He is the author of a book that criticizes the U.S. government for being too soft on terrorism. He was an advocate of invading Iraq and most of the other Arab countries in the Middle East long before 9/11. He wants us to give up a lot of our civil liberties, including submitting to a national ID card, and he’s taken to the hustings promoting an approach to the “war on terrorism” that’s more royalist than the king.
His name is Richard Perle, and he’s one of the leading and certainly one of the most visible neoconservatives in Washington, D.C., whose combative style and clear contempt for his opponents has earned him the sobriquet “Prince of Darkness.”
He is also a supporter of terrorism.
Why else would he have agreed to speak at a January 24 fundraiser, billed as “A Night of Solidarity,” supposedly to raise money for Iranian earthquake victims an event sponsored by groups that have links to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization?
MEK is a formerly Marxist group with odd, cultic overtones. Led by Maryam Rajavi, the self-proclaimed “President Elect” of Iran, and her husband, Massoud, head of the group’s military wing, they originally supported Khomeini when he overthrew the Shah, and carried out terroristic attacks on Americans, only to turn against the regime.
MEK took up residence in Iraq, where they were given sanctuary and armed by Saddam Hussein. They fought against their own country on the Iraqi side during the long Iran-Iraq war. During the U.S. invasion of Iraq, MEK carried out military operations in defense of the Ba’athist regime, and its main base came under attack by U.S. forces. MEK agreed to capitulate, but there was some question about to what extent they disarmed. Even today their main force remains intact.
Their fate has become a political football, pitting the U.S. State Department against the neoconservatives in Washington who now have Iran fixed in their sights. The neocons are pushing the idea that we can use the MEK to overthrow the Iranian regime: this is the same group that tried to ingratiate itself with the Bush administration by sharing “intelligence” that supposedly pointed to Iran’s intention of developing a nuclear weapons program.
U.S. law enforcement conducted a series of raids that rounded up prominent MEK cadre, closed down their offices, and froze their assets, but, operating under the protection of Washington’s War Party, these terrorists are freely going about their business, and even gaining open support from prominent U.S. government officials, like Perle. What’s interesting is that their support cuts across ideological and party lines.
It isn’t just the neocons who have been giving them their support, inside government and out: the Feminist Majority Foundation is also on board, on account of the MEK’s fervid feminism. Around half of the MEK’s fighters are women, and Ms. Rajavi is marketing herself, with some success, as a feminist icon.
In Congess, where more than a hundred legislators signed a letter of support for MEK, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is their Boadicea, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) their Joan of Arc. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) is another of their major champions, a group that includes Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Bob Filner (D-Calif.).
Writing in The Hill, Washington’s political newspaper of record, Sam Dealey gives us details on the various MEK front groups. What’s interesting is that the other groups listed, including the Justice Matters Institute and something called “Near East Policy Research,” provide an object lesson in the weirdly relentless efforts of a terrorist group to implant itself in American politics.
The Justice Matters Institute, headquartered in downtown San Francisco, serves its clients a mixed salad of California-style touchy-feely ethno-politics, drenched in a feminist-flavored sauce:
“Justice Matters Institute defines a socially just society as one in which every group has a voice, every culture is respected, and every individual has equal access to resources and means of communication. Working for social justice entails working to overcome current injustices while building solutions that make a better world. “
Right on, comrade!
But one group listed as a sponsor of the fundraiser that Dealey doesn’t delve into is the mysterious “Near East Policy Research,” which, along with the JMI, sent along a “solidarity message” to the fundraiser.
There is no such group going by that exact name, but there are two possibilities: one is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israel, pro-war, pro-MEK thinktank that has defended the Rajavi cult. On their website, MINEP posts a piece by Daniel Pipes and Patrick Clawson, in which the authors deny that MEK is a terrorist organization that’s now all in the past, they write:
“Can the MEK be useful? Yes. Western spy agencies are short on “human intelligence” meaning spies on the ground in Iran, as distinct from eyes in the sky. Coalition military commanders should seek out the MEK for information on the Iranian mullahs’ agents in Iraq.”
Does it matter that MEK is a Marxist cult with a violent history, and longstanding links to the regime of Saddam Hussein and that the group helped put down the 1991 Shi’ite rebellion, in which many thousands were killed or forced to flee? Does it matter to Pipes and Clawson that support for the MEK nutballs only discredits the U.S.?
Of course not. All that matters is the neoconservative goal of overthrowing the regime in Tehran.
The other possibility is the Center for Near East Policy Research (CNEPR), the American branch of which, according to its official IRS papers, is headquartered in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Headed up by one Arnold M. Soloway, CNEPR is “a membership organization” that “helps Israel Resource News Agency maintain its operation,” although now it appears the organization has since moved from Roxbury to Wellesley. The Israel Resource News Agency headquarters is listed as “Beit Agron International Press Center Jerusalem, Israel,” with David Bedein as the “Bureau Chief.”
CNEPR’s views are indistinguishable from WINEP’s: Israel can do no wrong, the Palestinians can do no right, and America must side with the former in every instance.
What is Israel’s interest in all this? Iran’s development of nuclear power has the Israelis threatening to bomb Iran’s alleged nuclear facilities, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is on record as saying that Tehran is now the main danger to the Jewish state. That Israel’s supporters in the U.S. are not averse to supporting a terrorist group which, nonetheless, serves Israeli interests is hardly surprising: what’s astonishing, however, is that they would do it so openly.
In France, members of MEK were rounded up after a plot to attack Iranian embassies across Europe was exposed: fanatical MEK-ites set themselves on fire in protest. Clearly, these are a bunch of dangerous radicals, who might resort to violence at any moment. When the MEK connection to the January 24 event came out, the Red Cross and La Leche International, which had agreed to lend their names, withdrew. Even Rep. Tancredo, formerly a staunch defender of the group, backpedaled, withdrawing his support for the fundraiser.
But not Richard Perle.
Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) is demanding an investigation into how an organization officially deemed a terrorist group could operate so openly in Washington. Let the process start with an inquiry into the Perle connection.
For Perle, a member of the Defense Policy Board, to make a public appearance in the middle of his book tour! in front of a group that killed at least 6 U.S. citizens, and wouldn’t hesitate to kill more in pursuit of their goals, is an outrage. If someone with an Arab name and connections to Muslim organizations had dared do such a thing, he would have been shipped to Guantanamo so fast his head would’ve spun off its axis. People are being jailed and deported for much less, these days: but I guess there’s one standard for the Richard Perles of this world, and another for the rest of us.