|Congressman Tom Tancredo - IRAN'S GROWING THREATS; U.S. POLICY OPTIONS & STATUS OF CAMP ASHRAF|
|Monday, 27 February 2012 09:31|
Thank you all. Please be seated. thank you all very much for being here today.
My name is Tom Tancredo and I'm I former member of the United States Congress and a long time, maybe now 15 years I’ve been a supporter of the efforts of the people we are going to be talking about today.
First, I'd like to recognize and thank Mr. Bruce McColm, former director of Freedom House and for his ongoing support in helping to organize this event.
A few days ago and to no one's surprise, except perhaps the State Department, Iran broke off talks regarding its nuclear development program. Western leaders criticized the decision and the call for tougher economic sanctions became louder.
As the eyes of the world are focused on this dangerous diplomatic tug of war, a quiet but deadly dance is being performed in the deserts of Eastern Iraq and in Baghdad A human tragedy involving thousands of people is developing in the Middle East but with much less attention being paid to it by the rest of the world.
Of course I'm referring to the people of Ashraf and those now held in what has become the ironically named Camp Liberty.
As world leaders discuss the ominous threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, few even realize that almost everything we know about Iran's nuclear capabilities came to us through the efforts of the MEK and their broader coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. These people have been the most consistent and effective opponents of the terrorist regime in Tehran.
In another ironic twist, the MEK has been branded with the term terrorist by our own State Department.
This is a situation that puts their very existence in jeopardy as they are now at the mercy of the government of Iraq. A government that has become a co-conspirator with Iran in the persecution of the men, woman and children in Ashraf.
There are now 400 people from Ashraf who have been moved into a tiny, filthy part of Camp Liberty with the promise that their internment would be brief and in a place that provided basic amenities.
In fact, conditions there are disgusting as you will see. And the people there not only must exist in the most vile of surroundings, but they must do so under the constant surveillance of armed Iraqi guards. What was supposed to be a safe haven, has turned into a nightmare.
So we are gathered here today to try and make it possible for world leaders, excuse me, we're going to make it impossible for world leaders to use the excuse of ignorance in order on absolve themselves of the responsibility for the situation.
Undertaking this task will be panel members on my left and we will start their presentations immediately after this very brief video.
(Video being played.)
What an amazing panel. (Applause.)
It was amazing not only in the amount of incredibly important and profound thought that was put forward by every individual on the panel but we finished ahead of time. Another amazing feat.
In doing so, we have perhaps an opportunity here for individuals if during the course of the conversation they thought of other issues or they had other things that they wanted to bring to our attention. We have got a minute or two to do so. I
ask any member of the panel if they have any other comments they want to put forward? Mr. Giuliani.
MR. GIULIANI: Thank you. It occurs to me that in order for something very practical to emerge from this, I would suggest that we ask and see if we can organize to help the United States House of Representatives, maybe even the Senate, but I feel more comfortable that this could happen in the House of Representatives to pass a resolution that would appoint a commission or make it a small group, if you don't want it to sound like it's too formal, of five people, that would immediately go to Iraq and examine Camp Liberty -- (Applause.) and report back within 38 hours or two or three days what they see. Is Camp Liberty really a suitable place? Should it be a relocation center? Is it really a prison or a concentration camp? Secondly, also I would suggest that the resolution contain a framework for accepting refugees with the United States, since the United States made this promise to the people of Ashraf. With the United States being willing at least initially to accept at 87 least half the people and suggesting that other countries accept the other half. If that doesn't happen, then American is bound to accept all the people and do it quickly (Applause.) Maybe the third part of it, the third part of the resolution could be to the State Department. How about deciding? I mean, it's been a year and a half. Come on?
So now I have to act like a New Yorker. What the hell is going on? Wake up. I know it's Foggy Bottom -- (Laughter.) but my God, 18 months. Maybe the resolution should say, maybe you can get this decided in a week and at least make a decision and I think if those three things could be put in a resolution, a commission, and if that sounds too formal, just a small study group.
I would suggest you have a group here and then you could look at the entire group that has spoken 88 on behalf of this organization. Pick any five. A lot of democrats, a lot of republicans, liberals, conservatives, I don't know. I don't think there are any communists -- (Laughter.) there's just about everything here you could imagine. Pick five of these people. Send them over. Tell them to come back and report. Maybe we can do something that's really helpful. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. TANCREDO: Mr. Dershowitz?
MR. DERSHOWITZ: I just wanted to follow-up briefly on one thing that Rudy Giuliani said. America would benefit so much if we took in 3,000 plus people from Camp Ashraf. These would be among the best immigrants, the best citizens. I mean, if you just, just look at history. If you look at the contributions the Iranian-American community has made to America. You have lived the American dream. I know. I've spoken to your groups in Los Angeles and New York and other parts of the industry. You have been the American dream. You have contributed so much to the country. You have done so well. You have really, really done so much. Not only for yourself, but for the country.
I can imagine no better gift to America than for us to keep our promise. It's a win-win. Take these folks in. Let them live constructive lives. Let them pay back a debt they might feel they owed to America. It's a win-win.
I think your idea, Rudy, is a terrific idea. I wouldn't even put it as a last alternative. It seems to me it's a terrific idea for America. (Applause.) You know, as Mayor Daley so correctly pointed out, we are a nation of immigrants and the recency of our immigration is only a matter of degree.
My family came over in 1989 and they had the lowest ratio of wealth to time in America of any Jewish family, that's because there were all rabbis. But, in our own way, hopefully we have contributed but when you look at the contributions of immigrants, particularly immigrants who have escaped oppression, and who have come here because the Statue of Liberty says give us your poor, your huddled masses. What is more appropriate than the huddled masses that are around Camp Liberty today?
I urge America, open up our doors, don't think of it as a last resort, think of it as a benefit to America. (Applause.)
MR. TANCREDO: Well, it's just been an extraordinary day. Really and truly. I was thinking as I sat here and listened to these incredibly articulate people talk about this problem, that I think it's been a little over 10 years.
I remember when I first, and I think it was about 10 years ago, I signed a letter to a Republican Secretary of State in a republican administration asking for that administration to de-list the MEK. It was about 10 years ago.
That started an odyssey, I suppose, that I look back on now and it's been a tremendous experience.
I also remember that at the time it was incredibly difficult. It was, I would say almost impossible to actually, to actually get any of my colleagues in the Congress to stand up, make a very forceful statement in support of the MEK.
There was a fear of the designation. There was the political follow-up that might come as a result of this. I kept saying, but you don't understand, these people are on our side. These are our guys. They are trying to do the right thing. They want to oust the Mullahs in Iran. They know the language. They know the culture. They're with us. We need to be with them.
And in that course of time, thank God, things have changed. There are now many people, distinguished people, far more distinguished than I and for more competent in making the case for the people in Ashraf and I do thank God for that. And I mean it when I say that it is something that we all can do.
We all strain at what it is we can possibly individually do to bring this situation to a beneficial end. We all can do this. Raise our voices in pray to God for the safety of the people of Ashraf and for the people and to free the people of Iran.
So over time, over time we have made great progress -- (Applause.) we have made great progress, yes. But look at what lies ahead. And I say it is so good now because we join these forces today and the voices of people from all different political backgrounds and stripes.
Yes, I say to the State Department, I said in the original letter, you made a mistake, I don't care. I'm not asking for them to admit anything, to admit a mistake. I don't care anymore. It's not important. That part is not important. Who made the mistake and all of the incorrect decisions, policy decisions that may have been made subsequent to the decision to put them on the list, I don't care.
The time now and everything we need to do now speak of action to resolve a present danger that exists in Ashraf, in Iraq, and for these wonderful people who have suffered so much.
And so, I'm not asking for any apologies from anybody. I'm only asking that you now do the right thing. No one today, no person in policy, in a policy making role in America or in the world today can say they didn't know what was happening.
If the worst occurs, think about this, policymakers, you cannot say I didn't know, you do know. You can act. You must act. And stranger things have happened than this that perhaps next year this event could take place in a free Tehran. (Applause.)
Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites