Mitchell Reiss, a foreign policy adviser to Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, on Friday once again spoke out on behalf of an Iranian opposition group the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.
Reiss, a former State Department official, appeared alongside other former U.S. officials like former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Attorney General Michael Mukasey at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. to support removing the People’s Muhajedin Organization of Iran, or MEK, from the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations. Reiss, who served as moderator of the panel, opened his remarks with a joke about the ongoing Treasury Department investigation into the speaking fees paid to officials like him who have appeared at previous events.
“Up here on the dais this morning, we have some of America’s most distinguished public servants, most decorated military officers, and most respected diplomats — a true collection of outstanding American leaders,” Reiss said. “Or, as the Treasury Department would prefer to call us for our supporting the delisting of the MEK, potential criminals.”Reiss said that members of the media were trying “to slander our efforts to safeguard the brave men, women and children of Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty. We come here today at a time when anonymous State Department officials are trying to question our motives and our morals. We come here at a time when some people in the U.S. government are trying to intimidate us from speaking out on behalf of what we know is right and just.”
“Our presence here today is a rebuke to those who oppose this cause,” Reiss said. “We will not be intimidated, we will not be discouraged and we will not be silenced.”
Reiss next took aim at Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for being too slow in making a decision on whether the MEK should come off the designated terrorist list.
“The excuse for this delay, we’re told, is that the Secretary of State is too busy, that she has frequent travel, that her full attention is devoted to rapidly changing events elsewhere around the world. Now I’ve worked at the State Department, and I can appreciate the heavy burdens that the Secretary has to bear. But even though we think the case for delisting is clear and overwhelming, nobody really expects Secretary Clinton personally to pour though all the files about MEK. But she has help. The State Department has over 5,000 employees. The Secretary has a staff of highly competent people. She has an entire legal department at her disposal,” he continued.
“In other words, there really is no excuse for her delay in determining the status of MEK,” Reiss said.
Reiss and the other former officials received several standing ovations from a packed room of Iranian-American supporters of the MEK in a large ballroom at the Mayflower. The event was held to mark the first anniversary of an attack on members of the MEK by Iraqi forces. Large framed photos of the 34 individuals allegedly killed in the attack were displayed on the side of the room and many in the audience wept when organizers played a video of the attack and its aftermath.
“It’s clear that Secretary Clinton and the State Department need our help,” Reiss said Friday. “They need us to explain to them why the MEK does not belong on this list. Now as you know, this is not the first time we’ve tried to explain this to them. Many of us have tried to do so repeatedly over the past few years.
“It appears they have some slow learners at the State Department,” Reiss continued. “Sadly, this happens. We all knew schoolmates who never did the homework or paid attention to the reading. That appears to be the case now. The good news is that we have some expert teachers with us this morning.”