Judge Eugene Sullivan, former Chief Judge , U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forcest
NCRI, 11 April 2012 - A group of prominent former officials say they refuse to abandon their support for the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and their efforts to have the group removed from the State Department’s terrorist list, despite indirect warnings from the Treasury Department that their support for the group could constitute a crime.
Judge Eugene Sullivan: Washington D.C., April 6, 2012 - General Conway seemed to think that I’m to finish up the five hours. I promise, I assure you I will follow Churchill’s advice. When Churchill was asked to give a speech, he said how long do you want me to speak? And before the man answered, he said if you want me to speak for 10 minutes, I’ll need two weeks’ preparation time. He says if you want me to speak for half an hour, I can do it in one week. He says, if you want me to speak for two hours, I’m ready right now.
Let me just tell you I’ve been preparing for two weeks so you’ll get 10 minutes. When I was asked to speak today, naturally I looked at some of the basic documents and I thought that I would not speak on diplomatic sources, political maneuvers, the humanitarian aspects that our distinguished panel has given out to you today, all good stuff, or the legal part; but I would talk to you as a retired federal judge on the basis of all law really, which is ethics.
So I’m going to give you my personal opinion about this from an ethical situation.Audio visual people put up the identification card for Camp Ashraf on the screen; the identification card with the picture. Also, this man was given an identification card, oddly enough right at the top it says protected person. He’s dead. He was killed in one of the first attacks on Camp Ashraf but he was -- it says contact the 89th military police brigade if there’s any problem with this.
Well, he can’t because the 89th military police brigade was gone and he was dead and he was killed, bloody murder. I’ve been in combat. All my men, we have never executed unarmed people, we have never opened fire on unarmed people.
Now put up, to get this protected person ID card, put up the agreement. He had to sign an agreement to get the card that did not protect him. Down at the bottom, basically you can’t read it, but basically to get that card he had to say, I’m not going to engage in any combat or any terrorism, I’ve given up my arms and I will abide by the laws of Iraq, but I will be protected by the multinational force until I’m transferred to another country or one of the other options. The most important thing about it is down at the bottom it’s signed by a United States officer, a military officer. In this case a Harold Downing, Commander, U.S. Navy signed that, this sample agreement which I show you today.
And I thought back as I was preparing, I said, gee, this reminds me of something in history. It reminds me of an incident that occurred in America’s history in the civil war where to end the war they agreed not to enter into combat and they agreed to give up their arms and they said they would be protected. And that was when General Grant received the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at a small house near apamatic courthouse, where Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia, the confederate Army, the rebels. And sitting across the table were these two west pointers and Grant said, well, I’ll write out the surrender document, he wrote it out, 200 words in there. The last sentence let me read to you the last sentence which rings very familiar with what we have here today. It said when you give up your arms, when you cease to fight, you shall not be disturbed by the United States authority so long as these people observe their paroles, that are not fighting, and the laws enforced where they reside.
So you obey the laws, you’re going to be protected. And when Grant gave that to General Lee, General Lee read it and smiled, I think, and he said something, quoted, this will have a very happy affect on my Army. Because really what he was doing, Grant was giving amnesty. He was protecting these confederate rebels from any trials for treason and that’s an important right and it was really an important thing for Grant to do to heal our nation. But he gave it as a general officer, but he gave it really on behalf of our nation. Lincoln knew he was going to do it and President Lincoln approved that.
Fast forward, shortly after that document was signed, President Lincoln as you know was assassinated. Vice President Johnson became president. Johnson several weeks later, about 10 days, I think, an indictment came out of Richmond, Virginia; a Federal Court had indicted General Lee, General Longstreet, and eight other confederate generals for treason. When Grant heard of this indictment, he went to see the president. And he said, now, we don’t have the record or the transcript, but he said something, like, Mr. President, you know when I signed and General Lee signed the surrender document, that’s the agreement that’s similar to this, they gave up their arms and -- (Flag falling.)
I hope we can save America and not let our word go down like that flag almost did.(Applause.)
Getting back to Grant confronting his boss, the president, President Johnson. He said, sir, in the surrender document, I said I would protect them from that. He said, well, General, you’re just a General, I’m the President of the United States and you work for me and you’ll do what I say and these men will hang, they will be indicted, they are indicted and they will hang. They’ll be tried and they will be killed. He says, sir, I cannot let that happen, this is Grant, he said I gave the word of our country that they will be protected from such action like this. And Johnson says, I don’t care what you did, I’m the president, I’m the boss and these people will be tried. And then, this is where the courage and the ethics come in. General Grant says, sir, you are the commander in chief and I am the commander of the Army and I will resign my commission if you do not dismiss these indictments against these confederates.
Then, all of a sudden, it occurred to Johnson, he wasn’t a very smart man, but he was smart enough to realize that he was -- that a resignation by the most loved man in America, General Grant, he was loved in the north, he was the most respected man, outside of Lee, in the south, and he realized the resignation would destroy his administration. So as a political person it crossed his mind this is not a good thing to do. And so he said, well, all right, I’ll have the indictments dismissed.
It was the ethical thing to do. The word of our nation was just like that flag that almost fell; the word of our nation was at risk. Grant gave his word to protect these soldiers and it was the word of our nation at Camp Ashraf, our officers and our country gave its word that the residents of Camp Ashraf will be protected. Like Grant showed President Johnson, our nation should do the right thing here, the ethical thing. Our nation simply should keep its word. Don’t let these U.S. issued identification cards by which our government sort of gives de facto protection, but not really protection, become as my law partner, Judge Louie Free once said, a license to kill. These people are defenseless. Don’t let them be killed. Protect them.
My final word is, Madam Secretary Clinton, de-list the MEK right now and let America keep its word.