Useful Idiot Isnt that

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January 29, 2004 2:04 p.m.

Useful Idiot? Isn’t that the phrase we use for well-meaning enthusiasts who get duped into supporting front-groups for bad-acting causes?

As you’ve probably seen already, The Washington Post today has a piece about how Richard Perle gave a speech last weekend to a group that US law enforcement and intelligence suspects is actually a front for a terrorist group, Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). According to the Post, US law enforcement had debated whether they had the authority to shut the fundraiser down. And on Monday the Treasury Department froze the assets of the event’s main sponsor, Iranian-American Community of Northern Virginia.

Perle told the Post that he wasn’t aware of the MEK’s involvement in the event, believing instead that it was intended to help the victims of the Bam earthquake. He also said his speaking fee was going to the Red Cross. When the Post reporter told him that the Red Cross had already ruled out receiving any monies from the event, he said he didn’t know that either.

Perle says he didn’t know about any of this. But, as this fella points out, the capitol hill newspaper The Hill reported last Wednesday (“Terrorists plan D.C. fundraiser,” Jan.21st) that House Administration Chairman Robert Ney (R-Ohio) asked John Ashcroft to investigate the fundraiser for its ties to terrorists.

Now, as it happens, I’m not sure that Perle was just another in that long line of wide-eyed do-gooders whose humanitarian impulses are darkly preyed upon by the dregs of the world’s dustbin-bound ideologies.

The MEK is a terrorist organization (recognized as such by the US government since 1997) fighting the Iranian government. For years it’s worked out of an enclave in Iraq with most of its support coming from Saddam Hussein. Other than these facts the group is best known for violence and its mélange of bizarre beliefs.

Since the war there’s been an-going battle within the administration over whether to root out the MEK or, if not quite sponsor them, then at least tolerate their continued battle against the mullahs of Iran.

Perle and his faction, not surprisingly, have been on the side pushing for sorta-kinda sponsorship.

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