|Director John Sano - Appeasement When Dealing with Terrorist organizations and Regimes is Never Successful|
|Sunday, 22 January 2012 18:51|
In the international conference held in Paris on Friday, January 20, 2012 in defense of Ashraf, Director John Sano, former Deputy Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, made the following remarks:
Thank you. It really is a privilege to be here, and Madame President, thank you for the invitation, and to my—I can’t really call them colleagues, they’re my superiors. I was a spy for 28 years, so being in bright lights and in front of crowds is a little bit unnerving to me, so please pardon any nervousness on my part.
While the world is clearly aware of Tehran’s continued and stringent opposition to the MEK, to include the atrocities that have been perpetrated against the innocent civilians at Camp Ashraf, as well as Iran’s growing influence over the Maliki regime, very little is known about the covert mechanisms that Tehran employs to continue to propagate the falsehoods that are being levied continuously against the MEK and in promoting continued oppression and violence against the innocent residents of Camp Ashraf and soon to be Camp Liberty.
Key among these mechanisms, and indeed the most prominent, remains the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the MOIS. Now, if you remember back in the President Bush administration, the axis of evil, Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Now as a field operative I worked against those organizations in the past. And within the intelligence community there was a gentlemen’s agreement when we talked about these three axes of evil. North Korea we knew was far gone. People had been subjugated for over half a century. Iraq we knew had general tendencies. The thing that stood apart with Iran was the people. A very young generation in particular compared to the other countries in the region, but it was the empathy that Americans have always felt for the people of Iran. And that has never changed. In fact, I think given recent events over the past few years it has grown. So we never really accepted the fact that even though it was our president that said it, that Iran should be part of the axis of evil. Now the current regime, of course, but not the people. In the other two instances, Iraq and North Korea, we encompassed everyone. It didn’t apply to Iran. And again, that’s still the case; in fact it’s gotten only better.
When you look at an intelligence or security organization in any country, they’re tasked with maintaining their country’s secrets and protecting the legitimately elected administration there. The MOIS is neither traditional nor do they abide by any universally established codes of conduct. Their sole objective is the continuation of the regime and the eradication of its enemies. And they view the MEK as its primary enemy. MOIS agents operate throughout Iran as well as across the globe. They target dissidents or anyone whom they believe or are told are potential threats to the regime. Their activities are not limited to intimidation, assassination and torture. Now while these are certainly the most egregious of their actions, the MOIS also engages in more subtle activities which are nearly equally damaging on the political front.
These activities are designed to present a different face of Iran to the world. It’s not the face that we know, it’s not the face that you obviously know, or that the residents of Camp Ashraf have known for a quarter of a century. It depicts—the Iranian MOIS sends a message, subtly and not so subtly, by depicting those that stand up for democracy, who stand up for basic human rights such as freedom of expression and association, to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention as well as torture, they depict them as subversives, as terrorists. They do this through propaganda, what we call in the spy business disinformation or misinformation.
The MOIS is very good at this. They’ve been trained by a number of other hostile services in the world. They often recruit journalists, maybe unwittingly, newspaper stringers, and now with the worldwide media through various social networks it’s much easier to put false stories out there.
They put completely false accounts into this media throughout the region and throughout the world, such disinformation campaigns like the erroneous stories previously talking about Camp Ashraf was harboring female suicide bombers, or the members of the MEK were responsible for plotting to blow up airliners. They seek both the sensational as well as the sublime, though they seem to have a tendency for the more outlandish, as was the case when they tried to portray the innocent residents of Camp Ashraf as harboring and training female assassins.
In essence, the best way to characterize the MOIS would be as a secret police organization focused solely on the perpetuation of the current regime in Tehran, and the expansion of Iran’s influence in the region. And we see that very clearly in Iraq.
I would classify the MOIS, and I know I have many who would agree with me, as a terrorist organization. It is not the MEK, it is the MOIS. [applause] They’re very well-funded. They’re well-equipped. They’ve had extensive training. They have a history of atrocities perpetrated against their own people, and against those that they perceive as enemies of the regime. They have conducted political assassinations, the serial murders of dissidents and intellectuals both in their own country and around the world. And one only has to look at how the Ahmadinejad government has treated protestors in the aftermath of their sham 2009 presidential elections to see just what they are capable of doing, not to mention their recent attempts at a failed assassination plan inside Washington, D.C.
We see it demonstrated yet again, most recently in Baghdad’s interpretation of the recently concluded MOU, Iran’s continuous eroding of the previously agreed upon conditions to include a dramatic reduction in the size of the habitable space within Camp Liberty, their refusal to allow for the transfer of personal possessions and the growing surveillance and eavesdropping efforts that are being installed in the confines of the camp as we speak, not to mention erecting high walls and a near constant police force that will be inside the camp for less than a half a kilometer.
Now, these recent efforts, and the ones that are ongoing, were done in all likelihood with the approval of, if not the direct participation by the MOIS. It’s yet another clear example of how the Maliki government, through the manipulation and control by the Iranian government, is seeking the systematic eradication of the residents of Camp Ashraf. Maliki has already stated that he has arrest warrants for over 120 of the residents, and has already mentioned that he wants the leaders extradited to Tehran. And as other members of the panel have already mentioned, again, this is an effort to dismantle the MEK.
He’s even been so bold as to state, and this is a quote, “Iraq is dealing with the residents of Camp as individuals and in accordance with the human rights principles and rules of international law enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” This is a blatant lie, especially when you view this in the context of the massacre of 43 innocent civilians just a few months ago, and the wounding of well over 1,000, not to mention the recent rocket attacks on the camp. These actions demonstrate the lengths to which Maliki’s government will go to justify their current, and more worrisome, their future actions. This statement alone is a clear indication of his intent.
Given the conditions in Camp Liberty—most prisons in the civilized world have better conditions than what will exist at Camp Liberty. Yet what crimes have the innocent residents committed? Is it their desire for a normal life, one that for the past 25 years has been void of basic human rights that we all enjoy? Is it their efforts to see a pluralist political system in their home country? One where freedom of speech and assembly exists and where there is gender equality and a separation of church and state? Is it a crime to want these most basic of human rights? If it is, then we are all criminals. [applause]
Dictatorial regimes like the current regime in Iran, regimes that subjugate their own people, they’re quick to designate anyone who opposes them as subversives, and even as they’ve repeatedly described the MEK and the residents of Camp Ashraf as terrorists.
Camp Ashraf has been under the protection of U.S. forces since its residents voluntarily handed over their weapons in 2003 and have been recognized as protected persons and non-combatants under the Fourth Geneva Convention. When the U.S. began its withdrawal from Iraq that protection was transferred to the Maliki government with assurances that they would continue to treat the men, women and children there with basic human respect. Instead of treating them in this way, the Maliki regime viewed it as yet another way to demonstrate their homage to the mullahs in Tehran. By blindly agreeing to systemically dismantle, humiliate, and kill the innocent men, women and children of Camp Ashraf.
This is not the act of a civilized nation; this is the act of terrorists. We must not allow Iraq to misuse the MOU recently signed to benefit their continued persecution of a group that only wants what we all deserve, freedom from prosecution and the choice to determine their own futures. Peaceful relocation is not a privilege; it is a basic human right.
The international community, but especially the United Sates, must continue to demonstrate to the Iraqi and Iranian governments that continued mistreatment of the residents of Camp Ashraf is no longer acceptable, that it represents a clear and present threat to the security and safety of innocent civilians and will no longer be tolerated. The UNHCR must be able to perform its duties. The UN, the EU and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton have all vowed to guarantee their protection during this process. But guarantees to Maliki, and especially to the Mullahs in Tehran, are meaningless. As Mayor Guliani has accurately pointed out earlier, they only understand one thing, force, strength. [applause]
Letters and efforts to engage are not going to prove successful. The use of UN blue helmet forces would be an excellent way to demonstrate to the Iraqi and Iranian regimes that we are serious about protecting these innocent lives and that the international community is no longer susceptible to the political machinations and manipulations by Maliki and the mullahs in Tehran.
It is imperative that the protection of the residents of Camp Ashraf remain paramount, and this can only be done through the continued attention and focus of the international community at this very critical juncture. We must ensure that the Iraqi government, absent the manipulative influence of Iran, adheres to the minimum requirements that the residents will need in their relocation, which includes the ability to bring their personal possessions, freedom from surveillance, from harassment and from the fear of arrest and detention.
These are not unusual requests, nor are they special privileges, but rather, as I mentioned earlier, basic inalienable human rights.
When President Obama and Prime Minister Maliki met last month, Maliki promised that he would, quote, “broker no interference from outside powers in the conduct of internal Iraqi affairs.” Another lie. But we must ensure that he holds to this promise and does not allow the government of Iran to meddle or control events concerning the residents of Camp Ashraf.
A policy of appeasement when dealing with terrorist organizations and regimes is never successful. As with the continuous listing of the MEK on the foreign terrorist organizations list, which was done initially to appease the government of Iran, and which by the way has produced no visible results, no benefits, the consistent eroding off the initial MOU reached just a few weeks ago on the transfer and resolution of the residents of Camp Ashraf works only to the advantage of the Ahmadinejad regime. I asked to what end and for how long must the innocent victims at Camp Ashraf be subjected to these political machinations. I believe that they have suffered far too long under dire and increasingly hostile conditions only to have to face a future of uncertainty and continued harassment.
Now in the grand scheme of things what does the lives of 3,400 people mean? If again as Mayor Guliani pointed out, the UN has done nothing, their history in terms of providing assistance in crucial matters like this. So one might ask themselves, so what’s another 3,400 people? Where is it in the grand scheme of things, in the history of humanity? It’s not just a number of people; it’s a point in time. It is a marker, for all of humanity, but especially for the United States and the United Nations. This is the time for the international community to resolutely and repeatedly stand up in defense of the residents of Camp Ashraf. It’s long at hand, it’s long overdue. It is responsibility of everyone to ensure that these people who have given so much and have endured with such harsh treatments be given the opportunity finally for liberty and for justice. Thank you. [applause]
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