February 19, 2018

Howard Dean Again Calls for MEK Delisting

In an interview with the National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation, Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont, debunked the allegations recently leveled by Elizabeth Rubin, a contributor to The New York Times Sunday Review, against Iranian opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).

More significant, however, were Governor Dean’s remarks about the two core issues in the ongoing debate in Washington concerning the removal of the group from the State Department’s terrorism blacklist as well as the moral and legal responsibility of the United States for protection of 3,400 unarmed and defenseless members of the group in Camp Ashraf, Iraq.

Mr. Dean, who also served as the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009, told the program’s host, Neil Conan, that:

“I don’t believe innocent people who we promised, the United States government, has promised protection should be murdered in cold blood, which they were by the [Iraqi Prime Minster Nouri al-] Maliki administration in April of this year, when he sent American-trained troops with American weapons in to shoot in cold blood unarmed civilians who we promised in writing to protect. That is what happened. This is not an issue of whether these people are a cult or any of this other stuff. This is an issue about whether America is going to keep its word and whether we value human rights. We risk being like the Dutch at Srebrenica, when they pulled their troops back and allowed 8,000 Bosnian Muslims to be murdered in cold blood, unarmed. And we’re – I don’t want to do that again.

“We have video of sniper attacks on these people. The snipers just going into – the Iraqi snipers with our weapons, going into these camps and just shooting these people like it was for sport – women, eight women, then they cut off medical care and two or three more people died who were injured. This is not something the American government ought to put up with.”

As for the need to remove the MEK from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) and allegations of involvement in terrorism leveled against the group by Washington and Tehran, Howard Dean reminded the program’s host that:

“We brought, the American government brought, some of the counterterrorism specialists and the FBI in who interviewed every single one of those 3,400 disarmed people and found that not one of them had ties to terrorism or to terrorists. So they are unarmed. They are not terrorists. Furthermore, this has been litigated in European and American courts. And the MEK has prevailed in every single judicial enterprise. They’re off the terrorist list by court order in Britain, in France, in the European Union. And the Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., has said they did not have due process in 1997 when they were put on the terrorist list. So, you know, you can say whatever you want about these people being in a cult or any of that kind of stuff, or my getting paid as a speaker or whatever you want. That has nothing to do with the issue. The issue is does the United States stand by and allow 3,400 unarmed people, who we disarmed in good faith, to be massacred by the Maliki regime. And 34 of those – 35 of those people have already been killed in cold blood.”

When asked about Elizabeth Rubin’s unfounded and Tehran-friendly description of the group as a “cult” and mistreatment of its members in Camp Ashraf, Governor Dean answered:

“I do know this, there have been two commanders of the American forces who were in Ashraf when we controlled all of Iraq who are supporting the position that they ought to be taken off the terrorist list. One of them testified under oath before Dana Rohrabacher’s committee, which had a hearing on July 7th, that he saw no evidence of this whatsoever. Another one who is not taking speaker’s fees, and certainly isn’t wealthy on his colonel’s pension, is also testifying and making speeches on their behalf. These people were on the ground after Mrs. Rubin was in Ashraf, and they saw no evidence of all this cult business and all that kind of stuff either.”

In her Sunday op-ed piece in the New York Times, Rubin, who told Neil Conan she has never interviewed Maryam Rajavi or even met her, embarked on a malicious mischaracterization of Rajavi, the MEK’s leadership and rank-and-file by merely quoting individuals affiliated with Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security. Howard Dean, however, set the record straight by describing his own personal encounter with Rajavi. He told Neil Conan that:

“I have actually had dinner with Mrs. Rajavi on numerous occasions. I do not find her very terrorist-like. She is an observant Muslim woman who’s very well-educated, as most of these people are, who speak many foreign languages because most of them have lived in Europe or the United States, including at least one who worked for the Defense Department for 20 years. This is not a scary group of people. And in the past, who knows what they did. But the fact of the matter is they’re not a terrorist group. That’s been ascertained by the FBI. We disarmed them. We promised to defend them. They are unarmed. And 47 of them over a two-year period were mowed down by Maliki’s people. And I don’t think the United States should be permitting those kinds of human rights abuses.”

Howard Dean’s August 15 interview is a great example of how a little truth evaporates a whole bunch of lies.