By Ken Klukowski
America’s credibility in the world is at risk due to President Barack Obama’s failure to keep U.S. commitments to protect Iranian dissidents, a distinguished bipartisan group of top foreign policy and military leaders declared in a letter to the White House.
Camp Liberty is a facility in Iraq where 3,000 men and women of Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) have been kept since 2011. They were initially held in 2004 at a separate location, where the MEK was assured that if they surrendered their weapons and signed statements renouncing violence, the U.S. would protect them. Then in 2011 Obama’s envoy, Ambassador Daniel Fried, pledged U.S. staff would check on them regularly and expedite their relocation to other nations.
Yet contrary to repeated U.S. assurances, American officials have not visited the camp to ensure a reasonable quality of life, or even physical safety. “The truth is that the residents of Camp Liberty have fulfilled every assurance requested and received by the United States Government, while the United States, for its part, has failed to fulfill every important assurance it has extended to the residents,” the letter reads.
That letter was signed by top retired military and intelligence community leaders such as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Hugh Shelton and the former head of the NSA and CIA General Michael Hayden. Perhaps the most noteworthy military name on the list is General James Jones, who, in addition to being the former head of NATO and commandant of the Marine Corps, was also Obama’s own White House national security adviser.
The list of Republican signatories is a who’s-who, with politicians like former Speakers Newt Gingrich and Dennis Hastert, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, and Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Add to those, however, leading Democrats as well. Governor and U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson, Senator Robert Torricelli, Governor and former DNC Chairman Ed Rendell, and even the outspoken Governor and DNC Chairman Howard Dean all take Obama to task for his failures regarding MEK.
The letter recounts several specific instances of multiple murders and harsh abuse and insists these are traceable to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s armed forces, specifically uniformed members of Maliki’s “Golden Division.”
The letter summarizes:
Over the past three years, while your Administration was committed to keeping the residents secure and facilitating the U.N.’s effort to process and resettle them in willing countries, a total of one-hundred and thirty-five MeK residents have either been murdered in these staged attacks or died while being denied access to medical treatment by the Iraqi security forces controlling Camp Liberty. In the possession of each deceased resident was a Protected Person Status identity card issued in 2004 by the United States.
Nonetheless, the letter excoriates Obama’s State Department for officially finding, “There is no evidence the Iraqi government was involved.” These leaders from both political parties are incredulous, saying the involvement of Iraqi intelligence personnel is irrefutable.
Former U.N. Ambassador Ken Blackwell, who signed an updated version of the letter on July 1, 2014, after participating in a Paris conference on MEK in late June, explained to Breitbart News, “The leading U.S. generals and intelligence chiefs I met with explained that part of America’s former assessment of MEK as a terrorist organization resulted from the limited intelligence we obtained through the fog of war. Now we see much more clearly, and it’s clear that U.S. foreign policy toward MEK should change.”
In contrast to Obama’s lack of follow-through with MEK, Blackwell cited a speech he gave in 2003 at the Ashbrook Center, recalling what he regarded as two of his more significant activities when part of the State Department under President George H.W. Bush and Secretary James Baker:
One of my most memorable diplomatic missions abroad as U.S. Human Rights Ambassador was to the former Soviet Union to help then-Assistant Secretary of State Dick Shifter negotiate the release of political prisoners and those being persecuted because of their religious beliefs. I saw firsthand the human cost of Communist persecution and the length to which the state would go to deny the freedom of worship.
In 1992, at Ambassador Max Kampleman’s insistence, I led a delegation of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) to Bosnia. I was one of the first American diplomats to visit that region after independence and the horrible war that followed. We visited what were called detention centers but were, in fact, concentration camps for Bosnian Muslims.
The opponents of the Iranian regime at Camp Liberty are suffering under similar conditions, Blackwell explained.
And conditions are not improving. Multiple sources go on in detail regarding weekly developments, such as Iraqi military personnel turning away shipments of medical supplies and fuel from the entrance of Camp Liberty. All this is irreconcilable with Obama’s promises that if the Iranians disarmed and relocated, the United States would guarantee their safety and well-being.
There is currently a bill in Congress, H.R. 3707, that would change U.S. immigration law to allow MEK members to be relocated to the United States. Current law does not allow anyone from MEK entry into this country because the State Department—first under Hillary Clinton and now under John Kerry—refuses to remove MEK from the department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs).
Blackwell recounted several examples from the Reagan and Bush 41 eras as bolstering foreign nations’ assessments that when the United States speaks, it means what it says, and the world should take heed. Regarding the MEK, he says the bottom line is, “America made a promise to these people, and so U.S. credibility and resolve in the world is at stake.”
No response so far from the White House to this letter.