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Sins of Omission, Sins of Commission By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, September 08, 2006

The U.S. visit of former Iranian president, mullah Mohammad Khatami, has all the makings of a full-blown scandal – except for one: it lacks the righteous indignation of the chattering classes.

This may be the second greatest Sin of Omission the American media and our elected representatives have committed since 9/11. (The first was their resolute refusal to hold the Clinton administration accountable for its failure to stop Osama Bin Laden when it was still possible to do so in the 1990s).

Here is a man who as president of the Islamic regime in Tehran:

-       refused specific, written requests from the President of the United States (Bill Clinton) to hand over the ring-leaders of the June 1996 terrorist attack that killed 19 U.S. servicemen in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia;

-       stood shoulder to shoulder with top terrorist leaders in Tehran, including Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, and pledged his country’s financial and military support to them;

-       stood by and did nothing as Iranian dissidents were murdered by his own government; as reformist newspapers were closed; as Tehran University students were thrown off balconies to their deaths by regime security agents; as young women were stoned to death for allegedly having sexual relations with married men; as Canadian-Iranian photograph Zahra Kazemi was brutally bludgeoned to death by Iranian government intelligence officers; as Iranian government helicopter gunships sprayed bullets on Kurdish demonstrators in the town of Sanandaj in July 2005; as Iranian Jews were imprisoned in Shiraz on trumped up charges of espionage and as other Jews disappeared on the borders of Iran, trying to flee the country.

In addition to this “moderate’s” abysmal record on human rights and individual freedoms, as recorded by the State Department in its annual human rights and religious freedom reports, Khatami also presided over a dramatic arms build-up by Iran, that included the development of long-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel and the construction in secret of a vast underground uranium enrichment plant in Natanz.

These are but a few of Khatami’s crimes. A much longer list can be found

Republican Senators George Allen, Sam Brownback, and Rick Santorum have sent letters to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, protesting her decision to allow Khatami to make a propaganda tour of the United States.

In the House, only Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman of California and Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen raised their voices (and their pens) in similar fashion against the decision to allow Khatami into the United States, an act that is both unfathomably disgraceful and strategically incoherent.

Mainstream television networks have given little coverage to the Khatami visit, and none to his crimes. Only Pat Robertson, in the Tuesday edition of the 700 Club, thought to interview former Iranian political prisoners Amir Abbas Fakravar and Roya Tooloui, both of whom were tortured viciously under Khatami’s rule.

Fakravar told Christian Broadcasting Network reporter Erick Stakelbeck about his time in Khatami’s jail, when he was subjected to “white torture,” where everything around him was white - even the food he was served. When he was eventually released from the white prison, he had to go live in a forest for several weeks to regain his sanity, Faklravar said.

Alone among 535 members of Congress, U.S. Senator Sam Brownback and Rep. Brad Sherman will join Fakravar, Roya Touloui and other victims of Iranian government torture this morning at the National Press Club. For this, Brownback and Sherman deserve the gratitude of all freedom-loving Americans.

So does Massachussetts governor Mitt Romney, who issued
an order on Tuesday to all state agencies to decline support, if asked, for Khatami’s September 10 visit to the Boston area, where he is scheduled to speak at Harvard University.

“State taxpayers should not be providing special treatment to an individual who supports violent jihad and the destruction of Israel,” Romney said.

This evening, September 7, Iranian-Americans will gather in front of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, where the left-wing Episcopal bishop of Washington, DC, John Bryson Chane, is hosting Khatami in a festival of shame.

Perhaps Bishop Chane, an advocate of ordaining gay bishops in the Episcopal church, could ask mullah Khatami if Islam expresses similar tolerance toward sexual “diversity”?

Since we all know the answer, perhaps Bishop Chane can tell us why, in that case, he felt it was right and good to invite Khatami as an honored guest to the National Cathedral?

In a letter he sent to Chane deputy John Peterson at the National Cathedral on September 1, Rev. Keith Roderick noted that “the Anglican Church in Iran was decimated during [Khatami’s] presidency.”

Roderick has worked for many years with ethnic and religious minorities in the Near East and is the only Episcopal Canon to Persecuted Christians.

“During the last year of his presidency,” Rev. Roderick wrote, “legislation was introduced into the Iranian parliament to adopt a strict Islamic dress code, which not only reversed the progress of individual expression, but also was designed to segregate Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians by assigning colors that they must wear, reminiscent to the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear under the Nazi regime in Germany.”

For their invitation to Khatami, Bishop Chane and Rev. Peterson deserve a permanent place in the Hall of Shame.

Condoleeza Rice and her top Mideast advisor, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, also deserve a dishonorable mention for having granted the
G-4 diplomatic visa to Khatami to begin with.

“They did this under the radar,” said Pooya Dayanim, president of the Iranian Jewish Public Affairs committee in Los Angeles.

Dayanim and other activists tell me that Khatami and his State Department handlers were so effective in setting up Khatami’s two-week speaking tour that regime opponents were virtually taken by surprise when the State Departement announced that it was granting Khatami a visa just two days before Khatami arrived in the U.S..

“It was particularly demoralizing to see the bureau of Diplomatic Security provide bodyguards” throughout Khatami’s trip, Dayanim said. “The impression this gives is that Khatami was sent here to negotiate, and that the administration was ready to negotiate because they were losing the war in Iraq. This interpretation might be wrong but this what the Iranians believe.”

President Bush gave a rousing defense of his administration’s war against the Islamo-fascists
on Tuesday before the Military Officers Association. The Washington Times called it “one of the best speeches of his presidency.”

This latest Bush speech is a must read for all Americans. In it, the president quotes extensively from captured al Qaeda documents “that the terrorists have never meant for us to see,” as well as from published statements.

“We know what the terrorists intend to do because they've told us -- and we need to take their words seriously,” Bush said. “The terrorists who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001, are men without conscience -- but they're not madmen. They kill in the name of a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs that are evil, but not insane…. It is foolish to think that you can negotiate with them.”

The President spoke of both Sunni and Shia terrorists, and had no kind words for the Iranian regime.

“This Shia strain of Islamic radicalism is just as dangerous, and just as hostile to America, and just as determined to establish its brand of hegemony across the broader Middle East” as Bin Laden’s Sunni-dominated al Qaeda organization, Bush said.

“And the Shia extremists have achieved something that al Qaeda has so far failed to do: In 1979, they took control of a major power, the nation of Iran, subjugating its proud people to a regime of tyranny, and using that nation's resources to fund the spread of terror and pursue their radical agenda.”

Despite all this, Bush then pulled an about-face, and evoked the recent U.S.-backed offer to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program – precisely what he just said the United States must not do with terrorists.

“So far, Iran's leaders have rejected this offer,” the president said. “It's time for Iran's leader to make a different choice. And we've made our choice. We'll continue to work closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution.”

The president’s unmistakeable capitulation to the State Department, which clearly opposes his view of taking the war to the terrorists, not negotiating with them, is inexplicable.

This inability, or unwillingness, to confront the bureaucracy that pretends to act in his name may be the greatest – and most deadly - sin of omission of this president.

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Kenneth R. Timmerman was nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize along with John Bolton for his work on Iran. He is Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, and author of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran (Crown Forum: 2005).

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