Pelosi Statement on Violence at Camp Hurriya in Iraq
October 30, 2015
San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today released this statement on the rocket attack against Camp Hurriya in Iraq:
“The violent attack on Camp Hurriya deserves the world’s condemnation. Today, the American people’s thoughts are with the Camp’s residents as they mourn their loved ones, recover from injuries, and continue to seek a safe future for their families following this unconscionable rocket attack.
“I endorse Secretary Kerry’s statement calling on the Iraqi government to meet its obligations and take all necessary measures to protect the residents of Camp Hurriya.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, survivors, and loved ones of those affected by this act of terrorism. The American people remain dedicated to ensuring that the human rights of refugees are protected at Camp Hurriya and throughout the world.”
CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING IRAN’S ROLE IN THE REGION CASE OF CAMP LIBERTY
HOUSE RAYBURN-GOLD ROOM
NOVEMBER 5, 2015
CHAIRMAN ED ROYCE (R-CA)
RANKING MEMBER ELLIOT ENGEL (D-NY)
CONGRESSWOMAN ILEAN A ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FL)
CONGRESSMAN MIKE COFFMAN (R-CO)
CONGRESSMAN TED POE (R-TX)
CONGRESSMAN DANA ROHRABACHER (R-CA)
CONGRESSMAN TOM MCCLINTOCK (R-CA)
CONGRESSMAN BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA)
SECRETARY TOM RIDGE
AMBASSADOR. P.J. CROWLEY
AMBASSADOR ADAM ERELI
PROF. RAYMOND TANTER
PROF. SASCHA SHEEHAN
CONGRESSWOMAN ILEAN A ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FL): Thank you so much. I want to offer my most sincere condolences to the victims, to the family members, to their friends and families of this most recent and deadly and deplorable act. An attack, another attack on Camp Liberty, that has left two dozen dead, scores more injured. When will this stop? It is not the first time that we have been here with these sad portraits of men and women who have been brutally murdered. Because this is a crime. And then the international community moves on to the next topic, if they cover it at all. If they consider giving attention. Look at these faces. Well-meaning, pro-US individuals who want to live out their lives in peace. So I join you in condemning this just most recent attack in the strongest possible terms, and in calling for those who are responsible to be held to account for this horrible crime. This is not an act, this is not an episode, this is a crime.
And there are really two sad realities here. The first is that this attack could have been predicted. Who is surprised that this happened? When the community has been saying for years now, whether it was at Camp Ashraf, whether it’s at Camp Liberty, no one is safeguarding us, no one is protecting us, no one is looking out for our welfare. The residents of Camp Liberty are under constant threat of attack. Not the first time, sadly, we know that unless we get the help and the assistance this will not be the last time. But we have to make this the last time. We all have to work in making this the last time. Do we want to gather here and have more portraits of decent human beings? I think they were having dinner, correct, when this happened? This is their crime, trying to live like normal human beings.
So the first problem was that this could have been predicted. The second problem is that this attack should have been prevented. Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding between the government of Iraq and the United Nations, it clearly spells out the Iraqis are responsible for providing additional security for the residents of Camp Liberty to assure their safety and also to hold accountable those responsible for the attacks against the camp. So the Iraqi government failed, the United Nations failed. We must not allow this great country of ours to also fail. We’ve got to have additional security for the Camp Liberty residents, and we’ve got to find those responsible and hold them accountable. But however, as we are all so painfully aware, the Iraq government has utterly failed to live up to these obligations, despite repeated calls from Congress, despite repeated calls from you, very united, from the administration and from the UN and others. It falls on deaf ears. It is a point that I have brought up at every level in this administration from the State Department to the Oval Office, and I even spoke personally with Prime Minister Abadi about the security, lack of security, at Camp Liberty when I traveled to Iraq with Speaker Boehner earlier this year. Spoke to him face to face and said we cannot allow these residents to be unprotected. We’ll take care of it. What has been done?
But I will continue to push this issue at every opportunity until we see concrete results, because frankly what we have seen so far has been shameful. I understand that many issues facing Iraq today. But there is no excuse for ignoring the obligation that they signed under this memorandum of understanding. They said, “We will take care of this, this is our responsibility.” So first the Iraqi government must send in an emergency medical team to examine, to treat, and to evacuate any remaining wounded. They need urgent medical care. They’re not going to get it unless we push. Then it must undertake a complete and thorough investigation into this latest attack and determine who is responsible and bring those perpetrators to justice. The Iraqi government must also honor its obligations under the memorandum of understanding. Not just some, but all of its obligations. That’s the reason that there was a signed, legal, binding document. That means protecting and securing the camp, allowing freedom of movement for the residents, and guaranteeing a standard of living that is set out in the MOU. And it doesn’t mean, it does not mean continuing to offer the same lip service that it will work to protect Camp Liberty. Work to protect Camp Liberty, what does that mean? Protect them. Not just work to protect them, protect them, protect the residents. And it doesn’t mean allowing the same forces that are currently assigned to protect the camp to continue to be assigned to the camp. We need new leadership there. We need a new person in charge who’s going to really take care of the residents. If one thing is clear it is that whoever is responsible for securing the camp and protecting the residents has failed miserably, and this attack and all the previous attacks painfully demonstrate that. How much proof do we need? It is way past time for the government of Iraq to reassess the security that it is providing to the camp, or the lack of security, the lack of security to the residents, and assign a new protective detail, one that will do the job, one that will really protect the residents.
And I know that there’s so many hurt feelings today. The residents must also be allowed the same rights as all Iraqi citizens, nothing less. They’re treated not even like second class citizens. They’re treated as if they were cattle. And the Iraqi government must cooperate with a UN investigation into the Ashraf hostages and the previous attacks against Ashraf and Liberty. These are not negotiable items, these are requirements that must be met. And we must continue to push for all of these requirements to be met. And this is where American leadership and resolve is needed. This is a human rights issue that cannot be ignored. And the respect for human rights and the promotion of American ideals and the promotion of American values used to be a core tenet of our foreign policy. We need to make it so again. Because this is more than just about Camp Liberty, this is about who we are as a country, and where our priorities are. So today we stand united in support of the residents of Camp Liberty. We will continue to make their safety and security a priority. And you know that you have many friends in Congress who feel the same way. [applause]
I apologize, I have a little bit of a cold. And you’ve been handed a letter that we sent out last night to Secretary of State John Kerry laying out just some of our concerns. There are many more. And they’re concerns that we all share. Let this be the last time that we get together and have a shrine. Thank you so much, thank you. You are too kind, thank you. The last time that we get together to look at the shrine to honor victims, the 24 martyrs of Camp Liberty, Iraq, who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep ablaze the flame of Liberty. Trying to live a normal life for themselves and for their families. And while they were peacefully eating dinner they were attacked with repeated, repeated missiles. We’re going to keep holding the administration’s feet to the fire, and I want to thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity to speak. I’ll leave my letter and my remarks here, and I will take my water. [applause] Thank you so much, thank you, thank you.
[remarks from moderator and video]
CHAIRMAN ED ROYCE (R-CA): Thank you. Let me start by saying that the crisis at Camp Ashraf affects all of us here, all of us in the United States should be speaking out about this, and in a bipartisan way. And we are in the Foreign Affairs Committee. I’d like to call forward our ranking member, Eliot Engel, who feels, as I feel today after this recent attack, and allow him to say a few words before we [0:17:42]. [applause]
RANKING MEMBER ELLIOT ENGEL (D-NY): Thank you, thank you Mr. Chairman, and I’ll be very brief because we have a vote on the floor. But I came out and saw that we were having this reception and this commemoration and I wanted to be a part of it. I think you know where the chairman and I both stand, we are totally in sympathy with the people of Camp Liberty. We are totally against the repression of the Iranian regime and what they’ve done. We think that the people of the United States need to understand more clearly about what is really happening. And what I’ve tried to do in the 27 years I’ve served in Congress and on the Foreign Affairs Committee is always be on the side of justice no matter where it is in the world. And certainly we know the terrible injustice that has happened to the occupants of Camp Liberty and the terrible injustice that the Iranian people are having right now an oppressive government that is preventing them from being free people. And so I want to just let you know that I certainly stand with you. I’m proud to call all your leaders my friends. I’ve met with them here in Washington and California, in New York we’re going to be meeting soon. And you’ll always have my support. Keep on spreading the truth so that the American people and the people of the world will understand that what has happened is a tragedy and that we have to end this tragedy. We have to end it and we can no longer look the other way, the world needs to focus on what is happening here. And I want just to assure you in closing that you will always have my support and you have very great leaders and we will keep talking about it until those people are free. Thank you. [applause]
CHAIRMAN ED ROYCE (R-CA):Now let me, before we hear from Judge Ted Poe, who’s been outspoken on this issue as well, as all of us should be, let me just remind all policy makers and certainly everyone here today that the Iraqi government made an international commitment, a binding commitment to protect the camp’s residents. That commitment has been broken. The U.S. or the international community must demand accountability. And we demand that accountability now. And as a result of the most recent attack, clearly the MOU signed between the UN and the Iraqi government does not contain strong enough protections for the residents of Camp Liberty and they must be called to account. And the United States must step forward and insist now treatment for all the wounded, defense and support to prevent Iranians or Iraqi militia from attacking that camp. And this issue is simple. This is a critical time. The U.S. position must be clear, it must be steadfast. And there’s too many optimistic statements by UN personnel frankly that carry absolutely no connection to the reality of the situation on the ground for those in Camp Liberty. And the administration and UN personnel and others have to understand the reality of the situation for these people at risk, these people who have been killed and wounded once again, once again on our watch. So international humanitarian standards must be upheld. We must expedite also the resettlement in Europe and elsewhere for those seeking to be resettled. Human rights must be respected and there are universal obligations and the residents of Camp Liberty deserve no less than protections under these universal obligations. And lastly, Iran must be called to account because we know at the bottom of it, at the bottom of the attacks it is the forces in Iran that give the orders to carry out these attacks. With that said, let me call Judge Ted Poe forward. [applause]
CONGRESSMAN TED POE (R-TX):Thank you very much. I consider you my friends. And it’s not good what is taking place with your friends and your families in Iraq. Recently in a bipartisan way, September 21st, we asked John Kerry—members of the House of Representatives—to allow the folks in Camp Liberty to have protective gear, helmets and other equipment to protect themselves from expected attacks on the camp. That was September 21st. And then we didn’t get a response from Secretary Kerry. Btu we did get a response from the bad guys and 24 folks in Camp Liberty have been killed since this letter was written, now 139 individuals, the seventh attack on Camp Liberty.
And our government, in my opinion, is twiddling its thumbs in the protection of Camp Liberty. I am really tired of all the politically correct statements by the State Department, and the State Department trying to play nice with the Iranians and play nice with the Iraqis. Because what has happened, people have died while the State Department twiddles its thumbs. Now it’s real simple, we want the person in charge of Camp Liberty in the Iraqi government to be gone. [applause] He is a failure. His job is to protect the residents and he cannot do that or he won’t do it, he needs to go. And Iraq needs to replace that individual with someone who will actually do what they are supposed to, secure the security of the people in Camp Liberty. And the United States needs to push harder on the Iraqi government to do this, and insist on it, and take no for no answer. This is a dangerous situation. Even though the event occurred last year where these people died, the State Department hadn’t been to the camp. Well, why not? They say it’s too dangerous to go. Well if it’s too dangerous for the State Department to investigate it, don’t you think it might be too dangerous for the folks in Camp Liberty to be there? [applause]
So Mr. Kerry and the State Department need to get with the program to help resettle those folks in Camp Liberty to other places in the world where their security and safety will be secure. And that’s what we ought to do. Seven attacks since we have started this discussion about Camp Liberty. Interesting name. Camp Liberty. No liberty in Camp Liberty. Maybe it’s time we liberate Camp Liberty and let those folks go to where they want to go throughout the world. So, we will continue to press the State Department. I agree with the chairman, behind all of this is the Iranian government, doing what they can to make that area, Camp Liberty, unsafe for the people that are there. So no more diplomatic talk. Solve the problem. Protect the folks. Help them relocate to other parts of the world. And we need to do that whether the Iranian government or the Iraqi government like it or not. And that’s just the way it is. Thank you very much. [applause]
[moderator and videos]
CONGRESSMAN DANA ROHRABACHER (R-CA):Thank you very much. It’s rather disconcerting to know that as we sit here and enjoy this environment and the fact that we are safe and we have enough food to eat and we’re comfortable at night and our children aren’t going to be murdered, that there are people in this world that are living in total fear and they’re not only being deprived of just a humane standard of living, but they’re suffering from the fact that there’s some people out to kill them. And I’ve been worried about the people that are at Camp Ashraf and now Camp Liberty for a long time. They’re not only they’re human beings but they’re friends of freedom and the United States of America. And if we let the people like that, who put themselves out for us, and we let them—here are people who basically came together because they were struggling against what? They were struggling against the mullah dictatorship in Iran. That’s what brought those group of people to make them one entity. What could be more admirable than coming together and joining and identifying yourself with the cause of opposition to evil? And now those people who had courage to do that over the years have been left to drift on their own. What a horrible message that for the rest of the world for people, other people who are struggling for freedom. What a horrible message we’re sending by not having an outrage that people can hear and see half way around the world.
Instead, I haven’t—by the way, I don’t know, has our government actually condemned the actual bombardment? Has there been an official condemnation by our government? [crosstalk] There has. There’s been—someone mentioned it. Well, you know, I would hope that people will take us seriously when we say something and then we do something as a result of that. And we’ve been saying things for a long time. And what makes a condemnation of this type of action meaningless is when people have the words but they’re not followed by any type of government action. I think it’s about time—and as you know I have legislation that indicates that we should just go ahead, these people need help, they’re caught in a tremendous situation. If no one else is going to step up after a given period of time we should just make sure that we bring those people in Camp Liberty to the United States of America. [applause] The fact that they have put their lives on the line against radical Islam and the fact that radical Islam is today the number one threat to the people and safety of the people of the United States of America, that should mean that’s a good thing. That’s a good sign to the people who around the world that we are actually care about those people who are the enemies of those people who have sworn to murder us. So it’s time to do something.
And I, you know, when I heard about this latest bombardment I simply—of course we put out the statement, and look I was a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan so I know how to write a tough statement. But I’m anxious to do more than just speak words. Time to get something done. I will join with you in every way I can and provide the leadership in every way I can to find a solution to this. I will have to say there are some people I’m talking to in the Middle East that might be able to provide some immediate, how do you say, safety. And I’m talking to them about this and I will—I’m on my way overseas in about three hours. And I’ll let you know when I come back if I’ve been successful. But one of the items on my agenda list is trying to find something to help the people of Camp Liberty and that’s on my agenda. So I can’t promise you I’ll be successful but we’ve all got to do our part, I’m trying to do mine. You do yours. We’re going to save these people but we’re also going to save the world from this evil that the people of Camp Liberty and Camp Ashraf, you know, they shined as a beacon there of help for people who oppose these radical mullahs in Iran who are subjugating the people in Iran to their kind of tyranny. So let’s stick together and do what we can and we’ll save them, we will save the people of Camp Liberty. God bless you. [applause]
CONGRESSMAN TOM MCCLINTOCK (R-CA):Thank you very much. The atrocities now rained upon Camp Liberty are a stain upon American honor and they cannot be allowed to continue. MEK’s freedom fighters relied on explicit promises of protection from our government when they disarmed themselves and placed their safety in our hands. Four years ago this administration walked away from those promises and turned over the fate of the people of Camp Liberty to the corrupt Iraqi government. That government, which was created with the blood of thousands of American soldiers, has repeatedly allowed attacks on the camp by Iranian forces while the United States government has simply looked on. The attack last week on Camp Liberty should surprise no one. Previous attacks went unaddressed and unanswered, which led directly and predictably to the attack last week. Unless concrete steps are taken by this administration to rescue the heroes of Camp Liberty we can expect continuing and escalating violence. The Iranian dictatorship, which this administration revived and rewarded by lifting international sanctions has made no secret of its intention to exterminate the 2,200 refugees who remain at Camp Liberty. And the Iraqi government has made crystal clear it will stand by idly while they do.
Only action by the United Sates can prevent this unfolding tragedy and injustice, and time is fleeting. History will look back on the coming days either as America’s finest hour when we rose to redeem the promises made to the Camp Liberty freedom fighters or its most shameful hour when it turned its back and allowed the slaughter of 2,200 souls who voluntarily disarmed at your request and who placed their trust in us for their protection. History is watching. And whatever happens, history will not forget. Thank you. [applause]
SEC. TOM RIDGE: Well, I’m sorry we have to meet under the circumstances that we are commemorating today. One of these days I hope we meet in celebration rather than in mourning. One of these days when you get to my age you develop a bucket list. On my bucket list is a celebration on the streets of Tehran. [applause] I think we have a way to go. I do want to share some thought with you about what transpired several days ago, about the disappointment and disbelief I have in the failure of America to keep its promise.
But before I do that I want to introduce a representative from a government that has done more to keep a promise and has probably done more to protect some of the citizens and residents of Camp Liberty than any other country. All right? Ambassador (Faber). Please stand up, be recognized. [applause] Thank you very much, ambassador. I must tell you that earlier this year Senator Bob Torricelli and I visited Albania. Been there many times before, did some work with—I know it’s a different administration, but Prime Minister (Verecia). I know Tirana, I see the progress, I see a lot of good things going on in Albania. But this is a country whose historical legacy is opening its welcoming doors to the oppressed from other countries. And they have had—they are a source of inspiration and hope for the residents of Camp Liberty because they opened their doors. They have taken several hundred, are prepared and continue to take additional men and women, besieged men and women, defenseless men and women from Camp Liberty. And on behalf of all of us who from the diplomatic community, the political community, we’re talking Republicans and Democrats, there are some of the most unlikely connections in this coalition supporting this group that people will record in the future as being truly bipartisan, perhaps more importantly apolitical. It’s about humanitarian need and I think it’s very important publicly to recognize the government of Albania and the good ambassador. So we thank you very much. [applause]
I join you today to acknowledge, to commemorate, to mourn the sacrifice of these men and women at Camp Liberty. We grieve them because for many reasons, they are husbands and wives and fathers and brothers. They have children and grandchildren. And like any other kind of memorial, when you put faces on the martyrs it becomes much more personal. And for me it’s even more personal because of my strong belief in America, our values and our principles. And today I grieve personally the failure of my country to live up to those values and principles based upon the word it gave to these men and women many, many years ago when we asked them to surrender their own means of self-defense and trust us to provide for their safety and security. I’m not going to recite the multiple occasions when that trust has been violated by the continuing assaults and murders of residents of both Ashraf and Liberty. You’re all very much aware of that. But I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the responsibility of the United States to keep its word. It’s all these men and women in Liberty want us to do. And so I grieve the fact that at least to this date we have failed to keep our promises.
In this coalition of impressive group of men and women will continue to do everything we can to ensure that we expedite as best as possible, as quickly as possible, to relocation. But until we do, let me read you one of the requests. We made many requests, the coalition has written a letter to Secretary Kerry, John McCain has written a letter. And one of the things John has said, and I really like this—I can refer to him as John because we both got elected in ’82. He calls me Tom, I call him John. But he is a senator and people pay attention to what the senator says on the Hill. “Given Camp Liberty’s proximity to Baghdad International Airport, has the administration considered the requirements to bring Camp Liberty within the aerial perimeter of U.S. air protection to ensure that the firing of missiles or mortars would not be permitted on the camp.” I think that’s easily done. You can do it with a stroke of the pen. A simple direction from the president to the Secretary of State to the United States military command. And it’s about time we started living up to—this will not be enough, but it’s about time we started living up to our promises, and this would be a very important and effective first step. [applause]
I hope that some of these proceedings are made available to the extraordinary individuals, the heroes at Camp Liberty. Ali, I need my sheet, could you be kind enough to give me that. I want to read—have they seen the video, Ali? You’ve seen the video. Have you translated the video for them? All right, well then you don’t need Ridge to do that. But you saw that video and you saw in the ashes, still smoldering from the attacks less than a few days earlier, they rise up. And in the face of adversity, in the face of a malignant, venomous Iran that is super-connected to a corrupt Iraq, say to those who would bring them harm and sadly death, we will not be denied. You will not break our spirit. We are committed patriots. Martyrs we are, but we are prepared to be martyred for a cause greater than ourselves. Rather remarkable in the 21st century, in a world of iPad and iPhone and i-this and i-that, that’s the 21st century. This is not about I, in the Camp Liberty it’s about us. Rather interesting.
It reminded me of the look at American history for a comparison of Patrick Henry in Virginia in 1775 who in an impassioned speech, because he was going to really the Virginia militia and get a cavalry, he listed the transgressions of the British magistrate, the British government. And at the end of this impassioned speech he simply said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” This is the Iranian version, because they’re prepared to die in order to secure liberty. And while we mourn their death and their sacrifice, we celebrate their vision and their hope and their commitment for a better life for their children and grandchildren in the country that they love and revere, a country with a proud historic past, a country filled with brilliant young people, a country just aching to remove the repression of the mullahs.
So if this gets to our brothers and sisters in Camp Liberty, we mourn the loss of your friends and loved ones, we commemorate, and if you don’t mind we use the word celebrate, although it’s difficult to do it, a memorial service but we celebrate your commitment, your passion, the sense that you’ve embraced the notion that there’s a cause greater than you as individuals and the cause is for a free democratic Iran. And you’ve heard me saying this before, it bears repeating as I conclude, I had the great pleasure of spending a little time with Indira Gandhi before she was assassinated. And I’d read some of her works before that meeting. And at one point in time in her life she had given a speech and she said, “You can exile a man but not an idea. You can imprison a man but not an idea. You can kill a man but not an idea.” So the Iranian government take heed, the Iraqi government take heed. The inspirational martyrs and living residents of Camp Liberty, you can imprison them, you can intimidate them, you’d love to kill them all. But you’ll never destroy the idea from a self-governing, free, democratic Iran. That’s their call to all of us to ensure that we embrace that notion ourselves.
And those of us in a position of responsibility and influence, and obviously to date we haven’t done a very good job, to continue to press forward to ask our government, this administration today, not tomorrow, to take the first step in protecting the survivors of Camp Liberty and Ashraf. And that first step would be to expand the air perimeter around the airport to make sure that this camp is not subject to further attack by artillery or mortars. We honor and celebrate your sacrifice, we commemorate and mourn your loved ones, and we rededicate ourselves to your mission. You cannot kill the idea, the idea of a free and democratic Iran. We draw inspiration from your commitment to that ideal. Thank you ladies and gentlemen. [applause]
CONGRESSMAN MIKE COFFMAN (R-CO):Thank you. It is such an honor to be with you here today. And perhaps there are some Iranian-Americans from the state of Colorado here today. If you are, please stand up. Well, anyway. [laughter] Well, I wish I could be with you under other circumstances today when we mourn the loss of so many that have died due to what is, in my view as a United States Marine Corps combat veteran, a terrorist attack. A terrorist attack on an innocent people. And I feel very strongly about the people that are being oppressed at Camp Liberty. Having been the only member of Congress, House and Senate, to have served in both the first Gulf War and the Iraq War, I think when historians will reflect upon the period of my military service they will say that we perhaps miscalculated, that the greatest threat to America is an Iranian government under the totalitarian rule of the mullahs. I believe that there is no question, in my vew, having worked with the Iraqi government, that the Iraqi government was complicit in this attack. That I believe that the Iranian government was complicit in this attack.
And the United States must do everything it can to help the people that are being oppressed in Camp Liberty, to include tying U.S. aid to the welfare and the conditions of those in Camp Liberty. And I think that that’s absolutely critical that we continue putting pressure not simply on the government of Iraq but on the American government, but on the United States State Department to make sure that they are not forgetting the people in Camp Liberty because it’s convenient to do so, because they don’t want to sacrifice anything or anything to stand in their way with what they perceived as a prospect of improved relations with Iran that quite frankly don’t quite seem to be materializing. We must, as part of that pressure upon the State Department and the government of Iraq, make sure that those that are in Camp Liberty are allowed to sell their assets, to sell their property, to get their money back from those asset sales.
And so I look forward to working with you, to doing all we can so that the lives of those lost are not forgotten. [applause] The lives of those who continue to be oppressed are not forgotten. To work with the Iranian-American community to make sure that those who have fought for their own cause for liberty, their own cause for freedom, against authoritarian rule in Iran are not forgotten, and that we have an obligation to help them. God bless you for being involved in this and for not forgetting those who have been lost. Thank you. [applause]
AMB. P.J. CROWLEY:It is an honor to be here and to pay tribute to the 23 people who gave their lives in pursuit of a different future for Iran and the Middle East. I remain in awe of their courage and their industry and the hardship and risk they continue to endure as we speak. Each time they have been attacked they have picked themselves up. Each time they have been attacked they have carried on. Each time they have been attacked, compared with the images of violent fragmentation in the region, they offer an alternative vision rooted in what is possible if we harness the potential that exists in the region rather than squander it.
Many of the speakers today have said exactly the right thing. Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen that this should be the last time that we come together to commemorate such a loss. I completely agree with Congressman Poe that it is too dangerous for the people of Camp Liberty to remain in Iraq, and that we have to do something to solve the problem. But I think it’s important to put a couple of things in perspective. As that video showed this was no sneak attack. It involved large weapons system that are not stealth. This was not a potshot or a hasty retreat. This was a significant military operation. It took considerable effort to pull it off, and the complicity of the Iraqi security forces to enable the Mutar army to get within firing range of Camp Liberty. Nothing about this was spur of the moment. The timing of the attack was not a coincidence. It occurred as foreign ministers, including Iran’s foreign minister, were gathered in Vienna to renew discussions regarding the elusive political solution in Syria. It would be my judgment that the more hardline elements within the regime, particularly the IRGC, chose this day and this target to throw sand in diplomatic ears that would risk equities in Iraq and Syria. Once again, the residents of Camp Liberty are pawns targeted by larger pieces that are moving around this regional and tragic chessboard.
Now those of us who have been involved in large and smart ways in the plight of the residents of Camp Liberty have always approached this with a sense of urgency. And this is of course not the first time that the residents have been attacked. But to me it underscores how the environment has changed in significant ways. While the attack is part of a continuing strategy directed against the movement, it comes in the backdrop of a fragmentation, if not the collapse, of the Iraqi state. As we know, one third of the country is occupied by the Islamic State. Iraqi security forces do not hold a monopoly on the application of lethal force, one of the critical definitions of state sovereignty. The lines that demarcate the borders between Iraq and other countries were drawn roughly 100 years ago. They have very little meaning at the moment. Syria is shattered. It’s going to take a decade or more to put that country back together again after a political solution is found and that point is probably several years away. In other words, life in Iraq is not going to get better any time soon. Life at Camp Liberty is not either.
So what can be done now? Let’s concentrate on specific things that can actually be done. Notwithstanding the obvious weaknesses of the Iraqi leadership, pressure matters. And it is time to communicate very clearly to the Iraqi government that what happens at Camp Liberty is vitally important to the United States of America. Secretary Kerry did put out a very strong and personal statement condemning the account and demanding accountability. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for that to occur. We have ample reason to be skeptical that the Iraqi government is going to effectively investigate itself. I would encourage the secretary to pick up the phone, call Prime Minister Abadi and make clear that he expects immediate action where the Iraqi government assists in debris removal, replacement of lost housing, medical teams, the delivery of T-walls and basic supplies, whatever it takes to help the resident recover and improve basic security at the camp. This is the type of accountability that can make a difference to our people.
But secondly, we need to work harder, faster, and more creatively to get the residents of Camp Liberty out of harm’s way, not in a matter of years but in a matter of months. This means getting them out of Iraq. All of us who are here today believe that the process is too slow. And I know there are some who are frustrated with the United Nations, but in reality, as Adam my friend knows very well as well, the effectiveness of the United Nations is tied to the amount of support it receives from member states, including and in particular the United States. For the process to move faster more states have to be willing to resettle more residents. Obviously this is now a complicated system and quickly now overwhelmed by the tragedy in Syria.
To me I think we have to look at an interim solution. And I noted Congressman Rohrbacher leaving tonight, and if he is successful for finding an opening for our residents to move to another location somewhere in the region which is safer, sign me up, I’ll be happy to help. Also if we have legislation that can bring the remaining 2,000 residents to the United States, sign me up for that as well. But perhaps another opportunity, and I’ll prevail upon the ambassador here, is simply to take the resettlement process that is going to continue to take some time, and move the resettlement process lock, stock and barrel out of Iraq, perhaps to a country like Albania, which God bless Albania. [applause] Many of us who have been to Albania and appreciate the potential and the resilience of that country, it is a small country, it is not a wealthy country, but it has stepped up in ways that set a standard that I hope the United States of America can help to meet. But given that Albania is the one country that has stepped up to the challenge, that has opened its doors to the residents of Camp Ashraf, the question is what can we do to help Albania?
And here is where the United States of America can in fact help. For more residents to move more rapidly the answer ultimately is political will but it’s also money. This should be something that we in the United States can do. Now here on Capitol Hill in recent years it has been ground zero for a political debate about the role of government. What do we want our government to do or not to do, and what are we as taxpayers willing to pay for in taxes for those activities. In the most recent presidential debate on television one of the candidates suggested that on the current path the United States will become Greece. Now, I love Greece, I’m married to a Greek-American. In school we all learned that Greece is the cradle of civilization. But the truth is, we’re not about to become Greece. We’re the United States of America. We are the richest and most influential country in the world, and by far we have resources to do what we need to do. All we need is the political will.
Presidents from both parties have rightly called us exceptional. Presidents from both parties have rightly called us indispensable. The question now is whether we are prepared to put resources behind our rhetoric to help move 2,000 of our friends out of harm’s way and out of Iraq. The question is not whether we can live up to our own standard of dignity and justice, the question is whether we can live up to the standard of humanity that has been set by Albania. We need to open our doors to these people, but at least we should open our wallets and provide the resources. Tens of millions of dollars if necessary, to move these people out of harm’s way and out of Iraq. And as their attack reminds us, we do not have any time to lose. Thank you very much. [applause]
AMB. ADAM ERELI: Well, I really to echo everybody’s remarks, it’s always a pleasure to be with our friends from the People’s Resistance, just wish it could be under more fortunate circumstances. But it is a good time to gather together and to take stock, and to use this occasion to remind us all about what is the reality we face, and how can we together face it more effectively and more resolutely.
So, you know, there are two things that are tragic about the attack of the 29th. First of all, that it took place at all. But second of all, that it’s not new. Starting with Camp Ashraf and now to Liberty, the use of armed force by a foreign state against unarmed civilian personnel or unarmed civilians for their political views has happened, I don’t know, more times than—well at least a dozen times. And the list of victims is a long one. So what we see here is a repeated pattern of the deliberate use of force against unarmed civilians. As the other speakers have said, it’s clear that there are two states complicit in these attacks, Iran and Iraq. And it is clear that this complicity is in violation of international law and international commitments. And that’s really what I wanted to talk a little bit about today. We haven’t talked about it very much, but it seems to me that this is another area in addition to what PJ said about funding from Congress, in addition to what our friends, the Albanians, are doing, another area of activism has to be international law.
Why do I talk about international law? For a very simple reason, because when I was the Deputy State Department spokesman, I announced from the podium of the State Department that the people of Camp Liberty, the United States had found that they qualified for protection under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is a document of international law passed in 1949 by the United Nations that offers legal protections and legal guarantees and penalties for states, signatory states, that violate their responsibility under the act. And later in I think it was later in the 1980s or 1990s, it was ruled that even states that are not signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention are duty bound and legally obliged by the Convention. But I thought it would be useful just for a second to remind you what the provisions of the Geneva Convention are, just as a reminder about how blatant is their violation.
Article 32 of the Geneva Convention, if I can find it, says “a protected person shall not have anything done to them of such a character as to cause physical suffering or extermination. The physical suffering or extermination of protected persons is in their hands of the protecting power. This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishments, mutilations, and medical and scientific experiments not necessitated by medical treatment.” The point here is our brothers and sisters in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty have certainly not been afforded the protections that the signatories to the Geneva Convention are obligated to provide them. The other passage that I wanted to read to you was Article 56 of the Geneva Convention, which calls upon the protecting power—in this case Iraq, it was the United States until we left and now the protecting power is Iraq—calls on Iraq “to the fullest extent of the means available to it, the protecting power has the duty of assuring and maintaining with the cooperation of national and local authorities the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene, in the occupied territory or the protected persons. With particular relevance the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventative measures necessary to prevent the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics. Medical personnel of all categories shall be allowed to carry out their duties.” If that were the case, our friends wouldn’t have had to go to be treated in Baghdad hospitals would they? And only that after enormous political pressure.
So I think what this shows us, if you think about the protections afforded the people, the brothers and sisters in Camp Liberty, if you think about the obligations of the protecting power, it again becomes clear what Representative Ros-Lehtinen said and others have said today, that the international system is failing. It’s not just the United States, although we bear our share of the blame for this, it’s not just Iraq, it’s the UN, it’s the Red Cross, it’s the international community which is failing to enforce one of the basic tenets and fundamental elements of international law. And to me, as a practitioner of diplomacy, once you start—once this fabric of international legal obligations starts fraying then it’s a very slippery slope. So Camp Liberty is important not just because of its individual and real drama and the crimes being committed, but also because it is a test case for respect for and enforcement of international law through international institutions. And I would suggest to you that in addition to all the great ideas that people have been talking about today of pressuring Iraq, pressuring Iran, pressuring the United States, finding places for these people to go, is let’s use the international legal system to get back to the basics of—remember 1949 is when the Geneva Convention was passed, after World War II, and we’re seeing it now with the larger migration of displaced persons and refugees since World War II, the same problem. So the point is, our friends in Liberty are emblematic of a much bigger problem, and let’s use the drama of their situation, let’s use that to push forward an international campaign to protect them and all of humanity.
Finally, to underscore something that everybody said but for reality check’s sake, nothing is going to—I don’t want to be too pessimistic, but it’s going to be very difficult to help our friends in Camp Liberty unless we’re willing to stand up to Iran. And my question is, is Senator Kerry, is President Obama, are the French and the Germans and other willing to stand up to Iran and risk losing lots of contracts or lots of oil or whatever other currency Iran wants to use to pressure them not to act on behalf of the people of Camp Liberty who they see as obvious enemies and vermin to be exterminated? Unless the international community, and the leaders in the United States and the international community, the leaders of the United States, and the leaders of countries with influence over Iran, unless they’re willing to stand up to the mullahs of Tehran on behalf of their own—the United States and Iran’s legal obligations and on behalf of the humanitarian needs of the people in Camp Ashraf or at Camp Liberty, then I’m very pessimistic about a long-term solution to this problem. And frankly, having them leave Camp Liberty just gets Iran off the hook, frankly. There’s gotta be a way—I mean Iran, the two most sensitive issues to Iran are its nuclear program and the MEK. That’s what they care about most. And keeping the mullahs in power. But both the nuclear program and the MEK are the keys to the mullahs’ power. You get rid of one or you get rid of the other and they’re significantly weakened. And that’s why they want to keep the nuclear program and get rid of the MEK. And guess what? We’re giving them both. We’re giving them their nuclear weapons—maybe not today but certainly in 15 years—and we’re giving them the MEK by letting them bomb you out of existence. Is that going to change? I don’t know, I hope so, but ceremonies like this and discussions like this and memories such as these keep the flame alive. Thank you very much. [applause]
PROF. IVAN SASCHA SHEEHAN: Well, good morning all. In the normal course of events I normally join you here in Congress to speak about pressing public policy matters or pending legislation. But I join you here today under unusual circumstances, difficult circumstances. October 29th, 2015, just a little over a week ago, will be remembered as the day when freedom, freedom itself was attacked. On that dark day, Iran’s principal opposition to clerical rule was targeted with more than 80 Iranian-made rockets. Twenty-four brave men and women paid the ultimate price. Dozens more were injured and thousands were traumatized. These individuals sacrificed their lives and safety in repeated acts of valiant resistance. As missiles rained down on the refugees, more than 80, as I said, in total, these courageous individuals tended to the wounded, they protected the vulnerable. And they documented the tragedy unfolding before them so that the world could see the barbarism that they faced. And I would offer this observation to all of you—we’ve seen this type of heroism before in American history.
As Secretary Ridge noted, these were mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and relatives. These were individuals who reflected the hopes of a nation. They were unarmed and idealistic and they inspired young people to believe. Maybe most importantly, they inspired minority voices to think that the future could be brighter than the past. These were individuals who believed in intellect and enlightenment, progress and responsibility. They were optimistic in the face of extraordinary challenges and extraordinary odds because they believed in the peoples’ ability to throw off the chains of their oppressors. Now to be clear, as an academic I never knew any of these individuals who lost their lives. I never met any of them personally. But let me be very clear, they were my friends. We shared a common cause. We worked to uphold the same principles and the same commitments and we shared common ideals. Together, we believed that every man, every woman, every child in Iran should have an opportunity to live in a free nation and to build a brighter future, to push for more inclusion and more tolerance and more pluralism.
So today I come before you to extend my condolences, to offer my sympathies, and to demonstrate my continued solidarity with the Iranian opposition. But I also come here as a number of others have today to implore officials in both parties to overcome partisan divides and to do much more—much, much more—to protect these important allies in a campaign to build a more just and peaceful Middle East. The horrendous violence of October 29th reflects what happens when appeasement is triumphant over courage, when we fail to protect, the human cost of inaction, and the failed strategy of capitulation to rogue regimes. The attack was likely carried out by elements of the Iranian regime in the Iraqi ruling establishment, and we know this because this violence isn’t new. The attack is just the most recent example of the Iranian’s regime continued state sponsorship of terrorism in spite of the nuclear agreement. The residents were targeted because they remain the best hope of overcoming the ayatollahs. The world’s shift to a pro-engagement policy with Tehran facilitated the decision, facilitated the decision to crack down on these individuals who were promoting freedom and promoting democracy and promoting gender equality, the rule of law and upholding human rights and striving for a non-nuclear Iran. Ladies and gentlemen, I would suggest to you that this isn’t just a matter of compliance with international law, it’s also about doing what’s right. U.S. officials, world officials, have a responsibility to protect the refugees at Camp Liberty and to keep their word.
I, along with prominent academics and U.S. officials in this room have documented the repeated acts of violence directed at the opposition detained in Liberty. In 2013, I would note that Ambassador Bloomfield and I worked to set the record straight on the Iranian opposition and predicted at that time more violence if the world didn’t act. In 2014, I wrote numerous articles articulating a third path between preemptive war and unlimited engagement. And I articulated the need for support for the Iranian opposition. In 2015, Professor Tanter and I called for bipartisanship to overcome the joint comprehensive plan of action. And in numerous articles we documented the longstanding egregious campaign of violence directed at the Iranian resistance. The U.S. government knows what’s happening, the United Nations knows what’s happening, the world knows what’s happening, but now these crimes against humanity need to be answered and justice needs to be served. The attack on Liberty is outrageous and it’s time to separate fact from fiction. It’s time we acknowledge once and for all Iraqi and Iranian responsibility, because this unholy alliance undermines not just U.S. interests and regional security, but it reinforces the status quo in the Middle East.
But in spite of all this pessimism I’m hopeful too because in the days after rockets rained down on Liberty the residents summoned their strength yet again, and you saw illustrations of that strength at the outset of our meeting this morning. I’m told by close sources to me that the residents are more defiant, more unified, more determined, and unyielding in their operation to Tehran’s tyranny than ever before. But in the weeks ahead Congress, this institution of democracy, this beacon of freedom, needs to work to build bipartisanship around the need for accountability and action from the Iraqi government. Congress can also independently use its leverage to only allow funds and arms and training to the Iraqi government after it has assured in a credible way, in a transparent way, the protection of the residents of Camp Liberty. And I agree with my colleagues, we need to resettle these individuals to truly keep them safe from harm.
But more than anything, more than anything, Congress needs to know what the Iranian opposition has known for a long time, and that is that the regime fears internal dissent more than they fear external threats. Liberty residents know that principled acts of civil disobedience can reveal the true motives of the bullies before them. And they also know something that the great figures who came before them, people like King and Mandela, have long known, that principled resistance causes the arc of the moral universe to bend towards justice. And so as we honor the values and the principles and the commitments of those whose lives were taken, I again extend my sympathies and my condolences. But I also extend my endless optimism that change will come to Iran, and the values upheld by these men and women will be the inspiration of that new dawn. So I thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you today. There’s much work to do ahead, and I look forward to engaging in that work alongside you. [applause]
PROF. RAYMOND TANTER: Thank you very much. I pay my honors to all those who have fallen and give my respect to those who have come here today to commemorate this moment. I was in Camp Ashraf in 2008. And I believe in the security detail was (Naharai Rabii). I remember her smile because I smile a great deal, and I look at her brother and I wanted to come up and give him a big hug. And here he is now. [laughter] Because when I hug him, I hug his sister.
So this is a great moment of feeling for me. As Professor Sheehan mentioned, this is not a moment for public policy analysis, it’s a moment for expressing one’s hopes and one’s desires. We know what the facts are, everyone’s gone over in great detail what are the facts. We know what some of the responses have been in terms of the Congressional responses. Right afterwards and here today. What else do we know? We know that many of the promises that have been made will be broken because that is what has happened before. What else do we know? We know that there will be additional attacks. And we know others will fall.
At issue is why is it the case that the Iranian regime is so afraid of the main opposition group that rejects clerical rule? Why is it? That is hard to fathom. But this is where a little public policy analysis comes in. This group, the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, is feared because it blocks—it is the only group that has not compromised its principles with the Iranian regime. It’s the only group that forced the regime to conduct over 100 expositions all throughout Iran in order to prevent Iranian youths from learning about what the principles of democracy meant. It is the only opposition group that forced the regime to allow (Rafsanjani’s) daughter to be paroled early so she wouldn’t learn about the pro-democracy ideas. This group is the only group that did not compromise its principles and therefore the regime says, “This is the time to destroy this group. And we won’t destroy it all at once. We will do it incrementally. We will do it so that it weakens the resolve of the remaining people to stand.” But as was pointed out by several of our colleagues today, every time someone tries to destroy this group it rises up stronger. This is a fundamental fact that the Ayatollahs of Iran cannot understand, because they would have fallen and they’ve gotten other groups that compromised their values to fall. So it reminds me of what the Jews did. The Jews said never again will we go to our deaths like sheep, we will kill ourselves or be killed in order to let the light of liberty survive. And this is what the resistance has done. The resistance says you can try to kill us but you can’t kill an idea. You cannot kill the idea of freedom, you cannot kill the idea of the flame about which Saeed Rabii mentioned when he spoke about his sister.
I want to be there, as Governor Ridge said, when that flame is brought to the top of Azadi Square. [applause] I will be there. Did you see this little Y inverted when the video was on? That is the top of Azadi Square. I wasn’t at Cairo, I wasn’t in Tunisia, but I will be there, and we better hurry, I’m now 76 years old, maybe 77. So I don’t have that much time here on earth. But even if I’m gone I will be there with you in your hearts. Thank you very much. [applause]
BRUCE MCCOLM: I don’t know how to surpass Ray. You know, in thinking of this event, which we all got advance notice, if you read Wes Martin’s little—if you’ve read Colonel Wes Martin’s newsletter every week, it was very clear this was going to happen. And it was very meticulous. The question was, is it going to be this week or is it going to be next week. There’s going to be more of them. And as I was thinking about this last night, I looked on my right side in my house, my bookcase is filled with theology and religious history, and on the left side was your book of the martyrs. And it dawned on me that actually MEK has more martyrs than early Christians, it’s a historical fact. And when we think about these people we have to understand they’re better than you and I, no question. And they’ve lived a great life of courage, meaning, and a dedication to an ideal that I hope comes to Iran, but at the same time they led an integrated life that was worth living.
Could you investigate who’s responsible? Sure, you could, but we have to understand what Howard Dean told us in Paris. There’s no Syria and there’s no Iraq, so it’s sort of silly to believe there’s any structure to investigate. I keep thinking the one thing we never mention in all these events is here you have a group of people who pay to be imprisoned. I mean, let’s face it, there’s no skin in the game for the United Nations or the United States or the Iraq government. If the Iraq government pays anything it’s probably to the soldiers who are guarding Camp Liberty. So I don’t think—I’ve seen these proposals that we should have 5,000 more T-walls and we have to have 500,000 sandbags. And I agree to have the emergency clinic put in Camp Liberty. But none of these things are going to happen. And one thing we have to understand is our government, previous administration, this administration, really, really, really believes the MEK is a terrorist group. The Iraqis believe it’s a terrorist group and the Iranians believe it’s a terrorist group. So there’s no investment in trying to resolve this issue humanitarianly. I would say, quite frankly, that we’re now there with the (Yazidis) we gave air lifts to, the Kurds we gave humanitarian airlifts to, so we’re now there. Tom Ridge in previous horrific event had wanted everybody from Camp Ashraf airlifted out of the country because we were there then. We left and we’re back in and it’s time to airlift them all out of Iraq, period. [applause]
And even the details about whether they can come to the United States are all moot. All the history, I’ve talked to all the ISIS—or no, Ice, all these people recognize that if they gave intelligence to the United States that was operative then they can come in. Doesn’t matter if we thought about them this way or that way. I mean we see in Syria that we’re giving arms to the PKK and nobody mentions anything about that. So the solution if there’s political will is very, very easy. It’s basically airlift them out. Now in my past I would think about something else, which would be really mischievous, I would do in terms of nonviolent resistance to Iraq, I would leave Camp Liberty and start walking to Ashraf or just go and see what the response is going to be. And then you will have such political hysteria in Washington and in Baghdad and Tehran, nobody will know what to do. I mean it’s time to do dramatic actions to expose all these people, whether in Washington or Baghdad or Tehran, because they’re all gutless. And all you need to do is challenge them. And they really are. Sending rockets into a refugee camp is not courage. People being in that refugee camp and responding to their wounded, that’s courage. Is a totally different thing and we’ve got to change the dynamic now.
Now, I just want to compliment again the ambassador of Albania. Albania’s done an amazing job in this circumstance and we should be embarrassed as the United States. If you can’t step up while Albania steps up, wow, that says a lot about us. And I would just leave you with this. What’s eerie about today is I’ve known more of these people than the last time this happened. And I hope the next time I’m not going to go oh my god, I know 50% of the people. But it is going to happen, and we’ve got to be prepared for that. And I just thank you all. I think all of those of us who say we’re in solidarity with you, and we are, really have to step up more and more because solidarity, we haven’t done anything. We have Congress is totally in support of you. The Senate is totally in support of you. John McCain has done two letters, not just one, and gotten more specific of demands on the administration. So somehow we have to flip the switch on this thing and become stronger to help our people in Camp Liberty.
And one thing I would like to do, could we finally give them Camp Liberty? I mean if you’re paying to be in prison, the promise was that the people in Camp Liberty would get all of Camp Liberty. The wonderful lakeside part of Camp Liberty, all that. No. I mean we’re told you were basically sold a bill of goods. And I would say, look, because you, Iraq, don’t do anything, give us the rest of the camp. Give us our money back. I’d like to see that one. What if we stopped paying for the food and refrigerators? Nobody here in this building understands that. They actually think, oh okay, everybody in Camp Liberty are refugees and are being taken care of as refugees. No, you’re paying for services, like if you’re in a hotel you want a refund on the services. So I would ask, sue the Iraqi government for a refund. I think more mischief that can be created around this so these people can’t get out of it. [applause]
Oh I’m sorry, I’m sorry, we’re going to secure—think about the security thing. Nobody from the embassy has yet gone to Camp Liberty. Yesterday, because I have mobility problems I tested myself, so I walked from the equivalent of the embassy to Camp Liberty. Okay, now yes, it’s not Iraq, but at the same time if you’ve gone that distance from the airport to Camp Liberty you’ll recognize less than 30 minutes, if you had two security stops. And the U.S. embassy can’t get there? If you can’t get there and you really think it’s too dangerous, then the people shouldn’t be there. It cannot be made secure if you’re going to, you know, say that. Oh no, we U.S. personnel can’t go there, but they can stay there. Nonsense. So I would urge all of us to step up to get these people out.
I mean it’s insanity. Yes, they pose an existential threat to Iran, which is very interesting. And yes, they’re unarmed. And yes, it is because of what they believe. And the fact that a thought and a belief system can be a threat to an Iranian dictatorship is really impressive. And what a compliment it is to our friends at Camp Liberty and the MEK in general. And I just want to thank you. [applause]
CONGRESSMAN BRAD SHERMAN: Hello, I’m Brad Sherman, from California’s best named city, Sherman Oaks. I come often to fight with you, fight on your behalf, to celebrate with you, and today to mourn with you. These 24 are not only tragic victims, they’re examples of why we need to change our policy toward Iraq. The idea that the government in Baghdad must be wonderful because it was installed by the United States is just silly. We’ve got to recognize that there are element sin this government that get their orders not from the Iraqi people but from Tehran. And when we see—I don’t know if you caught the Wall Street Journal article about how Iraq has in effect requisitioned $13 billion in hundred dollar bills—I wonder where that money’s going? I know part of it is from the American taxpayer, the other is from oil revenue. So we need to make it clear that the government in Baghdad doesn’t get our support just because they were installed as a result of our invasion of Iraq. They have to earn that support, whether it is our military assistance or whether it is the billions of dollars that we give that government. And there’s no better test of whether the Iraqi government is a serious part of an international order that respects human rights, dignity, and democracy, or whether that government is instead a puppet of Iran, there is no better test for that than what goes on in Camp Liberty.
If the United States is going to provide air defense resources to Iraq we should not exclude Camp Liberty. When we evaluate the Iraqi government we have to ask why is it that attack after attack on Camp Liberty and no one is held accountable, no one is arrested, no one who is in charge of security is demoted, moved, transferred? What’s going on here? So I work forward to working with you now for the security of Camp Liberty. And I look forward to working with you in the years to come for a democratic government in Iran. [applause]
A lot of people know that I’ve been the longest and perhaps the loudest voice for sanctions against this government. That is not because I want Iran’s economy to do poorly long-term. That is not because I Have anything but the fondest hopes for the relationship between the Iranian people and the people of the United States. It is because we need the Iranian people to enjoy what we enjoy: liberty, freedom, and democracy. And I want to thank everybody in this room for working for that every day. And look forward to working with you in the future, thank you. [applause]
[end of meeting]