DOWN ON K STREET  3:55 pm May 15, 2012

Senior Officials, K Street: Terrorist Group Is Nice Now, Everybody!

by Kris E. Benson

We don't negotiate with terrorists.Your Wonkette has been kept awake at night, dear readers, upon learning that national treasures like official mayor-of-all-things 9/11 Rudolph Guiliani, former attorney general Michael Mukasey, former intelligence official Michael V. Haydn, and a bunch of very important K-street lobbying firms were under investigation due to their advocacy for the terrorist group Mujahedeen Khalq (or MEK). Luckily, however, the federal investigation of MEK bypassed K-street lobbyists in March and now, rather than indict anyone for materially supporting terror, the state department appears ready to do the Right Thing and take the MeK off the list of terrorist groups.

According to Jay Solomon and Evan Perez at the Wall Street Journal,

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration is moving to remove an Iranian opposition group from the State Department’s terrorism list, say officials briefed on the talks, in an action that could further poison Washington’s relations with Tehran at a time of renewed diplomatic efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear program.

And who would know better than “officials briefed on the talks”? Besides the lobbyists, I mean. Anyway, it’s cool, so what if they did some messed up stuff, maybe killed a few Americans, had anti-American views. No big deal, man. That was in the PAST, man. Quit living in the PAST. Let’s just go ahead and let bygones be bygones, amiright? They’ve been trying REALLY HARD to turn things around for the past two years.

The MeK has engaged in an aggressive legal and lobbying campaign in Washington over the past two years to win its removal from the State Department’s list. The terrorism designation, which has been in place since 1997, freezes the MeK’s assets inside the U.S. and prevents the exile group from fundraising.

Of course, the best way to solve a misunderstanding with a terrorist group is to negotiate with them. This has long been the cornerstone of our foreign policy and our go-to tactic when coping with the challenges posed to the existing global order by transnational armed groups. (See: Reagan, Ronald; Contras; Iran.) Surely we can just talk this one out.

Senior U.S. officials said on Monday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has yet to make any final decision on the MeK’s status. But they said the State Department was looking favorably at delisting MeK if it continued cooperating by vacating a former paramilitary base inside Iraq, called Camp Ashraf, which the group had used to stage cross-border strikes into Iran.

Well, if “senior U.S. officials” say something to the Wall Street Journal, it must be true. Now that we’ve heard from “senior U.S. officials” and “officials briefed on the talks,” maybe “other officials briefed on the talks” will be willing to help us understand why we should be offering our congratulations to MeK for getting off the list. If, of course, the Wall Street Journal would be willing to give these officials anonymity for no clearly discernable reason and then uncritically write down what they say.

Other officials briefed on the MeK issue said Mrs. Clinton purposefully tied the closing of Camp Ashraf to the designation issue to defuse a thorny diplomatic issue between Washington and Baghdad. The U.S. military had provided security at the camp before pulling its forces from Iraq last year. Baghdad now controls the camp and has threatened to return MeK members to Iran if it isn’t swiftly closed.

Ah ok. There’s now near unanimity between the “officials briefed on the MeK issue,” “officials briefed on the talks,” “other officials,” and “senior U.S. officials.” You really can’t ask for more than that. But your Wonkette is still skeptical. Isn’t terrorism kind of…bad? Shouldn’t we be careful about allowing such a designation to ride simply on the political sophistication of the group’s constituent members, and their ability to work within established institutions and networks of power?

The group, despite its history of terrorism and anti-Americanism, reoriented itself after Saddam Hussein’s 2003 fall and the capturing of Camp Ashraf by U.S. forces. The MeK renounced violence and turned over its weapons. And it has cooperated with the U.S. and U.N. in gathering intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program. This ideological shift by the MeK has been accompanied by an intensive lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill. A number of former senior U.S. officials said they were offered payments to speak on behalf of the MeK, including James Jones, President Barack Obama’s former national security adviser, and James Woolsey, the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Oh, so they’ve CHANGED. That’s a relief. Could there possibly be a downside to delisting them, even kind of?  Maybe we can get some unnamed “Critics” to voice some thinly supported concerns, you know, to balance the claims made by the “senior U.S. officials,” “officials briefed on the talks,” “officials briefed on the MeK issue,” and “other officials briefed on the talks.”

Critics of the MeK allege that the organization has no major support inside Iran and that its leaders, who are based outside Paris, run the group like a cult. They also worry that any perceived U.S. support for it could undercut the Iranian opposition, known as the Green Movement, which pushed for democratic change during 2009 street protests.

Still, the organization has large support on Capitol Hill. And some lawmakers are seeking to use the possible delisting of the organization to begin providing U.S. financial support. Congress took similar steps in the 1990s to provide funding to Iraq’s opposition and, in particular, the exiled politician, Ahmad Chalabi.

Well, unnamed “critics of the MeK,” whoever you are, if we’ve learned anything in the past 12 years, it’s that “some lawmakers” really have their fingers on the pulse of the international scene, so there’s that. And also, nothing can go wrong when you provide funding for an opposition leader. Nope, nothing at all. [NYTimes/WSJ]

 
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{ 94 comments }

nounverb911 May 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm

So there are good Iranian terrorists and bad Iranian terrorists? How can you tell without a scorecard?

spends2much May 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm

The good ones give Republicans lots of moneez.

FlownOver May 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

That's why you hire lobbyists. Right now Al-Q's RFPs are being hand-delivered all over the District.

BaldarTFlagass May 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Good: Already signed exploration rights for Persian oilfields over to BP, Exxon-Mobil, and Conoco, effective the day after the coup. And basing rights for USAF and USN.

Bad: Pray to Mecca 5 times a day or more.

BaldarTFlagass May 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I know how to figure out if they are a terrorist group or not: Give them a small portable nuclear weapon and see what they do with it.

nounverb911 May 15, 2012 at 4:02 pm

If they're good little capitalists, they'll sell it to the Taliban.

tessiee May 15, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Best relationship advice I ever read in a self-help book: Give the other person complete freedom, and then watch what they do.

BaldarTFlagass May 16, 2012 at 7:42 am

If you love something, set it free… If it comes back, it's yours; If it doesn't, hunt it down and kill it.

bikerlaureate May 15, 2012 at 4:02 pm

If, of course, the Wall Street Journal would be willing to give these officials anonymity for no clearly discernable reason and then uncritically write down what they say.

Back in the day of onions-on-the-belt there were still editors employed at these quaint "publications"…

Chick-Fil-Atheist™ May 15, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Oh fuck just go ahead and bomb the place already. Stop all this pseudo-diplomatic horseshit right now and just fucking launch already.

Just give us enough time to buy Lockheed Martin and Raytheon stock beforehand. If we're going to ride this wave, at least let me profit from it.

deit: Are we no-bidding KBR again? I mean, I am pretty goddamn sure that some oil somethin'r'other will likely get destroyed, so I just need 'em on my "to buy" list.

HistoriCat May 15, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I saw comments in the local paper about "only 20 million" people would be killed in Iran … so it's really no big deal!

bagofmice May 15, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Not to be pedantic, but doesn't something become official only after you sign your name to it? Shouldn't the notion of 'official' carry some responsibility?

Wile E. Quixote May 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Why do you hate our freedoms so much? Do you want the terrorists to win?

BaldarTFlagass May 15, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I think that supporting freedom fighters in that part of the world is a great idea! What could possibly go wrong?

nounverb911 May 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Paging Mr. bin Laden. Paging Mr. bin Laden.

MissTaken May 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

We're just showing today's Freedom Fighters™ how to be tomorrow's Axis of Evil™

Lionel[redacted]Esq May 15, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Has Bristol Palin taken a position yet?

nounverb911 May 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm

She's out back in the tent with the wine coolers.

Pragmatist2 May 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Missionary

Lionel[redacted]Esq May 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm

I don't know, Bristol seems the kind of girl that if you get a few 'coolers in her, she would go all cowgirl on you.

MOG2410 May 15, 2012 at 4:15 pm

The usual, on her back.

mrblifil May 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Which one hasn't she taken?

rocktonsam May 15, 2012 at 7:22 pm

"all of them, Katie"

tessiee May 15, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Sled doggie style?

Callyson May 15, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Ah, the old the enemy of my enemy is…

…an asshole? Yeah, but he's our asshole.

Le sigh…

Baconzgood May 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Worked with the US and Stalin.

SayItWithWookies May 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm

There's still time to duct tape Judith Miller to a cave wall somewhere.

Lucidamente1 May 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I love the smell of blowback in the morning.

Fare la Volpe May 15, 2012 at 4:15 pm

At least it's not Brownback.

Lionel[redacted]Esq May 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Critics of the MeK allege that the organization has no major support inside Iran and that its leaders, who are based outside Paris, run the group like a cult.

Sounds like a group Mitt Romney can work with.

HistoriCat May 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm

It worked so well in Iraq …

Lionel[redacted]Esq May 15, 2012 at 6:02 pm

See, I sort of figures something along the lines of:

Critics of the MeK Mormon Church allege that the organization has no major support inside Iran Christianity and that its leaders, who are based outside Paris Salt Lake, run the group like a cult.

Baconzgood May 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm

They can't be terrorist. They want to kill brown people at the moment. When they start killing white people then we'll relist them again.

Both Sides Do It May 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Y'know how Pynchon's stuff relies on making the economic and business interests involved in political events and foreign policy a lot more explicit than they normally are?

He just couldn't do that if he wrote about the current system, right? There's no sub to the text. We Hunt For Red Octobered all that shit to the point where lobbyists can just say in the paper of record "it would help us make money if this terrorist group were not a terrorist group anymore, so let's not call them a terrorist group" and politicians can respond "money yes well money where's that list right off you go have lots of money fun" and no one gives a shit.

All the weird sex in the world isn't going to be able to make fiction work if reality is that crazy. That's not to say, Mr. Pynchon if you're reading, that you shouldn't try.

SorosBot May 15, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Because assisting terrorist groups who were fighting governments we don't like worked so well in the 1980s in Afghanistan.

MissTaken May 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm

RAMBO!

BaldarTFlagass May 15, 2012 at 4:09 pm

“officials briefed on the talks,” “officials briefed on the MeK issue,” and “other officials briefed on the talks.”

Who the fuck is doing all the briefing? Don't tell me, Daniel Feith.

actor212 May 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Fruit of the Loom

BaldarTFlagass May 15, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I was gonna say Michael Jordan but figured that might peg the obscurometer. And you commented before I could repair Daniel Feith to Douglas. Had that Pipes guy in mind, I guess. Maybe those fucks are more obscure than MJ, though.

actor212 May 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Sorry for not checking your references first, my friend.

Wait….didn't I say that on the other side of the record?

Baconzgood May 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Marcus Bachmann?

V572 Is this him? May 15, 2012 at 4:26 pm

You mean the "stupidest fucking guy on the planet," according to SFGOTP runner-up Gen Tommy Franks?

actor212 May 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Wait. So some Mujahideen are more equal than others?

nounverb911 May 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Especially when they get piggy.

Pragmatist2 May 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Wow! if they just destroy the list, terrorism will be eliminated completely!

Mumbletypeg May 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

TAGGED: DOWN ON K STREET

Cue Manchu or someone to start writing a little ditty filling in the lyrics to "Down On Main St." with substitute-meaning spoof words. I don't have the heart to, that song always got to me. Bob Seger, dolefully stalking the barely legal stripper who evoked his nostalgia with her Night Moves.

BaldarTFlagass May 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Just thinkin' bout them points of her own, sittin' way up high, is causing a nether-bits-stir.

tessiee May 15, 2012 at 8:30 pm

It's a bar on Main St. in Ann Arbor, the name of which escapes me at the moment, but I was surprised when I saw the article and picture, thinking, "THAT's the place? I've walked past it a bunch of times!".

savethispatient May 15, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Remember folks, your frenemy's frenemy is your frenemy.

nounverb911 May 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Needs more Paris Hilton.

actor212 May 15, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Frenemy with Benefees?

Baconzgood May 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm

2AM weapons grade ricin booty call.

Baconzgood May 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Yeah, But I want to know what the Sr. officals had to say when they were briefed on the other officials briefed on the talks on officals.

Boojum May 15, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Officially?

Callyson May 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm

The deliberations over the MeK's status come as the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany, are gathering in Baghdad next week for negotiations with Iran aimed at curbing its nuclear program…
Diplomats and Iran analysts worry that any moves to delist the MeK could result in Iran driving up its demands at the negotiating table. Tehran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons, but also says it needs advanced weapons systems to guard against the U.S. and other hostile states. The MeK issue will likely be perceived in Tehran as another American-led effort to topple Iran's theocratic government, these analysts said.

Brilliant timing…

SIIIIIIIGH…

MissTaken May 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm

See?! Kim Jung Un needs to set up a K Street lobbying firm and eventually we'll bring N. Korea into the fold, too. We may even give him some fun rockets that go boom to play with!

SorosBot May 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Now that they've returned Avery Jessup from her forced marriage to Kim Jong Eun maybe we can normalize relations.

Chill-A-Sketch May 15, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Remember when the Bin Ladens were doing business with Bushes? Good times…

BaldarTFlagass May 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm

What's this "past tense" shit, huh?

lisawines May 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Nothing good happens "outside Paris."

BaldarTFlagass May 15, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Not since 1919 and the Treaty of Versailles, anyway. Oh, wait.

horsedreamer_1 May 15, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Banlieu Libel!!!

lisawines May 16, 2012 at 2:20 am

Hahaha! Good one!

weejee May 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm

MeK? Methyl ethyl ketone? Had Ollie North been giving Saint Ronnie some MEK to huff, and that's why the greatest president ever has such a silly senseless grin on his face?

tessiee May 15, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I can't speak in any sort of informed way about what sort of substances Jolly Ollie may have been supplying… but no, that's not the reason why. St. Ronnie had a silly senseless grin on his face all the time because he was a fucking imbecile.

hagajim May 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Once again the enemy of our enemy is our friend – at least until they turn on us. Yay!

Baconzgood May 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Now all we have to do is arm them and see if they like us, or LIKE like us.

BaldarTFlagass May 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Where, o where, are the Charlie Wilsons of yesteryear?

Baconzgood May 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

"…that's why pencils have erasers"

-Lenford "Lenny" Leonard-

OneYieldRegular May 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I can understand how this could be confusing. When you're waterboarding someone, beating someone else, and having a bunch of someone elses disappeared into secret torture prisons hidden around the globe, your judgment of who's a terrorist and who isn't runs the risk of being clouded.

FakaktaSouth May 15, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I just read a whole article that included specifics on how you do "penis enlargement surgery." The parallels between that article and this one – both are all about paying money to make a bunch of dicks seem better – is staggering.

PS full disclosure – I didn't really read that much of the dick article, they said something about cutting the ligament that makes a pecker stand up and I had to stop.

actor212 May 15, 2012 at 4:30 pm

*crossng legs tightly*

tessiee May 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm

So, result of the surgery would be a patient with a big, limp one?
I have to say, that doesn't sound like a very good idea.

BaldarTFlagass May 15, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Oh, MEK, we're so sorry, didn't mean to put you on that list. We meant to put Planned Parenthood on it. Just a typo…

V572 Is this him? May 15, 2012 at 4:29 pm

When articles are sourced to "officials briefed on the talks" shouldn't the title of the article just be "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE"? And then shouldn't it end with ###? Someone has to teach today's journasaurs how to write a proper press release.

And by the way, give MEK a break. Nobody wants to play "The Blame Game." And the number of people wanting to play "The Accept Responsibility for Your Actions Game" is smaller still.

lulzmonger May 15, 2012 at 4:30 pm

"We don't negotiate with terrorists – we always pay the going rate for them."

fuflans May 15, 2012 at 4:34 pm

kris: i appreciate the erudition and thoughtful in-depth geopolitical commentary and…

WAIT! no!! no!! i don't! i really don't!! i am vapid and i have lady bits!!

can't we please have more buttsecks and ruined GOP careers? please?

glamourdammerung May 15, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Or President Obama could just publicly state that our policy is that we are not going to attack Iran for no reason and that anyone suggesting otherwise and/or making stupid comments about how great bombing Iran would be is simply mentally ill or a garden variety idiot. Of course, that would give the Iranian hardliners no bogeyman which would kill most of their limited support.

tessiee May 15, 2012 at 8:36 pm

I beg to differ, O zucchiniful one. It would take away the hardliners *previous* bogeyman — Iran — and give them a brand spankin' new one — Obama — and then…
Oh, wait.
They already think he's the bogeyman, don't they?
*thinks*
*perks up*
Well, it would annoy them, which is a pretty good reason all by itself, right?

Blueb4sunrise May 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Dern it, I was about to raise questions about the Uighurs, and the Kurds.

Dr_pangloss May 15, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Welcome to K Street where nothing could possiblie go wrong…"

gurukalehuru May 15, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Oceania is not at war with the Mujahedin Khalq. Oceania has never been at war with the Mujahedin Khalq.

mrblifil May 15, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Know who else was once an opposition leader?

Boojum May 15, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Kaiser Taitz?

tessiee May 15, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Ralph Nader?

horsedreamer_1 May 15, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Julius Martov?

Wile E. Quixote May 15, 2012 at 5:47 pm

And also, nothing can go wrong when you provide funding for an opposition leader. Nope, nothing at all.

Hey, it sure worked out well for the Germans in 1917 when they provided Lenin with a special train to travel back to Russia.

Wile E. Quixote May 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm

A number of former senior U.S. officials said they were offered payments to speak on behalf of the MeK, including James Jones, President Barack Obama’s former national security adviser, and James Woolsey, the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Al Qaeda, are you listening? Start writing checks to the villagers and you too can go from being an awful, horrible terrorist group to being noble freedom-fighters.

Guppy May 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Now they can join the ranks of respectable political organizations, like Sinn Fein and Fatah.

arihaya May 15, 2012 at 6:56 pm

sigh,,, if Obama really that stupid to delist MEK and giving it formal support … well, prepare for Chalabi-style blowback

rocktonsam May 15, 2012 at 7:24 pm

every time I see a picture of R squared, I hate John Hinkley even more.

tessiee May 15, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Who is the silver-haired gentleman on the left side of the picture?
I haven't seen quite so perfect an evil smile since the last time Wonkette ran a picture of Pope Benny.

ttommyunger May 15, 2012 at 11:58 pm

MeK, K Street, the "Family", Heritage Foundation, Club for Growth, etc. etc. The common man has no power, no voice, no choice nowadays. I haz depressed.

iburl May 16, 2012 at 12:22 am

Ahh, the WSJ, Fox News for Rich Folks.

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