Governor Howard Dean – We were Lied To About Camp Liberty

Posted on February 29, 2012


Washington, 26 Feb 2012 –
2/29/2012 12:10:37 PM
Former US Officials Urge Formation of Commission of Inquiry About Conditions at Camp Liberty, Iraq, Where Hundreds of Iranian Dissidents Have Relocated.

Governor Howard Dean: Thank you. Let me thank Congressman Tancredo for his generous introduction. Actually, I discovered that I did not actually cross swords with Congressman Tancredo. The last time we were on a talk show together I was in the studio with a blank television screen in front of me and they guy yelling at me I thought I was crossing swords with Congressman Tancredo and turned out to be the host.
So we haven’t actually crossed swords yet and our swords are pointed in the same direction today.
What those swords are pointed at is the gross injustice of the very existence of the regime of
the Mullahs and ayatollahs which subjugated entire people and they will be gone and we have to do something about it now, now.

So we have talked about the Arab Spring. There was an Iranian spring and it was repressed by the Mullahs and the ayatollahs and we need to support justice everywhere because, as you know, if there’s injustice anywhere there is injustice for all of us.
Let me be specific about where we find ourselves today. I’ve been doing this a little over a year. For the first time I want to thank the United States Government because I do believe they are now on the road to doing the right thing. But it has been a painfully slow process and had this been done last January, instead of today, we might not be worried about the 3,400 unarmed civilians.
So the United States has a responsibility. We can complain about Maliki and we complain about the ayatollahs all we want, the United States of America has the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the people in Ashraf and each one of the people in Ashraf has that in writing signed by the Senior Commander of the United States Armed Forces. (Applause.)
The fact of the matter is that this is not simply a battle to save the lives of 3,400 unarmed civilians who find themselves stuck in an increasingly less democratic Iraq. This a battle about what kind of country the United States is.
This is a battle about what kind of a country most of you came to hoping for freedom. If a country seeks to set an example in human rights and freedom and democracy, then that country has a higher standard than the ayatollahs and Prime Minister Maliki. And we seek to set that example.
So we will be judged not on how dirty Camp Liberty is, not on what the Ayatollah said and what Maliki did, we will simply be judged on this criteria:
A single life lost from one of the unarmed civilians in Ashraf that we have sworn to protect is a black mark against the legacy of the United States of America and we are responsible for that. (Applause.)
Now, so we have transferred 400 people from Ashraf to Liberty which as you see was not as it was told. We were lied to. Let’s not be –mince words about this. We were flatly lied to. I agree that we need to find out who did tell us that lie. But whatever we do in finding out who told us the lie, we must not delay for one moment the progress that we need to make.
The pressure is enormous now on the government of the United States of America to remove the people from Liberty and send them to the west where they’ll be safe. (Applause.)
The fact is that there have been deliberations about whether we should bring 400 more people. Well not only the condition’s outrageous, but the fact is there isn’t room for 400 more people in Camp Liberty right now so the United States Government must remove the people from Camp Liberty, send them to places where they’ll take the refugees before we transfer the next 400 because there is not an ability in Camp Liberty to put up 400 more people in those quarters. So we have a task ahead of us and it’s something that would make our lives enormously easier.
We have spoken about this with the government. The fact of the matter is the United States now has an enormous burden on its doorstep in Camp Liberty. We are now responsible, we, the United States of America, is responsible.
And we are — suddenly the State Department has realized that it is very hard to remove people from Iraq and bring them someplace else if the United States Government itself is saying that this is a terrorist group. The fact is that this is not one ounce of evidence that this is a terrorist group.
You know the story; in 2003 American troops disarmed the residents of Ashraf. And in exchange for that disarmament we gave every single one of them a written pledge that said we would defend them. We broke that pledge in 2009. And we abdicated our responsibility in 2011 where 47 people were murdered in cold blood by Maliki, the mass murderer. But, that’s not all, after we took control of Camp Ashraf and there are many upstanding military
people who are trying as hard as we all are to make sure that this has a happy ending, after we took control, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Counter-terrorism came to Ashraf and screened every single resident.
Not one resident of Ashraf was found to have either connections with terrorism or to have participated in a terrorist act.
There is no justification for the MEK to be on the terrorist list in the United States and the
District Court of appeals has said so. They have said over a year and a half ago that there was no due process in listing the MEK and that the process must be reevaluated the State Department has refused to comply with the lawful order of the court This is an affront to what we do every day when we are trying to spread democracy.
We talk about, I just got back from Moldova where there’s an attempt now to create a democratic government and we’re making some progress.
Do you know how difficult it is for me to explain to them that they need to apply the rule of law when the State Department of the United States of America is failing to apply the rule of law. (Applause.)
A few weeks ago I spoke to a group in New York and I talked about competence, ethics and morality. The competence, the ethics and the morality of the United States Government are on the line.
The people from Ashraf have done what they have been asked to do. They have moved out of their home of 25 years essentially into a prison which would not meet the standards of any institution, even in the United States of America or anywhere else. And they have not met United Nations’ standards. We were laid to when we were told that that was the case. So the 400 civilians who are in Camp Liberty are now waiting and the clock is ticking.
And 21 it’s the United States Government’s responsibility to make sure that not one life is lost.

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