The campaign against the National Iranian-American Council and its president, Trita Parsi, intensified today with the publication of a long hit piece in the Washington Times by neoconservative journalist Eli Lake. The piece’s unusual length may be an attempt to disguise the thinness of the allegations it contains. Most of the claims are based on hearsay and speculation, and only two-thirds of the way through the meandering 3000-word article does Lake actually discuss whether any of the evidence actually shows that NIAC has lobbied for the Iranian government. At which point we get this brief sentence:
Two lawyers who read some of the same documents [on which the allegations are founded] said they did not provide enough evidence to conclude that Mr. Parsi was acting as a foreign agent.
One might be forgiven for thinking that this fact is relevant enough to be included in the first few paragraphs. Similarly, despite the thousands of pages of documents that were leaked to him, Lake is unable to show any evidence of a financial relationship between NIAC and the Iranian government. (It’s also worth noting that the question of whether NIAC engages in lobbying is separate from the question of whether it engages in lobbying on behalf of the Iranian government. Lake, who conflates the two questions, provides little evidence for the former and even less for the latter.) In any case, the question of whether any of the allegations might actually be true is then dropped, not to be pursued again for the remainder of the piece. Instead, we get bizarre fixations on facts like Parsi’s Swedish citizenship (which is about as relevant for his standing to work for an Iranian-American organization as Martin Indyk’s Australian citizenship was for his standing to work for an American Jewish organization.) [continued…]