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. anthony

    please say it ain't so.

    June 25, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

    This is exactly what I need to convince my people that the USA is resposible for all our problems!! Thanks Mr. Mc Cain, you just handed me more control and more ways to scapegoat your country. Totalitarians such as myself allways need a scapegoat and now we have one, Thanks!!

    June 25, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. Frisky

    I'm sorry, did you drop the first stick you hit the hornet's nest with and now you have found another? BUTT. OUT. It is none of our business to FUND another country's revolution. Like the Shah, that went great.

    June 25, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    McCain wants to earmark our taxes for a foreign country ?????

    Can we say VOTE THE RASCALS OUT.

    June 25, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. Real Change

    The Iranian regime is doing everything it can to tie the protest to the U.S. They're claiming already that western media outlets are stoking the protest. So now you three stooges think it would be a good idea to confirm that for them?!?!?!?!?!?!

    June 25, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. JOHN

    This is crazzy !! Lets get back to the basics and help our own people. What does America stand for ??? MONEY, POWER , CORUPTION?? Stop filling your pockets, and give it to our schools and health care . Thats right we do have health care in this country, the va is that working for us or is it just puting more money in the pockets of our congress Freinds and families ?? Leave the world alone and let the chips fall were they may. HELP AMERICA WE REALLY NEED IT ?? LETS GET ALL THE BUM'S OUT OF OUR GOVT!!!!!!!

    June 25, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. Carolyn Folsom

    It is easy to spot who among the responders to this article truly love democracy, and who among us really does not love democracy including POTUS. Remember that it is because of democracy that we can all spout off at will. When Obomber gets his way, you will be quieted if you disagree with him - and you all will somewhere along the way.

    June 25, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. f sloan

    It is highly amazing that they would consider sending money to citizens of Iran for technology when we have so many families sufferering here in the U.S. I am currenly seeking emploment after working for 40 years and excuse me if I don't agree with this stupid decision. Also, where was the outcry for freedom during the history of slavery. I thought that McCain had lost with dignity but its apparent that he's trying to get over losing and is constantly undermining the foreign policies of this administration. I realy wish he would stop this type of tactic. It is getting embarrasing on his part. With all the injustice in this nation, who are we to tell other countries what to do.

    June 25, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  9. Slowgun

    Hey...that's John McCain!

    Question...Now that Bush has declared waterboarding legal...should John McCain be waterboarded?

    In a debate last Fall, McCain told all of us that he knows where bin Laden is. But he won't tell anyone. Bush recent said that everything they did regarding torure was legal. So if McCain says he knowns where bin Laden is but won't tell anyone...using Bush / Cheney logic...shouldn't we waterboard him the find out where bin Laden is?

    June 25, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. Scottyrw

    The REPUBLICAN'Ts are up to it again! Chasing their tails around and around. When will these guys start caring for our Country instead of trying to dominate the rest of the world. Get your heads of your (you know what) and start thinking about America and "our" problems.

    June 25, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. J

    Im mixed opinion on one hand I say we isolate and ignore Iran (i.e. no trading no talking no acknowledging them) but on the other hand Im so sick of President Wacko making veiled threats that I kind of support ensuring that his people can talk and communicate no matter what. Of course I also support the Obama should invite him over and slap him on national TV approach too.

    June 25, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. supporter

    You people are ridiculous. People in Iran are dying, being arrested, injured etc. If a woman was being beaten in the house next to yours by her husband, would you sit and say that you shouldn't be in their business, and you have your own problems to deal with? That's pathetic! They need help! What is happening over there is horrendous and if the protesters lose then even more terrible things can happen.

    June 25, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  13. A Kickin' Donkey

    How do these technology idiot savants expect this to work?

    If the equipment is in IRAN, then they will simply pull the plug on it.

    If the equipment is NOT in IRAN ( for example wireless to be used by anyone) then don't try to link it to Iran.

    I agree that the democratization brought on my wireless cell phone and internet access is harmful to regimes that seek to repress.

    I'd have been more impressed if these knee jerk reaction politicians had shown the foresight & courge to propose this BEFORE the Iranian elections. At this point, the technology won't be delployed in time to make a difference.

    Once again ... this is more about the Political Imagery than about helping the people.

    June 25, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. Thomasr

    From bombing them to helping them overcome tyranny such as the republican party inflicted on this country. Death and destruction is not the answer to everything. It's time you war mongers learned that.

    June 25, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. DAVE

    Sure get tired of seeing the same peoples post every day and you will never post my response to them. whats it take cnn, do i have to be rude?? Just make stupid liberal remarks??? or just put no logic or common sence into what i say!!!!!!!

    June 25, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. tish

    These three need to go back to their respective states and work and the problems concerning the american people. They just have not gotten the message that THIS country is in a crisis. Record unemployment, foreclosure rates and bankruptcies as well as skyrocketing healthcare etc., etc.. Senators work on something that matters to the american people.....THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

    June 25, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. Slowgun

    Obama Victim June 25th, 2009 12:28 pm ET

    if this was Obozo's idea, all you losers would think it was a great plan……….you are all beyond pathetic………..


    See Obama Vitim...that is the difference between democrats and rebulicans. Democrats can and do speak out if they thing an idea isn't a good one regarless of what party came up with the idea, But, if a republican speaks out against something his party is pushing, he is told he is not a real republican.
    It's call deversity...the democrats allow it in their party, and the republican party thinks it is a cancer.

    June 25, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. clay

    Who cares about them anyway? We have our freedom. That is what we Americans should stand for. We got ours!

    June 25, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. linell, Winter Park, FL

    Grandstanding Old Politicains...I love the way they have camouflaged their own political self interests in this crackpot idea. If this was Obama's idea they would be screaming foul!!!

    June 25, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. Wolves 4 Palin Charlotte, NC

    John, how about you and your "Yaya Sister" Joe show your real meddle and invoke your campaign plan... "bomb, bomb, boomb, bomb Iran." Be sure to use the smart bombs to separate the protestors from the bad guys.
    What a desperate man to score points off someone else's crisis.

    June 25, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  21. TjayeInLA

    Why can't Republicans stay out of other country's business? This inflated entitlement that has them convinced that they are in charge of every country is tiresome and has already gotten us in enough trouble. Just stay out of it!!

    June 25, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  22. The Original No Incumbents 2010

    @Squigman "To the G.O.P. Keep your nose out of other peoples business."

    Gun Laws, Seatbelt Laws, Smoking laws, Business regulations, Healthcare, State rights, General Motors... Pot, Kettle, Black!

    June 25, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  23. joe smith

    too bad these three esteemed senators, with the power that they can muster, can't find a way to provide the American people with the Freddie Mac report, that was due out in May ( 2009 ), which is a significant piece of financial data..maybe even M. Geitner would get a copy, and of course our President..whats' the secret??

    June 25, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  24. Jen from CA

    @ dominican mama 4 Obama

    What is the matter with you? You think congress should sit around and wait for Obama to tell them what to do? That defeats the whole purpose of checks and balances doesn't it. I know you are "4 Obama" but the way you talk, I would think that you want Obama to be the only person running this country. By the way he has failed at keeping unemployment under 8%, preventing Chrysler and GM from going bankrupt and serving as a unifier, he should go back to just being a community organizer because he is ill suited to run this country.

    June 25, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. Eileen

    I get it...this is mccains juvenile reaction to Obama's smack down of mccain last week. When asked by a reporter if McCains yappin' had anything to do with his stronger comments, and he replied..."what do you think." – and then went on to say that he's the only president right now. Ouch!! McCains a cranky old geezer that has long survived his usefulness in government. Shut that man up before he really gets in too deep. Idiot.

    June 25, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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