White House Denies Backing of Terror Group in Iran

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., April 16, 1963

Raw Story is reporting that the White House is denying the use of terrorist organizations to undermine the Iranian regime.

Earlier today at the White House Press Briefing, Scott McClellan, the outgoing press secretary, denied reports that the U.S. is employing terrorist groups for special operations in Iran, RAW STORY has found.

When asked if U.S. policy has been changed with respect to three different terrorist organizations that have reportedly been active recently against Iran “based on the notion that an enemy of our enemy is our friend,” McClellan insisted that it hadn’t.

“Our policies haven’t changed on those organizations,” said McClellan. “They remain the same.”

“And you’re bringing up organizations that we view as terrorist organizations,” McClellan added.

The reporter cited three different terror group activities: “PKK going over the border into Iraq, the MEK southern border of Iraq into Iran, and also certain operations from Balochistan involving also the Pakistanis.”

In April, RAW STORY’s Larisa Alexandrovna reported (link) that “[o]ne of the operational assets being used by the Defense Department is a right-wing terrorist organization known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), which is being “run” in two southern regional areas of Iran.”

It prompted me to consult the book State of War by James Risen (pages 216-217):

… This time, the Iranians wanted a trade; in return for the al-Qaeda leaders, Tehran wanted the Americans to hand over members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian exile terrorist organization that had been supported by Saddam Hussein and based in Iraq since 1986. After the fall of Baghdad, the U.S. military had disarmed the MEK’s thousands of fighters and taken custody of the group’s heavy military equipment, more than two thousand tanks, artillery pieces, armored personnel carriers, and other vehicles provided by Saddam Hussein. But the Bush administration was divided over what to do with the group next.

In a principals committee meeting at the White House in May [2003], the Iranian prisoner exchange proposal was discussed by President Bush and his top advisors. According to people who were in the meeting, President Bush said he thought it sounded like a good deal, since the MEK was a terrorist organization. … The MEK was officially listed as a foreign terrorist group by the State Department; back in the 1970s, the group had killed several Americans living in Iran, including CIA officers based there during the shah’s regime. …

But the idea never got that far. Hard-liners at the Pentagon dug in and ultimately torpedoed any takl of an agreement the Iranians. Defense Secertary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz seemed to think the MEK could be useful in a future war with Iran, and so they appeared eager to keep the group in place inside Iraq. CIA and State Department officials were stunned that the Pentagon leadership would so openly flaunt their willingness to cut a deal with the MEK; they were even more surprised that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz paid no price for their actions. At the White House, officials soon learned that the Pentagon was dreaming up excuses to avoid following through on any further actions to rein in the MEK. One argument was that the military was too busy, with too many other responsibilities in Iraq, to devote the manpower to dismantling the MEK. The Pentagon basically told the White Hosue that “we will get around to it when we get around to it,” noted one former Bush administration official. “And they got away with it.” (emphasis mine)

I cannot help but to be reminded of the United States backing Osama bin Laden and other Islamic militants in Afghanistan, only for them to turn against the U.S. years later. In the short-term, it supported our objective in the region – push out the Soviets – but in the long-term, it has created much more headaches. This is why I studied history as a minor (poiltical science major). To avoid making mistakes in the future, it is best to learn from the past.

The Bush administration doesn’t seem to get that.

The Great Society – Wednesday, May 3, 2006 

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