Seymour Hersh: US Training Iranian Terrorists in Nevada
AMY GOODMAN: In what appears to be a first for U.S. foreign policy, new revelations have emerged that the Bush administration secretly trained an Iranian opposition group despite its inclusion on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorists. Writing for The New Yorker magazine, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh reports U.S. Joint Special Operations Command trained operatives from Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, at a secret site in Nevada beginning in 2005. According to Hersh, MEK members were trained in intercepting communications, cryptography, weaponry and small unit tactics at the Nevada site up until President Obama took office. The MEK has been included on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist groups since 1997. It’s been linked to a number of attacks, spanning from the murders of six U.S. citizens in the ’70s to the recent wave of assassinations targeting Iranian nuclear scientists.
Although the revelation that the U.S. government directly trained the MEK comes as a surprise, it’s no secret the group has prominent backers across the political spectrum. Despite it’s designation as a "terrorist" organization by the State Department for 15 years, a number of prominent former U.S. officials have been paid to speak in support of the MEK. The bipartisan list includes two former CIA directors, James Woolsey and Porter Goss; former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; former Vermont Governor Howard Dean; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former FBI Director Louis Freeh; former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton; and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.
Last month, Rendell and other unnamed officials were subpoenaed by the Treasury Department over their ties to MEK. Mukasey and Freeh have retained former Clinton administration Solicitor General Seth Waxman in response to the Treasury Department probe. Rendell, meanwhile, has shrugged off the scrutiny. Speaking at a public event in support of the MEK Friday in Washington, he told the crowd, quote, "I never knew obtaining a subpoena from your own government would be so much fun."
Well, for more on the U.S. and its ties to the MEK, we’re joined by Seymour Hersh in Washington, D.C. His new piece for The New Yorker is called "Our Men in Iran?"
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us what you have learned. Who are, as you call it, "our men in Iran"?
SEYMOUR HERSH: They are as you said. The MEK—and by the way, once again, Amy, the piece was on The New Yorker blog, not in the magazine; it’s a shorter piece. But anyway, the point is, it went through the same sort of intense checking as anything in The New Yorker, of course.
Simply, they’re just the Khalq, the MEK. We began to—I learned about this many years ago. It’s just one of those things that it never quite occurred to me how important it was. And what is important about also the—they did stop, there’s no question, this sort of training that was going on. It was going on at a place called the Nevada Nuclear Security or National Security Test Site. It’s a former site for World War—post-World War II nuclear testing of weapons, testing of nuclear weapons. And it’s off-limits to people. And it’s—there’s an air base there. God knows what went on there. My own guess is rendition flights also flew into that air base in '02, ’03. There's some evidence for it. But certainly, the groups of MEK were flown in secretly by, I presume, the Joint Special Operations Command. This is this new high-powered group that’s been doing all the night raids in Afghanistan, that also came up in your news broadcast.