June 25th, 2009
12:03 PM ET
13 years ago

Senators to introduce Iran legislation

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/25/art.mccain.gi.jpg caption=" John McCain and Joe Lieberman are among the senators introducing legislation on Iran."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Three U.S. senators said Thursday they will introduce legislation funding a package of assistance to help get around the Tehran regime's information block.

"The Iranian government recognizes that Internet is a threat to its stranglehold over society and is trying to impose its repressive controls over it," Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said. "The legislation would authorize funds to ensure that Iranians have the hardware, software and other tools to evade the censorship and surveillance of the regime online."

McCain joined fellow Sens. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, at a news conference to announce the legislation, which they said is an effort to support the Iranian people.

CNN Radio: Correspondent Reza Sayah, just back from Iran, has the latest from Tehran

Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to protest the results of the June 12 election results which gave incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term in office. Protesters, including many supporters of opposition candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, have accused the Tehran regime of vote tampering and are calling for a new vote.

As a result, Iranian forces have brutally cracked down on the protests, restricted international journalists from covering the events, and blocked access to certain Web sites used to share information with the outside world, although many Iranians have been able to get around the blockade.

McCain compared the use of information-sharing Web sites to older technology provided by the United States in the past.

"During the Cold War we provided the Polish people and dissidents with printing presses," McCain said. "Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are the modern-day printing presses. They are the way to spread information and keep the hope of freedom alive amongst the Iranian people."

The bill, which has not been drafted yet, will authorize funding to allow Persian-language broadcaster Radio Farda - funded by Radio Free Europe and Voice of America (VOA) - to "expand its reach across the country," McCain said. It would also provide VOA's other broadcasts more time to broadcast.

Last week, Congress overwhelmingly approved non-binding resolutions to support "all Iranians who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law."

McCain and Lieberman sponsored the resolution that was passed by the Senate.

U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is still walking a diplomatic tightrope in finding the right response to the crisis. The White House said Wednesday that it was rescinding invitations to Iranian diplomats overseas for U.S. Independence Day celebrations.

The president's position has evolved since his first comments after the Iranian election, in which he said he was "troubled" by the post-election violence and had "deep concerns about the elections." He went to great pains to say he didn't want the United States to be seen as "meddling."

He ruffled more than a few feathers in Iran and around the world last week when he said that when it came to U.S. national interests, there was little difference between Ahmadinejad and Moussavi.

By appearing at first to be neutral, Obama faced criticism from Republicans, like McCain - his challenger in the 2008 presidential campaign - and Graham who last weekend accused the president of being "timid and passive" in speaking out against the growing wave of arrests, violence and deaths of pro-democracy activists.

On Wednesday Obama said "it was that bloodshed" that led him to speak in more forceful terms, saying he was "appalled and outraged" by the violence.

Obama has said Iranians must be free to demonstrate peacefully, and his administration Wednesday withdrew invitations to Iranian diplomats around the world to attend U.S. Embassy 4th of July parties. The extension of invitations last month was seen as a cautious outreach to Iran, which has not had diplomatic relations with Washington for 30 years.

–CNN's Elise Labott contributed to this report

Filed under: Iran
soundoff (291 Responses)
  1. Erik S.

    Can you believe that Mahmoud compared Obama to Bush? I mean, that right there shows you where Iran is coming from.

    June 25, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    This doesn't sound like bad legislation but the Iranian government will definitely call this meddling.

    June 25, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. Doug, New Jersey

    You cannot expect Obama to crack down on ahmadenijad when Obama wants to treat his opposition in this country the same way.

    A majority of his supporters, liberal Democrats, care about the lives of terrorists far more than the lives of their fellow Americans who are honest and fair. A majority of Democrats in this country would fully support executing their fellow republican Americans and their families. Only hate, lies and selfishness consume the hearts of Democrats these days. It is not just their hateful liberal words on the net at sites like this, go to an ultra blue area and witness their total disregard for human life.

    June 25, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. John

    Sure, lets play into the Iranian Government's hands and give them someone to blame besides themselves for the violence. As Pres. Obama is the one with the degree in international relations, I would listen to him. Republicans and Democrats who want to interfere... you should think things through before making things worse.

    June 25, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Party Crasher

    These old idiots wont stop at anything to try and stay relavent. Even though experts are telling them that assistance like this will hurt the protesters, they just can't help themselves.

    June 25, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    See what bothers me is next thing the warmonger rethugs will be wanting us to invade Iran.

    June 25, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. xargaw

    Three War mongers butting in where they have NO business.

    June 25, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. history repeats

    what are they talking about?? spend money on some healthcare or education!! why are we spending money on iranian elections??! let them handle it until they go too far!!

    June 25, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. Randolph Carter

    Doug, New Jersey, you forgot to mention what bad drivers liberals are. Have a nice day!

    June 25, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. pat c

    why can't john mccain understand he lost the election. he is not OUR president. he is trying to play big wheel to a country that he once said bomb,bomb,bomb iran. does he not realize bombing iran would hurt and kill people quicker than the protesting? so now he wants to be a savior to the country he wanted to start a war in....hummmm.

    June 25, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  11. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    Doug, New Jersey – funny, you sound like every rethuglican hateful, lying blogger on here. You must be looking in the mirror. And no, us PROUD LIberals don't like terrorists anymore than you do but we don't like war either like you warmongering republicans.

    June 25, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  12. Kendall

    Iran is setting the table for a confrontation with the U.S. I think the Supreme leader picked Mahmoud Amadenajad because he seemed to be more hardline conservative than the opposition,

    June 25, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. AndrewDoD

    McCain doesnt even know how to check E-mail and he's writing legislation about circumventing internet security!?

    June 25, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. Larry

    This bill, which has not been drafted yet, will authorize funding for Radio Farda to expand its reach across the country, and will provide VOA's other broadcasts more time to broadcast.

    Let's see what happens to this.

    You're a moron, McCain.

    June 25, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. Bev - NYC

    Let me get this straight, the same GOP senators griping about a budget deficits that assist Americans, don't mind adding to the deficit for Iran? Because that approach has worked so well in Afghanistan. Americans are already helping for free, by haking the Iranian government's system and erasing their detainee lists. Mccain and Lieberman once again following behind the curve.

    June 25, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. Michael in Seattle

    That is not our country and not our business! Deal with the problems we have here please Senators.

    June 25, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. cjr

    these old guys need to stop their messing around with international politics. They would take us to war in a new york minute. Hopefully the people who elect these guys wake up and realize that they are not serving their constitutents or the country – totally self serving.

    June 25, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  18. rand

    I feel for the repression of these people and the blatant election fraud that put this a*%hole in office. I also am very concerned about us getting involved. Seems we have a few strings to tie up before getting involved with another mess. Afghanistan, Iraq, N. Korea, on and on.

    June 25, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. ANNY

    These three need to stop trying to meddle in this, and Liberman needs to be canned , you can't trust him.......if it were up to these three and the republicans we would have already invaded and started another war......

    June 25, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  20. katiec

    You know, if we had wanted Mccain making important decisions for us we would have voted him into office.
    If he had control we probably would have already "bombed, bombed Iran".
    These idiots do not know the meaning of diplomacy, negotiating and striving for peace.
    Thank God and the American people we had the sense to not support war mongers.

    June 25, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  21. Lee

    It is nice too see that good ole John wants to spend the U.S.'s money on a foreign country while Obama is spending money IN the U.S. to try and get us out of the recession that BOTH parties got us into. Who is the real patriot?

    June 25, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. Pat, CA

    pat c June 25th, 2009 12:16 pm ET
    why can't john mccain understand he lost the election.
    John McCain is still a duly elected member of the U.S. Senate. He has every right to express his opinions. So do Frank, Pelosi, Reid, etc. - who are not exactly MY favorite people. Sorry if you don't like it, pat c.

    June 25, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  23. Alex in Wisconsin

    What are these fools doing? What happened to WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY? can't fix health care, can't fix education, can't fix energy policy, we can't even afford improved cyber security here in the USA but we can spend money on Iran? Where is the fiscal conservatism that the Republican Party was supposed to have rediscovered?

    June 25, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  24. tjaman

    If we interfere in this manner, does that not contribute to the instability in the region and endanger our armed forces overseas?

    June 25, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
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