What does it take to get important American political and national-security figures to illegally lobby on behalf of the Mujaheddin-e-Khalq, a Marxist-Islamist cult with American blood on its hands, tied to Saddam Hussein and officially designated as a terrorist organization?
Why, money, of course. With enough “speaking fees” ($40k for eight minutes?) and “travel expenses” in your pocket, it’s not hard to convince yourself that a group which supported Iraq in its war against Iran, and which one expert describes as “a cross between Hezbollah and the Branch Davidians,” is some sort of Iranian democratic opposition. (A RAND report gives some background.) And if the money comes from a network of front groups, you have plausible deniability (or perhaps, if you’re not very bright, genuine ignorance) about taking money from a designated terrorist group, which is a no-no. (Clarence Page says he wasn’t told that the rally he was paid to address was pro-MEK.)
Or you could just figure that terrorism isn’t such a bad thing if it’s directed against Iran, which is what led the Bush Administration to provide special operations training to MEK forces.
No one seems to have any clear idea about where the money comes from or how it moves around. But there’s clearly enough of it to put lots of prominent consciences to sleep. Even if the MEK weren’t designated as a terrorist group, taking money to lobby on behalf of any foreign entity requires you to register as a foreign agent, which apparently no one has.
The list (in full at the jump) is depressingly long and diverse. Gingrich and Giuliani and Ridge and Bolton and Zelikow and Freeh and Porter Goss and Jim Woolsey and one of Romney’s foreign policy advisers aren’t much of a surprise: it’s just a meeting of the Neocon Club. And I don’t expect much of Howard Dean or Bill Richardson. But Bill Bradley? Wesley Clark? Lee Hamilton?!
Apparently the MEK has made itself enough of a thorn in the side of the Iraqi government – by refusing to have its people resettled from the group’s Iraqi base – that the State Department has offered to take them off the terrorist list if they’ll just play nice. If that happens, all the shills will presumably claim vindication. But taking money from foreigners to influence U.S. foreign policy is against the law, even when the foreigners aren’t as nasty as the MEK. This is just the Ahmad Chalabi story all over again. At least three lobbying outfits, including DeGenova & Toensing and Akin, Gump, are known to be involved.
And of course Citizens United compounds the problem: a politician who holds out against a group like MEK could find himself on the wrong side of millions of dollars of attack ads funded by anonymous donors. I wonder how much MEK front money has found itself into campaign warchests and super-PACs?
Here’s the full list, per the Huffington Post. (Titles at the link.)