Perle Must Resign

by , January 31, 2004

At Antiwar.com – we get results.

When Richard Perle, high-visibility neocon and co-author of a recent book that faults the Bush administration for being soft on terrorism, spoke at a rally associated with the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian terrorist group once allied with Saddam Hussein, the “mainstream” media was nowhere to be seen. The music-oriented event, billed as a fundraiser for victims of the Iranian earthquake – and, incidentally, calling for “regime change” in Tehran – was held this past weekend, and had generated a fair amount of controversy before the curtain opened on the first act.

Representative Bob Ney (R-Iowa) – who sounded the alarm on the MEK long ago in Washingtoncalled for an official investigation of the terrorist fundraiser: the Red Cross, originally slated to accept funds raised at the rally, withdrew. So did La Leche International. But Perle claims that he gave the keynote speech at the event anyway, because he was “unaware,” as the Washington Post put it, of the group’s terrorist connections:

“‘All of the proceeds will go to the Red Cross,’ Perle said. Informed that the Red Cross had announced before the event it would refuse any monies because of the event’s ‘political nature,’ Perle said: ‘I was unaware of that.’ Perle declined to say how much he received.”

According to the Post, “FBI agents attended it, and, as part of a continuing investigation, the Treasury Department on Monday froze the assets of the event’s prime organizer.”

Perle claims to have been contacted by the Premiere Speakers Bureau, and, when he requested more information from them about the sponsors, he was told the rally would be in “solidarity with earthquake victims in Iran and an evening for Iranian Resistance.” The “Resistance” is one of many well-known pseudonyms of the MEK and is the name of their principal front group: the National Council of Resistance (NCR).

Among the most active and vociferous champions of MEK, of which there are many in Washington, is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), on whose board of advisors Perle sits. Last year, in a widely circulated op ed piece, arguing that the MEK should be taken off the list of terrorist organizations and used to overthrow the regime in Tehran, Daniel Pipes and WINEP director Patrick Clawson wrote:

“Policy toward the MEK has long been quietly but intensely and bitterly debated in Washington. To curry favor with Iranian ‘moderates,’ the State Department in 1997 designated the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Although 150 members of Congress publicly opposed this designation, a U.S. court of appeals recently upheld it.”

As a Washington insider, member of the Defense Policy Board, and champion factional combat fighter, Perle could hardly have been unaware of this debate.

The miasma of malfeasance that surrounds Perle is unseemly in a U.S. government official. To say nothing of the penumbra of malevolence that seems to hover over his very person, like the proverbial clouds of war. The man is an ambassador of ill will for this administration, at home as well as abroad. This speech at an event the proceeds of which were immediately seized and impounded by U.S. Treasury agents is really the last straw. Republicans should be the first to recognize that Perle has become a liability, and realize that he must go.

According to this report [pdf file], a group of former members of the MEK cult held a news conference in Baghdad on the same day as the Washington fundraiser, demanding that “repentant” MEK cadre be allowed to return home to their families in Iran. Many family members had traveled to Iraq to be reunited with their children, and they charged that both the MEK leadership and U.S. military authorities are determined to keep the group’s military capacity intact by preventing anyone from leaving “Camp Ashraf,” the MEK’s main base. The report adds:

“In a bend sinister, top [MEK] officials held meetings a few blocks away from the White House and had contacts with a number of U.S. officials.”

It’s a “bend sinister,” alright. One of the most knowledgeable policy analysts in Washington pleads complete ignorance of MEK and its activities, even though his Pentagon protégé has openly taken up their cause. We’re supposed to believe Perle has been completely deaf to a big debate within the administration over the status of the MEK, which is really a fight over what course U.S. policy will take in the future. The neoconservatives in the Pentagon, around Douglas Feith and the Office of Special Plans, have engaged in an ongoing campaign in support of these “reformed” Marxist terrorists as a club to bash Iran. Leading neocons such as Daniel Pipes and Arnold Beichman tout the Rajavi cult as a worthy ally, the latter hailing it as “a legitimate force for democracy and regime change in the Middle East.”

Beichman, himself an ex-Communist (or ex-fellow traveler), is naturally sympathetic to his Iranian brethren, but what MEK’s defenders leave out is that the group has a history of attacking American targets. As the U.S. State Department reports:

“Bombs were the Mojahedin’s weapon of choice, which they frequently employed against American targets. On the occasion of President Nixon’s visit to Iran in 1972, for example, the MKO exploded time bombs at more than a dozen sites throughout Tehran, including the Iran-American Society, the U.S. information office, and the offices of Pepsi Cola and General Motors. From 1972-75 … the Mojahedin continued their campaign of bombings, damaging such targets as the offices of Pan-American Airlines, Shell Oil Company, and British organizations.”

I wonder if, by Beichman’s standards, the relatives and loved ones of the six Americans killed in those attacks have any say on the question of MEK’s “legitimacy.” Probably not. The MEK fan club avers that the group has since changed its spots: but the State Department says that they have more than the 1970s attacks on them. As Ambassador Francis X. Taylor put it in 2002, in introducing the annual report on global terrorism:

“Iraq also supports the MEK, the Mujahedin-e Khalq that operate into Iran, actively continues to support that. So they are still involved in supporting terrorist activities as we speak, and of course that’s why they remain on the state-sponsored terrorism list.”

So, let’s see if I get this straight: the War Party told us we had to invade Iraq because the evil Saddam had unleashed a campaign of terrorism. Now the neocons want to appropriate the one terror group that definitely was nurtured by Baghdad and use it for our own “democratic” purposes. They’re the Good Terrorists, now, because, you see, they’re our terrorists.

Rep. Bob Ney doesn’t agree, and he is yanking up MEK’s terrorist network by the roots, exposing it to the light of day in the Washington Post, where Richard Leiby reports that Ney,

“Who helped put ‘Freedom Fries’ on House restaurant menus in the run-up to the Iraq war, is championing a new patriotic cause. He wants Fox News to fess up about the controversial past of one of its commentators on Middle Eastern affairs.

“In a letter last week to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Ney identified Alireza Jafarzadeh as the head of an Iranian exile group that the U.S. government lists as a terrorist organization. …’I watch Fox News, I like Fox News, but I was shocked to see him on there,’ the congressman told us. Ney demanded that the network inform viewers about Jafarzadeh’s background, saying, “I don’t think they’re fair and balanced on this issue.’”

“Old news,” barked Fox spokesman Paul Schur. “Absolutely false,” said Jafarzadeh. Since MEK’s real headquarters is in Iraq, he cannot possibly be the head honcho of MEK. Besides which, he complained, “Who do you think revealed the major nuclear facilities of the Iranian regime in the past year and a half? It was me.”

He’s just angling for his own show. Fox News is always so ahead of the curve, so with it. What a brilliant way to have the best terrorism “expert” on television: hire a representative of an officially designated terrorist organization!

What’s next for Fox News – will they put Carlos the Jackal on the payroll?

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

A Russian translation of my December 10, 2003 column, “Now They’re After Putin,” has been published in Rossiya, a weekly based in Moscow.

Danish state radio has run a three part series detailing alternative theories of 9/11, the first part of which cites John Laughland’s recent Spectator piece on “conspiracy theories.” Parts two and three deal with the “Israeli art students” affair, and make prominent mention of my recent book, The Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection. I don’t understand Danish, but it sounds good, anyway. I’m told that it is a simple reporting of what I and other writers – Christopher Ketcham and Fox News reporter Carl Cameron are mentioned – have long maintained: that Israeli intelligence knew a lot more than they ever told us about the 9/11 terrorist conspirators. If any of my Danish readers care to give us a translation, write to me care of Antiwar.com.

Read more by Justin Raimondo