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Senator Roy Blunt Opens Panel Where Senior Former Military, State Department, and Judiciary Officials Slam Claim Iranian Dissident Camp Could Hold Weapons, Call for Delisting the Group

Iran's Nuclear Threat, Impact of Sanctions and Policy Options

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2012, Iranian-American Cultural Association of Missouri - In a Senate briefing, former US Military officials and lawmakers sharply rejected an argument by Justice Department attorney in US federal court of appeals that the delay in making a decision on removing Iran's main opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK) [] the U.S. terror list was because the State Department was unsure whether there were any weapons at the Camp Ashraf, Iraq, home to 3,400 members of the group and that the U.S. had not been permitted to search the Camp. They urged the Secretary of State to delist the MEK immediately.

In his opening remarks, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), who sits on the Select Committee on Intelligence, said, "We're talking about MEK and Camp Ashraf... we're talking about people in Iran who have a tremendous desire for freedom and democracy." In a letter to Secretary Clinton in March 2012, the Missouri Republican had formally requested "a detailed briefing regarding the State Department's review of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq" (MEK) designation under section 219." He had noted that "if no satisfactory public or classified information exists to sustain our designation of the MEK as a foreign terrorist organization, it is my belief that the time has come to remove it [] the list."

Addressing the allegations of Government lawyer, retired Brigadier General David Phillips, former commander of all police operations in Iraq, who supervised Camp Ashraf, said, "I take great offense to those comments because of the dedication and hard work done over year-long period...where my forces conducted operations, inspections, raids to find any contraband, (look) for weapons, explosives (or) other armaments possibly hidden someplace on the facility and around the facility... We had open access everywhere at any time, any place. I personally went to every single facility on that 36-square kilometer facility. Never did we find a single weapon."

"Why in the world in the two times that Camp Ashraf was attacked, that everybody wouldn't go back and look for the guns if there were actually guns in Camp Ashraf," said former Rep. Patrick Kennedy. "All I know is, if someone were out there shooting at me and killing my fellows and family members, I wouldn't be keeping a stash of weapons hidden for very long."

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey said that the Government's refusal to withdraw its assertions amounts to a breach of legal ethics. "There are things a lawyer is allowed to do to win a case, and there are things a lawyer is not allowed to do to win a case," Mukasey said. "Among the things a lawyer is not allowed to do to win a case is to misrepresent facts or law to the court. That's sin number one."

"The MEK is far [] being a terrorist organization. They have given us valuable intelligence... the designation of the MEK has been used by the Maliki government in Iraq to attack MEK members in Camp Ashraf or impose inhumane restrictions on them," Governor Bill Richardson emphasized.

Prof. Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University expressed "shock" at the misrepresentations of the Government attorney: "They say they'll make a decision on [delisting] 60 days after everybody has left Camp Ashraf, after they had a chance to inspect, to see if there are weapons behind. The Iraqis could easily plant weapons when everybody is out of the camp. What they have to do is to inspect [Camp Ashraf] now."

"The people who are living in Camp Liberty do not even have an adequate water supply system... The women have to be confronted on a daily basis with the soldiers who are armed... It is absolutely clear that those who are in Camp Liberty are prisoners. They have no freedom of movement... Not even to get adequate medical care when they need it," Linda Chavez, former Assistant to the President for Public Liaison said.

John Sano, the former National Clandestine Service's Deputy Director and member of directorate of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency said, "What the mullahs are really afraid of is the threat to the existence of their regime. Who poses that biggest threat? It's the MEK [which] stands for human rights, for a denuclearized Iran, for women's rights and for protection for all, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom [] prosecution. That scares the regime more so than military force of any opposing nation... They know that if the United States de-lists the MEK that sends a message not just to the world...but it sends an equally strong, if not stronger message to the people of Iran."

"Removal of the MEK [] the list is in the United States' best interest [] a national security perspective. It would also send a strong message to the Iranians that MEK's efforts to unseat the radical fundamentalist leaders would no longer be viewed by the United States as terrorism but rather as an exercise of their legitimate right to change the future," added LTG David Deptula, former Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.

SOURCE Iranian-American Cultural Association of Missouri


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Iraqi forces attack Camp Ashraf