Fact-Checking Pompeo on Iran – The New York Times

WHAT WAS SAID:

“Former I.R.G.C. officer and Minister of Interior Sadeq Mahsouli is nicknamed ‘the Billionaire General.’ He went from being a poor I.R.G.C. officer at the end of the Iran-Iraq war to being worth billions of dollars. How’d that happen? He somehow had a knack for winning lucrative construction and oil trading contracts from businesses associated with the I.R.G.C. Being an old college buddy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just might have had something to do with it as well.”

THE FACTS

True, rights advocates say.

Mr. Pompeo’s description of Mr. Mahsouli and his relationship with Mr. Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have been corroborated by rights advocates, including the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, a rights group based in New Haven, Conn.

WHAT WAS SAID:

“And not many people know this, but the Ayatollah Khamenei has his own personal, off-the-books hedge fund called the Setad, worth $95 billion, with a B. That wealth is untaxed, it is ill-gotten, and it is used as a slush fund for the I.R.G.C. The ayatollah fills his coffers by devouring whatever he wants. In 2013 the Setad’s agents banished an 82-year-old Baha’i woman from her apartment and confiscated the property after a long campaign of harassment. Seizing land from religious minorities and political rivals is just another day at the office for this juggernaut that has interests in everything from real estate to telecoms to ostrich farming. All of it is done with the blessing of Ayatollah Khamenei.”

THE FACTS

True, according to a Reuters investigation.

A 2013 investigative series by Reuters provided details about Setad and its evolution into one of the most powerful organizations in Iran. Mr. Pompeo appeared to be partly quoting from the Reuters account, which called Setad “a business juggernaut that now holds stakes in nearly every sector of Iranian industry, including finance, oil, telecommunications, the production of birth-control pills and even ostrich farming.”

WHAT WAS SAID:

“Just earlier this month, an Iranian ‘diplomat’ based in Vienna was arrested and charged with supplying explosives for a terrorist bomb scheduled to bomb a political rally in France. This tells you everything you need to know about the regime: At the same time they’re trying to convince Europe to stay in the nuclear deal, they’re covertly plotting terrorist attacks in the heart of Europe.”

THE FACTS

Fact, conjecture and omission.

A number of people of Iranian origin were arrested and charged in Europe in early July in connection with what investigators called a foiled plot to bomb a rally in France. The suspects included an Iranian diplomat in Vienna who was described as a contact person. Mr. Pompeo did not mention that the rally had been for an exiled Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, which is unpopular in Iran. It advocates the overthrow of Iran’s government and for years was on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations but was removed in 2012 after intense lobbying efforts.

On Political Protests in Iran

WHAT WAS SAID:

“In response to myriad government failures, corruption, and disrespect of rights, since December Iranians have been taking to the streets in the most enduring and forceful protests since 1979. Some shout the slogan, “The people are paupers while the mullahs live like gods.” Others choose to shut down the Grand Bazaar in Tehran. The specific grievances do differ, but all those voicing dissatisfaction share one thing: They have been ill-treated by a revolutionary regime. Iranians want to be governed with dignity, accountability, and respect.”

THE FACTS

Mostly true but one inaccuracy.

The protests pale in comparison to the enormous demonstrations and rallies that followed Mr. Ahmadinejad’s suspiciously lopsided victory in the 2009 election. Millions of Iranians demanded a recount for their candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who was considered far more moderate than Mr. Ahmadinejad.