Washington, DC – On Wednesday, the neoconservative group Freedom Watch held a conference titled “National security, freedom, and Iran—is it time for U.S. and Western intervention?” According to the group, the conference was an effort “to help convince the new Congress, with the House of Representatives now in Republican hands, independent Democrats, and other entities, to push harder for U.S. and western intervention to remove this dangerous radical Islamic regime before it is too late.”
Aimed at promoting regime change in Iran through military intervention and direct U.S. support for the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), the event advertised Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, potential presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, and Representatives Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) as among the invited speakers, though none were in attendance.
Representative Michelle Bachman (R-MN), the chairwoman of the House Tea Party Caucus, did appear before an audience of about a dozen people at the National Press Club event. Bachman claimed that “we know that they [Iran] already have a nuclear capability,” contradicting assessments by the CIA and other intelligence agencies, and said that Iran “has announced to the world their intention to bomb Israel.”
Bachmann called for the U.S. to directly support the MEK, a Marxist-Islamist group that worked closely with Saddam Hussein and is designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government. Bachmann is a cosponsor of a resolution in Congress calling for the organization’s removal from the terror list, which would enable direct U.S. support. “We have shackled this freedom-seeking group which has the ability to help Iranians rise up against that tyrannical regime,” Bachmann said.
Bachman also discussed what she believes are the failures of the President’s policy towards Iran, though when asked what she believes are the “substantive differences” between the policies of Obama and the Bush Administration, she deferred, saying, “that’s not the purpose of my remarks here today.” (Talking Points Memo has posted video of the exchange that can be viewed here.)
The event also included remarks from Kenneth Timmerman, the founder of Foundation for Democracy in Iran and a member of neoconservative organizations such as the Committee on the Present Danger and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Timmerman strongly criticized the Voice of America’s Persian News Network, which he has called a “handmaiden of the oppressors.” He also claimed that, in the days following the 2009 Iranian elections, Iranian government officials demoralized demonstrators by appearing publicly alongside pictures of President Obama and declaring “ou ba ma ast,” or “he is with us.” Timmerman called for the U.S. to form a commission to investigate, among other things, the infiltration of Iranian agents in the U.S. government.
Other speakers included former CIA Director James Woolsey, who compared the Obama administration’s policies towards Iran with the world’s reaction to Nazi Germany, and Alan Keyes, who criticized the Obama Administration’s engagement policy with Iran as “ideologically stupefied.”
The event was moderated by Freedom Watch founder Larry Klayman, who has accused President Obama of waging “a political jihad promoting Islam around the world.” According to Klayman and Freedom Watch, the real achievement of the conference was that “No other foreign policy forum has been bold enough to speak the truth” and that Freedom Watch could “explain rationally to the world why and how” to achieve regime change in Iran.