There’s a guy I know from Hudson County who is anything but a fan of our senior U.S. senator. So I expected to get an earful when I called him the other day to discuss what appear to be looming federal charges against Bob
|U.S. Senator Bob Menendez has been trying to position himself as a high-minded defender of Israel but his connections to a shady Iranian cult hint at other motives. (Alexandra Pais | For NJ Advance Media)|
I got an earful, all right. But now the guy was claiming the Democratic senator had been set up because of his courageous efforts to keep the cowardly and evil Obama administration from caving in to the crazed Iranian mullahs who want to rain nuclear destruction on the U.S. and Israel.
Does that prose sound too purple? Here’s what Menendez really said in a speech last week to the annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington:
“There can be little doubt that under a flawed deal that fails to roll back Iran’s nuclear program, every extra cent, every extra rial would go directly toward Iran’s nefarious adventures that threaten Israel, the region, and are diametrically opposed to the national interests of the United States, our friends, and allies.”
According to my Hudson friend, who was in the audience, the speech brought down the house. It also perfectly positioned the senator to claim political persecution when reports of the impending charges broke later in the week.
It’s a clever line of deflection. But it’s hogwash. Menendez has been peddling that line for several years now, most of them spent in the powerful position of chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If Attorney General Eric Holder had been out to get him, he would have done so back then.
Now that he’s a mere member, Menendez has been particularly outspoken. But this is not the behavior of a high-minded defender of freedom. It’s the behavior of a prey animal searching desperately for help against the hunter.
The senator’s recent behavior should be seen in light of his affinity for another Mideastern group he champions, Mojahedin-e Khalq. You’ve probably never heard of it. But Bob Baer has.
“These guys killed Americans,” said Baer, a former CIA agent who spent much of the 1980′ and ’90s in the Mideast. “They tried to kill one of my colleagues, but they ended up shooting his driver.” (This article shows how Baer suspects the group is tied to assassinations inside Iran.)
MEK, as it’s known, is an Iranian dissident group of Marxist-Leninist origins that operates from a base in Iraq called Camp Liberty. Menendez has become its prime spokesman in Congress – and also the prime recipient of donations from MEK sympathizers, according to an article on the Intercept site.
group was put on the terrorist watch list in 1997 but taken off the list in 2012 after an extensive lobbying campaign headed up by a certain Bob Torricelli.
Yes, that Bob Torricelli, the former Democratic U.S. Senator from New Jersey who gave up his seat in 2002 after revelations concerning some wealthy friends of his own.
Salomon Melgen: The senator has done a clever job of deflecting attention from the scandal surrounding his junkets with the wealthy eye doctor, but it’s pure nonsense to believe the senator’s fellow Democrats are going after the senator for his stance on Iran.
Torricelli and Menendez have a lot in common, including an ability to get up and give a very sincere-sounding speech on behalf of whoever’s picking up the tab. In July of last year, Menendez sent a message to an MEK gathering in Paris saying “the safety and security of MEK members at Camp Liberty is a critical factor in my future support for any assistance to Iraq.”
Baer describes the group as “a cult,” and descriptions of its members’ behavior bear that out. They show up by the dozens at foreign-relations hearings in the Capitol, all wearing matching yellow raincoats. Staffers have to fill front-row seats early so witnesses don’t have to testify before a sea of yellow plastic.
“It’s not a good idea to take money from a Mideastern cult,” said Baer. “It’s like taking money from the Gambino family.”
How the group fits into Mideast politics is too complicated to explain in this short space. Even Baer, who knows them as well as anyone, says that “they believe in some sort of mysticism I never understood.”
I offer this example merely to illustrate why we should not be sending to Washington senators who tend to have such bad judgment on picking friends. It is a sad fact that the last three senators New Jersey sent to D.C. who weren’t independently wealthy all ended up embroiled in scandals. Before Torricelli and Menendez there was Harrison “Pete” Williams who got caught up in Abscam.
At least the shady Mideasterner that senator got involved with was fictional.
You can’t say the same for Menendez’s Mideastern friends.
By Paul Mulshine , nj.com,