On the Lawsuit “Trita Parsi and NIAC v. Hassan Daieoleslam.”
1. I read the Court’s decision. The decision is very well written. The judge clearly defines the legal terms and clearly explains the standards for evidence. I highly recommend to all our readers to read the decision for themselves. You should be able to understand the decision. The whole thing is only 23 pages. It would take only a few hours to carefully read it.
It is a truly wonderful lesson in civics. You do not have to take my words. Simply, please read the decision and reach YOUR OWN decision.
2. The judge CLEARLY rules in favor of Hassan Daieoleslam on ALL counts. The Court’s ruling is a FULL VICTORY for Hassan Daieoeslam (henceforth Hassan Dai) and his legal team. The decision is not a partial victory for Dai. It is a FULL victory for Dai. The court had to make decisions on a number of counts or arguments. There was NOT a favorable decision on a single argument presented by the legal team of Trita Parsi and NIAC.
3. The Court fully refuted or dismissed Trita Parsi-NIAC’s arguments. And significantly, the court has ruled that Trita Parsi-NIAC pay for some of the court costs of Hassan Dai’s legal team.
4. Trita Parsi and NIAC have stated that the reason that they brought to lawsuit was to:
“The second objective with the lawsuit was to change the nature of the political culture in the Iranian-American community, away from the slander, defamation and character assassination campaigns favored by some, and towards a more open and truthful discourse. Our hope was that by challenging the maliciousness and defamation, the culture would shift in a democratic direction.”
My opinion is that I disagree with NIAC’s characterization. In my opinion, the primary objective of NIAC has been to silence its critics and to intimidate other critics into silence. Why have I reached my opinion? Let me explain.
4.1. Lets look at the pattern of NIAC’s threats of lawsuits? NIAC sent TWO letters threatening The Washington Times and its reporter Eli Lake with lawsuits if they published an article critical of Trita Parsi and NIAC.
“Likewise, NIAC sent two cease and desist letters to the Washington Times threatening legal action if the paper published Eli Lake’s story that first reported these internal emails and which raised serious questions about the legality of NIAC’s activities, specifically its claims that it is not engaged in lobbying and therefore does not need to register as a 501(c)4 rather than its current tax-exempt 501(c)3 status.”
Eli Lake article:
The last time I checked, Mr. Eli Lake was NOT Iranian. Moreover, the Washington Times is NOT part of the Iranian community. Were NIAC and Trita Parsi ALSO using the threats of lawsuits to change the American political culture from being anti-democratic, and to force them to learn from NIAC and Trita Parsi on how to behave democratically?????????????? Or is it more plausible to think that the reason was to silence or to intimidate Eli Lake and the Washington Times from publishing an article critical of Trita Parsi and NIAC ??????
NIAC has also sent letters threatening legal action to Mr. Jeffrey Trimble, who was (is?) at the Broadcasting Board of Governors which oversees the Voice of America (VOA). Is Mr. Jeffrey Trimble an Iranian-American or is he an American working for the U.S. government? Does Mr. Jeffrey Trimble also suffer from the lack of a democratic political culture, and was in need to learn about democracy and democratic political culture from NIAC??????? Or was the objective of NIAC’s letters to Trimble to force him to force VOA not to invite critics of NIAC (i.e., Hassan Dai) to the VOA programs?
4.2. Are beliefs of Iranian-Americans who think that NIAC and Trita Parsi have engaged in lobbying that benefits the Islamic Republic due to our political culture? Or are there many Americans (who are not Iranian) — including prominent astute observers and officials — who ALSO share these beliefs about NIAC and Trita Parsi? Do such American officials and astute observers also suffer from an anti-democratic political culture? Or is it more plausible to believe that one’s opinions on Trita Parsi and NIAC has nothing to do with the political culture of Iranian-Americans? Lets see who else shares these beliefs:
The perception of NIAC as a group that lobbies that benefits the VF regime is shared by many Americans (who are not Iranian). For example Sen. Jon Kyl officially requested the Department of Justice to begin an inquiry to NIAC as a local agent of a foreign government. Here is the entire text of Sen. Kyl’s questions:
Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican source says, sent written questions to Attorney General Eric Holder following yesterday’s meeting, going after the National Iranian American Council, a group drawing conservative ire because it advocates a soft(er) line on Iran and the subject of a Washington Times piece raising questions about its lobbying status.
The November 13, 2009 Washington Times article, “Iran advocacy group said to skirt lobby rules” alleges that the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) may be operating as an undeclared lobby and may be guilty of violating tax laws, the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and lobbying disclosure laws.
• Is DOJ investigating the allegations put forward in this article? If not, why?
• Has DOJ found the allegations in this article to be true?
• What is the proper recourse against a 501(c)(3) group that engages in lobbying activity on behalf of a foreign government without registering as a lobbyist or filing papers with DOJ indicating that the group is a local agent of a foreign government?
4.3. Sen. Mark Kirk also holds this perception. Sen. Mark Kirk used the term “regime sympathizers like the NIAC”
4.4. The perception that Trita Parsi and NIAC are “man or fronts or other such terms” for the Iranian government are also shared by American publications. Here is an example:
“Today the Washington Times prints a blockbuster expose on NIAC, the National Iranian American Council run by Trita Parsi that has long been suspected of acting as an unofficial, and unregistered, lobby for the Iranian regime. These suspicions seem to have been well founded. Here are the facts as reported by Eli Lake in a story that relies on thousands of emails and internal NIAC documents that were obtained by the Washington Times and have been independently reviewed by THE WEEKLY STANDARD:”
4.5. The American publication, Foreign Policy, published an article by Kohanloo and Ahmari who characterize NIAC as “ayatollah-friendly.” Here is the quote:
NIAC’s own political vision is decidedly ayatollah-friendly. Since its founding in 2002, NIAC has consistently endeavored to shield the Iranian regime from Western sanctions and other forms of pressure.
The publication is an American publication, and the authors are Iranian-American.
5. Many Iranian-Americans believe that Trita Parsi and NIAC support the VF regime. Are there reasonable Iranians or Iranian Americans who consider NIAC to be “sympathetic to the IRI”? Or anyone who holds such a perception is suffering from a dictatorial political culture??????
This is what Mohsen Makhmalbaf told the Washington Times:
‘Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an acclaimed Iranian filmmaker and unofficial spokesman for Iran’s opposition Green Movement, told The Times, “I think Trita Parsi does not belong to the Green Movement. I feel his lobbying has secretly been more for the Islamic Republic.”’
Those Iranians who share the perception that Trita Parsi and NIAC promote policies that benefit the VF regime include:
* middle of the road pro-democracy pro- Mossadegh activists in National Front (myself);
* left-wing democratic socialists
* right-wing Monarchists
* Greens like Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
6. It appears to me that the opposition to NIAC is so intense that NIAC cannot hold normal open public meetings in the community because of the intensity of the opposition, like other groups who regularly hold meetings without any massive security measures (e.g., INF, monarchists, leftists, etc). In Dallas, they held a meeting with draconian measures that did not allow anyone to tape the program and had heavy security presence (in fear of dissent from the Iranian American community). Earlier, in Los Angeles, they cancelled the program after the Iranian Americans successfully booed the program. Here is the video of the program:
Whether one approves or disapproves of protests to oppose Trita Parsi and NIAC program, it is clear that many Iranian Americans share the perception of Trita Parsi and NIAC as promoting policies that benefit the vf regime. The opposition to NIAC is also very intense.
In my opinion, NIAC is either the most hated group or one of the most hated groups among Iranian Americans. One could also see the diversity and intensity of the opposition to NIAC and Trita Parsi when they publish on this site. This is significant, because JJ is a supporter of Trita Parsi and NIAC. Many on this site complain that when they write something against Trita Parsi and NIAC, some of such writings get deleted.
Supporters of a particular groups or sentiments tend to publish, post, or read a particular site. For example, Iran Emrooz is where many pro-democracy activists (JM and other democrats) and moderate leftists publish. Akhbar Rooz is where many hard left publish. Rooz online is where the radical reformists publish. Many NIACis post on IC (and not at Iran Emrooz, Akhbar Rooz, Gooya). A few years ago, NIACis dominated here. Fortunately, thanks to the struggles of many posters (pro-democracy, monarchist, leftist, independent), today the NIACis constitute a small (and in my opinion much hated and isolated) group here. To his credit, JJ has not deleted most of the blogs, articles, and posts critical of NIAC here.
7. The perceptions of Trita Parsi and NIAC are of many shades:
7.1. Some think that Trita Parsi is agent of the IRI (whatever “agent” means).
7.2. Some think that he is a greedy opportunist who wants to make money (e.g., remove sanctions, play the role of middleman between American big business and the IRI).
7.3. Some think that he is an opportunist that provides his services to whomever is in power (i.e., Trita Parsi would have done same thing if monarchists were in power, or the Mojahedin [MKO, MeK, MEK, PMOI] were in power).
8. Regardless of what is one’s perception of Trita Parsi and NIAC, it appears to me that Trita Parsi and NIAC promote policies that benefit the fundamentalist terrorist regime.
8.1. Trita Parsi OPPOSED the placing of the terrorist IRGC on the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations list while aggressively promoting placing the PMOI on that very list!!!!!!!!!
Opposing the placing of the terrorist group IRGC on the terrorist list BENEFITS the fundamentalist terrorist regime. Could NIACis or anyone else show that I am wrong? Could anyone show that Trita Parsi’s advocacy hurts the IRI???? Does the IRI wants the IRGC declared a terrorist entity?
8.2. NIAC staff have pushed members of the U.S. Congress to meet with the officials of the terrorist regime.
8.3. Trita Parsi himself has had many meetings with Javad Zarif, the terrorist regime ambassador to the UN. At the time of their meetings, Zarif was the HIGHEST LEVEL OFFICIAL of the terrorist regime outside Iran.
I do not have ANY problems with a scholar or journalist to interview an official of the vf regime for one’s books or articles or tv shows. The question is was Trita Parsi merely interviewing Zarif or whether he was engaged in exchanging ideas and information and other things of assistance to Zarif.
8.4. Trita Parsi attending “good bye” PARTY for the terrorist regime official:
8.5. NIAC’s leadership has been very close to Atieh Bahar. Atieh Bahar is a group that helps foreign firms do business in Iran while the terrorist regime is ruling Iran. A question is do officials of Atieh Bahar have close connections with the officials of the terrorist regime?
8.6. NIAC opposes real strong sanctions. The sale of oil gives BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars year after year after year directly into the hands of Khamenei and the vf government. Would providing say 100 BILLION dollars every year, to Khamenei helps Khamenei or hurts him.
9. The Iranian Americans are divided into many groups:
9.1. One group includes those of us who oppose the fundamentalist terrorist regime. We want regime change.
9.2. Another group support policies that helps the vf regime. Many believe (including me) that NIAC supports policies that benefit the fundamentalist terrorist regime. If you disagree with my perception, PLEASE provide rebuttals to my writing that shows that I am wrong and that in fact, NIAC policies hurt the vf regime. You may do it on this blog or in another blog of its own. Please show that opposing placing the IRGC on the FTO list hurts the regime. Please show that meetings between American officials and IRI officials hurts the IRI. Please show that giving 100 billion dollars to Khamenei year after year HURTS Khamenei.
What is interesting is what Trita Parsi, himself, says about HOW the IRI views NIAC. One of NIAC’s folks with the name of Mohammad Mansouri, wanted to go to Iran, but apparently was worried. Trita Pasri writes to him and tells him the following:
“I can tell you though that NIAC has a good name in iran and your association with it will not harm you. In fact, I believe two of our board members are in Iran as we speak!”
9.3. A “neutral” group that does not get involved in politics. They do not promote policies that help or hurt the terrorist regime.
10. In my opinion NIAC is strongly opposed and intensely despised by large numbers of Iranian-Americans. NIAC is viewed by many Iranian-Americans as well as Americans (who are not Iranian) as “sympathetic to the IRI” or “Ayatollah-friendly” or some other terms indicating that NIAC promotes policies that benefit the IRI
The overwhelming majority of Iranian-Americans oppose the fundamentalist terrorist regime. The vf regime is also opposed by the American public and the American government (or at least large parts of the U.S. government). That is why many people (including the judge in the lawsuit between NIAC and Dai) believe that a supporter of the IRI, or an agent of the IRI, in order to be successful in the U.S. would hide his or her support or affiliation with the IRI. That is why many of us simply do not trust Trita Parsi or NIAC to be honest; this is the perception that we hold of Trita Parsi and NIAC.
As Judge Bates wrote in the decision (page 12):
“That Parsi occasionally made statements reflecting a balanced, shared blame
approach is not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for
the regime. Given the other evidence defendant amassed to support his views, the Court sees no
“actual malice” in defendant’s decision to disregard occasional contrary statements and assume
that they were made largely to burnish Parsi and NIAC’s image in the United States. After all,
any moderately intelligent agent for the Iranian regime would not want to be seen as
unremittingly pro-regime, given the regime’s reputation in the United States.”
11. NIAC members have also engaged in personal attacks and character assassination of critics.
11.1.For example, when Sohrab Ahmari wrote a review of Trita Parsi’s book, instead of polite logical response, NIAC Research Director Reza Marashi, FALSELY accused him of being part of the “MEK terror cult supporter”!!!!!!!!!!
Rather than respond to these substantive claims in a civil manner, however, Parsi’s NIAC colleague and research director Reza Marashi immediately took to Twitter to denounce Ahmari as an “MEK terror cult supporter.”
11.2. I have asked several questions from NIAC and NIAC supporters at this site. Instead of providing HONEST and straight forward answers, pro-NIAC posters have engaged in vicious personal attacks and character assassination of me. If NIAC believes in democratic political culture, NIAC, NIAC officials, and NIAC supporters would engage in polite exchange of arguments. INSTEAD, on this very site, the NIACis have done the opposite. I hope that NIAC and NIACis would change their pattern of behavior from making vicious personal attacks and character assassinations to polite exchanges of logical arguments and honest transparent responses.
12. In conclusion, in my opinion, the judge’s decision was a huge victory for Mr. Hassan Dai. It was, in my opinion, also a victory for the freedom of expression. I celebrate this victory. I congratulate Mr. Dai for this wonderful victory. I thank him for his willingness to stand up to NIAC, and not be intimidated into silence. It does not mean that I agree with Mr. Dai. Actually, I do not agree with him on many things he writes. The issue is NOT whether one agrees with Dai or not. Rather the issue is: should his speech be silenced or he should have the right to express his opinions. The issue is: should a group such as NIAC engage in polite civil exchange and provide answers or rebuttals to criticisms and questions asked of it, or it should use threats of lawsuits against those who hold a critical opinion of NIAC and Trita Parsi.
I also thank the Honorable Judge John D. Bates for his fantastic decision. The freedom of expression, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with the content of the speech, is a most valuable and cherished freedom. Of course no right is absolute. It is through the clash of ideas that we all can learn, and not through silencing of expression. Judge Bates has thought us a valuable lesson: that we should respect the rights of others to express their criticism of us.
Of course one should not knowingly spread lies. But a person is allowed to hold and express one’s opinions and criticism. NIAC’s mere assertion (or any organization’s mere assertion) is not the same thing as the truth. NIAC’s assertion on the nature of its relationship with the IRI may be the truth, or it may not be the truth.
What is under contention is the nature of the relationship between Trita Parsi, NIAC and the IRI. What NIAC says about itself may or may not be the truth. Others have the right to challenge the assertions made by NIAC. Also to write something that might be false is not a crime. What is needed is MORE SPEECH, and not less speech. What is wrong is to silence or try to intimidate others into silence those who criticize us. We have opposed political views. Through debate, we can show who is right and who is wrong.
More freedom of expression, like sunlight, can help us to increase our understanding.
We in the opposition want to get rid of the vf regime. The issue is whether Trita Parsi and NIAC are on our side (regime change) or on the side of the vf regime (promote policies that help the regime) or are neutral. Many Iranians, Iranian-Americans, Americans (who are not Iranian) believe that Trita Parsi and NIAC promote policies that benefit the vf regime. We should exchange our views on this issue. If our perception is true that NIAC promotes policies that benefit the IRI regime, then we have the right to hold the opinion that NIAC is the enemy of those of us who want to replace the IRI regime with democracy.
MY own experience on this site has shown that NIAC and its supporters have used personal attacks and character assassination of me instead of providing clear responses to the questions that I have asked them. Instead of providing answers to my questions, NIACis on this site have insulted my university, have insulted the place I live at, have lied about me, have falsely accused me of being a supporter of the PMOI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I hope that now NIAC and its supporters here (called NIAC Internet Response Team) would stop making personal attacks and character assassinations, and instead provide clear responses to the questions that critics ask. ACTUAL transparency and providing honest answers to questions asked – and not threatening law suites and taking others to court – are the best ways to nourish a democratic political culture.
I hope that NIAC would publicly state that they are willing to provide honest CLEAR responses to questions asked of them, AND ACTUALLY TO DO SO. Lets hope so. But I doubt that NIAC and the NIAC Internet Response Team would agree to engage in civil debate and provide HONEST CLEAR responses to our questions.
my 2 cents,