Ben Smith, following on Eli Lake’s blockbuster story, has a must-read post on the emerging scandal concerning the mullahs’ favorite front group, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). The issues go far beyond whether NIAC has been illegally operating without registering as a foreign agent, and have ensnared NIAC’s close ally, none other than J Street.

First, NIAC is a Soros-backed group. Soros is of course the money behind and got J Street up and running. He is also paying “the $90,000 annual salary of the NIAC staffer, Patrick Disney.” The Left’s moneyman is plainly in the mullah’s corner.

Second, Smith details NIAC’s ongoing meetings and elaborate plans to scuttle the appointment of Middle East adviser Dennis Ross. And NIAC has plenty of company:

The minutes of a series of meetings including NIAC and other coalition members offer a glimpse of the strategy and tactics involved in the push for a rapprochement with the Islamic Republic, from an attempt to undermine the appointment of Dennis Ross as Iran envoy to a planned “Send Hillary to Iran” campaign.

The minutes include almost no mention of a human rights agenda inside Iran, which has more recently been on NIAC’s agenda. Participants in the discussions include NIAC as well as the liberal Jewish group J Street, anti-war groups like Peace Action and the American Friends Service Committee, and the business lobby that opposes Iran sanctions, USA*Engage.

This is curious indeed given J Street’s ostensible support for the Obama administration. Publicly running interference and quietly conspiring with the mullahs’ legmen in the U.S. to get Ross dumped. Moreover, NIAC’s own website, under a “myths and facts” post, takes up sides with none other than — you guessed it — Dennis Ross, who is supposedly under attack:

NIAC is not the only organization that is under attack. In fact, almost every distinguished American policymaker, intellectual and administration official that supports Obama’s pro-engagement policy in the Middle East is being targeted. This includes:

  • Ambassador Dennis Ross — Currently serving in the U.S. National Security Council
  • Vali Nasr — Senior Adviser to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Tufts University Fletcher School Professor and Middle East Scholar
  • Ambassador Thomas Pickering — Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs under President Clinton, and former Ambassador to Israel
  • Ambassador Susan Rice — Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Barbara Slavin — Editor for World and National Security at the Washington Times
  • Ambassador Richard Haas – President of Council on Foreign Relations Committee

Well yes, Ross was under attack — by NIAC. Slavin, who is Lake’s editor, is also curiously on the list. I suspect she’ll come off.

Also on the agenda for the J Street-NIAC gang, as Smith details: fending off any military action against Iran and cutting off aid to pro-democracy groups within Iran. The rationale they offer — they want to prevent a crackdown by the regime — is the sort of propaganda we’ve heard for decades from totalitarian regimes.

Third, we see once again the presence of Morton Halperin. He is both on J Street’s advisory board and a senior adviser to Soros’s Open Society Institute. He was recently fingered as the actual author of a letter by Richard Goldstone defending his infamous report and opposing a congressional resolution condemning the report. He too is part of the cabal to get Dennis Ross. And NIAC sought a White House meeting for Halperin and NIAC officials. Again, all one big happy family.

It seems as though the issue as to whether J Street is “pro-Israel” has been superseded by another. Now we must ask: is it pro-mullah?