February 19, 2018

RAND Report

A Brief Review of RAND’s Flawed Report on MEK

In July 2009, just days before a deadly attack by the Iraqi Army on Camp Ashraf, killing 11 unarmed and defenseless residents and injuring hundreds more, the RAND National Defense Research Institute published a federally-funded monograph, entitled The Mujahedin-e Khalq: A Policy Conundrum, for the Multi-National Force-Iraq, Task Force 134 (Detainee Operations), regarding the situation of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK) in Camp Ashraf, Iraq. The report offers flawed and disastrous recommendations regarding the final disposition of Camp Ashraf residents.

The nartional security reasearch firm, ExecutiveAction LLC,  in February 2010, released a detailed analysis of the RAND Report, calling the document “deeply flawed” and “polemical.”

Read the complete ExceutiveAction analysis Courting Disaster: A Response to the Report “The Mujahedin-e Khalq: A Policy Conundrum” by RAND National Defense Research Institute.’

 According to Neil C. Livingstone, Chairman and CEO of ExecutiveAction, LLC, the report appears to have been written to “justify the destruction of the MeK as a group, without regard to their lives or the consequences of the U.S. committing grave breaches of international law.”

The Mujahedin-e Khalq (People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran) or MEK, is a major Iranian opposition group, whose members primarily reside in Camp Ashraf.  Membership in the organization is a capital crime under Iran’s penal code. There are approximately 3,400 residents of Camp Ashraf, of which 1,000 are women. In a subject of such extreme importance and sensitivity, the monograph cannot be used as a credible reference on the MEK and meaningful tool for U.S. policymakers, given the following:

•     The report’s conclusion that the United States should, in violation of international law, encourage the Government of Iraq to involuntarily deport the entire population of Ashraf to Iran, not only endangers the lives of these innocent individuals, but advises the United States to effectively engage in the very breach of international law norms that it has vowed to uphold as a matter of its fundamental policy and as a protector of human rights.

•     In presenting facts, analysis, and conclusions, the authors omit material and relevant information, fail to consider alternative viewpoints, and exclude relevant and credible information that is on the record, including those from two former U.S. military commanders of Camp Ashraf which contradicts the main recommendations of the report.

•     There are significant problems with the assertions and citations in the monograph. Some citations are of dubious value as they rely on supporters of the Iranian government. In addition, a good number of key propositions are advanced without citations at all.

•    The monograph fails to abide by RAND’s proclaimed “high standards for research quality and objectivity.”  The report’s authors lack the necessary expertise and present a polemical and one-sided report. The monograph’s subject matter requires a deep historical background and a thorough and unbiased understanding of the issues involved. 

In sum, the monograph is based on a deeply flawed factual foundation and its findings and recommendations are therefore highly suspect. Unsurprisingly, the Government of Iran has seized on the report to justify its longstanding campaign to seek the involuntary deportation of the Ashraf community to Iran.