|Judge Michael Mukasey: Progress That Kills|
|Friday, 17 February 2012 15:04|
MR. MUKASEY: It is a great and humbling honor to be introduced by somebody who is so obviously the representative of a great political tradition in this country.
You know, it seems as if we've come together many times to discuss the plight of MEK and particularly the plight of the 3400 residents of Ashraf. Of course, that's not how it was supposed to be. In 2003, when coalition forces invaded Iraq and carried the residents of Ashraf, the Ashraf residents peacefully surrounded the weapons they had, and they had both heavy weapons and light weapons to defend themselves. But they surrendered them willingly to coalition forces. They received, in return, a guarantee that they would be treated as protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
In fact, that guarantee was signed on behalf of coalition forces by a U.S. General. They received identity cards that carried the telephone number of the military police commanded by another U.S. general, General Phillips. As I'm sure you know, because we've heard the story many times, an earlier administration, in the belief that it would help open a dialogue with the Mullahs, had put MEK on the State Department's list for foreign terrorist organizations. And so as a precaution, the FBI went in in 2003, 2004 and evaluated each of the residents of Ashraf to make certain that none of them was a terrorist. And in each case, the FBI certified that in fact none were. The Iraqis have been acting increasingly at the command of the Iranian government now that the United States has withdrawn from Iraq. And the Maliki government, indeed Maliki himself, has now agreed that Ashraf must be closed.
At first, he wanted to force the residents of Ashraf back to Iran, or to scatter them within Iraq, so they could be picked off one by one by the end of 2011. But he agreed to stay his hand for a couple of months provided they relocate to a military outpost that was abandoned by U.S. troops with they left Iraq and was subsequently looted by the Iraqis. That goes by the name of Camp Liberty. Camp Liberty.
Even though the space at Camp Liberty is a tiny fracture of the space that the residents of Ashraf have where they are, even though there are no medical facilities at Camp Liberty, no recreational facilities, even though the details of how the residents of Ashraf will obtain food and drinking water have not even been worked out. We've been told, you have been told, the residents of Ashraf have been told, by the U.S. State Department that this is, in fact, progress, that the residents of Ashraf must recognize this progress and make up their minds to move to Camp Liberty even though arrangements to resettle them have not yet been made.
You know, I once had an uncle who the family said died of progress. That's right. He went into the hospital and each day the doctor used to come by and say he was showing progress. And then one die he died. We all concluded, he must have died from progress, because that was all he was showing according to the doctor. The State Department reminds me of that doctor.
But, of course, it's even worse than that. Because the potentially fatal disease that the residents of Ashraf have come to a U.S. designation of MEK as a foreign terrorist organization. Notice I say the U.S. designation. That's because the European Union has removed the MEK from any such list, the United Kingdom has removed the MEK from any such list. As you heard, the only other country to classify MEK as a terrorist organization is Iran. The Iraqis, who act simply as pawns for Iran, has justified their cruel treatment of the residents of Ashraf and their insistence that the camp be closed by pointing to the terrorist designation that was imposed by the State Department.
In 2009, in 2011, while a U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was in country, some forty-seven residents of Ashraf were massacred by Iraqi troops using weapons that were supplied and vehicles that were supplied by the United States. Regrettably U.S. forces were directed to withdraw just before the Iraqis went in both times.
And of course the identity cards and the splendid letter guaranteeing their safety that the Ashraf residents received, regretfully those were not bullet proof. So the U.S.-made bullets and armored vehicles that the Iraqis turned on them, were able to even overcome those identity cards and that guarantee. And when an outcry was raised and there were demands for an investigation and punishment of those guilty of murder, the Iraqis were able to shrug their shoulders and point to the U.S. designation as an excuse of doing nothing.
Even though General Phillips and Colonel Wesley Martin, the two senior officers in charge of the sector where Ashraf was located, have said time and again that the residents of Ashraf provided valuable assistance to U.S. troops. Even though MEK has said repeatedly that it stands to be heard for regime change in Iran, the establishment of a secular democratic government that grants equal rights to all, including women, that is nuclear free. And even though a United States court in Washington has told the State Department that the public record that it presented in court was not enough to justify continuing the designation and they must either present other evidence or else remove the designation, the State Department has purposely dragged its heels for more than a year and a half since that ruling and told the Ashraf residents that they must trust the efforts of the United States and the United Nations to resettle them.
Of course, the United States is in no position to ask others to accept Ashraf residents so long as the United States itself, alone among civilized countries, maintains the MEK on its list of foreign terrorist organizations. And it is in no position politically, even to act itself so as to receive MEK members in this country so long as that designation is in place.
And there, of course, is the grim catch. The State Department continues to insist that Ashraf residents are in control of their own fate. When, in fact, their fate is controlled and possibly their doom is sealed, by the State Department's own designation.
The State Department insists that Camp Liberty has been found habitable by the united nations. Well, even the U.N. has issued conflicting statements about whether it can support life and whether anyone can stay for any extended period of time so that they can resettle.
Now, some have described Camp Liberty and some here where the State Department has urged the residents of Ashraf to go, some described it as a prison. Well, I have to tell you, I resent that description. Because when I served as Attorney General, one of my responsibilities was to supervise the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. And I will tell that a prison, as tough a place as it is, is at least a place where both the prisoners and the guards are bound by rules. A prison is a place where we send people as punishment, not for punishment. But there is another kind of place by which Camp Liberty may be compared, a place where even the ironic name, Camp Liberty, makes you remember it, and that is a concentration camp. A place where people are sent to be broken in body and broken in spirit. The Germans had an inscription over the entrance of more than one of the concentration camps that they ran; work makes you free. And, of course, the people that passed under that inscription were not destined to achieve freedom through work, they were destined only for slavery and death. Am I being melodramatic here, am I being extreme? I don't think so.
The Iraqi army has already given the residents of Ashraf a taste of the liberty that they have in mind for them at Camp Liberty and this is the force that is supposed to protect them at Camp Liberty. The 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke said that all that is necessary to ensure the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
I think what we have come here this morning to say is that the people in this room and others that are not in this room, do not intend to stand and do nothing. We've been heard in the past and intend to be continued to be heard until the residents of Ashraf, the members of MEK, and all Iranians, can remove the current regime and return their country to the glorious civilization that it once was and that it will be again.
Thank you very much.
Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites