In 2008, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and its president Trita Parsi filed a defamation lawsuit against me. The discovery process has unearthed very valuable documents that clarify the working of NIAC and the relation of its president to influential people connected to the Iranian regime. Some of these documents raise serious concerns about the possible threat that Parsi's connections has on U.S. national security. Some examples follow.
On September 28, 2006, Trita Parsi sent an e-mail to Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian ambassador at the United Nations. The e-mail contains a press report that the "UN Envoy Bolton Unlikely to Get US Senate Vote." In addition to the AP report, Parsi added his personal note informing the Iranian regime's representative in the U.S. that "from what I hear, the below article still stands." Parsi did not reveal in that e-mail who his sources are or how they are aware of what the Senate vote will be! A few weeks later, Parsi reported to Zarif about the lawmakers who had decided to oppose George Bush's policy on Iran. This October 25, 2006 e-mail included:
Just wanted to check and see if you have seen the draft of the resolution?
Also, happy to hear that you will meet with Gilchrest and potentially Leach.
There are many more that are interested in a meeting, including many respectable Democrats. Due to various reasons, they will contact you directly (partly to avoid going through Jeremy Stone). Their larger goal is to meet with Iranian elected parliamentarians.
Gilchrest is a great guy, low key but very respected among Republicans as well as the Democrats. These members are very disillusioned with the Bush foreign policy and are tired to sit on the sidelines as Bush undermines the US's global position. As a result, they are willing to take matters in their own hands and they accept the political risk that comes with it.
The next day, Zarif responded to Parsi: "I am always open to these meetings. Your help is always welcome. I leave the modalities to your discretion."
While we can bet on the Iranian regime having many people in the United States reporting to them, it becomes particularly alarming when a man with extensive access to congressmen and women, senators, and the governmental officials looks like the Tehran's ears in Washington.
A few months later, Siamak Namazi from Tehran asked Trita Parsi to report to him about what was happening inside Congress with respect to Iran. Namazi was at the time the managing director and a partner at Atieh Bahar Consulting. The Atieh group has had multiple business partnerships with the government and provided IT services for many Iranian governmental entities, including the most security sensitive institutions. The group also assisted the regime in its business deals with foreign multinationals. (Because of Atieh Bahar's close ties to Rafsanjani's clan, some of Atieh's leaders have been the subject of the regime's anger in the past few months.) Parsi sent two reports to Namazi in Tehran as per the latter's request. The related e-mail exchanges between Parsi in Washington and a man in Tehran who was connected to the Iranian regime is baffling. On March 1, 2007, Parsi sent the first report about the U.S. Congress to Tehran and by e-mail asked Siamak:
Any comments on the congress piece? Was it in line with what you wanted? So sorry about the delay, will have the other one for you tonight.
A day later, Siamak responds:
Thanks. Looking forward to reading what you have to say about AIPAC. And please send it soon!
So terribly sorry. You [know] this is not my style, but things have really been hectic lately. I cant wait till the baby comes because I am sure that is paradise compared to the current situation... 50% of the AIPAC piece is written. Will finish it tonight.
On March 3, Parsi sends him the second report by e-mail and writes, "Let me know your thoughts." Through the discovery process, we have received the second report, titled "Lobby Groups," that you can read here. Obviously, there are not too many people in Washington who send Tehran detailed reports on what happens inside the U.S. Congress. The first report that apparently details the congressional policy toward Iran is still missing.
As we have noted in the communications between Parsi and the Iranian U.N. ambassador, the exchange of information is followed by action to influence U.S. policy toward Iran. This coordination of action is even more astonishing with Namazi. See how they coordinated a "game plan" to influence the U.S. Undersecretary of State. In 2005, they planned to meet Burns and brief him on U.S. policy toward Iran. Once again, the communications are baffling:
Parsi (12.18.2005): Btw, for the Burns meeting, I need your date of birth, city, country and ssn
Namazi: We need to meet up and coordinate.
At the same time that they were planning to meet with Burns, Namazi and Parsi were also getting ready to hold their regular private policy discussions with a few close friends who are considered Iran experts in Washington. Namazi wrote in his e-mail on 12.23.2005:
Subject: RE: what do you think of this?
Let's try to get the group together again before we meet with Burns. That way, we will have fresh ideas. That was the 18th, huh?
It's not a bad plan for us to sit and try to come up with some policy recs. Actually, if you like, let's have our Burns meeting (the private one) and come up with some policy ideas, then pitch them without mention of why to the group to see what sort of critiques we need to consider. I understand that we will have to focus the meeting with Burns on expat issues, but (1) most of our group is comprised of Iranian-Americans and (2) Burns is likely to ask us about generally what up in Iran too. Good to be prepared.
Parsi e-mailed Siamak back and talked about their "game plan" with Burns:
I guess the plan you list below is for us to first come up with some rec's, try them on our group, then take the modified version to Burns? That sounds good.
I think Burns is interested in hearing our views across the board. My responsibility as the NIAC president is to also present the majority view per our statistics and mention the minority view. Other than that, we should stick to the game plan.
And Namazi on 1.20.2006 wrote in his e-mail:
Agha, we need to carve out time to work on our discussion with Burns. If you have any policy papers I can look at, I could also start working on one for Hadley's office. Once a draft is available, we can get input from our network and make it stronger.
It strikes me as naïve to believe that all communications between Trita Parsi and the Iranian officials or their associates in Iran have been disclosed. To report the goings-on of Washington's politically influential circles back to the Iranian regime is quite disturbing in and of itself, but more so when one considers that the reporting individual often frequents the halls of Congress, as well as the CIA and the State Department. There is no indication that Trita Parsi has briefed NIAC members or directors on his communications with the Iranian regime. Therefore, it is safe to assume that even Parsi was aware that regular NIAC members would not stomach such a cozy relationship with the Iranian regime's associates.
Hassan Daioleslam is an independent Iranian Analyst and writer. He is well-published in Farsi and English and has appeared as an expert guest on the Voice of America-TV as well as other Persian media. His website is english.iranianlobby.com.