- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 3, 2000

When a bureaucracy like the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) runs amok, there's no telling what crimes or, even worse, what idiocies its officials are sure to commit. The much publicized Elian Gonzalez tragedy may be one of the many. Here is another:

The INS has jailed on trumped up charges of terrorism a 35-year-old Iranian woman. The INS wants to deport Mahnaz Samadi even though she was granted political asylum on May 11, 1995, and has since led an exemplary life in the United States. A dozen members of Congress have written to that powerhouse of the Clinton Cabinet, Janet Reno, in protest of the incarceration of Miss Samadi. The U.N. High Commission for Refugees has remonstrated the jailing of Miss Samadi.

Prison DeKalb County jail in Decatur, Ga., and now Etowah County jail in Gadsden, Ala. is nothing new for Miss Samadi. As a human rights activist, she spent four years in Iran's infamous Evin prison where she was tortured along with her two brothers who were executed by the mullah regime. A younger sister has been in jail for 10 years if she has not been executed. Miss Samadi was freed in 1986 and then managed to get out of Iran. And now she is threatened with deportation by the INS on a charge of well, let me quote it because it's truly unbelievable:

"You are ineligible for admission to the United States because the NLA [an anti-mullah Iranian military group camped on the Iraq-Iran border] has recognized you as a commander of military exercises … and in that capacity you carried out orders of your superiors and prepared units under your command for coordinated attacks designed to liberate Iran."

Designed to liberate Iran? Would you believe that Peter F. Hoelter, supervisory special agent in the Buffalo District Investigations Division and Michael M. McLaughlin, acting district director, who signed the finding against Miss Samadi, get good salaries and all kinds of benefits and allowances, thanks to us taxpayers, for filling out such forms on behalf of our wonderful country? Attention, Franz Kafka.

Actually, why blame Messrs. Hoelter and McLaughlin, the INS bureaucrats? They're only following orders promulgated by President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. To appease the unappeasable Iran regime suddenly one day the president and Mrs. Albright decided that the Iranian National Liberation Army (NLA) was a terrorist organization, a designation they thought would win them points with Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's boss of all the ayatollahs. It didn't. But the Clinton-Albright combine never anticipated that the bureaucracy would be stupid enough to include in the bill of particulars against an Iranian human rights activist so unrefined a phrase like "for coordinated attacks designed to liberate Iran."

On that basis Lech Walesa would have been ineligible for admission to the United States in 1980 because he had incited Polish workers for attacks "designed to liberate" Poland. Vaclav Havel would also have been barred because he, too, wanted to liberate Czechoslovakia. Even more ironically, the victimized Miss Samadi was in Canada with a lawful U.S. travel permit testifying before the Canadian House of Commons on the state of human rights in Iran. The expiration date of her travel permit occurred during her Canadian stay and before the renewal was granted so when she tried to re-enter, the merciless Inspector Javerts of the INS pounced; after all, she had horrors an expired travel permit.

Now arresting a liberationist (also known in INS circles as a "terrorist") like Miss Samadi and even denying her bail and access to an attorney was sure to make Ayatollah Khamenei happy, no? The topper on all this is that Iran is on the State Department's list of terrorist states. At least, at this writing.

Mr. Clinton and his State Department have designated the the NLA as a foreign terrorist organization. A majority in the House of Representatives have rejected the State Department finding. So have 28 Senators. Parliamentary majorities in Britain, Italy, Belgium and 143 members of the French National Assembly have issued statements recognizing the legitimacy of the NLA resistance against Iran's pitiless dictatorship.

But that's another story. For the moment free Mahnaz Samadi.

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