Imagine a group of high-profile politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, enlisting their services on behalf of a group designated by the U.S. State Department as terrorist organization, a group that has killed Americans. Imagine these politicos appearing at the group’s cult-like rallies, where the group’s leaders call for the day when this organization takes over a nation in the heart of the Middle East.
It sounds like the plot of a Tom Clancy novel, doesn’t it? But this isn’t fiction. It’s real.
Meet the Iranian dissident group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK). Born out of Marxist roots, the group has tried for decades to take control of the Iranian government. During this time, it engaged in various terrorist attacks, including ones that killed six Americans.
For these actions and others, the State Department officially includes the group on its list of terrorist organizations. The MEK has in recent years insisted that it no longer engages in terrorism and that it should be de-listed. However, last month there were news reports that Israel may have enlisted the MEK to engage in bombings in Iran, which would indicate that the group has resumed terror.
In its campaign for delisting, the group has enlisted high-profile politicians from both politician parties. Here’s Republic Report’s top five:
1. Howard Dean: Dean is the former governor of Vermont, a 2004 Democratic Party presidential primary contender, and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He has been a vocal ally of the MEK, appearing on cable television to demand that they be taken off of the terrorist list. Dean has admitted he was paid to deliver speeches on behalf of the group.
2. Lee Hamilton: Hamilton is a former Democratic congressman and a co-chair of the National Security Preparedness Group (NSPG) at the Bipartisan Policy Center. He also has a position with the Albright Stoneridge Group. He told Inter Press Service last year that he was paid a “substantial amount” to appear on a panel arguing in support of the MEK.
3. Porter Goss: Goss is a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He admitted he was paid for speeches on behalf of the MEK, but did not disclose how much he received. The Huffington Post notes that he regularly “commands a minimum of $20,000 to $30,000 per engagement.”
4. Patrick Kennedy: At an MEK rally last year, the former Democratic Party congressman admitted that he was paid $25,000 to speak before the group as it chanted outside of the State Department.
5. Rudy Giuliani: The former mayor of New York City and 2008 Republican presidential contender is also a paid speaker for the MEK. He has yet to disclose his speaking fees.
The Justice Department recently opened an investigation into the payments received by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), another tout for the MEK. It is illegal under U.S. law to provide “material support” to terrorist organizations. It is unclear, however, who exactly is paying these speakers for their advocacy. It is possible for Rendell, Dean, Giuliani and others to avoid liability if they are receiving payments from individuals sympathetic to the MEK but who are not formally part of it. And each of these public servants may truly believe that the time has come to delist and support the MEK. But the repeated willingness of respected ex-officials to receive payment for advocacy on behalf of a group that the U.S. government designates as terrorists raises questions about whether some former office-holders are offering their foreign policy views for sale.
Filed under: Lobbying
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