Christina Wilkie of the Huffington Post has written an article about the MEK titled, "Former U.S. Officials Make Millions Advocating For Terrorist Organization." Below are quotes from this interesting 3 page article.
1. ...for a terrorist organization with deep pockets, it appears there's always hope.
2. All told, at least 33 high-ranking former U.S. officials have given speeches to MEK-friendly audiences since December of last year as part of more than 22 events in Washington, Brussels, London, Paris and Berlin. While not every speaker accepted payment, MEK-affiliated groups have spent millions of dollars on speaking fees, according to interviews with the former officials, organizers and attendees.
3.[Ed] Rendell [former Pennsylvania governor] freely admits he knew little about the group...before he was invited to speak just days earlier.
4. In addition to funding conferences with influential speakers, supporters have taken out issue ads in newspapers, placed op-eds in major publications, commissioned academic papers, hired new lobbying firms and made scores of visits to lawmakers.
5. MEK is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, and providing direct assistance or services to them is against the law, as is taking payment from them. So why isn't Howard Dean under arrest? The operative word is "direct" [boldfaces mine].
6. The MEK's delisting campaign is funded by a fluid and enigmatic network of support groups based in the United States. According to an MEK leader, these groups are funded by money from around the world, which they deliberately shield from U.S. authorities. These domestic groups book and pay for their VIP speakers through speaker agencies, which in turn pay the speakers directly and take a fee for arranging appearances. That way, the speakers themselves don't technically accept money from the community groups.
7. The speakers are just the type of national-security heavyweights a plaintiff terrorist organization needs.
8.Retired military officers are popular -- former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Wesley K. Clark and former Commander in Chief of United States Central Command Gen. Anthony Zinni have both addressed MEK groups. Yet more speakers appear to have been chosen for their deep political ties, such as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former New Mexico Gov. and U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson, former Bush White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and former 9/11 Commission Chairman Lee Hamilton.
9."I never discuss my speaking fees," [former Bush White House Chief of Staff Andy] Card told HuffPost when asked how much he was paid for seven minutes’ worth of remarks in late July on Capitol Hill. His standard fee, however, is between $25,000 and $40,000 per speech.
10.[Sarah] Sewall, on the other hand, carefully distanced herself from the MEK’s objectives. “I was invited to speak at a conference on the Arab Spring and I received a speaker fee,” she said of her July 16 speech. “My remarks were aimed at an Iranian American audience that was concerned about Camp Ashraf. I, too, am concerned about the ongoing humanitarian situation there. But I would not want my presence at the conference to be equated with a position on the delisting of the MEK."
11. But not everyone accepts invitations to speak at MEK-related events. Despite offers of up to $40,000 for notably brief remarks, sources with knowledge of speaker negotiations said at least four invited speakers have declined this year because they had questions about the ultimate goals.
12. The payment of a speaker's fee does not, of course, imply that the speaker has been told what to say. Indeed, while most of the panelists at MEK-affiliated conferences support at least part of the Iranian network's agenda, others avoid mentioning the exile group at all.
13. ...what they [speakers] say is less important to the group's cause than the mere fact that they show up and say it. Unless a speaker has a can't-lose stock tip, nobody is inherently worth $20,000 for a six-minute speech -- it's the shine of the speaker's credibility that the MEK's supporters are buying.
14. The group has a well-documented history of conflating speakers' attendance at these events and deducing from that a broad endorsement of their agenda.
15. As Rendell's applause died down, he added that he had never heard of Camp Ashraf until the group invited him to speak.
16. On May 12, a large-type, full-page ad appeared in The Washington Post demanding that the United States, "Delist the MEK, Iran's Main Opposition." Listed below the call to action were the names of 10 prominent national security bigwigs -- some of whom never agreed to be on the list. [boldface mine].
17. Asked why his name was on the ad, Zelikow told The Huffington Post that he had "nothing to do with" it and that "no one had asked for my permission to sign off on it." He added that he was "surprised to see it." The same ad also listed Gen. Clark without his permission, according to a spokeswoman who said Clark never authorized the use of his name, and first learned of the ad when he saw it in print.
18.Zelikow and Clark’s experiences are typical of interactions with MEK groups, said Dr. Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and a critic of the MEK. "You do one thing with [MEK-related groups], and from then on they sign your name to anything they want to. They figure it's more difficult for
19.According to[MEK senior member Mahin] Filabi, the MEK raises money all over the world through televised pledge drives on its Internet TV channel, Sima TV, among other modes of outreach. He described how "for three days [recently] they were collecting money. One guy in Australia, his name was Ahmed, called the TV and said ‘OK, I have a house, worth $250,000, I am selling. I give [the money] to you.’"
20. Another of the MEK-related groups' go-to men in Washington is Dr. Neil Livingstone, a security expert who has worked for unnamed MEK supporters since at least 2005. Livingstone is currently mounting a campaign for governor of Montana on the GOP ticket.
Photo from the Huffingtonpost article.There are more photos at the article link.
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