August 23, 2011

The MEK’s Propaganda Machine in Three Easy Steps

“The Green Movement, I understand from the testimony in Congress in July, has accepted Madame Rajavi,” said Canadian MP Carolyn Bennett on a talk show hosted last week by Jim Brown of the CBC.
Wait, WHAT? The Green Movement has “accepted” Rajavi?
Nothing could be further from the truth.  The Green Movement has made it abundantly clear that they oppose the MEK.  They’ve warned that the Iranian government seeks to use MEK and its lack of support among Iranians to try to undermine the peaceful democratic opposition.  The Financial Times reported on how prominent Greens signed an open letter to Secretary Clinton calling on her to NOT delist the MEK, citing the harm it would do to Iran’s democratic opposition.  And most recently, Kaleme – the publication associated with the Green Movement’s Mir Hossein Mousavi – published an editorial last week strongly warning against supporting the MEK.
So where did Bennet get her false information from?  The MEK propaganda machine.

First, she referenced a news event created by MEK.  She referred to a House Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing   one of the panelists mentioned in passing that he believed the Green Movement had accepted Rajavi.  It turns out that the panelist, and in fact three of the four panelists who spoke at that hearing, have participated in pro-MEK conferences and were even photographed being coached during the hearing by Ali Safavi and Alireza Jafarzadeh—leaders of the MEK’s political wing, NCRI.
Second, like most officials speaking in favor MEK, Bennet likely went through an “education” process that involved little of her own due diligence.
Howard Dean, who has become one of the most outspoken MEK advocates, explained the extensive research he undertook before accepting cash to become a top advocate for a Foreign Terrorist Organization:

“I got asked by my agent to go over to Paris to speak to a group I knew nothing about. I spent a lot of time on the Internet learning about them, and then I met them,” he said.

Another official, John Sano—who also has admitted he had not heard of MEK before they contacted him for his services and who at a conference last week called for a “tit for tat” campaign of attacks in Iran—revealed to Huffington Post how the MEK education process works:

He “described how he ‘sat down with two members of the Iranian committee for a couple of hours … and they gave me some background’ on the organization and related issues. Sano added that their information ‘meshed up with some of the things I had done in the government.’”

However, more often than not, speakers seem primarily influenced by the fact that there are other big name former officials repeating MEK talking points:

But in the end, Sano admired the panel’s big names more than anything else. “That was convincing for me … the other panel members.”

So, I guess if Rudy Giuliani and Co. think it’s a good idea to jump off a bridge then this guy would do it too.
Finally, officials get some positive reinforcement—sometimes through direct payment for speeches, sometimes in the form of paid trips to Europe.  Bennett herself acknowledged that she was flown and put up in  Paris, along with her son, to participate in an MEK rally on the dime of MEK-affiliated groups.
This is surprisingly common—which brings us back to that Congressional hearing Bennett mentioned.  The hearing was dominated by Rep. Bob Filner, who—in addition to extolling the charms of Maryam Rajavi—lashed out at Ray Takyeh, the only panelist who had not taken money from the MEK or attended one its rallies.
Filner, it turns out, has taken at least two trips to Paris, where he attended rallies and met with his good friend Maryam Rajavi.  Those trips were paid for by an MEK support group in Colorado:

“Also supplying some funds has been Colorado’s Iranian American Community, according to a disclosure report filed in early July by Rep. Bob Filner(D-CA) and posted at legistorm.com. That group paid $6,589.62 for six days of first class travel and lodging expenses for Rep. Filner to attend the June MEK rally in Paris.
The House disclosure form describes him attending a “Grand meeting of Iranians in support of human rights and democracy for Iran.” It makes no mention of the MEK, nor meeting Rajavi. In his speech, Filner said: “I bring you greetings and support from the Congress of the United States … I want to congratulate Madame Rajavi … we will succeed.”
In 2007, Filner also accepted $7,949.40 worth of travel to attend a “rally for Iranian human rights” in Paris. Both trips were paid for by Tim Mehdi Gaemi of the Colorado group, according to the required “Private Sponsor Travel Certification Form.”

It’s pretty clear that current and former government officials–like Bennett and Sano–have fallen hook, line and sinker for whatever is being pumped out of and reinforced through the MEK propaganda machine.  I’m not sure if they really agree with the blatant lies or they’re blinded by all the “perks” of openly supporting the MEK, but comments like Bennett’s make clear they are not doing their homework.

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