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Lawmakers Seek Clarification from DOD Over Cagan’s Alleged Remarks



Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lawmakers Seek Clarification from DOD Over Cagan’s Alleged Remarks

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representatives Michael Honda (D-15th/CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-14th/NY) have contacted the Department of Defense to inquire about the comments allegedly made by Debra Cagan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coalition Affairs.

 According to the newspaper Daily Mail, a group of six members of the British Parliament met with Cagan in Washington in September to discuss coalition efforts regarding Iraq and Iran. In the middle of the discussion, Cagan allegedly said, "I hate all Iranians." One of the MPs stated: "She seemed more keen on saying she didn't like Iranians than that the U.S. had no plans to attack Iran.”

Roger Cohen, in a New York Times op-ed (“Coalition of the Reluctant”, October 15th) noted Cagan’s reputation for bluntness and quoted Alasdair McDonnell, a Social Democratic and Labor MP who was present at the meeting as stating that he won’t confirm or deny what Cagan said. “She might nuke me in the middle of the night. She’s not somebody I’d want to tangle with,” said McDonnell. Cagan herself has denied making such remarks. "I never said that. And I don't speak that way in any event.”

In their letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Representatives Honda and Maloney request that the Department of Defense clarify what was said at the meeting. They point out that additional explanation pertaining to the incident between Cagan and the British MPs is needed given the “ongoing diplomatic situation regarding Iran.” They also mention that such alleged comments “would be insulting to Iranian Americans, and to those living in Iran who would welcome Democratic reforms.”

IAPAC thanks Representatives Honda and Maloney for seeking clarification from the Department of Defense concerning this matter and for their efforts to uphold the civil liberties of all Americans, including Iranian Americans.

 Ms. Cagan’s alleged comments are not only damaging to U.S. foreign policy, they are extremely offensive to the Iranian American community. The United States is host to the largest expatriate community of Iranians in the world. Iranian Americans have contributed to the strength and diversity of America, and are among the most educated and affluent ethnic groups in the United States.

 At a time when civil liberties organizations are reporting an increase in discrimination against Americans of Middle Eastern descent, Cagan's alleged remarks have the potential to encourage xenophobia and hatred.