Neocon Iran Policy Committee tied to disgraced Iraqi National Congress
The Iran Policy Committee (IPC), the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), and the Iraqi National Congress (INC) are connected in more ways than just a neocon modus operandi of taking exile groups with little or no domestic legitimacy, using their (faulty) intelligence to build a case for war, and promoting them to spearhead regime change in Middle Eastern countries.
On the heels of claims by the MEK and its most staunch U.S. supporters of a covert Iranian nuclear facility, a LobeLog investigation has revealed a host of intimate ties between the IPC and the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the Iraqi exile opposition group headed by the now-disgraced dissident Ahmad Chalabi.
The INC was a cause célèbre among neoconservatives for more than a decade before the U.S.-led invasion of 2003. Once neoconservatives took positions of power in George W. Bush’s administration, much of the faulty intelligence they used to build a case for war with Iraq came from Chalabi and his group.
LobeLog has discovered that, through 2006, IPC shared an address, accountants, and some staff with multiple organizations that either fronted for or had direct ties to the INC, even sharing staff members with those groups. Some of those ties have continued through today. Many of the contacts revolve around former International Republican Institute and Freedom House director Bruce McColm, who serves as IPC “Empowerment Committee Chairman.”
Both the groups McColm runs, the International Decision Strategies and its non-profit arm, the Institute for Democratic Strategies, share offices and staff at a quaint, two-story, cream-colored building at 911 Duke St. in Arlington, Virginia.
A name plate by the door reads with the initials of both organizations: IDS.
The 911 Duke St. address also serves as the home of Bartel & Associates, the accountants for the IPC and who are listed as the “person who possesses the books of the organization” on every 990 filed since the hawkish group’s inception in 2005. Bartel & Associates founder, Margaret Bartel, also serves as a vice-president of McColm’s Institute for Democratic Strategies and started working in 2001 managing the accounts of the INC. According to Ken Silverstein and Walter Roche, Jr., in the Los Angeles Times, this included “funds for its prewar intelligence program on Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.”
The address for McColm and Bartel’s groups — 911 Duke St. — is the same address that housed IPC for at least its first year of operation. IPC is best known for its support for regime change in Iran. The group calls for a mix of U.S. military might and an opposition insurgency led by exiled Iranian dissidents. The exile Iranian group of choice is, of course, the MEK, which is listed by the U.S State Department as a “foreign terrorist organization” (and its political front, the National Council for Resistance in Iran, or NCRI).
Does this plan sound familiar? It should — it’s the same one employed after 9/11 in the run up to the Iraq war. The plan must have been easy to transfer from Iraq to Iran, especially considering how much of the INC’s business went down at the little house with blue trim at 911 Duke St.
In addition to Bruce McColm’s for profit group, International Decision Strategies, which lists the INC as a past client, the two-story house at 911 Duke St. also housed at least two groups with direct links to Ahmad Chalabi and the INC.
One is the Iraqui [sic] National Congress Support Foundation, which was registered and receiving mail in care of Chalabi at 911 Duke St. (The group appears to have made less than $25,000 per year, which meant it didn’t have to file tax forms required of tax exempt non-profits.)
The other group housed at 911 Duke St. from at least 2003 until 2005 was Boxwood Inc., a organization run by top Chalabi aide Francis Brooke, and where Margaret Bartel was director and later vice president. Boxwood, according to Silverstein and Roche, was a “firm set up to receive U.S. funds for the intelligence program of the Iraqi National Congress.” Boxwood’s corporate registration, which clearly shows the 911 Duke St. address, can be viewed here (PDF).
In the New Yorker, in 2004, Jane Mayer reported that Boxwood president Francis Brooke and his family lived for free in a “million-dollar brick row house in Georgetown… which is owned by Levantine Holdings, a Chalabi family corporation based in Luxembourg.” Only a week later, foreign policy reporter Laura Rozen confirmed ownership of the building, publishing documentation on her War and Piece blog.
It appears that many of the same people who misled the U.S. into a disastrous war with Iraq are now attempting to do the same in Iran. And they’re doing it with very much the same game plan, and even doing it from the same little town house at 911 Duke St. in Arlington, Virginia.