Who Will Convict the US Government for “Material Support of Terrorism”?

This past week saw the conviction of Tarek Mehanna for “material support of terrorism,” a special charge these days for those with Arabo-Muslamic sounding names. A charge that earned Mehanna 17.5 years in prison.

Aside from the problematic nature of the case, (Mehanna’s digital history proves he did not fit the picture of the eager-to-be-entrapped-or-turned-informant-wannabe-AlQaede-esque-terrorist, also Mehanna was essentially convicted of “translating documents”), there is another saliently unsurprising point that has been brought to the fore: the hypocrisy of the US government and the elite political class.

Hypocrisy amongst politicians? Like, what’s new, right?

Political hypocrisy is a given in our cynical culture, a daily fact of life. We are so used to the double standards when it comes to ‘crime and punishment’ that many of us are blind to it when it occurs.

So, the US government can train terrorists in the Nevada desert that it’s own State Department has designated part of a “foreign terrorist organization” and no one blinks an eye:

Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq…M.E.K. has remained on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations—which meant that secrecy was essential in the Nevada training. “We did train them here, and washed them through the Energy Department because the D.O.E. owns all this land in southern Nevada,” a former senior American intelligence official told me. “We were deploying them over long distances in the desert and mountains, and building their capacity in communications—coördinating commo is a big deal.” (A spokesman for J.S.O.C. said that “U.S. Special Operations Forces were neither aware of nor involved in the training of M.E.K. members.”)

Before Seymour Hersh uncovered the sordid fact that the US government was directly involved in the training of terrorists in Nevada, it was well known (though under-reported), that there was a bi-partisan involvement of current and former government officials in both lobbying and receiving money from the MEK:

Congressmen (including Democrats) and former government officials have met with the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an organization that was designated a terrorist group in 1997 when the list was first compiled, and is STILL ON THE LIST–for now.

MEK has a very aggressive and organized lobby effort in Washington D.C. According to one House staffer, the MEK is “the most mobilized grassroots advocacy effort in the country — AIPAC included.” Their mission is to be delisted as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), push the USA to foment war with Iran, i.e. “regime change,” and have themselves installed into power. Sound familiar?

Again, the hypocrisy is glaring, and as we pointed out in the past, exposes some crucial points:

1.) It is a felony to provide a designated terrorist organization with “material support,” which many elected officials it can be argued have been doing!

2.) “Numerous Muslims inside the U.S. have been prosecuted for providing ‘material support for Terrorism’ for doing far less than these American politicians are publicly doing on behalf of a designated Terrorist group.” Read Glenn Greenwald’s piece for a far from comprehensive list of Muslims who have been charged for doing far less than what these politicians did!

What should we do? Sit idly by while those with power flaunt the rule of law and treat the rest of us like subjects and serfs unworthy of equality before the law? Have we ceded “immunity” to the powerful political class in consequence of their law-breaking?

Recently, the Department of Treasury has announced that it is investigating three former high ranking officials for receiving money from the MEK:

The Department of Treasury is investigating payments to three former top-ranking government officials for speaking on behalf of a group on the U.S. terrorist list…Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, former FBI Director Louis Freeh and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Hugh Shelton.

While this is welcome news, it does put the government in the embarrassing position of investigating prominent officials for supporting terrorists while having simultaneously trained the exact same terrorists! The question is, who is going to investigate the government for training MEK operatives in the Nevada desert?

The three officials being investigated were not the only ones receiving money and perks in exchange for lobbying on behalf of the MEK. There are at least “nearly two dozen prominent former officials who have received up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees in exchange for their efforts on behalf of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK).”

This is why I propose a grassroots effort, starting with an online petition and campaign calling for the Department of the Treasury to expand its investigation of officials who have been aiding the US State Department designated “foreign terrorist organization” the MEK.

Those who will be the subject of this petition are as follows:

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former homeland security advisor Fran Townsend: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former White House chief of staff Andy Card: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Hugh Shelton: received about $20-30,000 per speech and a variety of perks, including first-class airfare to European cities.

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean: Lobbied on behalf of, met with and received money.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell: received about $20-30,000 per speech and a variety of perks, including first-class airfare to European cities.

Former FBI Director Louis Frieh: received about $20-30,000 per speech and a variety of perks, including first-class airfare to European cities.

Former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson: Received money.

Former General Wesley Clark: Lobbied on behalf of, met with and received money.

Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif.: Lobbied on behalf of, met with and received money.

Former Congressman Tom Tancredo, R-Col.: Lobbied on behalf of and met with.

Ted Poe, R-Texas: Lobbied on behalf of and met with.

Dennis Moore, R-Kan.: Lobbied on behalf of and met with.

State Department Ambassador Daniel Fried: participated in phone calls “urging the pro-MEK members to pass along messages to MEK leaders in Paris.”

Former Sen. Robert Torricelli: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former Sen. Evan Bayh: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former CIA Director Porter Goss: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

If this Department of Treasury investigation has any real teeth behind it, and is not just a mechanism to provide the illusion of justice, it will be comprehensive and thorough, including all those who received money, lobbied on behalf of or met with the MEK. Isn’t that what we have seen with those convicted of “material support of terrorism” for doing far less than these politicians?

Seymour Hersh Reveals that MEK Terrorists Were Trained in the USA by the Pentagon

As Glenn Greenwald noted in his book “With Liberty and Justice for Some,” equality before the law is an illusion in the United States. If you are wealthy and have political clout you are most likely to get away with breaking the law and committing crimes, such as “material support” of terrorism.

We reported in July of last year that many politicians from both parties were working with and receiving money from a US State Department designated terrorist organization, the MEK. A group Islamophobes are also quite fond of at the moment.

It was then revealed that the US and Israel have been supporting the MEK to carry out terrorist missions in Iran. Now it has been revealed by the trailblazing investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh that the Pentagon has been training the MEK in Nevada for years, starting in 2005:

US Pentagon Trained Iranian terrorists in Nevada: Hersh

Posted on 04/07/2012 by Juan Cole

The intrepid Seymour Hersh reports at the New Yorker that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) of the US military gave members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK or People’s Holy Jihadis) training in signals intelligence at a facility in Nevada during the Bush era. The MEK was then and is now on the US State Department’s terrorism watch list, so the Pentagon’s deployment of this group was quite illegal.

The MEK was given a base in eastern Iraq by Saddam Hussein, who used the some 4,000 guerrillas who gathered there to harass the Islamic Republic of Iran. The MEK had its origins in an Islamic-Marxist guerrilla group of the 1970s that fought the forces of the Shah. It joined in the revolution against the Shah in 1978-79 but broke with the Khomeini regime and turned to a massive campaign of bombing and sniping against it. In return, the regime killed some 10,000 suspected MEK members, many of whom it just shot down in the street. The group evolved into a political cult, with insistence on glaze-eyed absolute obedience to the leader, Maryam Rajavi, and cult-like practices such as forced marriages and divorces (not to mention the long history of violence inside Iran).

When the US occupied Iraq, some in the Pentagon adopted the MEK at Camp Ashraf near the Iranian border for use against Iran. The MEK has bought a lot of big American politicians and seems to have promised the Israelis it would recognize Israel if it ever came to power in Iran; figures connected to the Israel lobbies have hypocritically campaigned to have the MEK delisted as a terrorist organization, despite it long and bloody record of attacks on civilians. As recently as this year, NBC quoted unnamed US government officials alleging that the MEK has been assassinating Iranian scientists in Iran.

Hersh reveals a trail of blatant hypocrisy on the part of the US government. “Our” terrorists are not terrorists even if they have blown up non-combatants, but national liberation groups such as Hizbullah in Lebanon are designated terrorists. Government officials have even brandished the word “terrorism” to describe perfectly peaceful protesters and dissidents inside the US, while JSOC was flying dyed-in-the-wool terrorists to Nevada for training.

The USG Open Source Center translated a report in the MEK newspaper regarding the hobnobbing of Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton and others with the MEK leadership in Paris recently:

“– On 24 March, the NCRI secretariat website published a report on an international conference held in Paris to address MEK concerns and issues, which was attended by NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi as well as former high ranking officials from the United States and Europe including Rudy Giuliani, Tom Ridge, John Bolton, Patrick Kennedy, and Colonel Wesley Martin.. According to the report, the issues raised included the adoption of a “decisive policy” against Iran’s regime, protection of the rights of Camp Ashraf and Liberty residents, and the elimination of MEK’s “terrorist label.” Rajavi said that “the only way to prevent an Iranian atomic bomb or the occurrence of an unprecedented conflict” was “regime change” by the Iranian people and resistance. On the issue of Camp Liberty, Rudy Giuliani said: “Let us go there. Let us see it with our own eyes.” He added: “Currently the enemy of stopping Iran becoming nuclear is appeasement. This wrong perception has made Iran more determined in becoming nuclear. Let us stop appeasement. Let us stop the efforts for negotiations. Stop writing letters to the ayatollahs. Let us rise up and say as Americans that we are for regime change in Iran and we will take every step necessary to stop Iran becoming nuclear” (National Council of Resistance of Iran in Persian — Website of an exiled political umbrella coalition of Marxist and Islamist organizations — Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO), National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA), People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and Muslim Iranian Students Society (MISS); on US State Department’s list of terrorist groups since 1997; URL: http://www.iranncr.org/).”

As Sheila Musaji points out, lots of American Muslims are in jail for ‘material support of terrorism,’ but American politicians and pundits get a free pass for actively supporting the MEK– which, remember, is definitively on the terrorism watch list.

Note to the US government and the Neocons: George Orwell’s 1984 was a dark political satire, not a blueprint for how you should do things.