Colonel Cantwell: US must keep promise to protect Camp Liberty Iranians
The United States has a 'moral responsibility' to keep its promise to protect the endangered residents of Camp Liberty in Iraq, Colonel Tom Cantwell has told the US Senate.
He told the Senate: "As a direct result of their cooperation with the United States government, the 3,000 people who are now interned at the ironically named Camp Liberty are there because they cooperated with us, we promised to protect them.
"Number one, this is a moral responsibility, and number two, it is something clearly within the capability of the United States to do if we have the will to do so."
Text of speech by Colonel Tom Cantwell:
General Jones referred to our operation 2003-2004 and in 2003 I was the senior American military commander on the ground at Camp Ashraf -Iraq and my comments are my own today.
It’s true so we negotiated with Mojahedin on the ground, the Mojahedin vulonteerly agreed to all the concessions that we demanded of them. They never fired a shot that we are aware of throughout our operations during that time period and I spoke to American Special Forces that were present and we were the first to make contact with PMOI.
During that time we did engage a number of lethal strikes against the PMOI and certainly they had reason to fight back but yet did not.
They suffered a number of casualties, a number of PMOI members were killed during that attack and yet they were restrained. They abandoned a number of other facilities across the country and consolidated at Camp Ashraf peacefully and then in cooperation with US forces we arranged to protect them.
One of my successors was involved in negotiations of the “promised to protect” and I also wanted to say that I completely agree that I like General Jones took an oath a long time ago to support and defend this nation the constitution of the United States and I completely agree with all the gentlemen who said the same thing, that it is a moral imperative on behalf of our nation. It speaks to who we are, how we treat the weak and the helpless and as the direct results of their cooperationwith the United States government the three thousand persons who are now interned at the ironically namedCamp Liberty, are there because they cooperated with us, we promised to protect them.
So I believe it’s a moral imperative. I also want to point out just for histories’ sake that during the operations in the Balkans, we at one point during Clinton’s Administration came to believe that there is a need to evacuate a number of the persons from the Balkans and over the course of two months we evacuated some 40,000 out of the Balkansto the United States some of you may recall, they were brought to New Jersey to fort Dicks and eventually they were repatriated back to the Balkans after the conflicts subsided.
So this is number one I believe a moral responsibility and number two something clearly within the capability of the United States to do if we have the will to do so.