Lawyer: U.S. blocking Afghan massacre investigation

March 31, 2012 by  
Filed under World

The lawyer defending the U.S. soldier accused of murdering 17 Afghan civilians claims U.S. authorities are blocking his ability to investigate the incident.

John Henry Browne, the lawyer for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, said U.S. forces in Afghanistan have prevented his team from interviewing injured civilians at a hospital in Kandahar, and are allowing other potential witnesses to scatter, making it difficult to track them down.

“When prosecutors don’t cooperate, it’s because they are concerned about the strength of their case,” said Browne at a press conference at his downtown Seattle office on Friday.

Bales was formally charged last week with the murders of eight adults and nine children in a pre-dawn shooting rampage in southern Afghanistan on March 11, which further eroded U.S.-Afghan relations already strained by a decade of war.

Full Article

Another Santorum Slip: Obama an Anti-War ‘Government Nig?’

March 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Americas

Anti War? You must have the wrong Nig… ahhh, guy.

 

Crooks and Liars

Failed former junior senator from Pennsylvania by way of Virginia, turned presidential hopeful, Rick Santorum speaks to a crowd at The Armory in Janesville, Wisconsin on March 27th during a campaign stop.

In this speech, he had been blasting Barack Obama for all things real and imagined. Then where this clip begins Santorum continues “We know the candidate Barack Obama…what he was like. The anti-war, government nig… (insert stumble here).”

Oh my.

Maybe he meant to say “Blah people” again? Then Santorum awkwardly attempts to continue with some other thought bubble that hatched in his head. (The original video of the speech is available here. The remarks in question take place at about 34:50.)

Meanwhile, Santorum’s campaign staff are searching desperately for a word that starts with “nig” that sounds plausible:

“Oh, come on!” Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley told Raw Story when asked for comment. “Give me a break. That’s unbelievable. What does it say about those that are running with this story that that’s where their mind goes. You know, I’m not going to dignify that with [a response].”

“That is absolutely ridiculous.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The other slip here was to call the man who killed Osama “anti-war.” Obama anti-war?! Rick must be thinking of some other blah person.

Tags: Anti-war, Blah people, Candidate, Election 2012, Janesville, Pennsylvania, President Barack Obama, Racist, Rick Santorum, stumble, The Armory, Wisconsin

Don’t You Dare Try to Feed the Homeless in Bloomy’s NYC (Nanny of the Month, March 2012!)

March 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Police State

This month Alabama lawmakers were itching to make it a criminal offense to annoy people online (isn’t that what the interweb is all about?), and a national poll exposed the split personality of Americans who pretend to support individual responsibility, all the while cheering bans on smoking, transfats and the like.

But this month top dishonors go to the man who is perhaps the busiest busybody of them all, the big-city mayor who decided to halt private donations to his city’s homeless shelters (after all, who can be sure that such donations wouldn’t fill homeless people with fatty or salty food?!).

Presenting Reason.tv’s Nanny of the Month for March 2012: New York City Mayor Meddlin’ Mike Bloomberg!

The Department Of Homeland Security Is Buying 450 Million New Bullets

March 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Americas

Ban on Hollow points coming?

I.C.E. Cold Killers

 

Business Insider (Buffet)

EnforcementThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office is getting an “indefinite delivery” of an “indefinite quantity” of .40 caliber ammunition from defense contractor ATK.

U.S. agents will receive a maximum of 450 million rounds over five years, according to a press release on the deal.

The high performance HST bullets are designed for law enforcement and ATK says they offer “optimum penetration for terminal performance.”

This refers to the the bullet’s hollow-point tip that passes through barriers and expands for a bigger impact without the rest of the bullet getting warped out of shape: “this bullet holds its jacket in the toughest conditions.”

We’ve also learned that the Department has an open bid for a stockpile of rifle ammo. Listed on the federal business opportunities network, they’re looking for up to 175 million rounds of .223 caliber ammo to be exact. The .223 is almost exactly the same round used by NATO forces, the 5.56 x 45mm.

The deadline for earlier this month was extended because the right contractor just hadn’t come along.

Looks like the Department of Homeland Security means business.

Thanks to loyal BI Military & Defense Twitter follower Allen Walter for the heads up.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/us-immigration-agents-are-loading-up-on-as-many-as-450-million-new-rounds-of-ammo-2012-3#ixzz1qbh3q1JZ

The National Tragedy of Violence and the Opportunists who Exploit it

March 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Commentary

 

BlackCommentator.com

“They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Violence is a part of America’s culture. It is as American as cherry pie.”

H. Rap Brown [Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin]

Violence, both physical and emotional, is an integral part of the United States. It is deliberately propagated and perpetuated by the U.S. government, the corporate-stream media, Hollywood movies, television programs, and Internet games. It is a major symptom of  this corporate controlled society and hypocritical political system.

The violent and cold-blooded publicized murders of people of all ages and colors in this nation, including those of Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, and most recently Trayvon Martin are but the tip of the insane iceberg of violence nationwide. The violence that permeates this nation is akin to this government’s violence in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Libya, etc.  These aforementioned organized acts of U.S. government violence in other lands are conveniently and hypocritically referred to as “police actions” abroad. Yet, there is a direct link between the violence that U.S. citizens carry out against one another within this nation and the violence that citizens of this nation are directed to carry out against citizens of other nations. This violence is also akin to the daily so-called “justifiable” police brutality and violence perpetrated against everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people throughout this nation.

Part of the terrible tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s case is another indication of how people have been so thoroughly brainwashed to act as judge, jury, and executioner for whatever demented rationale that can be manufactured to supposedly make it “justifiable.” The root cause of this is systemic, and goes far beyond color or ethnic considerations.

Some of the most despicable displays of hypocrisy and disingenuousness are being made by the ever eager systemic gate-keepers and opportunists who invariably turn up in front of news cameras, etc. for photo-ops to decry such horrible instances of violence, but who refuse to decry the systemic violence practiced by the corporate politicians whom they support. These politicians and their supporters must not be allowed to have it both ways. Their objective is to confuse everyday people and play upon their legitimate pain to further their own systemic political objectives.

Then of course there are those political pimps, hustlers, and parasites who use the terrible pain of cases such as that of Trayvon Martin to incite color and ethnic hatred, and grab their despicable moment in the limelight. This also serves the cyclical perpetuation of this violent system itself, in that it keeps everyday people in fear of one another and divided on the basis of color and ethnicity.     

Now, more than ever, is the time to understand how this violent system perpetuates itself at the expense and terrible pain of everyday people. It is time to collectively change the system, not reform it. Systemic reform perpetuates this hypocritical, violent system. How does one reform a rotten and putrid pie? One doesn’t. One gets rid of the putrid pie, and creates a different one!

The everyday people of this nation and world need and deserve so much better. But it is only the everyday people themselves/ourselves who can and will bring about this much-needed systemic change.

Let’s get busy and stay busy, collectively pushing for real systemic change!

Onward, then, my sisters and brothers! Onward!

 

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board Member, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil / political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS News Hour, formerly known as The MacNeil / Lehrer News Hour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book.) Click here to contact Mr. Pinkney.

 

Larry is also a regular contributor for THE JACK BLOOD SHOW…..

Retired Marine Accused in Plot to Smuggle Gaddafi’s Son into Mexico

March 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Americas

nationalpost.com

MEXICO CITY — When he retired to San Diego after 28 years in the U.S. Marines, Gregory Gillispie thought his working days were behind him, but he soon got bored.

To keep busy, he launched an airplane brokerage, which was hired last July to transport Canadian Cynthia Vanier and her entourage to wartime Libya for a fact-finding mission.

Eight months later, two of Mr. Gillispie’s business associates are in a Mexico jail, accused of conspiring with Ms. Vanier to smuggle members of Libya’s Gaddafi family to an oceanfront hideaway near Puerto Vallarta.

 

And Mr. Gillispie has himself been dragged into it, identified by Mexican authorities as a suspect in the bizarre international plot to allegedly relocate Saadi Gaddafi and his family as the Libyan dictatorship fell.

In an interview, the 51-year-old said he didn’t know if Ms. Vanier was guilty of the charges, but he insisted he had nothing to do with smuggling Gaddafis. “I can tell you 110% sure I had nothing to do with any of that crap,” he said.

 

Full Article

Drug Lords Who Received ATF Weapons Worked For The FBI

March 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Americas

latimes.com


March 21, 2012|By Richard A. Serrano, Washington BureauReporting from Washington —

 

When the ATF made alleged gun trafficker Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta its primary target in the ill-fated Fast and Furious investigation, it hoped he would lead the agency to two associates who were Mexican drug cartel members. The ATF even questioned and released him knowing that he was wanted by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

But those two drug lords were secretly serving as informants for the FBI along the Southwest border, newly obtained internal emails show. Had Celis-Acosta simply been held when he was arrested by theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in May 2010, the investigation that led to the loss of hundreds of illegal guns and may have contributed to the death of a Border Patrol agent could have been closed early.


Documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times/Tribune Washington Bureau show that as far back as December 2009 — five months before Celis-Acosta was detained and released at the border in a car carrying 74 live rounds of ammunition — ATF and DEA agents learned by chance that they were separately investigating the same man in the Arizona and Mexico border region.

ATF agents had placed a secret pole camera outside his Phoenix home to track his movements, and separately the DEA was operating a “wire room” to monitor live wiretap intercepts to follow him.

In May 2010, Celis-Acosta was briefly detained at the border in Lukeville, Ariz., and then released by Hope MacAllister, the chief ATF investigator on Fast and Furious, after he promised to cooperate with her.

The ATF had hoped he would lead them to two Mexican cartel members. But records show that after Celis-Acosta finally was arrested in February 2011, the ATF learned to its surprise that the two cartel members were secret FBI informants.

 

Full Article

U.S. Army Officers Busted by Feds in Drug Cartel Sting Operation

March 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Americas

courthousenews.com


LAREDO, Texas (CN) – An Army officer offered to supply guns and training to the Zetas drug cartel and kill rival drug dealers in exchange for money and cocaine, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in announcing the arrest of the officer and five other men. Kevin Corley, 29, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was arrested Saturday afternoon in Laredo and charged in a drug trafficking conspiracy and murder-for-hire plot, prosecutors said in a statement.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not state Corley’s rank, nor military assignment. But the Colorado Springs Gazette reported on Monday that 1st Lt. Kevin Corley was discharged from the Army this month. The Gazette did not state whether the discharge was honorable, or why he was discharged.  The Gazette reported that Kevin Corley and co-defendant Sgt. Samuel Walker were both assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, in Colorado Springs.


Also arrested Saturday in Laredo were Walker, 28; and Shavar Davis, 29, of Denver, Colo., prosecutors said.  Arrested in South Carolina were Marcus Mickle, 20, and Calvin Epps, 26, both of Hopkins, S.C. The sixth defendant, Mario Corley, 40, of Saginaw, Texas, was arrested in Charleston, S.C., according to the U.S. attorney’s statement.

“The investigation began in January 2011, when Mickle began negotiations with whom he thought were members of the Los Zetas Cartel, actually undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, to purchase marijuana in return for stolen weapons,” prosecutors said in the statement. “The criminal complaint indicates that as they began discussions about the distribution of marijuana in the Columbia, S.C., area, Mickle and Epps allegedly told undercover agents about a friend in the military who could provide military weapons to them.

“The agents were later introduced to Corley, who allegedly identified himself as an active duty officer in the Army responsible for training soldiers. He offered to provide tactical training for cartel members and to purchase weapons for the cartel under his name.”

 

 

Full Article

Top Prescribing Child Psychiatrist in Hot Water – Texas

March 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Americas

These stories are just too numerous to ignore.  BTW: Obama Care will provide the perfect excuse to continue this practice of over prescribing dangerous chemical cocktails to your children. Getting Off Xanax and other over prescribed pharmaceuticals; can be dangerous, and can lead to delusions, and or public violence if not handled correctly. Follow the money…

Houston Chronicle
Complaint alleges Houston-based doctor improperly gave drugs to child
By Lise Olsen and Todd Ackerman
March 28, 2012

A Houston-based psychiatrist and the state’s leading prescriber of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax is the subject of a complaint to the Texas Medical Board alleging he improperly and simultaneously prescribed four drugs to an 8-year-old, placing the child “at undue risk.”

The complaint against Dr. G.K. Ravichandran comes as the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has begun releasing to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley results of its investigations into doctors who prescribe large quantities of pain and psychiatric medications, including to children. Ravichandran has not been specifically named in the disclosures.

“After an extensive review of prescribing habits of the serial prescribers of pain and mental health drugs in Texas, I have concerns about the oversight and enforcement of Medicaid abuse in your state,” Grassley, R-Iowa, a longtime critic of alleged overprescribing of psychotropic drugs at public expense nationwide, wrote Texas HHSC Commissioner Thomas Suehs in January. “The numbers themselves are quite shocking.”

Xanax prescriptions

The Texas Medical Board complaint accuses Ravichandran in December 2010 of giving his 8-year-old patient a drug used to fight Alzheimer’s disease, though there is no clinical data to show it is “safe and effective for the treatment of children with psychiatric disorders.” The other three drugs prescribed at the same time included Xanax.

The patient and mother were not identified in the March 21 complaint.

HHSC Commissioner Tom Suehs in February wrote Grassley that HHSC has opened 39 investigations, which so far have resulted in three doctors being referred to the Attorney General’s Office for criminal prosecution of Medicaid fraud, three being excluded from Medicaid participation and three being referred to the medical board for disciplinary action. Other doctors are still being investigated.

Ravichandran was identified in 2010 as the state’s most frequent Medicaid and Medicare prescriber of Xanax. He billed $180,762 for 1,751 Xanax prescriptions for his patients, according to information generated by Texas officials in response to inquiries by Grassley. Ravichandran, who has been licensed in Texas since 1979, practices in a high-rise clinic in the Hillcroft area.

His attorney in the matter, Carla J. Cox, declined comment.

Accidental overdoses

The Houston Chronicle last year identified Ravichandran as one of several Houston-area physicians who had prescribed Xanax, also known as alprazolam, and other drugs to multiple patients who died of accidental prescription drug overdoses in Harris County in 2008-2009. The newspaper’s analysis showed that six patients who died of accidental drug overdoses those years received prescriptions from Ravichandran.

The medical board complaint alleges Ravichandran failed to maintain adequate records and did not justify how he had simultaneously diagnosed his 8-year-old patient with a dozen different ailments and disorders all in the same day – including attention deficit disorder, autism, bipolar disorder, language disorder, nightmare disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, pervasive developmental disorder and intermittent explosive disorder.

Certain records closed

The medical board previously restricted Ravichandran’s license from August 2002 to February 2005 based on findings that he performed geriatric psychiatric exams without proper referrals. In 2007, it ordered him to complete training after finding inadequate records for a patient.

Because state law prohibits the naming of doctors being investigated by state agencies before the matter’s conclusion, it is not known if Ravichandran is among the doctors being investigated by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

MEK (Terrorists) and its material supporters in Washington

March 29, 2012 by  
Filed under World

 

Rudy Giuliani and Maryam Rajavi

 

Rudy Giuliani and Maryam Rajavi  (Credit: AP/Wikipedia)

 

 SALON

Jeremiah Goulka worked as a lawyer in the Bush Justice Department, and then went to work as an analyst with the RAND Corporation, where he was sent to Iraq to analyze, among other things, the Iranian dissident group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), publishing an oft-cited study on the group. MEK has been in the news of late because a high-powered bipartisan cast of former Washington officials have established close ties with the group and have been vocally advocating on its behalf, often in exchange for large payments, despite MEK’s having been formally designated by the U.S. Government as a Terrorist organization. That close association on the part of numerous Washington officials with a Terrorist organization has led to a formal federal investigation of those officials. Goulka has written and supplied to me two superb Op-Eds on the MEK controversy — one about the group itself and the other explaining why so many prominent Washington officials are openly providing material support to this designated Terror group — and I’m publishing the two Op-Eds below with his consent (as you read them, remember that paid MEK shill Howard Dean actually called on its leader to be recognized as President of Iran while paid MEK shill Rudy Giuliani has continuously hailed the group’s benevolence).

Before posting those Op-Eds, I want to note one update on this matter: supporters of MEK have filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to force the State Department to decide within 30 days whether to remove MEK from the list of designated Terrorist organizations (State Department officials have previously indicated they are considering doing so). In response, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told the court that (1) it has no role to play in directing the timing of this decision (“Any interference by a court with the Secretary’s ability to carry out these absolutely critical duties would set a seriously troubling precedent”); and (2) the U.S. Government is currently attempting to force MEK to move from its current base in Camp Ashraf to another location in Iraq (something MEK does not want to do), and whether MEK cooperates with the U.S. Government’s directives will play a large role in determining whether the group is removed from the Terrorist list.

With regard to that second argument: in determining whether MEK belongs on the Terrorist list, what conceivable difference should it make whether MEK is cooperative in moving from Camp Ashraf as the U.S. Government wants? What does their cooperation or lack thereof have to do with whether they are a Terrorist organization? The answer, of course, is that the U.S. list of Terrorist organizations (like its list of state sponsors of Terrorism) has little or nothing to do with who are and are not actually Terrorists; it is, instead, simply an instrument used to reward those who comply with U.S. dictates (you’re no longer a Terrorist) and to punish those who refuse (you are hereby deemed Terrorists). The scholarship of Remi Brulin documents how Terrorism, from its prominent introduction into world affairs, has been manipulated that way. Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security yesterday objected to my argument that the field of “Terrorism expertise” is basically fraudulent because the concept of “Terrorism” itself is largely propagandistic and ideological, rather than being some meaningful term with a fixed, coherent definition. His commenters have very effectively addressed his claims, but this game-playing with MEK is yet another example underscoring what I mean.

__________________________________

By Jeremiah Goulka

THE IRAN WAR HAWKS’ FAVORITE CULT GROUP

Despite the flurry of support by some prominent politicians as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scrutinizes its case, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a dissident Iranian group based in Iraq with a propaganda arm in Paris, is no enigma.

 The U.S. declared the MEK a terrorist organization 13 years ago partly because the group is thought to have assassinated three U.S. Army officers and three U.S. civilian contractors in Tehran in the 1970s. The group’s pep rallies feature U.S. politicians lured with high fees to come speak on its behalf. The MEK wants the U.S. government to take the group off its terrorist list – as the E.U. and U.K. have already done. But before that happens the group requires close scrutiny.

I studied the MEK for the U.S. military and visited Camp Ashraf, the MEK facility 40 miles north of Baghdad. I also interviewed former MEK members. As Human Rights Watch also concluded, I saw that the MEK is a cult. It uses brainwashing, sleep deprivation, and forced labor to indoctrinate members. It segregates men from women, mandates celibacy, forces married members to divorce (except for its leaders), and separates families and friends who must seek permission just to converse.

MEK members must report their private sexual thoughts at group meetings and endure public shaming. In a Catch-22, those who deny having sexual thoughts are accused of hiding them and shamed, too. The cult has but one purpose: to put itself in charge in Iran.

A brief history lesson illuminates how the MEK transformed from a radical student group in 1965 to what it is today. When the MEK was founded it embraced both Marxism and Islam and dedicated itself to the violent overthrow of the Shah of Iran. All this is reflected in its name, the “People’s Holy Warriors.”  By 1979 the MEK evolved into a major movement that threatened Ayatollah Khomeini’s dominance after the Iranian Revolution. He suppressed the group, executing some leaders and imprisoning others. In 1981 some MEK leaders escaped in a stolen plane. Among these was Masoud Rajavi. Exiled to Paris, he established the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella organization of Iranian dissident groups opposed to Khomeini. The NCRI soon became the propaganda arm of the MEK. Rajavi’s wife, Maryam, runs the NCRI, which is also on the U.S. terror list. She calls herself “president-elect” of the NCRI’s “parliament-in-exile.”

When Saddam Hussein waged war against Iran, Rajavi moved the MEK from Paris to Iraq. His alliance with Saddam in a brutally violent war cost the MEK credibility and its font of recruits. Isolated in Iraq’s desert, Rajavi instituted authoritarian control over his decimated army and confiscated his troops’ assets. He encouraged Saddam to send Iranian POWs to MEK’s Camp Ashraf rather than repatriate them. With promises of asylum for POWs and family reunions with the new MEK members, Rajavi duped Iranian visitors to come to the camp and stole their passports so they couldn’t leave.

Human Rights Watch reports that those who tried to escape endured confinement or torture. After the U.S. invaded Iraq, the MEK ejected its most “difficult” members and used guards and concertina wire to entrap the rest. Members must swear allegiance to Masoud and Maryam, whose pictures are in every building at Camp Ashraf.  But these days Maryam’s is the public face of the NCRI.  Masoud Rajavi mysteriously disappeared in 2003.

Maryam trumpets the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program and gives the NCRI credit for discovering Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility. That self-serving claim is doubtful, as is the NCRI’s posture as a democratic government-in-waiting. While its propaganda arm espouses Western values to Western audiences, the MEK continues to force-feed its doctrine to members who may not criticize the Rajavis and are not free to leave the Ashraf compound.

While many people would like to see a change of regime in Tehran, no one should believe that the MEK would provide Iran with a government based on liberty and justice for all.  Indeed, based upon its treatment of its own adherents in Iraq, a MEK regime might not be much improvement over the current one.

________________

By Jeremiah Goulka

INVESTIGATIONS BEGIN INTO MEK SUPPORTERS

The U.S. Treasury Department has begun an investigation into nearly two dozen prominent former government officials who have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to promote the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian dissident cult group that has been designated by the State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) since 1997.

These officials include several prominent George W. Bush Administration anti-terror officials like Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge, Homeland Security advisor Frances Fragos Townsend, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, UN ambassador John Bolton; as well as former Republican Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani; former Democratic governors Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Howard Dean of Vermont; ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh; and retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton.  These former officials have given speeches at home and abroad urging the State Department to remove the MEK from the FTO list.

Given the cacophony of saber-rattling over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program – which the U.S. intelligence community generally believes was shut down in 2003 – and the risk, however low, of actually getting prosecuted for “material support of terrorism,” it is important to examine why anyone would promote a designated terrorist organization.

What is the MEK?

The MEK – which is also known as the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) and often operates through its Paris-based propaganda arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) – is an Iranian dissident group that once-upon-a-time was a significant force in Iranian politics.  Created to oppose the Shah in 1965, the MEK lost out to Ayatollah Khomeini after the Iranian Revolution, and the mullahs have been the MEK’s target ever since.  The regime brutally suppressed the group, forcing it to go underground and its leaders into exile.  Most MEK members are now based in Iraq, where they have lived since joining forces with Saddam Hussein in 1986 during the Iran-Iraq War.  (For more history of the MEK, see the appendices here.)

Collaborating with Saddam was the MEK’s greatest mistake.  Saddam started that war, which was a catastrophe for Iran, but he didn’t win and didn’t install the MEK as the new government.  In the process, the MEK killed Iranian soldiers and thereby killed off whatever credibility it once had.

The MEK claims to be the best organized and the most prominent opposition group in Iran.  No credible sources that I have seen suggest that it has any relevance in Iran at all, other than to get the mullahs riled up.  It is, however, very well organized, because, cut off from new volunteers, the MEK’s co-leaders Masoud Rajavi (whereabouts unknown) and his wife Maryam Rajavi turned the MEK into a cult of personality.

The MEK vigorously denies that it is a cult, accusing critics of working for the Iranian regime or performing inadequate research (using the tactics of climate change, evolution, and tobacco denialists).  However, I studied the MEK in depth and over a period of many months for the U.S. military.  I visited Camp Ashraf, the MEK facility 40 miles north of Baghdad, and interviewed MEK members, former MEK members, and dozens of military and civilian officials.  Along with almost all of my interviewees and Human Rights Watch, I concluded that the MEK is a cult.  It employs many common cult practices: mandated celibacy and divorce, thought control, sleep deprivation, and forced labor.  It segregates men from women, separates families and friends – who must seek permission just to converse – and even tells family members back home that the members are dead.

Why Would Any American Politicians Support the MEK?

Getting off the FTO list is a stepping-stone to the MEK’s main goal: getting America to install it as the new government of Iran.  Why would American politicians want that?  There are two main reasons, neither of them good.

The first is ignorance.  The MEK presents itself well and is good at running “Astroturf” campaigns.  Its NCRI is a self-proclaimed “parliament in exile,” dedicated to the principles of western liberal democracy.  Over the years, lots of American civilian and military officials have failed to do their homework and fallen for the MEK’s sales spiel, excited as they were to hear what they wanted to hear.  (If something sounds too good to be true…)

Does this remind you of Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress?  It should. As Ali Gharib has shown, the same people who helped Chalabi push us into Iraq are now orchestrating public events where former officials promote the MEK.

The second reason is money.  The officials were paid to speak on the MEK’s behalf, up to $30,000 per speech.  Not bad for a few minutes work.

But this is just the beginning.  What the media has generally failed to mention is that these former officials are now in the national/homeland security business.  Just take a quick look around Wikipedia, Forbes, and OpenSecrets.org, and here is what you will find:

  • Tom Ridge has his own security consultancy (Ridge Global, LLC) and lobbying firm (Ridge Policy Group).  He chairs the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s national security task force and sits on the boards of at least one military contractor (TechRadium, Inc.) and one company (Geospatial Corporation) that serves the oil and gas industry.
  • Francis Fragos Townsend chairs an industry association for intelligence contractors (the Intelligence and National Security Alliance) and is the head of lobbying for a holding company (MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc.) that owns the military contractor AM General. 
  • Rudolph Giuliani has a security consulting firm (Giuliani Partners) and is a partner in a law firm with prominent oil and gas and lobbying practices (Bracewell & Giuliani).  He used to own a private equity fund that teamed up with Bear Stearns to invest in security companies.
  • Louis Freeh has a security and investigations consulting firm (Freeh Group International Solutions, LLC) and a law firm (Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP), where he represents, among other clients, a Saudi prince in a bribery investigation involving an arms deal.
  • Hugh Shelton has served on the boards of directors of several military contractors, such as L-3 Communications, CACI International, Inc., and Protective Products of America, Inc.
  • Bolton, Mukasey, Rendell, and Dean are affiliated with major law firms whose clients include not just standard military contractors but many other more mundane corporations, as expert Nick Turse has shown, also benefit from military largesse.  (Bolton is also affiliated with several pro-war think tanks.)

For people in the national/homeland security business, war with Iran would be a cash cow.  They and their clients stand to benefit handsomely.  Just stoking fears of war can get money flowing, from studies to retrofitting naval vessels.  Bombing would be better, as even something as small as the Libyan war involved spending more than a billion dollars.  But full-on war, that’s the mother lode.  An invasion followed by an Iraq-style lingering occupation and reconstruction would open up hundreds of billions and possibly even trillions of taxpayer dollars for the grabbing.

 

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