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AIPAC Gives Koch A Pass For Flouting Iran Sanctions

Alex Seitz-Wald
Think Progress / News Report
Published: Sunday 16 October 2011
In a memo AIPAC sent to members of Congress with suggested questions for Obama administration officials, the Israel lobby suggests it is uninterested in holding Koch accountable.
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Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that Koch Industries had been flouting U.S. sanctions with Iran when the company sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to the Islamic Republic over several years. But the powerful pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC — which has for years been one of the most vocal proponents of tougher sanctions on Iran — has given the conservative mega-corporation a pass for dealing with the country.

As Politico’s Ben Smith reports, in a memo AIPAC sent to members of Congress with suggested questions for Obama administration officials, the Israel lobby suggests it is uninterested in holding Koch accountable (the memo presents questions lawmakers could use, so “I” represents the congressman):

Last week, the Bloomberg Markets Magazine ran a story titled, “Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales.” The article alleges that a foreign subsidiary of the U.S.company, Koch Industries Inc., sold petrochemical equipment to Iran. My concern today is not with the Koch Brothers. That company did the right thing in 2007 and voluntarily ended all of its subsidiary’s business in Iran. However, I am concerned that other American companies continue to use foreign subsidiaries to profit from sales to Iran, and it is completely legal. [...]

Do you know which American companies have foreign subsidiaries conducting business with Iran that would be illegal for their parent companies to do? Do you do anything to discourage this practice?

Every single chance they had to do business with Iran, or anyone else, they did,” said George Bentu, a former employee of Koch-Glitsch, a German Koch subsidiary which did much of the company’s business with Iran. The company “took elaborate steps” to sidestep the sanctions, Bloomberg reported.

But apparently to AIPAC, Koch is off the hook because they stopped trading with terror-sponsor Iran in 2007. This seems a little disingenuous, since U.S. companies have been banned from trading with Iran since 1995. One would think AIPAC would condemn any company that did business with Iran, especially after elements of the country’s government have been tied to a potential assassination plot against Israeli and Saudi officials, instead of going out of their way to defend them.



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ABOUT Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Alex grew up in California and holds a B.A. in international relations from Brown University. Prior to joining ThinkProgress, Alex interned at the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS and at the National Journal’s Hotline, where he covered key senate and gubernatorial races. Alex also co-founded and edited the Olive & Arrow, a blog on foreign affairs for and by young progressives. At Brown, he contributed to several publications and served on student government.

William, do have any more

William, do have any more thoughtful and nuanced comments. You've used that on already.

It's frustrating to see so

It's frustrating to see so much venom spewed at the only democracy in the Middle East- and the country that is most aligned with the United States in the UN. Take a look at the amount of influence the Oil states have in America... at the human rights conditions in those nations... Yes, Israel has reacted violently many times- but no other country has be subjected to threats to its citizens. Recall as well that the PLO, Hezbollah and Hamas all have regularly targeted civilians and treated as heroes those who have been successful in killing Israeli citizens. If you look behind the propaganda of of those who hate Israel you'll find the Israeli army goes to greater lengths to avoid civilian deaths of its opponents than any military force in the world, despite the fact that its enemies constantly rely on human shields. Theodora- take a moment to search out accurate English translations of statements by Palestinian leaders... the children's television programs shown in Arab nations... casualty numbers of conflict between Palestinian political groups- and Israeli laws that make extremest groups illegal. Yes, there are individuals who act out of hatred and do terrible things. I don't deny that. We have plenty of those people in America as well. The vast majority of Israelis want nothing so much as peace- but they're not willing to suffer annihilation for it. They are aware of what their opponents say to their own people, and take it seriously.

A talking head for israel?

A talking head for israel? Most all of your negative points can be aimed at israel. Since its inception it has invaded its neighbors,killing thousands; killed a mediator working on their behalf; killed individuals, point blank in the back of their heads, in international waters, ans these are only crumbs of their atrocities. As for israel's anti-semetic (Arab) sentiments, all one needs to do is to list quotes from their leaders, also Israeli profssers have stated that the fear and hate is taught in the schools in israel. There are many who are tired of this kind of unending rhetoric that you are spewing. The leaders of israel do not want any form of peace, they just want to take more land from the people and countries in this area of our world. The people of the world know what is the truth, and israel never is the truth teller.

From the earlier posts, I

From the earlier posts, I can't even figure out whose side and what position many posters are taking. Which country is the villain in this series: the US, Iran, Israel?

The U.S. is being held

The U.S. is being held hostage by a small mide-east country. No, it's not Saudi-Arabia.

We are held hostage by a

We are held hostage by a small mid-east country. No, it's not saudi arabia

Who the hell do they think

Who the hell do they think they are to be sending OUR Congress anything ?

Israeli's needs to be kicked out of the USA !

Hey, if the Offer brothers

Hey, if the Offer brothers got away with it, then the Koch brothers might too.

These are the same prejudiced

These are the same prejudiced ideologues who sabotaged an Oakland exhibition of art by Palestinian children....What about the Holocaust don't they remember?

Did we seriously expect the

Did we seriously expect the current administration to pursue the thugs? Over and over and over again, the dems are as corrupt as the repugs.

In fact, I also remember that

In fact, I also remember that there were rumors about the GOP helping to bust the Carter embargo during the hostage crisis.... But that is all pre-Internet info, so I guess it doesn't count...

I remember the name Marc Rich

I remember the name Marc Rich in this context.... e also traded with Iran....

Sadly, money trumps ideology.

Sadly, money trumps ideology.

Organized crime gets a pass

Organized crime gets a pass for even the most egregious crimes as long as they pay the bribes!

What else would you expect

What else would you expect from the TAIL that wags the DOG??????? The TAIL dictates how the dog barks!

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