The following comments are from former U.S. security experts Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett's excellent analysis of the highly politicized flip-flop, "By Delisting the MEK, the Obama Administration is taking the Moral and Strategic Bankruptcy of America's Iran Policy to a New Low":
"We have seen too many times over the years just how cynically American administrations have manipulated these designations, adding and removing organizations and countries for reasons that have little or nothing to do with designees' actual involvement in terrorist activity. ... Yet, precisely because we know how thoroughly corrupt and politicized these designations really are, we recognize their significance as statements of U.S. policy.
"Today, the Obama administration made a truly horrible statement about U.S. policy toward Iran. ... Just this year, U.S. intelligence officials told high-profile media outlets that the MEK is actively collaborating with Israeli intelligence to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists....; Iranian officials have made the same charge.
"Since when did murdering unarmed civilians (and, in some instances, members of their families as well) on public streets in the middle of a heavily populated urban area (Tehran) not meet even the U.S. government's own professed standard for terrorism? ...
"Here, the Obama administration is taking an organization that the U.S. government knows is directly involved in the murder of innocent people and giving this group Washington's 'good housekeeping seal of approval.'... Count on this: once the MEK is formally off the FTO list -- a legally defined process that will take a few months to play out -- Congress will be appropriating money to support the monafeqin as the vanguard of a new American strategy for regime change in Iran.
"In the 1990s, similar enthusiasm for Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress -- who were about as unpopular among Iraqis as the MEK is among Iranians -- led to President Bill Clinton's signing of the Iraq Liberation Act, which paved the way for George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The chances for such a scenario to play out with regard to Iran over the next few years -- with even more disastrous consequences for America's strategic and moral standing -- got a lot higher today."
Flynt Leverett served as a Middle East expert on George W. Bush's National Security Council staff until the Iraq War and worked previously at the State Department and at the Central Intelligence Agency. Hillary Mann Leverett was the NSC expert on Iran and -- from 2001 to 2003 -- was one of only a few U.S. diplomats authorized to negotiate with the Iranians over Afghanistan, al-Qaeda and Iraq.
A steady flow totaling in the millions of dollars during these last years has been revealed, funneled through various front groups to latter-day Charlie Wilson U.S. Congresspersons, Washington lobbying firms and former high-level Department of Justice, Homeland Security, military and U.S. counter-terrorism officials.
Check out the excellent reports -- here and here -- of Chris McGreal, a Guardian investigative journalist based in Washington who really did some good research attempting to trace the sordid money trail, writing:
"US policy change on banned Iranian group came after extraordinary fundraising operation to transform its image. Only a few years ago, US authorities were arresting pro-MEK activists. To the US government, the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) was a terrorist group alongside al-Qaida, Hamas and the Farc in Colombia. The MEK landed on the list in 1997 with American blood on its hands and by allying itself with Saddam Hussein along with a long list of bombings inside Iran.
"But the organisation is regarded very differently by a large number of members of Congress, former White House officials and army generals, and even one of the US's most renowned reporters, Carl Bernstein. They see the MEK as a victim of US double dealings with the regime in Tehran and a legitimate alternative to the Iran's Islamic government.
"That difference is in no small part the result of a formidable fundraising operation and campaign to transform the MEK's image led by more than 20 Iranian American organisations across the US. These groups and their leaders have spent millions of dollars on donations to members of Congress, paying Washington lobby groups and hiring influential politicians and officials, including two former CIA directors, as speakers.
"In a highly sensitive political game, MEK supporters have succeeded in pressing the state department into removing the group from the list of terrorist organisations after winning a court order requiring a decision to be made on the issue before the end of this month. But its supporters were forced to tread a careful path so as not to cross anti-terrorism laws.
"Only a few years ago, the US authorities were arresting pro-MEK activists and freezing the assets of front groups for 'material support for a terrorist organization.' Now members of Congress openly praise the group in apparent contradiction of the anti-terrorism legislation many of them supported. Nearly 100 members of the House of Representatives backed a resolution calling on the US government to drop the MEK from the terrorist list."
Most of the damning details, however, of what would probably be otherwise considered "material support for terrorism" will probably lie buried and stamped "Top Secret" in Treasury Department files forced closed when the presumptive targets of the investigation turned out to include over three dozen top U.S. officials and even many of the federal investigators' former bosses and cronies, including:
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former Assistant Attorney General and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff; two former CIA Directors; former DOJ Attorney and Homeland Security Advisor to the President Frances Townsend; former U.S. Attorney and NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani; former FBI Director Louis Freeh; former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, etc.
Clearly such powerful "political considerations" can trump the law and easily subvert even the U.S. terrorism laws constantly promoted since 9/11 as all-important but now turned on their head. So unless a brave whistleblower or two steps forward, we probably won't know much more about the presumably-forced closure of these criminal terrorism investigations for another 20 years or so until a federal judge finally rules in agreement with a FOIA request. Or unless new movie producers can force some leaks out to jazz up the old script.