Report: Congress Calls for Investigation of Pro-Iran Lobbying Organization

The US Capitol Building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – Members of Congress have called for the US Department of Justice to investigate National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which is closely affiliated with the regime in Tehran, for possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires lobbyists and lobbying groups to disclose their activities on behalf of foreign governments.

The Washington Free Beacon first reported the development on Tuesday.

NIAC, which is registered as a US non-profit, was known for playing a crucial role in the Obama administration’s “echo chamber”—a term coined by Obama National Security Council official Ben Rhodes—in disseminating misleading information about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

“We write to urge you to review the activities of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and its sister organization NIAC Action for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA),” wrote Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) to US Attorney General William Barr, according to the letter obtained by The Washington Free Beacon.

The lawmakers accused the organization of promoting Iranian regime talking points.

“NIAC’s innocuous public branding masks troubling behavior,” wrote the senators. “NIAC’s relationship with the Iranian regime and its role amplifying regime propaganda in the United States have been the subject of discussion in Washington D.C. for years.”

“For example, on December 31, NIAC circulated an email memorandum blaming the United States government for Iranian-backed militias’ repeated attacks against US forces in Iraq and brazen attempt to storm the US embassy in Baghdad,” wrote the members of Congress. “On January 9, NIAC and NIAC Action staffers tweeted and retweeted conspiracy theories deflecting blame from the Iranian regime for shooting down a Ukrainian civilian airliner, killing 176 individuals. These disturbing actions are only the latest developments of this nature.”

In a statement, NIAC called the allegations by the senators as “baseless smears.”

“The slanderous accusations from Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Mike Braun have zero merit,” said the organization. “It is yet another sign that warhawks are seeking to intimidate pro-peace voices, starting with Iranian Americans, from halting the push toward war, which Cotton and Cruz have long championed.”

“We have already seen the coordinated efforts, such as the US government funded “IranDisinfo” project that slandered groups like Human Rights Watch, as well as Iranian-American journalists, analysts, academics and civil society organizations like ours who dared speak out against the Trump administration’s Iran policies,” they continued. “This is the latest attempt to silence NIAC and other pro-peace Iranian Americans from having a voice in this debate that impacts us and our community. We will not let that happen.”

NIAC added, “The senators’ accusations of dual loyalty targeting our organization, particularly amid heightened risks of war, are disgusting and dangerous. We are just a few days removed from Iranian Americans being detained for questioning at US ports of entry based on their national heritage. These incidents have only compounded an atmosphere of xenophobia, which have made Americans of all backgrounds feel vulnerable in their own country, and have no place within the civil discourse of the United States.

“In this period of heightened fears and trauma,” it continued, “it is shameful these Senators choose to slander NIAC and NIAC Action as we stand up for the Iranian-American community and work to protect our community’s civil liberties.”

NIAC accused Cotton and Cruz of wanting war with Iran and added, “While we know little of Senator Braun, his joining in this McCarthyite targeting of an Iranian-American civil-rights organization betrays that he knows little of our community and less about basic democratic liberties.”

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