Tuesday, July 03, 2018

That time I was interviewed by federal authorities or Hillary, the MEK and you!

I think Caitlin Johnstone writes a lot of important pieces.  I don't believe her most recent one qualifies as such.

That Time Hillary Clinton Removed John Bolton’s Favorite Terror Cult From The Terrorist List

It never goes deeper than the title.

She's talking about the MEK.  They are an Iranian group.

Here, they were covered as the Ashraf community.

So named because, in Iraq, they lived on Camp Ashraf.

Background: Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released that summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of 2013, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1, 2013 -- two years ago.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported back then that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.

The US government, under international law and the Geneva Conventions, had an obligaton to them

We noted that here repeatedly and did so at a time when others were not doing so.  Some people later spoke out.  Ed Rendell (former governor of Pennsylvania) and Patrick Kennedy (former US House Rep) defended them in terms of the legal obligation -- both men are friends of mine.  Howard Dean (former governor of Vermont) also defended them.  (Howard and I have never been friends and never, ever would be.)

There were also Republican politicians who defended them -- I don't know who those were.  I know the Democrats because two are friends and all three were briefly targeted by the US government under Barack Obama.  I was interviewed on this (I'm talking by authorities, not by the press).

No, I was not taking money from them.  This is a summary of what I stated in the interview.  No, I did not know their politics nor, read the website, did I ever advocate for their politics.  I advocated for the US to live up to its legal obligation.  Did I have any contact with them?  Once.  They e-mailed about something it was late in the coverage and probably Barack was president.  I e-mailed back that I was advocating for the refugees -- the MEK e-mailed me, members not in Iraq -- and I couldn't get involved in side conversations so I wouldn't be brainstorming with the MEK or exchaning e-mails or any other communication.

I was asked of Howard, Ed and Pat and I stated that Howard and I had never had any conversations about them and never would.  I stated that I would speak to Ed and Patrick about them because we shared a concern that I didn't realize we were sharing.

I think that covers everything.  I was told it was a "formality," the converstaion.  Also true, they had the e-mail the MEK sent to the public account (a copy of it), my reply and then the MEK reply (which I would characterize as "bent out of shape" -- were I on Twitter, maybe I could self-brag "I bent the MEK out of shape"?) which I did not reply to because the whole point of my one reply was "I'm not having this conversation with you."

Those are the basics.

I believe the Ashraf community is all out of Iraq.  At this late date, if they're not, that's on them.  They've had every opportunity -- a point I made repeatedly, from the beginning, was that the US didn't owe the MEK a perfect life or a life in their dream country.  They did owe them safe passage out of Iraq and a country to relocate to other than Iran.  There was no legal obligation that required the US government to relocate them to the same country all together or any of that.  The law did not require perfection, it did not require that the Ashraf community get everything they wanted.  It required that a real and genuine offer of relocation was made to them.

That was done, eventually.  If any chose not to leave Iraq, that's on them.

Now let's deal with Hillary.

The determination of the MEK ("terrorists") came when Bill Clinton was president.

That would be back in the 90s.  In 2009, Hillary became Secretary of State.  In 2010, a federal court ordered her to assess the status of the residents of Camp Ashraf (her husband's administration had put them on a terrorist watch list in the 90s).

The legal obligation was one of the court's concerns.

She defied that order.

Congress then told her that she must make a determination in 180 days.  Those days came and went with Hillary still in defiance.

June 1st, 2012, Jamie Crawford (CNN) reported:

A federal appeals court has ordered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a prompt decision on whether to remove an Iranian dissident group from the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia gave Clinton four months from Friday to deny or grant Mujahedeen-e-Khalq's request for removal from the list, or the court would issue a so-called writ of mandamus and remove the group itself.

"We have been given no sufficient reason why the secretary, in the last 600 days, has not been able to make a decision which the Congress gave her only 180 days to make," the court said in its ruling. "If she fails to take action within that (four month) period, the petition for a writ of mandamus setting aside the (foreign terrorist organization) designation will be granted."

Finally, with mere days left to comply with the latest court order, Hillary did something:

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 28, 2012
The Secretary of State has decided, consistent with the law, to revoke the designation of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and its aliases as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under the Immigration and Nationality Act and to delist the MEK as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. These actions are effective today. Property and interests in property in the United States or within the possession or control of U.S. persons will no longer be blocked, and U.S. entities may engage in transactions with the MEK without obtaining a license. These actions will be published in the Federal Register.
With today's actions, the Department does not overlook or forget the MEK's past acts of terrorism, including its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992. The Department also has serious concerns about the MEK as an organization, particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members.
The Secretary's decision today took into account the MEK's public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf, their historic paramilitary base.
The United States has consistently maintained a humanitarian interest in seeking the safe, secure, and humane resolution of the situation at Camp Ashraf, as well as in supporting the United Nations-led efforts to relocate eligible former Ashraf residents outside of Iraq.

I blame Hillary for not acting sooner.  The label of terrorist kept some countries from accepting Ashraf residents.  They had no problem with what the MEK believed in, they had a problem with what might happen to them -- financially, etc -- if they accepted persons who were on a US government terrorist list.

I blame Hillary for not acting sooner.

The point being, Caitlin is slamming Hillary for the determination.  Hillary doesn't deserve to be slammed for that.  She made the decision under pressure.  She made the decision with Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett telling her to do so.  (I'm glad Barack and Valerie told her to.)

She had already resisted a federal court and resisted the US Congress (evidence, yet again, that Hillary didn't comply with oversight).

To blame her for the decision she was forced to make -- and one she made only in her final months as Secretary of State -- is more than a bit dishonest.

Possibly Caitlin's unaware of the events.  That may be.  It doesn't justify slamming Hillary for this.

Caitlin thinks the decision Hillary (finally) made was a bad one.  I don't.  The Ashraf community would never have had a shot at safe passage out of Iraq were the MEK not taken off the terrorist list. (The MEK can go back on the list now, I don't care.  I have no opinion of them one way or another.  My obligation was to ensuring that the US government honored their obligation.)

Caitlin thinks it's a bad decision.  Hillary would probably agree with that today and at the time she made it.  It's not one she looked forward to making.  She was ordered to make it -- by the federal court, by the Congress and by the then-President of the United States.

I don't know why you slam her for that.  I guess you can argue, "Well she could resign."  Yes, she could have done (and that brings other issues with it).

I think it's incredibly dishonest to re-write history and present it as "Hillary liked those terrorists and she's just like John Bolton, etc because of this."

I'm not a fan of Hillary's but I am a fan of fairness.  I don't believe the take Caitlin presents in her article is fair and it's a on a topic that we covered repeatedly here (and covered it for years -- and got slammed by various 'leaders' for covering it -- in nasty e-mails -- and I was even interviewed -- 'formality' or not -- by federal authorities over this) so we'll weigh in.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.