It was only a few years back, when Trita Parsi, the brash president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) bragged about beating AIPAC and likened his victory to David versus Goliath. Flush with private enterprises, US government support, and foundation donors, NIAC’s swaggering Mafioso was determined to form the most powerful organization to advocate for policies favorable to the regime in Iran.
But, faced with the rogue regime’s iniquitous track record and strong anti-regime sentiment in the United States, Trita Parsi had to reinvent NIAC and cleverly disguise his treacherous intentions and make the bad look good! Thus, began Parsi’s campaign of lies and deception.
David and Goliath, a colour lithograph by Osmar Schindler (c. 1888)
Unaware of Parsi’s wicked intentions, some Iranian-Americans were pleased when NIAC was initially introduced as the largest Iranian-American organization representing them in the United States. It had been almost two decades that the Iranian-American community had been unable to form a credible organization to promote their interests.
Parsi cunningly managed to convince Iranian-Americans that indeed he was a part of the opposition and was there to represent their concerns. After all, as Judge Bates noted: “any moderately intelligent agent for the regime would not want to be seen as unremittingly pro-regime, given the regime’s reputation in the United States.” However, as Iranian-American observed Trita’s actions, it became increasingly evident that NIAC was not a non-partisan, non-political, non-sectarian, educational organization dedicated to promoting Iranian-American participation in American civic life, as Parsi claimed. Soon Iranian-Americans began to realize that neither NIAC and nor its non-citizen president were the friends of the Iranians-Americans and indeed were the intermediary between the criminal regime and high level U.S. government officials.
As some activists began to question NIAC’s activities, Trita Parsi embarked on an aggressive PR campaign and a policy of cease and desist. Those who opposed NIAC and Parsi were horridly character assassinated and maliciously slandered by NIAC and its handlers as members of MEK, CIA and Mossad agents or pro-war neocons. At one time, NIAC’s midget man was pompous enough to challenge the Voice of America by threatening this government organization with a lawsuit. Intimidated by NIAC’s PR savvy, legal and financial muscle, many organizations and opposition leaders kept silent and did not dare to confront the dubious organization.
NIAC boasted itself as the largest Iranian-American organization, it claimed to advocate for human rights, it played on the Iranian national pride and cultural heritage, while it worked behind the scenes to ensure regime’s survival. A determined reporter, who had been studying NIAC began unveiling its lobby activities in his speeches and articles. NIAC’s self-assured Goliath filed a defamation lawsuit against Hassan Dai for the purpose of silencing and making an example of him.
For a while NIAC’s strategy seemed to work. Armed with the best PR firm, expert lawyer and abundant finances the lawsuit almost bankrupted the Iranian-American journalist. Miraculously, a legal firm decided to come to Hassan Dai’s aid. Filing the lawsuit against was perhaps the biggest mistake Parsi made.
NIAC and Parsi’s, house of cards began to collapse as the legal proceedings began to shed light on NIAC and Parsi’s numerous secret meetings with top level IRI officials. The Court documents painted a very disturbing picture of Parsi and his organization: lying to members of Congress, fraudulent membership numbers, tax law violations and evasions, Lobbying Disclosure Act violations, the Foreign Agents Registration Act violations, foreign bank account, defrauding of federal funds, bribing of eye witnesses, etc…, the list of abuses seemed perplex, byzantine and incessant.
NIAC and Parsi’s defamation lawsuit which started in 2008 finally ended on September 13, 2012, two days after the 11th anniversary of tragedy of 9/11 tragedy that Iran and Hezbollah said to have had a hand in it. The Court dismissed all of Parsi’s allegations that Hassan Dai maliciously published false and defamatory articles characterizing Trita Parsi and NIAC as agents of the Iranian government.
Frustrated, yet patient and diligent Judge Bates noted: “There is no question that plaintiffs [NIAC and Trita Parsi] have repeatedly tried to evade their discovery obligations, …” Cognizant of Trita’s obfuscation tactics, Judge Bates went on to say: “In awarding sanctions, the Court is mindful not just of the need to compensate defendant, but also of the need to deter plaintiffs from future discovery abuses.”
Furthermore, the Judge, troubled by NIAC’s refusal to hand over most of its sensitive internal documents, computer hard drives and membership lists, ordered Trita Parsi and NIAC to pay for:
- 60% of the expenses associated with bringing the instant motion and
- pay for the expenses involved in bringing defendant’s motion to compel production of NIAC’s server;
- the expenses of serving the third-party subpoenas;
- the expenses involved in bringing defendant’s motion to compel production of Salesforce [customer relationship management software] data and membership lists;
- one-half of the expenses of the last half day of Parsi’s [….] depositions.
The beginning of the end of NIAC and Trita Parsi, thus began.
Of course, NIAC’s PR masters of deception will attempt to do damage control and spin court findings in the coming weeks and perhaps call it a victory for NIAC, but for the record, Judge Bate noted:
“Defendant has subpoenaed emails to or from NIAC employees from a number of third parties. Most of these emails are to or from NIAC employees in 2008 or 2009, and none were produced by NIAC. … plaintiffs’ [Parsi and NIAC] failure to produce the other five categories of emails is indefensible, and plaintiffs made no coherent attempt to explain either in their briefing or at the motions hearing why all of these emails would not have been produced.
Most disturbingly, plaintiffs apparently gathered emails for their experts that they failed to produce to defendant, which clearly shows that plaintiffs’ statement at the motions hearing that “[t]here may be technical explanations” for the failure to produce these documents is untrue.
Given plaintiffs’ inexplicable and unexplained behavior, it is appropriate to require them to pay the cost of serving the subpoenas […] and the costs of bringing this portion of the instant motion.
The Court is troubled by the fact that it may be awarding sanctions based on conduct for which there is an innocent explanation that plaintiffs have simply failed to give. But plaintiffs have had more than sufficient opportunity to oppose the very clear claims in defendant’s sanctions motion, and the Court cannot perpetually excuse their failure to do so. Because it seems quite clear that Parsi’s interrogatory responses misrepresented when he had used the desktop – and because Parsi has never managed to explain what computer he was using during that time – some sanction is warranted….
Nonetheless, the Court believes that awarding the cost of this portion of the sanctions motion is appropriate here. In awarding sanctions, the Court is mindful not just of the need to compensate defendant, but also of the need to deter plaintiffs from future discovery abuses [by Trita Parsi and NIAC].”
Parsi’s attempt to portray NIAC as the underdog David vs. Goliath, has been disingenuous. NIAC is a powerful organization, financially speaking. Parsi and NIAC are the Goliaths and not the Davids. In the Biblical story of David and Goliath, David initially put on a coat of armor, a brass helmet and girded himself with a sword: he prepared to wage a conventional battle of swords against Goliath. And that is perhaps what Parsi was counting on; to force Hassan Dai to play with NIAC’s rules and be silenced. But then David stopped. “I cannot walk in these”, he said, then shed his armor and picked up those five smooth stones. When the underdog Iranian-Americans dare not to succumb to NIAC’s might, they win!
Dr. Arash Irandoost (pen name), founder of Pro-democracy Movement of Iran (PDMI) is a human rights and pro-democracy activist who advocates Regime Change in Iran. He has been published in numerous magazines around the world as well as hundreds of Internet magazines, websites and blogs. He is also a researcher and literary translator and has been a strong voice for the struggling people of Iran. www.pdmi.org and www.pdmiran.org