Tehran’s informal lobby in Washington just suffered a massive defeat in court. Rather than acknowledge this fact, its president, one Trita Parsi, sent out an extraordinary fundraising letter in which he takes perilous liberties with the truth.
In the letter, dated Dec. 31, 2012, Parsi raised the specter of a well-funded conspiracy “by a small but powerful group of prominent pro-war neoconservatives,” headed by Middle East Forum (MEF) President Daniel Pipes, “to destroy NIAC [National Iranian American Council] and silence the Iranian-American voice for peace.” He went on: “These elements do not want Iranian Americans to have an independent voice in the United States and they certainly don’t want an effective Iranian-American voice that stands in the way of their dreams of war.” Parsi claimed that the MEF-led conspiracy “spent several million dollars to silence the voice of Iranian Americans, starting with NIAC,” and that the funds came “from people like Sheldon Adelson.”
Mr. Parsi’s letter consists of fabrications, distortions and lies:
• The Middle East Forum does not, and has never sought “to destroy NIAC and silence the Iranian-American voice for peace.” Quite the contrary, its Legal Project came to the defense of Seid Hassan Daioleslam, editor of the Iranian American Forum and a brave Iranian-American opponent of the regime in Tehran only after NIAC sued him. The Legal Project preserves rights of free expression, specifically the right in the West freely to discuss Islam, Islamism, terrorism, and related topics. It does not deal with foreign policy.
• Daioleslam documented over a two-year period that NIAC is a front group lobbying on behalf of the Iranian regime. NIAC & Parsi responded with a law suit. Approached by Daioleslam in August 2008 The Legal Project coordinated his pro bono defense by Sidley Austin LLP, led by Timothy Kapshandy, a senior litigation partner and Best Lawyers’ 2012 Chicago Products Liability Lawyer of the Year.
• Prior to Daioleslam’s approaching MEF for help in this matter, neither MEF nor Pipes had any sort of relationship with him.
• As for Parsi’s claim “that these neoconservatives instructed Iranian writers what to write against NIAC, how to write it, and where to publish it,” the editor of the Middle East Quarterly responded in August 2008 to an article submission by Daioleslam with advice on how best to present his arguments. The Middle East Quarterly did not publish his article.
• Parsi claims that Pipes has launched a massive effort “to destroy NIAC and silence the Iranian-American voice for peace” and he does not want “Iranian Americans to have an independent voice in the United States.” We challenge Parsi to prove that Pipes aims to silence Iranian-Americans and reserve the right to sue for damages unless he retracts it.
• Most importantly, The Legal Project did not spend “several million dollars” on this case, as alleged by Parsi. We challenge Parsi to document this claim and reserve the right to sue for damages unless he retracts it.
• The Middle East Forum has never received any financial support from Sheldon Adelson. We challenge Parsi to document this claim and reserve the right to sue for damages unless he retracts it.
• Parsi conveniently omits from his fundraising letter that he lost the case he initiated against Daioleslam and will have to pay a significant amount of Daioleslam’s legal expenses. (For details on the verdict, see news accounts here and here.)
The above inaccuracies are consistent with NIAC & Parsi’s record through 4½ years of litigation in the Daioleslam case, including 2 years of discovery and over 30 court motions. Not only did they lose their suit on the merits in D.C. Federal District Court, but they continually made false statements and attempted to hide evidence (for which they are being monetarily sanctioned). In particular, the discovery phase of the trial revealed NIAC & Parsi’s shoddy modus operandi. Documents produced by NIAC established that:
• The NIAC board in 2008 intended to use the Daioleslam case to deter future scrutiny of NIAC’s activities (as revealed by board minutes).
• Parsi, who pretends to advocate for sanctions against Iran allegedly based on human rights concerns, in fact works with Iranian oil consultants.
In his decision on Sept. 13, 2012, U.S. District Judge Bates described NIAC’s & Parsi’s legal malfeasance as “the sort of behavior that warrants deterrence measures” and expressed the hope that “an award of expenses [to Daioleslam] will act as a deterrent” that will stop “plaintiffs from future discovery abuses.” Parsi et al v. Hassan, Civil Action No. 08-705, Doc No. 190, 23, (D.D.C. 2012).
The Legal Project, the Middle East Forum, and Daniel Pipes heartily endorse the judge’s hope.
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