Jeffrey LewisBolton: No "Inhibition" Supporting Some Terrorists

John Bolton, in June 2004, stated that he had no inhibition about cooperating with the Iranian terrorist group, MEK.

Michael Roston, in an exclusive for Arms Control, outlines how Bolton came to count the MEK as our terrorists and why this outrage ought to keep Bolton out of New York:

On June 24, 2004, John Bolton testified to the House International Relations Committee’s Middle East and Central Asia Subcommittee, where Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado took him down a strange line of questioning. Before you know it, they are discussing the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), an organization that Bolton freely conceded “qualified as a terrorist organization” according to State Department criteria.

Here’s where it gets weird. Bolton declared that MEK were a valuable source of information, and that he didn’t feel “any inhibition about getting information about what’s going on in Iran” from them.

Two months before, the State Department reconfirmed that MEK “assisted the Government of Iraq in suppressing the Shia and Kurdish uprisings in southern Iraq and the Kurdish uprisings in the north. In April 1992, the MEK conducted near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian Embassies and installations in 13 countries, demonstrating the group’s ability to mount large-scale operations overseas. In April 1999, the MEK targeted key military officers and assassinated the deputy chief of the Armed Forces General Staff. In April 2000, the MEK attempted to assassinate the commander of the Nasr Headquarters—Tehran’s interagency board responsible for coordinating policies on Iraq. The normal pace of anti-Iranian operations increased during the “Operation Great Bahman” in February 2000, when the group launched a dozen attacks against Iran. In 2000 and 2001, the MEK was involved regularly in mortar attacks and hit-and run raids on Iranian military and law-enforcement units and government buildings near the Iran-Iraq border, although MEK terrorism in Iran declined throughout the remainder of 2001. In February 2000, for example, the MEK launched a mortar attack against the leadership complex in Tehran that houses the offices of the Supreme Leader and the President.”

On the third anniversary of the September 11 tragedy, President Bush declared that “The United States is determined to stay on the offensive, and to pursue the terrorists wherever they train, or sleep, or attempt to set down roots.”

The UN is increasingly becoming an important domain in the fight against terror, where a framework of international law is being built that will hopefully outlaw terrorist acts like the September 11 attacks. President Bush readily recognizes that the UN is an important battleground in the Global War on Terrorism. How will Bolton credibly advocate for this vision of the illegalization of international terrorism in the UN when he has called a known terrorist organization a useful intelligence resource?

If only he had added “Hey, they’re our terrorists …”

The exchange between Tancredo and Bolton is below (click here for the full transcript of the hearing):

TANCREDO: I’d like to pursue it, not enough time to do so because I have another question dealing with the MEK. This is an organization that is on the terrorist watch list for one reason, as far as I can tell. And it is there because the Iranians wanted to keep it there.

They are afraid of the MEK. They are afraid of the political power that they may wield even inside Iran. Do you thin that there is still—recognizing now what Iran is doing, do you think that it still serves a purpose to keep them on the watch list? And would it not be to our advantage to employ the resources that they have, both in the field and politically outside of Iran, as a counterforce in some way or another?

BOLTON: Well, I think the MEK qualified as a terrorist organization according to our criteria. And I think the decision was to apply the criteria in a consistent way and designate it as a terrorist group, but I don’t think that’s inhibited us from getting information from them. And I don’t certainly have any inhibition about getting information about what’s going on in Iran from whatever source we can find that we deem reliable.