The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a group run by Trita Parsi that has argued for more engagement with Iran and against sanctions, has gained increasing influence during the Obama administration. But a groundbreaking report in the Washington Times by Eli Lake based on internal documents, has provided evidence that NIAC may be violating the law by working as a lobbying organization for a foreign government without registering as such.
Another interesting disclosure in the story:
The organization has between 2,500 and 3,000 members, according to Mr. Parsi, but had fewer than 500 responses to a membership survey conducted last summer, internal documents show. Yet NIAC asserts that it is the largest such group and represents the majority of the nearly 1 million Iranian Americans.
During the elections and the turmoil that followed, Parsi was a leading proponent of the idea that if President Obama were to make a statement in solidarity with the protesters, that it would enable the regime to brand them as tools of America and thus undermine the cause of freedom. And the media, which were inclined to support Obama’s approach, frequently trotted out Parsi as a spokesman for Iranian Americans.
Back in June, I profiled Amir Fakhravar, an Iranian dissident exiled to the U.S., who disagreed strongly with the Parsi view, and thought that Obama should be clearly articulating support for the protesters. Yet voices like Fakhravar’s were drowned out by the mainstream media.