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May 29, 2015

Washington Post Goes Lightly over National Iranian American Council

The Washington Post's, “From Exiles to Advocates; Importance of a pending nuclear deal spurs new dialogue in Iranian American community� (May 22, 2015) presented the National Iranian American Council in soft focus. Omissions meant readers didn't get the full story about NIAC.

Writing about a recent fundraiser in McLean, Va. for the council, veteran Post reporter Pamela Constable failed to mention key details regarding the group, the Iranian regime it supports negotiations with, and Iranians and Iranian-Americans who directly oppose the tyranny of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary regime.

The Post refers to the NIAC as “a non-profit advocacy group that supports the current bilateral [U.S. and Iran] talks.� Although the newspaper briefly notes that the group has been accused of lobbying for Iran, it omits that an Iranian-American, Hassan Dai, successfully counter-sued NIAC. This followed the council's unsuccessful lawsuit over allegations it lobbied for Tehran.

Business Insider explained in a March 5, 2015 article that a court decision a month earlier found NIAC, in responding to Dai, “flouted multiple court orders,� improperly delaying its delivery of documents and failing to turn over requested emails and membership lists in a timely manner—if at all.

The Post conflates Iranian Americans in general with NIAC and its supporters, writing “they have few friends in Congress on Capitol Hill, where anti-Iran sentiment remains strong.� Yet it simultaneously notes the presence of U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) “as well as several former legislators� at the “lavish party.�

The newspaper uncritically reports that some Iranian-Americans believe the current regime is “more moderate and open to change than past officials.� This overlooks the nature of the Iranian theocracy—where ultimate authority has resided with Ayatollah Khamenei since 1989—which regularly makes statements calling for the destruction of Israel and “death to America.� Moreover, it obscures that both imprisonment of journalists and dissidents has seen a steady increase under the supposedly more “moderate� officials now in charge. Amnesty International asserted in January, 2014, for example, that “Iranian authorities are trying to change their international image, but it's meaningless if executions are being ordered at the same time.�

The article quotes a fundraiser attendee: “Iranians don’t want another revolution. … [T]hey want to join the community of nations.� However, The Post omits that numerous Iranians took to the streets in 2009 to protest the regime only to be met with brute force, mass incarcerations, and executions. The arbitrary abuse inflicted by the regime on Iranians, and its support of terrorist groups and attacks—including an assassination plot against Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States that would have blown up a Washington, D.C. restaurant in 2011—seems to require more substantiation of a purported intent by the regime to “join the community of nations.�

The Post claims that “Iranian-Americans … are emerging as an unexpected and articulate constituency for U.S. diplomatic engagement with the ayatollahs.� Although it notes that “not all Iranian exiles favor� outreach to the regime, especially “religious minorities such as Jews,� coverage fails to emphasize divisions within the Iranian-American community. The Democracy Movement of Iran claimed a 2011 online English-Farsi survey of 1,851 individuals 18 and older found that 99 percent of respondents felt “NIAC did not represent their interests.�

The next time The Post covers the National Iranian American Council, the Iranian regime, and its opponents, it should do so in detail. -- by Sean Durns and Eric Rozenman

(A May 22 CAMERA letter to the editor making the above points was not published by The Post.)

Posted by ER at May 29, 2015 11:54 AM


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