November 22, 2017

Michael Rubin and the Mujahedeen-e Khalq

Originally published on www.stopfundamentalism.com
Commentary by  Ali Safavi
 
As Iran’s main opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), earns a well-deserved spotlight around the world, Michael Rubin’s sagging fortunes have compelled him to lambast the organization once more. In a commentary last week, Rubin churned out another rant against the MEK. Although coated with a thin layer of supposedly calm and rational argument, the piece is bloated with clear bias and unjustified accusations.

Both in this commentary and in an earlier article, Rubin is distraught and annoyed about the growing list of top former US government officials and Members of Congress, including the Republican Presidential hopeful, Michele Bachmann, calling for the MEK to be scratched off the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. The group was designated in 1997 in an attempt to open dialogue with Tehran.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey said in June 18, 2011 gathering of tens of thousands of Iranians in Paris, “After all, if an organisation cannot be treated under the law as a foreign terrorist organisation, unless it either engages in terrorism that threatens the welfare of the United States or has the capability and intent to do so, then the MEK which has renounced violence should have no difficulty getting itself off that list.  And so in July 2010, the MEK won a ruling from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit that the Secretary of State must reconsider the designation of MEK as a foreign terrorist organisation because the information she was relying on was not sufficient.”  Judge Mukasey is in agreement with a Federal Court of Appeals ruling last July and hundreds of members of Congress, not to mention a roster of former security, intelligence and diplomatic officials around the world.

But Rubin begs to disagree. “I consider the MKO a terrorist group,” he overconfidently proclaimed in the earlier commentary. Well then!

In his July 3 commentary, he adds that, “The only thing that can make Iranians rally around their current leadership is American outreach to the MKO.” That preposterous logic betrays the fact that the MEK is seen around the world as the largest and most organized opposition to the Iranian regime. To find an analogous case, that is like saying the only thing that could make the French rally around the Vichy regime was an international outreach to the Free French forces. It is clearly faulty logic. Indeed, if what Mr. Rubin says is true, then Tehran should be delighted if Washington reached out to the MEK!! To the contrary, mullahs are paranoid about the MEK and have made it a major priority to prevent its removal from the US watch list.

Five years ago, I debunked the utterly ludicrous allegations he had recycled in the article and borrows from Iranian intelligence services in full detail. Rubin, unsurprisingly, fails to mention it.

Rubin, who periodically baffles readers with his anti-MEK slurs, rumor mongering and outlandish lies, grabs onto whatever straw he can, even accusing the group of “making up” intelligence about the Iranian regime’s nuclear program (never mind that the group’s revelations in 2002 and dozens of subsequent press conferences triggered the IAEA’s investigations into the regime’s program and were described by a senior analyst at the Los Alamos National Laboratory as being “correct 90 percent of the time”).

The only party engaged in “making up” lies is Rubin himself. He says the MEK has no support inside Iran (another interesting verdict). “During my time in Iran,” he explains his evidence, “it was clear that … all [Iranians] detest the MKO.” Two observations are in order here.

First, when was the last time that he was in Iran, and on whose expense and whose invitation was Mr. Rubin visiting? And what did it take for the Iranian regime to tolerate his stay in Iran? Some Iranian ‘NGO’ or ‘independent’ academic institution!? For all we know, the Iranian Foreign Ministry have over years been quite generous to other MEK detractors, including Flynt Leverett and his wife Hillary Mann Leverett by inviting them to all-expenses paid visits to Iran.  

Second, “All Iranians” detest the MEK, he claims. It is unclear if the man is trying to be funny or if he is just a bad liar, since he offers no evidence to back up his assertions. He clearly acknowledges that a section of the Iranian population has supported the MEK, and that the group’s members have been brutally suppressed by the Iranian regime, including in 1988 when tens of thousands of MEK members were massacred in Iranian prisons. How is it that most of those who have been hanged in Iran for political charges since the summer 2009 uprising have been those associated with the MEK?

But, even disregarding all that evidence of support for the group, what does the level of support have to do with the group’s terror label in the United States. Clearly, whether the MEK has support inside Iran or not should be judged by the Iranian people themselves, not by Rubin.  

A shallow brook, they say, babbles the loudest. There is no substance to what Rubin says, and for good reason. The truth is that Rubin has always been at his wits’ end when it comes to his rants against the MEK. That’s why he lies. But the so-called Iran expert tries to do so with a clumsiness that inspires only pity.

In the past, dismayed about pro-MEK voices on the Hill, Rubin claimed that the MEK has enticed hundreds of members by sending “pretty young women” to cultivate “friendly lawmakers and commentators” and by offering them “Christmas baskets full of nuts and sweets.”

Now, he accuses the prominent personalities supporting the MEK, which include three former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, two former Supreme Allied Forces’ Commanders, nine former State Department officials, an Attorney General and two former heads of the CIA and a former FBI director, of being essentially bought off by the MEK.

“MKO lobbying is slick,” he has said, using the Iranian regime’s abbreviation of the group’s name. The American personalities, he says, “should acknowledge the honorarium or consulting fees they receive from the group.”

When asked about receiving an honorarium by a reporter at a June 2, 2011 panel in Washington, DC, former Attorney general Michael Mukasey, put that baby to rest, “You have an array of people here today from various political parties differing on many public policies.  I don’t know of a single one of them who has articulated a viewpoint that they don’t believe, though are getting fees today or not. I also tell you as a matter of historical fact that the pamphlets of Thomas Paine were not distributed for nothing.  That doesn’t undercut either the persuasiveness of them or the historical correctness of them.”

Rubin should be the last person to counsel others on honorariums, since reports surfaced back in 2006 about his contacts with private contractors in Iraq when he worked in the Pentagon. A 2006 New York Times article apparently alleged that he improperly hid an affiliation and funding from a private contractor in Iraq. “Normally, when I travel, I receive reimbursement of expenses including a per diem and/or honorarium,” Rubin was quoted as saying.

It was the great American President, Abraham Lincoln, who said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” I wonder if Michael Rubin has come across that apt comment.

Ali Safavi, a member of Iran’s National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), is President of the Near East Policy Research (NEPR)

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