Archive for category Hypocrisy

President Obama: ‘We Tortured Some Folks’… And We Still Do

Last Friday, President Obama informed a White House press conference that the U.S. government has engaged in torture as a matter of policy. Not that he plans to do anything about that. In fact, he hasn’t even banned every torture technique in use by the CIA and the military.

“We tortured some folks,” he said. “We did some things that were contrary to our values. I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the twin towers fell, and the Pentagon had been hit, and a plane in Pennsylvania had fallen, and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law-enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this.”

The fallacy here, whether or not it’s intentional, lies in the fact that torture (in addition to being a crime under federal law) is not an intelligence interrogation technique. The experts will all tell you that torture is good for one thing only: extracting false confessions. The Bush administration employed torture to get some detainees to say what they wanted to hear, namely that Saddam Hussein’s regime was tied in with al-Qaeda. For example the torture of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan national captured in Afghanistan in November 2001, provided false information regarding chemical weapons training between Iraq and al-Qaeda that was used by the Bush Administration in their efforts to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq. Al-Libi recanted in January 2004. This sort of thing is what they now call “faulty intelligence” instead of lies.

President Obama is getting credit simply for using the dreaded “T” word that the media usually avoid by talking about American “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Of course reporters are not afraid say “torture” to describe what China does to prisoners, for example, even if it’s the exact same thing the CIA did.

On FDL, Jeff Kaye picks up on something important. Here’s what else the president said, referring to the still-secret Senate Select Committee torture report (emphasis added):

And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.

But having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that’s what that report reflects. And that’s the reason why, after I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.

Kaye notes:

Only “some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques”? Not all? Was this merely a slip of the tongue by the President? No one in the press corp seemed to notice, and no one took him up on the issue… though it is very much worth noting that Jeremy Scahill reported in July 2011 on the CIA’s continuing use of black sites and torture in an important article in The Nation. Others had surmised as much even earlier.

Apparently President Obama, whether he meant to or not, has confirmed for the record that torture is still practiced by the U.S. government.

More info:
Obama Admits He Banned Only “Some” of the CIA’s Torture Techniques

UPDATES:

Fox Gives Liz Cheney A Platform To Attack Obama For Mentioning Torture
White House To Make Torture Report ‘Impossible To Understand’

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The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox

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None of us should be surprised Wasatch High Officials are a bunch of sexist prudes

I suppose in all fairness, we should probably acknowledge that girls in small town Utah are all sluts. And in digitally altering their photos to make their clothing appear modest, school officials are actually doing them a favor so their slutdom won’t be memorialized. Right? Seriously? Amirite?

The contretemps over Wasatch High School’s decision to alter girls photos has gone national and as with many such stories out of Utah, has served to make the entire state look like a bunch of pearl-clutching prudes. Honestly, school officials should have known there was no way this would turn out well and have not done it in the first.

The free-range morons who run Wasatch High School have defended their decision to edit the photos. Their defense would be hilarious if it weren’t obvious that they’re serious about it. Their argument is that students were warned they should not violate dress code and photos might be edited – and that they feel bad it was inconsistently done. In other words, “Why won’t all you sluts shut up and stop causing trouble?”

The editing involved adding sleaves to sleeveless tops, removing tattoos and adding necklines that the bluenoses think are more fitting. Of course the whole sorry affair is about nothing more than slut-shaming and double standards. It’s about a religious culture that tries to convince girls to cover up lest they inflame male desire. It’s about a cult of modesty that distrusts women and disdains female sexuality. It’s about a double standard that says it’s women’s job to control male sexuality by not doing anything that might possibly make people think women are sexual beings.

That photos of boys weren’t edited at all is no surprise. Of course there’s a double standard at work. Of course it’s sexist. The problem with the girls’ outfits is entirely in the minds of school officials who deemed them too sexy, not in what the girls were wearing or what their tattoos said.

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Mike Lee Storms The Beaches of South Jordan

Mike Lee, sophomore senator from the embarrassed state of Utah, gets a full, ten minute standing ovation with chants of “we like Mike”, “we like Mike!

With children and mothers all around, this man, who stood up against labor laws which have prevented children from child labor got a longer standing ovation then president Eisenhower probably ever got at a speech.

Watch as much as you can stand:

The YouTube videos of Sir. Lee saying that anti child labor laws are unconstitutional no longer exist, but there are at least two websites that are trying to provide them:

Thinkprogress and Huffington Post.

I was present at a “tea party” “event” at the State Capitol, took pictures, and gave this account on this blog. Mike Lee was there, running for office. There was so much wind blowing and the dust was so thick that all of us almost choked and an American flag hit me so hard, I almost got knocked out.

Seriously!

But there is a better account of the scope of the deceit. I only observed three buses, but the original Tea Party, which was a TRUE grass roots movement, got the story right:

We should band together!

Update: The Deseret News had this story: Hundreds rally for Sen. Mike Lee despite low approval numbers
From the article:

“I do not approve of him and I do not think he is fulfilling the best interests of his constituents,” said Mel Walker, who held a sign that, at one point, was ripped from her hands by Lee supporters.

Sounds about right. I lost numerous “IMPEACH BUSH” signs in that manner.

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Right-Wing Health Care: Just Go To The Emergency Room

First of all, let’s remember where the so-called Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) came from. It was invented by the right-wing Heritage Foundation.

That was then, this is now. These days, Heritage president and former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint is on a campaign to convince Republicans to shut down the government in order to defund the Affordable Care Act. According to DeMint:

“This might be that last off-ramp to stop Obamacare before it becomes more enmeshed in our culture.” The law “is not about getting better health care,” he continued. Uninsured Americans “will get better health care just going to the emergency room.”

This was a myth when George W. Bush said it, and it’s still a myth.

Think Progress:

The so-called “free” care at emergency rooms is a result of The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act or (EMTALA), which requires hospitals that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding to treat patients for emergency medical conditions regardless of legal status or ability to pay. But EMTALA only applies to medical emergencies like heart attacks or serious injury. It does not offer any treatment for chronic conditions, leaving the millions of Americans with diabetes who need regular access to medication to stay alive, or asthma patients, or women diagnosed with breast cancer without access to care.

The right-wing keeps saying “just go to the emergency room,” and there is not enough push-back on that from the reality-based community.

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David Gregory vs. Journalism

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Edward Snowden has been called a “traitor” by politicians, and he’s been formally charged with violating the Espionage Act. But that’s not enough for David Gregory of NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Witness this incredible exchange from yesterday’s show, as Gregory in effect accuses Glenn Greenwald of espionage:

GREGORY: Final question for you…. To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?

GREENWALD: I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies. The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence, the idea that I’ve aided and abetted him in any way. The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and phone records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory that you just embraced, being a co-conspirator in felonies, for working with sources.

If you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information, is a criminal. And it’s precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States. It’s why The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer said, “Investigative reporting has come to a standstill,” her word, as a result of the theories that you just referenced.

GREGORY: Well, the question of who’s a journalist may be up to a debate with regards to what you’re doing. And of course anybody who’s watching this understands I was asking a question; that question has been raised by lawmakers, as well. I’m not embracing anything. But obviously, I take your point.

Later, Greenwald tweeted, “Who needs the government to try to criminalize journalism when you have David Gregory to do it?” and, “Has David Gregory ever publicly wondered if powerful DC officials should be prosecuted for things like illegal spying & lying to Congress?”

Jane Stillwater:

An American spy agency that currently has all of its greedy tentacles tightly wrapped all around every single household in the entire world — and not in a good way — has just accused EDWARD SNOWDEN of being a spy. How ironic is that!

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald HuffPo interview:

“My critique of the D.C. media has long been that instead of being adversaries to government power — to the government and political power — they’re servants to it and mouthpieces for it.”

Greenwald said that Gregory was doing the work of the Justice Department by putting “together a theory in public about why I, as a journalist, should be prosecuted,” along with or “call[ing] into question that I’m a journalist at all.” That interview, he said, exemplified the “critique that they’re so in bed with the circles of political power over which they’re supposed to acting as watchdogs — that they really have become nothing more than just appendages.”

UPDATE: 10 Questions for NBC Host Who Shamelessly Suggested Greenwald Be Arrested for NSA Leaks

UPDATE: (Almost too funny for words) Head Of NSA Claims He Doesn’t Know “Who Wikileaks Are” – If I know something the NSA doesn’t, maybe we need better spies?

UPDATE:
Snowden Coverage: If U.S. Mass Media Were State-Controlled, Would They Look Any Different?

The Edward Snowden leaks have revealed a U.S. corporate media system at war with independent journalism. Many of the same outlets — especially TV news — that missed the Wall Street meltdown and cheer-led the Iraq invasion have come to resemble state-controlled media outlets in their near-total identification with the government as it pursues the now 30-year-old whistleblower.

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Running Towards the Smoke and Fire

I am about out of energy for this week. But I do have the smoking remains of an irony meter sitting in the corner crying to be heard. And a tiny little mangled… something. Something Confucius might have called Ren. Something I almost forgot about. Read the rest of this entry »

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Reason Derangement Syndrome

Think Progress reported yesterday that the painfully unaware State Rep. Dennis Hedke has introduced a bill that would prohibit public funds from promoting sustainable development. An interesting story, and a great example of rightwing hypocrisy and nincompoopery. But I also think it overlooks the real story.

The article points out that Hedke is so blissfully ignorant of his own actions that he can’t see why anyone would question a connection between his day job and his latest bill. This is interesting, since his day job is contract geophysicist for some 30 local oil and gas companies. Conflict of interest? Certainly not!

“I can’t see why,” Hedke said. “I didn’t think about that. It really never crossed my mind. I’d probably just say no.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Claiming Abstinence, LDS, Idaho, Republican Senator Mike Crapo Arrested for Drunk Driving

We are no longer surprised when a Republican politician who claims superior virtues and morality, fidelity or religious conviction turns out to be a hypocrite.

The steady parade of Republican hypocrites remind us of our differences. We pedestrian scum (Democrats) claim to hold no high ground in the realm of personal purity. In stark contrast, Republicans to the person, bathe in self-righteous claims of moral superiority.

Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) mug shot

Mike Crapo mug shot

No doubt, Republican apologists will invoke Lewinski or Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick in a feeble effort to distract us from the hypocrisy. Its all they’ve got. But neither Clinton nor Kennedy associated himself with the lofty moral high ground claimed by their Republican counterparts. Neither man was elected under such an absurd premise. And we Democrats cherish the Founders intention that we be free to elect “scumbags.” The Founding Fathers knew self-professed moral angels were likely to disappoint.

Ever since Karl Rove convinced the Republican Party to grab its collective ankles before the alter of the Evangelical Christian Right, Republican politicians have rushed to the public podium to loudly and publicly declare themselves proprietors of an impossibly high “moral” standard. The result is serial oneupsmanship among Republicans at every level of office and a predictable train wreck of hypocrisy.

For Mike Crapo, being a Republican AND a Mormon AND a drunk is a double whammy made all the worse coming on the heels of Mitt Romney’s ass whuppin’. No one will be surprised when we find Willard slumped by the side of the road soaked in his own urine. Such is the state of today’s Republican party a.k.a. The Clown Barkers’ Carnival.

The AP reported this story

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Utah’s Secession Petition

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

Peacefully grant the State of Utah to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government.

We the people of the great state of Utah, do see that in today’s world the Federal Government has not led our citizens justly and with honor. We therefore as free men and women of our great state do believe that it is time to take matter upon ourselves to ensure our continued freedom, and to enact our own laws and here buy govern ourselves without the federal government’s involvement in our internal matters from this day forward.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin: 1775
Created: Nov 11, 2012

[Typos in the original]

As of today, people from 40 states have filed petitions on whitehouse.gov asking to secede from the Union. Four of the petitions have already garnered the 25,000 signatures required for a presidential response, including Louisiana, Texas, and Florida — all members of the old Confederacy.

Next time a right-winger calls me a traitor, I’ll be sure to ask if they signed a secession petition!

UPDATE: Jon Stewart Mocks Secessionists: ‘Stop. Wait. Don’t Go.’ (VIDEO)

UPDATE: Hannity And Drudge Give Credence To Post-Election Calls For Secession

UPDATE: Twenty five percent of registered Republicans want their state to secede from the United States, according to a new poll from Public Policy Polling.

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Hatred for the Kenyan Usurper Means Romney Can Get Away With Literally Anything

 

This is the most honest, well-written encapsulation of what we are experiencing in the election.

Completely wrong. Liar Mitt Romney Lying

Fresh lies from Romney, or the Republican Congress

Driftglass Writes: Don’t me wrong: I appreciate the careful documentation the Many Lies of Team Romney during this election season. But I look at those efforts less as the drafting of a bill of particulars against the GOP, and more like Josephus gathering up an armful of books from burning Jerusalem and documenting the great city’s demise from a perspective in the ruins.
Why? Because for the Conservative 47% of the active electorate, the day Willard sewed up the Republican primary was the day it stopped mattering to them what lies Willard shits down their throat. Willard has calculated (correctly) that their bottomless, mindless, berserk hatred for the Kenyan Usurper means he can get away with saying and doing literally anything and then completely reversing himself hours later. And so, unless he transforms himself into a Scary Democrat Negro (hence my graphic), he has the base locked down.

Willard has calculated (correctly) that the average “undecided” voter is an idiot who is barely aware that Barack Obama is President, much less who said what when. Lies? Truth? All the “undecided” knows for sure is that people on both side should stop being so mean!

Willard has calculated (correctly) that most of American media is a joke run by hacks with the moral compasses of Tijuana donkey show pimps, who are congenitally unable to call a liar a liar and who get paid on commission each time they say “Both Sides Do It” when a Republican shits the bed in public.

Random Conservative idiots with spluttering apoplexy

Pointing to each morning’s fresh lies from Team Romney, or the Republican Congress, or Boss Limbaugh and his legions of imitators, or random Conservative idiots with spluttering apoplexy, has become the the bread and butter of Liberal teevee, radio and print. And good on them (us) for providing that service.

It does, however, beg the question, “Who the Hell are they talking to?” Because there is no referee in this fight, kids.

There is no umpire, here: no impartial judge; no jury of 12 men good and true.

For us, the playing field will never be level and we must stop playing as if it were, because there is no cavalry coming to rescue us…but us.

And most importantly; remember that however long the odds or however discouraging a given day might be, we are a hardy and tenacious stock and our clear understanding of who we are and where we came from gives us a secret weapon that no movement based on a contempt for reality and a tissue of lies can match: the power to summon giants.

Address of John F. Kennedy upon Accepting the Liberal Party Nomination for President, New York, New York, September 14, 1960…

I am as guilty as the media is for investing too much energy pointing out the lies only to have them fall on deaf ears. The soaring level of hypocrisy, obvious as it is outrageous, among the righteous, morally superior, religious and/or otherwise just plain racists is sufficient evidence to anyone who is paying attention that morality is unilaterally customizable on an ad hoc basis for the pedestrian religious right (Republicans) in this country.

So I will no longer entertain moral arguments from religious Republicans. From now on, I shall withhold my otherwise generous respect and civility in discourse with these well-groomed, Bible-thumping cretins. For the first time in my life, I finally understand how entire nations stood by and watched and/or helped Hitler exterminate millions of innocent men, women and children without a shred of self-examination. They were merely Republicans by a different name.

One more thing:

Calls for civility, especially from some in the Mormon community deserve your contempt. They are a gratuitous demand we excuse the “Many Lies of Team Romney” we’ve see during this election season. The uncommon duplicity, distortion and noise coming from Republicans is as violent assault on our Democratic principles as the illegal Republican assault on our voting rights.

Civility is speaking out against this assault. Incivility is defending it.

,

40 Comments

Palling Around With Terrorists: Obama Administration Embraces MEK

MEK listed as reason to invade Iraq
The Bush administration cited MEK as a reason to invade Iraq

Four years after Sarah Palin famously accused then-candidate Barack Obama of “palling round with terrorists,” it can be said truthfully. Last Friday, news leaked that the U.S. State Department is going to remove the Iranian terrorist group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) from its list of foreign terrorist organizations.

MEK’s ideology is a mixture of Islam and Marxism with cult-like practices. The group once called itself “the People’s Holy Warriors of Iran.” They supported the Islamic revolution in Iran and later allied with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. During the 1970s MEK conducted numerous attacks on American officials, including an attempted assassination of the U.S. ambassador in Tehran. Six Americans were killed. It has been listed as a terrorist organization since 1997. The MEK fought in the Iran-Iraq War, made use of chemical weapons, and brutally put down Iraqi Kurdish people in the early 1990s. The Bush administration cited Saddam’s support of MEK as a reason to invade Iraq, and the group was forcibly disarmed by the U.S. Army. In recent years, the MEK is believed to be involved in a wave of terrorist attacks against Iranian nuclear scientists.

The Obama administration’s decision was made with bipartisan support. MEK has many prominent U.S. political figures on its payroll, including Howard Dean, Rudy Giuliani, Wesley Clark, Bill Richardson, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, former National Security Advisers Frances Townsend and General James L. Jones, and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.

Note to all U.S. Attorneys: Everyone associated with MEK can be charged with providing material support for terrorism, a federal crime under the USA PATRIOT Act (18 U.S.C. §2339A and §2339B) punishable by 15 years in prison.

Now that the United States has de-listed the MEK as an international terrorist group, our government can overtly fund them to conduct terrorist attacks on Iran. According to some reports, MEK has received covert U.S. and Israeli assistance for years.

Glenn Greenwald:

[W]ith the MEK, we have a group that, at least according to some reports, appears to have intensified its terrorism, and yet they are removed from the list. Why? Because now they are aligned against the prime enemy of the US and Israel – and working closely with those two nations – and are therefore, magically, no longer “terrorists.”

More info: Five lessons from the de-listing of MEK as a terrorist group

UPDATE: It’s official: U.S. Takes Iranian Exile Group MEK Off Terror List

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