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Iranian group's big-money push to get off US terrorist list

SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: A roster of influential former US officials is speaking at rallies in support of removing the MEK, an Iranian opposition group with a violent anti-American history, from the US terrorist list. A decision is expected within weeks.

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That comment prompted a standing ovation, followed by Rendell's call for removal from the terrorist list if, as his fellow speakers had indicated, the "MEK is a force for good, and the best hope we have."

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Judge Mukasey told the Monitor he received money for some of his appearances, but added that “the issue of fees is a red herring. Al Gore gets paid to speak about global warming; does anyone question the sincerity of his beliefs?”

One former US diplomatic official told the Monitor he was offered $25,000 to speak in Paris last December, but declined. He was told he could deliver general remarks about human rights in Iran and did not have to mention the MEK, though "the MEK link was clear; there was no hiding of it at all." In his case, he was told "rich Iranians in Europe" would foot the bill.

"Those who speak ... have every right in the world to issue statements and make speeches that say [the MEK] ought to be off the terrorism list," says this former official, who asked not to be named. "I just don't think they should do it for money."

Top-flight speakers include Bill Richardson, the former secretary of Energy; Gen. Peter Pace, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO; and James Jones, President Obama's former national security adviser.

“You are credible, you are connected, you are respected. And I am amazed that we’ve not reached out,” Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former commander of CENTCOM, said at a January event in Washington. “No one is asking for money, for military support, and guns. They are asking for a hand to be reached out, a light to be shined on what they are doing.”

Speakers also include former CIA chiefs James Woolsey, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden. Several others confirmed to The Financial Times that they received cash to speak, including John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN; Louis Freeh, former FBI director; Gen. James Conway, former Commandant of the Marine Corps; and Shelton.

"It's a very formidable list, full of national security experts, and each of us recognizes the importance of Iran to US security," P.J. Crowley, the former US State Dept. spokesman until March, who spoke at a June event in Washington, told the Monitor.

Among Mr. Crowley's talking points at State was that the MEK belonged on the terrorism list. He says he was therefore "deliberately circumspect" in his speech and did not take a position on MEK delisting.

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