Rendell (of MSNBC and Friends of IDF) is under investigation for ties to Iranian terror group

Ed Rendell
Ed Rendell

Mike Isikoff has broken an important story on the Treasury Department investigating several former gov’t officials for lobbying on behalf of an Iranian group classified by the State Department as terrorist. The story involves hundreds of thousands of speaking fees paid to the former officials’ speaking bureaus, money that apparently came from the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, the MEK.

The former officials were lobbying the government to delist the MEK as a terrorist group. Isikoff quotes an unnamed Obama official: “You have to ask the question, whether this is a prima facie case of material support for terrorism.”

The MEK is significant because it is tied to Israel. NBC has previously reported that the group “is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service” and has been linked to the killings of Iranian scientists.

The former officials under investigation include several prominent supporters of Israel in U.S. politics: former Atty General Michael Mukasey, former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean, and former PA Gov’r Ed Rendell, who lately appeared at a fundraiser for the Israeli army.

From Isikoff’s report:

[Former FBI head Louis] Freeh and [former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hugh] Shelton are among 40 former senior U.S. government officials who have participated in a public lobbying campaign – including appearing at overseas conferences and speaking at public rallies – aimed at persuading the U.S. government to remove the MEK from the terror list.

…Edward Rendell, a former Pennsylvania governor and ex-Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, whose speaking firm also received a subpoena, has received $160,000 over the past year for appearing at about seven conferences and rallies, including some in Paris, Brussels and Geneva, according to his office. (Rendell is a contributor to MSNBC TV.)…

Rendell said that there have been weekly conference calls among a “core group” of former U.S. senior officials participating in the lobbying campaign, organized by Freeh, to talk about ways to prod the State Department to remove the MEK from the terror list and protect its followers at Camp Ashraf. He identified this group as including former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean and Mukasey — all of whom have publicly spoken out on behalf of the MEK and spoken at its rallies.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Iran, Israel Lobby, US Politics

{ 28 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Dan Crowther says:

    So, the Administration isn’t going to go after Republican Shills? What about Fran Townsend and Co.? Good start anyway, Hugh Shelton should be especially ashamed of himself……..

  2. radii says:

    If David Brooks was the kinder, gentler neocon then Rendell is the kinder, gentler Fifth Columnist – yet the work they do is as bad as Bill Kristol and AIPAC

  3. HarryLaw says:

    Could it be, finally these fanatics may face the music, don’t hold your breath. Glenn Greenwald had a more in depth article on this at: link to salon.com

    • Hostage says:

      Could it be, finally these fanatics may face the music, don’t hold your breath.

      Perhaps. They might have to forgo speaking engagements in Canada or jump through some hoops to enter the country. Section 34(1) of the immigration act protects Canadians from people who fund, support or engage in terrorism. So it would be possible for groups there to protest against admitting them for visits and demand they be banned like anti-war UK MP Galloway.

      Read more on that at: link to dailymail.co.uk

      It’s also likely that they’ll spend more than they’ve earned on legal fees. So it will be interesting to see if they drop their public support for the MEK.

      • edwin says:

        I think that technically Galloway wasn’t banned – he was threatened with being banned and did not actually test the waters.

        Justice Mosley found that the government’s preliminary assessment of Mr. Galloway’s admissibility to Canada did not amount to a “decision” that could be reviewed by the Court and that a real determination could only be made if he actually attempts to enter the country. While the Court dismissed the application on this basis, Justice Mosley went on to criticize the government’s approach to this case, saying that if Mr. Galloway had shown up in Canada and a border officer was asked to determine his admissibility, the process followed by the government prior to his entry would have interfered with the officer’s ability to exercise his/her discretion and demonstrated a reasonable apprehension of bias. Justice Mosley also found that the government’s interpretation of the meaning of “member” of a terrorist organization, as applied to Mr. Galloway, was overly broad and that, had he found the preliminary assessment to be a reviewable decision, he would have found it unreasonable.

        link to ccla.org

  4. ahmed says:

    NYT wrote about this too… link to nytimes.com

    WASHINGTON — For more than a year, prominent former American officials have been giving well-paid speeches in support of an Iranian opposition group that is fighting to reverse its 15-year-old designation by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

    Now the Treasury Department appears to have begun an inquiry to see whether the speaking fees were being paid by the group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, or People’s Mujahedeen, known as the M.E.K. Americans are prohibited by law from doing business with designated terrorist groups.

  5. American says:

    I hope this goes somewhere but won’t hold my breath. Just another example of corruption and being above all US laws.
    My guess is the MEK’s funds and speakers fees come from Israel or Israel first sources.
    That Israel supports the MEK which is a terrorist group is well known.

  6. Charon says:

    “is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service”

    Israel sure supports a lot of terrorist groups. MEK, PKK, PFLP, etc. And Hasbarists seem to think that it is some kind of a joke to implicate Mossad whenever a suspicious ‘terror’ event takes place.

    This is the same Israel whose leaders have called both Hezbollah and Hamas “extensions” and “proxies” of Iran. I’m pretty sure Bibi has said “Iranian terror proxies” more than a couple times.

    By Israel’s own logic, MEK, PKK, and PFLP are “Israeli terror proxies” except I have a feeling that Mossad is far more involved in these activities than they claim Iran is for Hezbollah (and Hamas to a lesser extent).

    Israel baits their own people to do their dirty work for the “good” of Israel. That involves lending foreign passports to be used in spying activity, unknowingly (and illegally from an immigration stand point) staffing a front for a spying/intelligence operation while running scams to fund the op. “Freelance” order taking. Sayninam they call them. And if they aren’t ‘legitimately’ training/supporting terror groups, they’re doing it under the guise of radical nutters taking advantage of gullible youths (most of the time). Or stirring up sectarian violence. It’s sickening. CIA and MI5 get name dropped sometimes in these things too, probably because they both have their share of double agents.

    Sounds like a movie, except it’s real. Don’t know why people laugh about it and call it conspiracy.

    • Ladidah says:

      Why are you referring to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, whose general secretary and hundreds of members are currently imprisoned by Israel, which has always been quite clear on Palestinian national constants, as an “Israeli terror proxy”?

  7. Shingo says:

    This is a very interesting development. Glenn Greenwald has also been writing about this for some time.

    I’m not optimistic that the investigation will not be swept under the carpet, but if it was credible and followed through, it would be a truly amazing development. Imagine seeing Giuliani, Woolsey, Howard Dean and and a whole skew of the political elite (incluting some high ranking military people) swept up and tarnished by this investigation?

    That I would love to see!!

  8. American says:

    Do read the Greenwald article, really lays it out.
    Oddly enough this am in the car I heard the old Johnny Cash song ‘there’s a man going round taking names, gonna treat everyone the same”.
    Well, take names now, we might eventually have a chance to get these cretins.

  9. tombishop says:

    According to this Philadelphia Inquirer columnist, there are more than Rendell involved:

    “Worldview: Why single out Rendell on MEK?”
    link to philly.com

    • FROM COMMON DREAMS, 3/16/12:

      (excerpt) A Treasury Department investigation has been initiated against nearly two dozen former high-ranking US officials, many who continue to hold elite positions of power in media and policy circles or private industry, for their active support and financial ties to an Iranian dissident group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (or MEK), that is listed by the State Department as a ‘terror organization’.
      Those under investigation represent a bipartisan group including former Democratic governors Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Howard Dean of Vermont; former Republican Homeland Security Advisor to George W. Bush, Fran Townsend*, Bush’s Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, and former UN ambassador John Bolton; former Republican Mayor of New York, Rudolph Guiliani; and ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton, among others. . .

      SOURCE – link to commondreams.org

      * Chutzpah, thy name is Fran Townsend!
      SEE GLENN GREENWALD HIGHLIGHT HER SICKENING HYPOCRISY: Washington’s high-powered terrorist supporters, by Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 3/12/12
      LINK – link to salon.com

      • P.S. FROM THE MSNBC ARTICLE BY ISIKOFF:

        …Rendell told NBC News that he received an email this week from Freeh’s office alerting him and more than three dozen other former senior officials that subpoenas were being issued by the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control. The email asked that the former senior officials contact Freeh and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Freeh and Mukasey, who have been among the leaders in the campaign to “delist” the MEK, are hiring a lawyer to represent all former senior officials caught up in the investigation, the email from Freeh’s office said, according to Rendell…

        SOURCE – link to openchannel.msnbc.msn.com

  10. RE: “Rendell is under investigation for ties to Iranian terror
    group” ~ Weiss

    ALSO SEE: Washington’s high-powered terrorist supporters, by Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 3/12/12

    (excerpt) We now have an extraordinary situation that reveals the impunity with which political elites commit the most egregious crimes, as well as the special privileges to which they explicitly believe they — and they alone — are entitled. That a large bipartisan cast of Washington officials got caught being paid substantial sums of money by an Iranian dissident group that is legally designated by the U.S. Government as a Terrorist organization, and then meeting with and advocating on behalf of that Terrorist group, is very significant for several reasons. New developments over the last week make it all the more telling. Just behold the truly amazing set of facts that have arisen…
    . . . Even for official Washington, where elite crimes are tolerated as a matter of course, this level of what appears to be overt criminality — taking large amounts of money from a designated Terrorist group, appearing before its meetings, meeting with its leaders, then advocating on its behalf — is too much to completely overlook. The Washington Times reported on Friday that the Treasury Department’s counter-Terrorism division is investigating speaking fees paid to former Gov. Rendell, who, the article notes, has “become among [MEK's] most vocal advocates.” According to Rendell, “investigators have subpoenaed records related to payments he has accepted for public speaking engagements” for MEK. As the article put it, ”some observers have raised questions about the legality of accepting payment in exchange for providing assistance or services to a listed terrorist group.” Beyond the “material support” crime, engaging in such transactions with designated Terrorist groups is independently prohibited by federal law. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to salon.com

    • P.S. ALSO SEE:

      Ex-US Officials Face ‘Material Support’ Probe for Terror Links, by Common Dreams, 3/16/12
      LINK – link to commondreams.org

      Justice Department Investigating Whether MEK Speakers Accepted Illegal Fees from Terror Group, by Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, 3/13/12
      LINK – link to richardsilverstein.com

      The MEK’s Useful Idiots, by Philip Giraldi, Antiwar.com, 3/08/12
      LINK – link to original.antiwar.com

    • P.P.S. ALSO SEE: Speakers bureau works for Iranian terror group, by Justin Elliott, Salon, 9/07/11

      (excerpt) A Pennsylvania speakers bureau is sending out invitations for a lucrative speaking opportunity on behalf of an officially designated terrorist organization, the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) of Iran, according to an email obtained by Salon.
      Last week, a person at a Washington think tank was emailed the $10,000-plus-expenses offer to speak at a Geneva event by Lourdes Swarts, managing director of 21st Century Speakers Inc., “on behalf of our client, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Foreign Affairs Committee.”
      The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) is listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department, and is described as the “political front” of the MEK.
      The language of the contract indicates Swarts — as well as anyone who agrees to the speaking offer — is breaking the law that bars material support for terrorism, according to Georgetown Law School professor David Cole…

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to salon.com

  11. irmep says:

    The Treasury Department is one of the most intransparent and irresponsible agencies in the government when it comes to Middle East matters. They refuse to respond to FOIAs about the funding flows to illegal West Bank settlements. Even Senate Foreign Relations queries about why AIPAC was granted tax-exempt status received only cursory and dismissive responses.

    As in previous cases involving illegal activity in the US, the following arguments will be advanced behind closed doors. Was the PR effort done in the name of advancing Israel’s security, misguided or not? If insiders argue that it was, this case, like so many before it, will be swept under the rug. Attempts to find out what happened will be quashed for a half century.

  12. dbroncos says:

    Israel and her supporters are pushing the limits on many fronts. Flying too close to the sun?

  13. Henry Norr says:

    Good that Isikoff picked this up, but I’m not sure what if anything he has “broken.” As other commenters have pointed out, this story has been all over the place in recent days. If we’re giving credit to journalists, I’d say Greenwald deserves a lot more, because he’s kept this story alive for months, when no one else was covering it. But the real credit for “breaking” it should go to Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor – as far as I can tell, everyone else is just building on the very detailed report on this he published last August.

    One important thing Greenwald has done that I don’t remember seeing in any of the other coverage is to highlight the fact that the U.S. has charged a number of people with providing “material support to terrorists” for things like postings to YouTube or links on a website – actions for which they received no money and that obviously did a lot less (if anything) to benefit the organizations in question than what Rendell, Freeh, et al. have done for the MEK. But they got prosecuted because they’re not big shots – and in most cases because they’re Muslims.

  14. jewishgoyim says:

    I’m not sure how independent these proceedings are from the Obama Administration but after all the officials spilling the beans about the true state of Iranian nuclear program, it could be like high noon between Obama and the neocons/likudniks (aka Israel firsters).

    I mean it looks like they could be hitting hard on all the undercover operations aiming at bullshitting the American people. They are below the radar for the general public but very real for the organizers. A bit as if Bush had started going after Doug Feith in 2003… Anyway, I’m probably dreaming.

  15. If we can waterboard poor Arab chaps who just happened to stand around when the US government needed some success story, we surely can waterboard Rendell over his support for terrorists.

  16. HarryLaw says:

    I had a dream last night, I did not want it to end, John Bolton shuffling around Gitmo in an orange jump suit and chains.

  17. Chasev says:

    The bigger question is: Will he lose his spots as an analyst on (Philadelphia) Eagles Post Game Live?

  18. Kathleen says:

    Wondered where the Rick Perry at Foreign Policy then Richard Engel story went. Did we hear one Rep demand an investigation into Israel funding, arming and training the MEK (on the US terrorist list) Turns out an investigation of some sort. Rendell, Dean demonstrates how so called liberals make a hard hard turn right when it comes to Israel and the I lobbies agenda.

    I have often wondered when stories like this are broken is there any element of alerting those who are being investigated. The Aipac espionage investigation alert. Was that Leslie Stahl who alerted of the FBI’s investigation of Aipac Judge Orders Justice Department Investigation of Leak to CBS – The …www.nysun.com/national/judge-orders-justice…investigation/38288/You +1′d this publicly. Undo
    Aug 22, 2006 – At that point, “The logical investigation is that you would get Lesley Stahl or her producer to identify who their confidential source is,” Ms.

    Stahl has done a few programs on 60 minutes on the I/P issue where I felt she was basically promoting the David Project.

    Who alerted Jane “waddling on over to interfere in the Aipac investigation” Harman about the investigation into her ‘waddling” and contacts?

  19. Kathleen says:

    But will Israel suffer any consequences for funding, arming and training the MEK (on the US terrorist list)
    Iranian group’s big-money push to get off US terrorist list – CSMonitor …www.csmonitor.com/…/Iranian-group-s-big-money-push-to-get-off-…Cached
    You +1′d this publicly. Undo
    Aug 8, 2011 – 4 in Washington at a panel organized to warn of the risks of delisting … Taking the MEK off the terrorist list, they have written, would “trigger a …

    Remember that panel aired on CSpan that was pushing for taking MEK off the US terrorist list

    Iran’s Nuclear, Terrorist Threats and Rights Abuses – C-SPAN Video …www.c-spanvideo.org/appearance/599441381Cached

  20. jahan says:

    Why is it thought that the MKO is financed by ISrael? perhaps, Israel is funding the lobbyists. The MKO has the underground organization in Iran. Israel needs assassins. What other proof is there that Israel finances the MKO?

    Iran executed 78,000 of MKO’s captured members after the war with Iraq. The MKO aided in the brutal suppression of the Basra insurrection. What is strange about the Maryam and her MKO is that it is a cult. It is a religion unto itself.