In recent weeks, The New York Times has run a couple of articles hinting, if not stating outright, that those who have been speaking in support of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the leading organisation of Iranian dissidents, are dupes of the organisation. They label the MEK a "cult" and seek to persuade the State Department not to remove it from its list of terrorist organisations, a designation imposed in 1997.
That's a pretty serious charge, considering that these are distinguished officials, including three former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the former commander of NATO, President Obama's former national security adviser, a former FBI director, a former Attorney General, several former governors, two Directors of CIA, and U.S. ambassador to the UN, the former co-chairman of the 9/11 commission ... it's a long and impressive list.
All dupes of a cult? Hard to believe, isn't it?
I have a strong feeling that they aren't the dupes, but perhaps the editors at The New York Times who seem to have bought the mullahs propaganda are.
On Sunday, August 14, the New York Times featured an opinion piece by Elizabeth Rubin headlined "An Iranian Cult and Its American Friends" which was clearly designed to dismiss those who support internal change in Iran.
And in July, the New York Times carried another story about the plight of 3,400 PMOI members at a place called Camp Ashraf, between Baghdad and the Iran border. When the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq, these people voluntarily surrendered their weapons in exchange for protection under terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
But with U.S. forces scheduled to leave at the end of the year, they face a dismal future. Already, Iraqi forces doing the Iranian mullahs' dirty work have attacked twice, the latest one being on April 8, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.
They're desperately seeking to be relocated to another place. The State Department agrees but U.S. Ambassador Lawrence Butler, who the New York Times says has been meeting with the group, thinks that place should be somewhere else in Iraq. Some safety that would provide!
He also contends that those Americans speaking on behalf of the MEK are dupes; they've been paid for their appearances, he contends.
Again, who's the dupe and who's doing the duping?
Consider the individuals: Howard Dean, Bill Richardson, Gen. Wesley Clark, Lee Hamilton, Michael Mukasey, Louis Freeh, Tom Ridge ...
As well as 4,000 parliamentarians (including a large number of the members of the House of Commons and their peers in the UK) and more than 100 U.S. Congressmen both Democrats and Republicans who have called for the delisting of the MEK.
Also consider the judges across Europe and in the U.S. They have heard the PMOI's arguments for delisting - and all have agreed.
Can they really be described as dupes?
In the EU and UK, the courts ordered these Iranian patriots to be removed from the list of terrorist organisations. In the UK the ruling was made by the Lord Chief Justice Philips.
In the U.S., the DC Circuit Court of Appeals agreed but did not have the power to act; only the State Department can do that. But the court urged Hillary Clinton to review the case, and suggested that she render a favorable ruling.
At meetings across Europe, tens of thousands of Iranian exiles and their supporters have rallied on behalf of the beleaguered Ashraf residents and in support of delisting the MEK. Speakers have included not only of the aforementioned officials but dozens of European parliamentarians and such human rights activist as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel.
Who knows why Elizabeth Rubin has such animosity toward the MEK? She hasn't been to Ashraf since 2003, cites incidents in the '90s and has no current information about the organization. Yet, she has taken it upon herself to crusade against a group whose only interest is to create a democratic Iran free from the mullahs.
I cannot probe the inner recesses of her mind; I can only surmise what drives her. I don't know if she herself is the dupe of a greater power.
But I do know that those of us who support the MEK, pray for a solution to the Ashraf situation, and urge the State Department to loosen the fetters that bind, are not dupes.
We simply work for freedom, justice and democracy - in Iran and beyond.
Could the leaders of the Iranian regime and their supporters make the same claim? By their actions shall you know them?