the home in Iraq to 4,300 Iranian dissidents, and claimed that the U.S. military was not allowed to confirm if the residents there had been disarmed.
There’s that “big lie” technique again; the bigger the lie, the more likely it may be believed. But this disingenuous answer begs belief. In 2003, after the U.S.-led coalition forces overthrew Saddam Hussein, American officials interviewed every single person at Ashraf, inspected the site, and accepted responsibility to assure security there under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Many American military commanders who had responsibility for Ashraf all have attested to the fact that Ashraf has been disarmed and was peaceful, and indeed thriving, until the U.S. turned over control of the camp to the Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki, who by then was totally under the thumb of the mullahs in Tehran. Gen. Raymond Odierno (then 4th ID commander) in a video teleconference from Baghdad on June 18, 2003, stated that MEK ‘have been completely disarmed. We have taken all small arms and all heavy equipment.”
To be blunt, the State Department lawyer contradicted all the facts about what has happened over the past nine years. No wonder then that a representative of Ashraf residents, after hearing these total misrepresentations, wrote to Secretary Clinton asking her to send inspection teams to once again inspect Camp Ashraf.