Thanks to a loophole intended for human rights activists, political leaders are making big bucks advocating for Iran's Mujahedeen Khalqa.
Former New York City Mayor Giuliani / Reuters
What do the tax dodges of billionaires and the advocacy efforts of former high-ranking officials on behalf of a designated terrorist group have in common (aside from their exposure on the front page of the Sunday New York Times)? They exemplify the extraordinary legal privileges enjoyed by economic and political elites.
Ronald Lauder, a legacy member of the upper reaches of the top 1 percent, legally avoids paying millions of dollars in taxes through extravagant use of loopholes available only to the super-rich, according to the Times. Prominent politicos, from former Bush Administration officials to Howard Dean, engage in the lucrative business of lobbying for the Mujahedeen Khalqa (M.E.K.), a "fringe Iranian opposition group, long an ally of Saddam Hussein, that is designated as a terrorist organization under United States law," the Times reports.
In doing so they run no apparent risk of being prosecuted under material support provisions of federal anti-terrorism law, enjoying an extra-legal privilege the Times does not report: Last year the Supreme Court rejected a First Amendment challenge to material support bans, ruling that they may be used against human rights advocates who counsel designated terrorist groups in peaceful conflict resolution.