Trita Parsi's Response to Eli Lake's Story

Here's the response from the National Iranian-American Council to Eli Lake's article which suggests that the group lobbies for Iran:

Washington DC - NIAC is proud of its work to advance US national security through a smarter and more effective policy on Iran. NIAC rejects the insinuations made by Washington Times that its activities are in violation of tax laws, the Foreign Agents Registration Act and lobbying disclosure laws.

NIAC has provided tens of thousands of documents and all its financial records in order to prosecute a defamation case against Hassan Dai. Those documents prove the allegations made against NIAC are completely false. The judge denied Dai's motion to dismiss the case on 18 out of 19 counts. Realizing this, the defendants have decided to maliciously leak those documents to a reporter at the Washington Times, Eli Lake, in an attempt to litigate the case in the media rather than in a court of law.

NIAC is a 501 (c)3 educational organization representing Americans of Iranian descent. It engages in educational, advocacy and limited lobbying activities in accordance with US laws and regulations. NIAC does not lobby on behalf of the Islamic Republic. NIAC advocates on behalf of the Iranian-American community, who overwhelmingly oppose the policies of the government of Iran.

Mr. Lake's article does not present any evidence for any of its claims and stops short of making any direct accusations. Instead, it makes insinuations and engages in conspiratorial speculation, presumably with the aim of sowing seeds of doubt in the minds of the public about NIAC and fabricating a controversy around the organization.

This follows by now a familiar pattern in which neo-conservative activists have sought to smear and defame NIAC by making accusations, innuendos and speculation, without providing any evidence to back their claims.

In fact, evidence is to the contrary. Why would Ambassador John Limbert, a former hostage imprisoned for 444 days by the government in Iran, join the advisory board of an organization that supposedly represents the interests of the very same government that imprisoned him? This claim is illogical at best and ludicrous at worst.

Mr. Lake has selectively focused on emails and documents that fit with his pre-determined verdict against NIAC. Though the basis of Lake's article is misinformation about NIAC provided by Hassan Dai, Lake did not ask a single question about our lawsuit, why it was filed, our understanding of Dai's political motivations and Dai's connections to the Iranian terrorist organization, the Mujahedin-e Khalq.  NIAC encouraged Lake to investigate the evidence of Dai's role in the Mujahedin-e Khalq. However, Lake declined to investigate his own sources.

It is clear that some neo-conservative elements wish to divide the Iranian Diaspora at a time when unity is needed more than ever for the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people to be achieved. While some prominent figures in the Iranian Diaspora have misunderstood NIAC's activities, we are reaching out to them and we refuse to walk into this trap of pitting members of the community against each other.

NIAC has given the Iranian-American community a powerful voice in Washington DC that has effectively pushed for greater focus on human rights in Iran, opposed war between the US and Iran, opposed broad-based sanctions that hurt the Iranian people while strengthening its hard-line government, and supported diplomacy between the two countries to resolve their differences in a peaceful manner.


 
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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