NCRI, Washington, 3 Feb 2012
US Congress conference - Uphold Justice, enable peaceful resettlement of Camp Ashraf residents
Thank you. I must say that the distinguished company and incredibly important words that have been already spoken it’s difficult to stand up here and to think that I can do any better, probably do much worse. It’s an honor to be here. I am the new kid on this block. But I spent quite a bit of time serving several presidents in the area of Middle East and am honored to be with these distinguished former government officials and representatives. It means a lot.
Let me tell you why I decided to step forward. When I first came up to work in the U.S. Government, I worked on the Refugee Subcommittee for Senator Ted Kennedy. I had the honor of working for him for 7 years. With him I went around the world walking through refugee camps and learning the importance of defending the rights of people who have been victimized by dictators. And I know that his son Patrick has been an admiral champion on the cause of justice and liberty that you came here today to represent.
If Senator Kennedy were alive I dare say he would say to me, Marc, justice needs to be done. These people deserve to be protected. I must be out there and this President must listen to the cries of people who deserve justice. These people who now are the victims and because of policy that they themselves did not create deserve better. Middle East at this point in time is a dangerous place. And it’s made all the more dangerous because in some respects my friends in the Administration, who I respect and admire, and work with, and have worked with almost 40 years, have made the error, committed the error of subcontracting out the fate of these people to forces that do not have their best interest at heart.
Whether it’s on the 7th Floor of State Department or Old Executive Office Building where young staffers are trying to protect the inspiration that brought them to the White House in the first place. And that is, we are going to engage with Iran. We are going to do what we can to change the conduct of Iran’s behavior to the rest of the world.
It was a noble aspiration. These people meant well. They did everything they could to reach out to Teheran. What they got back in return was a slap of the hand.
I say to my friends in the Administration who still think that today avoiding a de-listing would somehow or rather protect them from being able to declare their engagement policy a failure. They must come to the realization that the shelf life on that policy has expired. It is not fair to the American people that Iran and not the United States seems to control a decision over whether or not we de-list and do what is right --
It is inappropriate that after all the years that this country has had to deal with the likes of Muqtada Al Sadr that somehow or rather we may fall into the delusional policy of believing that by de-listing we protect the Government of Iraq, when in the end all we are doing is appeasing the likes of Muqtada Al Sadr, who is the instrument in Iran and Iraq and who probably is holding a gun to the head of Maliki and rest of the government doing Iran’s bidding whether it comes to the protection, constitute essentially declaring war on these people who deserve better.
And it’s time to admit that despite the fact that there may be the residual hope of some negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. And yes, the latest meeting is taking place in Turkey where the Iranians are pretending that once again they will let inspectors in.
We must take back control over our own foreign policy. Subcontracting the fate of these people because of illusional expectations of what we may achieve by not de-listing the time my friends the Administration has come to an end.
I say to you as someone who has participated in foreign policy formulation of our government in the Middle East, the Courts have spoken. The people who surround me are distinguished Americans. The people who have studied this issue are prominent attorneys, thoughtful individuals and sincere in their desire to do the right thing.
The fact that my friends in this Administration are dragging their feet are doing nothing more than maintaining the illusion that they are doing right thing when in the end all that they are doing in the name of protecting a policy that is no longer viable is they have placed these people on death row.
I do not believe that Senator Kennedy, who was the champion of this President and helped him get elected, would condone the idea of accepting a policy that would permit, either directly or indirectly, by omission or co mission harm coming to innocent people who do deserve much better from the U.S. Government.
He would not stand for it. His son does not stand for it. And the people who worked for him would not stand for it.
Let me finish and say that Congress has been patient and you have been patient. It comes down to some things that we in this city long understand. When you ask the Administration to listen and they refuse to listen, or when Senator D’Amato picks up the phone and doesn’t get a call returned, there are people in this Congress from Senator Kerry all the way down to the people on the House side, I am talking across the aisle, who said, okay, we have given you your chance. Now it’s time that people like me, who are staffers and up here for seven years know how to write legislation. And we know how to write amendments to bills that this Administration desires. One of those amendments, in my judgment, must be the condition, the transfer of further military equipment to Iraq on the de-listing and the safe passage of these people away from Iraq. If this Administration wants -- if this Administration wants to have continued leverage with the Maliki Government, we can do no better favor to the Obama Administration to have Congress essentially declare to this Administration we will not permit you, we will not permit you to let the Maliki Government have unfettered discretion over what happens to these people without conditioning further military assistance to the Iraqi Government.
That’s the least we can do right now. It’s time to get the amendment drafted. It’s important to get Members of Congress to co-sponsor these resolutions, to find the first legislative vehicle, perhaps the defense budget the President has submitted, to make sure that both the Secretary of State and the White House understands that the patience has run out.
Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.