Trita Parsi’s Role in Promulgating Knowledge of 2003 Iran Proposal


IPS Correspondent Gareth Porter has an important article out today, “Rove Said to Have Received 2003 Iranian Proposal.”
Porter writes:

Karl Rove, then White House deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush, received a copy of the secret Iranian proposal for negotiations with the United States from former Republican Congressman Bob Ney in early May 2003, according to an Iranian-American scholar who was then on his
Congressional staff.
Ney, who pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to prison in January for his role in the Jack Abramov lobbying scandal, was named by former aide Trita Parsi as an intermediary who took a copy of the Iranian proposal to the White House.
Parsi is now a specialist on Iranian national security policy and president of the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), a non-partisan organization that supports a negotiated settlement of the conflict between Iran and the United States.
Parsi revealed that the document was delivered specifically to Rove, in an exclusive interview with IPS. Within two hours of the delivery of the document, according to Parsi, Ney received a phone call from Rove confirming his receipt of the document. Parsi said the proposal was delivered to Rove the same week that the State Department received it by fax, which was on or about May 4, 2003, according to the cover letter accompanying it.
Ney was chosen by Swiss Ambassador in Tehran Tim Guldimann to carry the Iranian proposal to the White House, according to Parsi, because he knew the Ohio Congressman to be the only Farsi-speaking member of Congress and particularly interested in Iran.

The revelation that Trita Parsi made about Congressman Ney’s interaction with the White House on the Iran proposal was made at a conference co-sponsored by the New America Foundation and the National Iranian American Council titled US-Iran Relations: Collision, Stand-Off or Convergence?
The revelation that Rove is involved is huge — because it further raises the stakes for exactly why then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said that she never “saw the fax” of the Guldimann-couriered Iran offer.
Foreign policy officials confirm to this writer that the fax did make it to National Security Council official Elliot Abrams, who has not admitted seeing the memos sent by Guldimann.
But if Rove also received the proposal through the separate channel of Congressman Bob Ney, it is hard to believe that Rove would have just hidden the matter in a pile of other faxes and not passed the material on to Rice directly — or at least to White House Chief-of-Staff Andy Card.
As Trita Parsi told Gareth Porter and attendees at the US-Iran conference, noted above, he was the point person for Ney in helping to manage this issue.
There is a copy of the 2003 Iran offer that has been making its way around the internet and has been written about by such writers as the Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler, the Financial Times‘ Guy Dinmore, and USA Today‘s Barbara Slavin.
Each of these journalists, and others, were given by Trita Parsi a copy of the Iran proposal — which differs in slight ways from the proposal made public last week by Glenn Kessler which is the final draft sent by Guldimann to the US government.
Parsi has admitted to this writer that he was the source for the documents that have been floating around the internet over the last year. He had been saving these materials for publication in his forthcoming book, but decided that it was important to get them into the public because he was afraid that the pace towards a possible US-Iran war was picking up and needed to be informed by other parts of the real diplomatic history.
TWN will shortly be posting two documents that it has secured from Trita Parsi — one that came in from Guldimann and the other that he acquired from a Senior Iranian diplomat.
More later.
— Steve Clemons


26 comments on “Trita Parsi’s Role in Promulgating Knowledge of 2003 Iran Proposal

  1. rostam says:

    Please do not mock Tirta Parsi.
    Defamation of character would be helpful for neither US nor Iran.
    Both countries are dealing with the monster of Islamic fundamentalism. We in Iran internally and US as an external danger.
    This is more or less like Star wars. To defeat dark forces you do not need to attack persons but you need insight and knowledge of phenomena surrounding you.
    So concentrate on the act of lobbying for a while and make some perspective for yourselves. Iran has never been a colony contrary to Iraq or Pakistan. But all major colonial powers and even minor ones had their lobbies there since 1700. And guess what they all used Ayatollahs for it. Why? Because the infrastructure of society was so. There was no internet, no television and no radio and no national newspapers just some in capital city Tehran. Give some money to an ayatollah and a task and they would fix it for you. They would address masses as Friday prayers and so on. That is why until WWI we had three kinds of ayatollahs, Anglophile, Francophile and Russophile.
    Then oil money rushed into Iran and equation began to change in 1975. This time they reverted the process by spending outwards to gain power and then to keep it.
    There is a huge meshwork of support structures for Islamic fascism from Iran outside its borders. In fact you should not see it as a national category because it is not and they are more internationalists as communists and Nazis were. They have a road map for the region with priorities. This meshwork has three main dimensions. Diplomatic machinery as all other has with a support from commerce chambers and oil exporters. The lobby machinery. And last the terror machinery.
    It is very ambitious and sub specialized . So when Trita Paris says he is not a terrorist and not an intelligent agent this is the only time he is telling the truth because in his section they do not make bombs.
    Then you need to consider the dynamics between four lobbies in regard to inspiration, resonance, antagonism, congruence and organic bounds. (Do not hesitate to google on this and on the name of the guru Islamic lobbies Mr. Ibrahim Yazdi)
    Israeli lobby
    Kuwaiti lobby
    Iraqi lobby
    Islamic republics lobbies back in 70s
    As you would see these matters are not casual ones for blogging but substantial ones for research and documentaries.
    For instance, the Iraqi National Congress, INC was revitalized quickly in 1994 by Islamic Republic of Iran inspired by extreme success of Kuwaiti lobby in few years later to make US go in first gulf war. So they decided that with more efforts and more deception they would manipulate US further. They mechanism here may be called hairworm after this parasite making grasshopper to go against as in this link below
    INC success has many facets. One is bringing US into Iraq to bleed.
    But the other is the wolf effect. Because all talks about WMDs were unsubstantial so same talks about the real wolf would not become accepted that easy. In another words INC and NIAC both parts of a bigger structure run by IRI.


  2. rostam says:

    These passages in cursive are taken from Trita Parsi s home
    The biography is falsified unskillfully.
    >>Trita Parsi is founder and president of the National Iranian
    American Council and an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian
    politics, and the balance of power in the Middle East. He is the
    author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran,
    Israel and the United States (Yale University Press 2007), for
    which he conducted more than 130 interviews with senior
    Israeli, Iranian and American decision-makers. Treacherous
    Alliance is the silver medal winner of the 2008 Arthur Ross Book
    Award from the Council on Foreign Relations. >Parsi was born in Iran but moved with his family at the age
    of four to Sweden in order to escape political repression in Iran.
    His father was an outspoken academic and non-Muslim who
    was jailed by the Shah and then by the Ayatollah. >>
    Wrong again. Either Shah or Ayatollah never jailed Turaj Parsi
    the father. This is known for Iranian community in Uppsala.
    Especially the first wave of Iranian immigrant who moved to
    Sweden back in late 70s. Turaj and his wife Fatimah moved to
    Sweden in 1977. Turaj was an infiltrator from SAVAK into left
    organizations in Sweden; back then a stronghold for them. The
    fall of SAVAK was an organized one so it could become a tool in
    the hands cruller autocracy. And with it the foreign departments
    (a business already known to Tsars). But planes did not worked
    that smooth and lists of collaborators became published in daily
    newspapers in Tehran in 1979 amongst them the name of Mr.
    Turaj Parsi. A small death squad of Iranian left activists tasked
    to execute him Northern Ireland style but braked by wiser ones
    who imagined the new power in motherland would do it. So
    Turaj was escorted to Tehran by one man with a one-way ticket.
    This story is told constantly at the Iranian gatherings in
    Uppsala. Back in Sweden the family lived a quiet life for while.
    Then it came 90s the rise of racism in Sweden. This
    marginalized immigrants. Trita and his brother both had high
    ambitions bigger than small area Sweden would have given to
    He moved to the United States as an adult and studied foreign
    policy at Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International
    Studies where he received his Ph.D. He founded NIAC to provide
    a non-partisan, non-profit organization through which Iranian-
    Americans could participate in American civic life. NIAC is a
    vocal proponent of dialogue and engagement between the US
    and Iran, which Parsi consistently has argued would enhance
    our national security by helping to stabilize the Middle East and
    bolster the moderates in Iran.
    It is a mystery to me why he covers his post education time in
    Sweden. Never having a head for studying, contrary to his
    brother, he made a try at prestigious handlesskolan or
    commerce school in Stockholm but failed. In earlier passages of
    his biographies he forged that and claimed a degree from that
    school but revealed by his schoolmates. Now that is taken away.
    Then his first trainings as a lobby worker were in Stockholm. He
    learned how to manipulate journalists and use them as media in
    Sweden. But he is not mentioning that here. May the image he
    had then would not have been compatible with this one he put
    up for naive Americans. One word of advice for all those middle
    range politicians and high range journalists, who have been
    instrumentally used, do not become embarrassed! Live and


  3. tower defense says:

    Even if someone DOES grow some gonads in Washington, and seek to make this an issue, to what good will such an effort come? This Administration has avoided accountability for everything from torture to fabricating intelligence, to paying for policy propaganda packaged as actual news stories. Why should these liars and criminals in the Bush Administration fear yet another expose of their corruption and malfeasance? Its not as though we lack any evidence or history of incompetent and/or criminal action going unpunished and ignored by both our so-called “representatives” and a compliant media.


  4. Orville says:

    A very selective release.


  5. JonU says:

    “When the neocons received this Iranian memo, I’m positive that they perceived it as their middle east strategy working out just as they had planned. Their non-reaction to it only signifies that in their celebratory hubris, they calculated that Iran simply did not beg well enough for Washington’s attention.
    As with most of the things that have occurred since this administration came into power, they screwed up the situation through simple incompetence and neocon ideology.”
    -posted by John Furie Zacharias
    Exactly. That’s an interesting bit there. If they would of kicked their own ideology, or better yet realised the powder keg they were sitting on, and seized the moment, they could of claimed pre-emptive invasion of Iraq worked.
    Saddam gone. Iran giving up nukes and recognizing Israel, while helping to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan. Libya toeing the line. They would of, quite unintentionally and by accident, stumbled into being heroes. Quite like George W.’s life path really.
    Instead they adhered to their hard line. It’s quite ironic. They believed their own rhetoric, which is almost always a fool’s path. They kept following their misbegotten strategy and it evenutally blew up in their faces.
    Now others have to clean up their mess. Quite the opposite of the “the adults are now in charge” image they tried to project.


  6. ET says:

    What Would Lincoln Do?
    Abraham Lincoln was a member of Congress. He penned the following words while the United States was at war with Mexico, under the presidency of James Polk:
    “Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose – and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, ‘I see no probability of the British invading us’ but he will say to you ‘be silent; I see it, if you don’t.’ The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us.”
    But Lincoln did more than talk. He talked pointedly, in minute particulars, about the fraud that had been used to launch that illegal and imperialistic war. Congressman Lincoln introduced a resolution demanding that the President provide proof. Polk claimed to have launched that war only after American blood had been shed on American soil. Lincoln’s resolution required Polk to identify the spot where that blood had been shed.
    “Let him answer fully, fairly, and candidly,” Lincoln said of the wartime President. “Let him answer with facts and not with arguments. Let him attempt no evasion, no equivocation.”
    When the President did not answer, Lincoln and John Quincy Adams sought a formal investigation of the president’s pre-war intelligence claims, and of his use of secret funds to launch his fraudulent and illegal war.
    Under this pressure, President Polk announced that he would not seek reelection. Lincoln, Adams, and their allies in Congress then passed a resolution honoring the service of Major General Zachary Taylor “in a war unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President of the United States.”
    A complete account of the above series of events can be found in John Nichols’ “The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders Cure for Royalism.”
    More highlights:


  7. Pissed Off American says:

    “The reason I say this is simple. Condoleezza Rice can lie to the media all day long for years and it’s not a big deal. If she lies under oath in congressional tesimony, then it’s a crime.”
    For a crime to recieve punishment, or even recognition, it need be indicted. Gonzalez seemingly lied, under oath, to Congress about his role in Bush’s recusal from jury duty. Not only was he not indicted, he was confirmed as the AG. If you think Condi will be indicted if she lies under oath, while Gonzalez is the AG, you live in dreamworld.


  8. Frank says:

    I agree that this story has the legs of a centipede. When one considers the consequences of war with Iran, all efforts to make known to the world what this administratio did with this diplomatic proffer by Iran dwarfs the lies leading us to invade Iraq.
    Contacting Rockefeller, requesting robust investigative hearings, is the pressuure point to activate. I will email this little commentary to his office, suggesting he and his staff read this very important blog paper.
    There are some ripplings about this in the MSM, but like the runup to the war in Iraq, it is a herniated ripple.


  9. DonS says:

    Do we think that the public mood just now is ready to accept that the admin regularly gets offers from Iran to negotiate but, you know, where waitng for just the right offer, born of just the right pressure? And if we don’t, well, all options are on the table and we’ll just nuke ’em. Trust the decider.
    That sort of stupid rhetoric played ok for a long time. Less so now. Dangerous game. The most dangerous part for me is that legacy boy is still at the helm with shooter. I favor impeachment. I fear it would trigger overt war with Iran.
    And we still have politicians dancing around the fringes trying not to offend.


  10. Marcia says:

    Knowing the administration’s long-standing plan for regime change and a re-doing of the ME why would it be a surprise that they reject diplomatic overtures? Neither the US or Israel want negociations.
    That they buried this information is no different than buring the information that there were no WMDs in Iraq, while fabricating false information and lying to invade Iraq. They drew up their road-map long ago and are blindly plunging ahead.
    What is surprising is that this information remainded buried for three years!
    They want the ME oil and decided to take it by force from the beginning.
    Cheney is a very dangerous man, there is already proof by action of that and Congress is going shopping.


  11. John Furie Zacharias says:

    I think one needs to understand that in the Spring of 2004, the neocon cabal had every right to celebrate their plan for the broader middle east. Iraq had not yet devolved into anarchy and the CPA was to hand over sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government. In addition, if you read statements from people like Paul Wolfowitz to even Laura Bush, they cite how well things are going.
    One of the things you read over and over again in statements by the administration in 2004 is how Libya gave up its WMD program. So, here’s an old enemy that simply capitulated.
    When the neocons received this Iranian memo, I’m positive that they perceived it as their middle east strategy working out just as they had planned. Their non-reaction to it only signifies that in their celebratory hubris, they calculated that Iran simply did not beg well enough for Washington’s attention.
    As with most of the things that have occurred since this administration came into power, they screwed up the situation through simple incompetence and neocon ideology. I think an effective strategy would be to press Senator Rockefeller to hold an intelligence committee hearing in order to investigate this Iran memo story.
    The reason I say this is simple. Condoleezza Rice can lie to the media all day long for years and it’s not a big deal. If she lies under oath in congressional tesimony, then it’s a crime.


  12. JonU says:

    I doubt the drive to get this story out is an attempt by most to lead to impeachment, POA.
    If this story gains traction with the MSM, it legitimizes diplomacy with Iran and de-legitimizes an invasion.
    And that’s much more important than pushing for a very long odds impeachment. Let history condemn Bush and the neo-cons and their delusional strategies. If relations with Iran are normalized, and a peaceful settlement to all issues (including nukes and Israel) is made through diplomacy, that will do as much to smash the neo-con movement as an impeachment would.
    Push this story everywhere, to build momentum for a diplomatic solution with Iran.


  13. Pissed Off American says:

    The Downing Street Memo was every bit as explosive as this information, perhaps even more so. But did you see any of the current “up and comers”, such as Obama, Edwards, or Clinton make an issue of it? Besides, considering Hillary’s and Edwards’ rhetoric on Iran, does anyone seriously expect them to make an issue out of this?
    And even if someone DOES grow some gonads in Washington, and seek to make this an issue, to what good will such an effort come? This Administration has avoided accountability for everything from torture to fabricating intelligence, to paying for policy propaganda packaged as actual news stories. Why should these liars and criminals in the Bush Administration fear yet another expose of their corruption and malfeasance? Its not as though we lack any evidence or history of incompetent and/or criminal action going unpunished and ignored by both our so-called “representatives” and a compliant media.
    Just add these latest revelations to a long list of grounds for impeachment, that will be ignored and soon forgotten.
    Gee, Condi lied. Thats news?
    Gee, monkey boy squandered an opportunity for true diplomacy. Thats news?
    Ho hum.


  14. naj says:

    weeelll, Ahmadinejad wrote and open letter to Bush, and iranian officials have been extending a public hand towards the Bush administration; but I ges we are more sensitized to “secret” dealings, so much so that we don’t even see the public ones!


  15. Kathleen says:

    The right wing radicals plot thickens…We need to put them in jail before they kill an injure more innocent people.


  16. reticulant says:

    FrontPage [ ] pushes back with predictable vitriol. But the article does raise questions that should be addressed if this story deserves its legs.
    1. Was Sayed/Sadegh/Sadeq Kharrazi — nephew of then-FM Kamal Kharrazi and brother-in-law to Khamenei’s son who reportedly drafted the proposal — really arrested for “unauthorised contacts” based on his interaction with Guldimann et al. and if so, by whom? Also, who besides Sadegh Kharazzi, Guldimann and Parsi can confirm the proposal was “authorised” by Khamenei and/or Khatami? Was S/Kharrazi arrested by Iran hardliners attempting to exact revenge for the overture & subsequent brushoff? Or, was Kharrazi’s presumably brief detention a face-saving gesture by Khamenei in response to the brushoff itself?
    2. According to Front Page, Wilkerson reportedly admitted “the Swiss proposal had been reviewed and rejected by the State Department’s top Iran experts, who had seen dozens of such proposals in the past.” Was the proposal rejected in-house? On what basis? Which experts? Any from INR?


  17. DonS says:

    “The question I’d like an answer to is: why did Congressman Ney pass this document to Rove, a political operative, and not to Rice or Powell or some other proper official, directly?” These are the sorts of questions that an investigation could look at. Maybe Rove was just an alternative recpient? But, even so, why? The timing implied by the known documents seem to indicate that Rove got the info pronto, “the same week that DOS received it by fax”.
    One way or another, that Rice could state she never saw the document implies that her access was cut short at some point — the names of Rove and Abrams are already involved — or that the official line would involve deniability that Rice ever saw the document.
    Now would that mean that Abrams, acting as NSC gatekeeper, would take the fall for Rice should any of this ever leak out? Its hard to believe that Powell “could not sell it to the WH”, as Leverett has stated, without Rice knowing. I take that back: its impossible to believe.
    Maybe since everyone in the WH was busy forgetting that they were leaking Plame’s identity, Rice was busy practicing forgetting this. Maybe forgetting is the one thing they’re really good at. Or saying so.


  18. PUBLIUS says:

    Why should the Fox News and CNN television divisions be investigating a matter of this level of public interest? There are far more lucrative matters to investigate – such as Anna Nicole Smith’s embalment.
    In the aftermath of the Establishment Media’s complicity in the marketing of the WMD fraud in the Iraq Phase of the Middle East region-building experiment, it is remarkable that we see a blogger displaying greater skill as an investigative journalist than 90% of the producers, editors and some journalists on those two TV “news” channels, if we are to judge from the focus of their work product. This is the natural result of the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine and effective protection of the channels of public debate by the FCC. This is what a crisis in journalism looks like:


  19. urbino says:

    You say it seems unlikely Rove would simply sit on this document, not passing it on to Rice or others.
    What’s unlikely about it?
    It’s hard for me to imagine Karl Rove would be eager for President Bush to establish diplomatic talks — much less {gasp} a negotiated settlement — with Iran. This is not the kind of document he would WANT to pass along to others in the administration, because he would not want it pursued. The document’s irregular provenance offered ready cover if his failure to do so became an issue later on: it didn’t look legit, so I didn’t take it seriously.
    We know this document made into two sets of hands at the White House: Karl Rove, and Elliot Abrams. Are there 2 people LESS likely to want to pursue it? (Okay, any 2 people in the vice president’s office, but still.)
    The question I’d like an answer to is: why did Congressman Ney pass this document to Rove, a political operative, and not to Rice or Powell or some other proper official, directly?


  20. JohnH says:

    Meanwhile the New York Times, confronted with the absence of evidence on Iranian involvement in Iraq, responds with an article on its front page exploring the evidence of absence.
    Very Rumsfeldian…


  21. Steve Clemons says:

    Anonymous — fully understand, and I somewhat agree that more of the big news centers should be digging into this more vigorously. Some are though — best,


  22. Anonymous says:

    No offense to you or Porter (the opposite actually), but this really, really should not be breaking on semi-obscure websites. This should be fronting the Times and the Post.


  23. DonS says:

    The Kessler article states that “This document did not come through official channels but rather was a creative exercise on the part of the Swiss ambassador,” State Department spokesman Tom Casey said yesterday. “The last 30 years are filled with examples of individuals claiming to represent Iranian views.”
    . . . and the article brings the timeline up to the present, with the DOS spokesperson saying “We have offered to Iran a chance to sit across the table from us and discuss their nuclear issue and anything else they would like, should they simply, verifiably suspend their uranium-enrichment activities.” This sleight of hand fools noone and is a thinly disguised attempt to obscure the time frame involved, if not change the subject outright.
    From the thus far public aspects of this transaction we might be able to conclude that the DOS will just play this off as another freelance proposal of little substance. Perhaps we should prepare for the swiftboating of Parsi and Guldimann.
    But the inclusion of Rove from the beginning is, as Steve notes, “huge”. And Abrams? It’s not much of an intuitive, even logical leap to recall that the neocons running the adminisration foreign policy apparatus are not interested in any rapproachment with Iran. It’s clear, to the contrary, they have been stoking the fires for greater confrontation with Iran.
    It seems as if more information needs to come to light to discredit the attempted smokescreen by DOS and to validate the serious and unique difference in the Iranian proposals. This would seem to be of interest to the Sente Foreign Relations Committee among others.


  24. selise says:

    thanks steve! i was hoping you would comment on this article… seems you were so right – this story looks to be far more complicated than it first appeared.
    i wonder if cheney’s office operated as a black hole for foreign policy / national security type info (sucking in everything that crossed it’s event horizon).


  25. Steve Clemons says:

    Mike — this is a piece of what I was going to write up. That is why I am getting this out in smaller pieces now. I was saving the Trita Parsi/Ney piece — but Gareth Porter did a good job of getting it out. There is more though — but collectively, the pieces assembled were very dramatic.
    I have some other items I still need to concern — and frankly a couple of pieces that seriously confuse me which I need to disentangle.


  26. Mike says:

    Steve, is this the smoking gun you were talking about about a week ago?
    It’s hot stuff. Nothing surprising, but it still soils the reputation of the Bush administration. I think that the Condi coverup is, as you’re saying, a sign that there was much higher recognition of the Iran proposal. Now we’re hearing Karl Rove had his hands on it, and why does it have to stop there?
    I smell a massive cover-up. At root, it’s embarassing for the administration because it shows that they are so childish and uneffective that they won’t even consider diplomatic initiatives, won’t even publicly say “no” but will rather labor SO hard to deceive us, the American people, that they are working to do something. It really bothers me that we have a government that is nothing more than a puppet show, vigorously sustaining appearances as the underlying reality is ignored and crumbles to pieces.


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