The other lobby: MEK’s crusade against US-Iran negotiations

If you say it out loud, it seems too preposterous to be true. Four high-profile former government officials are getting paid by an Iranian dissident group that until 2012 was an officially designated terrorist organization to publicly oppose the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts with Iran.

BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray attended a briefing in the Dirksen Senate office building on Capitol Hill sponsored by “an Iranian exile group related to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK).” The former government officials speaking out on behalf of this group against diplomacy with Iran included “former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, former Ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsberg, General James L. Jones, and and former US Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation Robert Joseph.”

Robert Joseph described the diplomacy as “appeasement” and urged additional sanctions, which Obama has promised to veto, to stop “Iran’s nuclear quest.”

Howard Dean refused to answer questions as to whether he was still getting boatloads of money from MEK groups and even went so far as to say that U.S.-Iran negotiations should not go forward until the Obama administration agrees to grant some kind of asylum to the 3,000 MEK activists sheltered by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein that are now living in a U.S. military base called Camp Liberty.

“We ought to sign no agreement until those 3000 people are safe,” Dean said.

Rewind to 2003. George W. Bush included Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorists like MEK in his propaganda justifying the invasion of Iraq. “Iraq shelters terrorist groups including the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization,” reads a document in the archives of the White House’s website, “which has used terrorist violence against Iran and in the 1970s was responsible for killing several US military personnel and US civilians.”

As recently as 2007, a State Department report warned that the MEK, retains “the capacity and will” to attack “Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and beyond.”

Many experts, including current senior U.S. officials, believe that the MEK, backed by Israel, is the group responsible for assassinating Iran’s civilian nuclear scientists in what are clear-cut terrorist acts.

This is the group lobbying hard to get high-profile U.S. officials to come out publicly against the U.S.-Iran negotiations, which supporters say is the only thing with any chance of verifiably curtailing Iran’s nuclear program and keeping Washington off the inevitable war path to Tehran.

Like I said, reality seems stranger than fiction in this case.