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. dee

    So let me get this straight " it's ok to spend money on Iran but it's not ok to spend money on jobs, education, and health care here in the good old USA?

    Thank God we didn't get McWar. .

    June 25, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Jim

    This is ridiculous. I agree with the President's assessment that we need to give the Iranian government as little reason as possible to blame this on the United States. This would be playing right into the hand of the Iranian government. We’ve already tried the bellicose method of international politics and it’s been a big failure in the Muslim world.

    June 25, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. Peter

    We don't have anything to do with Iran right now. If we get attacked by Iran (Not at all likely) it would be because McCain can't shut up.

    June 25, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. Iranian

    These guys are bunch of idiots. Throw them out of office. If they don't read news on the internet Iranian do. Spend the money on poor people in USA instead of trying to change other people government. Former Pakistani Army General Mirza Aslam Beig claims the US CIA has distributed 400 million dollars inside Iran to evoke a revolution.
    CNN is exaggerating the situation in Iran to sell advertisements and also used as propaganda for next illegal war. I do not like Ahmadinejad but he won the election and I respect that. You can see the proof of that in a telephone poll conducted by two American groups which carried out in mid-May, showing Ahmadinejad wining "by a more than 2 to 1 margin” over Mousavi. Read it in Washington post

    June 25, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. The guy from jersey


    June 25, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. ConsiderThis, FL

    Precisely why McCain, Liberman, Graham, or any other republican will NEVER be president. I wonder what world do they live in? They are so out of touch with reality that it's scary!

    June 25, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. Jeff

    Here is an interesting comparison. While these three nit-wits espouse we expand our US position of world policeman – interfering with (like them or not) sovereign countries our economy continues to be weak (hopefully at the bottom and turning for a recovery). Contrast that with China (I know not the best role model) who is very careful to not to complain about other countries leadership and affairs and play regime changer, and instead focus on domestic affairs – infrastructure, et al. And if you are paying attention they are winning empathy through economic development in Africa (although Darfur stinks) and elsewhere. With this their economy continues to grow – albeit not quite as fast (thanks to us), but still growing. Although we do not like all of their methods of governing, it seems we could clearly learn something from their brand of capitalism.

    June 25, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. Laverne

    Seems to me we have a lot going on right here in America that the Republicans refuse to address and act on, but can find time to poke their noses in others business. It amazes me how the repubs are so called "outraged" by all that is going on in Iran, but when Katrina hit and our own people was suffering and dying by the droves, you could barely hear anything from the republicans. Our own children are getting killed everyday in the inner cites and we don't see a need to address it, but we are suppose to save the world. I think we should sweep around our own front door before we try to sweep around someone elses!

    June 25, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. Ivan Schiff

    When Iranians are thrown in jailed and murdered, because of your actions what is America going to do? Absolutly nothing, as when Bush the father encourage the Kurds against Sadaam and they rose up and were slaughtered by Sadaam and we did nothing, because we couldn't. Threats backed up by actions are strenght, by backed by lack of actions are definite indications of weakness. And thanks to Bush the son and his Iraq fiasco we are military weaker than when he was installed as President.

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

    Once again, we can get symbolic legislation passed, but the American people cannot get healthcare, educational funding, just to name a few things. Are you saying that I have to be a non-citizen of America to get legislation passed that will positively affect me?

    June 25, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  11. DawnL,CA

    These guys want to "authorize funds"? What funds??Keep your nose out of Iran. If the people want a revolution they will do it on their own time & dime.

    June 25, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. Joe

    When has it become a routine for our Senators to start conducting foreign policy on the senate floor in the name of freedom? There are several bills sitting or wating in the chamber for these senators. I will hope their attention could be drawn to Health care bill, immigration bill, climate bill or if none of thes concern them, they should introduce any bill that helps Americans NOT Iranians at this time. The economy is still in a sleepy mode. Wake up Senators and leave the President and his advisers alone to conduct foreign policy. We have a President in the White House to do this job.

    June 25, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. Mark S

    Bev – NYC June 25th, 2009 12:17 pm ET

    How exactly do budget deficits assist Americans?

    June 25, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. johnnie

    john insane mccain, you need to be worried about your senate seat , which your going 2 loose, shut up,go away, your trying to upstage the president,your so stupid,you lost,stay out of this fool.that other guy is a clown of both partys,liberman is fake as well.we have had it with you ,your a bum.

    June 25, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. Emma

    Do the three amigos really think this is do-able without interference from
    the Iranian governing powers?

    June 25, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  16. Mary

    And WHO is going to pay for this stuff in Iran? We are insolvent as a nation. Have we checked with China to see if they want to underwrite all this?
    What about our problems in California? Could we please address this? Stop spending !!! Let 's catch up with ourselves before we start another insane committment that we can't keep.

    June 25, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  17. Doug, New Jersey

    The Natonal Socialist who is destroying this nation will make what we have seen in Iran look like a walk in the park if he is elected to a second term. Millions of Americans will be silenced for thier political views and the so called pacifists libs will not only sit by but cheer as their fellow Americans are executed. Never has any group of Americans been as vile as the Democrats of today, not even Byrd's buddies.

    June 25, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. John

    We need to butt out of this Internal Iranian issue. We are being duped by the Iranian exile community. This is not a real revolution, but two sides of the same coin. One is just slightly less nuts. Both are controled by the same religious hard-liners. Democracy in IRAN is a long way off, and attainable only with diplomacy.

    This bill for internet hardware will take years to implement, if ever. Morons,

    June 25, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. midwest liberal

    "..."Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are the modern-day printing presses...." John McCain is just brilliance bubbling over!

    June 25, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. Simmy

    Those three desperados need to climb up in their cribs and put their pacifiers in their mouths......The irony of their 'movement' is that they have been adamant about not dealing with 'rogue nations.' Now they feel 'a political window of opportunity' has been opened for them, and they go buck wild.....It would be believable if it were a cause closer to home.....But to say that they are all in the tank for Iran is worst than absurd - It's insane......Peace....

    June 25, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  21. flatbush31

    This is clearly nothing more than a cynical gimmick and trap by McSane and his lapdog Smokin Joe. They are trying to force the Democrats to approve a measure that is absurd on its face or be sujected to the usual tired "not supporting freedom" attacks. If the Dems are spineless enough to pas this garbage, then it's a trap for Obama, designed to usurp his foreign policy authority as President. It's just shameless.

    June 25, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. Ted

    The Republicans have no problems spending almost a trillion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but when it comes to spending a trillion or so on healthcare for 50 million americans without, they start crying and wailing and yelling that Obama is going to sink us into debt. The GOP is all about wars and not peopl. Morons.

    June 25, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. Educate yourselves before you open your mouth and just let the words fall out

    At what point does their meddling cross over the line and become treason? Just asking . . . .

    And to all of you posters, (Doug,NJ, obama victim, etc), please stop using every article on the ticker as an opportunity to insult President Obama whether it has anything to do with the discussion or not. Seriously, all it does it make you look stupid and incredibly childish.

    June 25, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  24. mitch

    Oh Heck NO, Haven’t we learned our lesson yet? We need to fix up what’s wrong in our own yard and quit messing with other country’s.
    Its just not our right, and its also not our fight, and besides were still trying to pay for out last ill conceived crusade.
    Funny how the guys who want to wreck our own civil rights, seem to feel they apply in another country.

    June 25, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. Angie in PA

    Once again they want to meddle in other countries affairs heres an Idea STAY OUT OF OTHER COUNTRIES BUSINESS! AS LONG AS IT DOESNT AFFECT US Thats the problem we are always sticking our nose in STAY OUT OF IT! THANK GOD MCCAIN LOST OR ELESE WE WOULD BE GOING TO WAR WITH IRAN REMEMBER MCCAIN AND HIS SONG BOMB BOMB IRAN!

    June 25, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
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