On September 21st, Hillary Clinton signed a finding that the MEK, Muhajadin E-Khalil, or Peoples Muhadejin of Iran was in the process of no longer being considered a terrorist group. You should know that MEK was only taken off of the US' terrorist list after years of high pressure lobbying by a veritable galaxy of the some of the biggest and most expensive stars in Washington. Bill Clinton placed them on the terrorist list in 1997, and this decision was reaffirmed by the Bush administration in 2007.
It's a sad commentary on the way things get done in DC, but it's extremely doubtful whether the terrorist designation change on MEK could have been accomplished any other way. Political celebrities were hired by the dozens to sing the praises of MEK. If you want Democrats, you could find Howard Dean, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, or Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. For Republicans some of the hired guns include former GOP Speaker of the House Denny Hassert, Rudy Guiliani, Dick Armey, Bush II Attorney General Michael Mukasey, just to name some of the bigwigs.
Did they hire any national security types? The answer is "Yes -- from both parties!" For the Democrats MEK hired former Clinton CIA chief James Woolsey. And W's CIA chief Porter Goss got a stipend for supporting MEK, too. Other national security nabobs include former FBI director Louis Freeh, Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge, and Obama's former National Security Advisor Jim Jones. And don't forget the ever lovable Richard Perle.
How about journalists? Well Chicago Tribune Clarence Page was on board for some buckolas, as was Washington Post figure Carl Bernstein. Congressmen no doubt got in on the gravy train as well, but only Democrat Deborah Ros-Lehtinen and Republican Dana Rohrbacher made major appearances. Who knows how many other lesser lights received cash from MEK while it was still classified as a terrorist organization? The only thing that we know for sure is that none of these people come cheap. We're probably talking about tens of millions of dollars being spent by MEK to get itself off of the terrorist list.
WHAT PUT MEK ON THE TERRORIST LIST IN THE FIRST PLACE?
We have to go back all the way to 1970s Iran for that answer. Originally MEK was fighting to eliminate the Shah, and they were aligned with the Ayatollah Khomenei. It was during this time that they killed six US military men and defense contractors. However, they had a falling out with the new Iranian government, and they quickly aligned themselves with Saddam Hussein. MEK personnel fought on the side of Saddam in the Iran-Iraq War including assisting Saddam in the rape of Kurdistan after the Gulf War. It's been an open secret that since then MEK has been stationed in Iraq at US military bases.
To be charitable, both the Iraqi and Iranian government hate their guts. Even the Green Revolution in Iran wants nothing to to with them. The Iranian American Council has denounced MEK, saying that recognition of MEK by the United States will actually increase the chance of war between the two countries
In 2005, Donald Rumsfeld used MEK to carry out various reconaissance and sabotage operations in Iran after they had been equipped and trained at a base in Nevada. More recently, they have been directly linked to the assasination of Iranian military scientists, now supposedly by being trained and armed by the Israeli Mossad. If this is true, it would certainly put to the lie the US finding that MEK has denounced terrorism. But the background of MEK is even stranger and sleazier than that.
According to a report issued by the RAND corporation in 2009, Maryam Rajavi, the leader of MEK is in actuality the leader of a cult. After a disastrous raid into Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, Rajavi and her late husband decided that the reason Operation Eternal Light had failed was because there was too much love in MEK between fighters and their spouses. They then ordered mass divorces, mandatory celibacy, complete cutoffs from non-MEK family members, sleep deprivation and other manipulative techniques to enforce displine.
Seven small fry supporters came under Justice Department investigation for supporting a terrorist group when they collected donations at Los Angeles International Airport on behalf of the Committee for Human Rights, a MEK front organization. No Justice Department investigation has been undertaken of the myriad big public fish like Guiliani or Howard Dean for their support of MEK to get it kicked off of the US terrorist list. The very fact that someone would be lobbying the US government for a group on the terrorist list is classified as a crime. All in all, this represents the worst kind of example of how things get done in Washington, DC.
The only mysteries that remain about this still-terrorist organization is where their ultimate financial and other support is really coming from. Is it Israel, Saudi Arabia, the CIA, or right wing neocons? And is MEK really seen as a legitimate tool to be used against Iran, or only a distraction -- supplying dupes who are willing to go on suicide missions to be used as a cat's paw in American-Iranian (and Israeli) relations?
Regardless of the answers to these questions, it's obvious that the MEK incident ranks high on the disgust factor.