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. Dave

    Let's get the truth out here. It's not coming from these guys in the photo. Our government is funding some of this to the tune of $400 million. This is money that was set aside to fund much of the CIA effort to undermine the current iranian government. And this is a clear spark to set it off. They were going to cry fraud regardless. And the opposition leader, Mousavi, is a terrorist that oversaw the killing of the US Marines in Beirut. The US government's goal is to install the shah of Iran's son in to be a cronie for the West. Of course, I say our government but in reality they are doing the bidding for the international banks and corporations once again.

    June 25, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. Dave

    Erik S.
    Truth hurts. He is not that different.

    June 25, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  3. Peter

    When will the US stop interfering with foreign domestic issues?. There is enough problems here, joblessness, high medical etc. after all I don't trust the skewed media reportage. I saw how the media fanned animosity in Kenya and how people killed each other after that!! only to make headlines!! and sound bites!!! shame on you !!

    June 25, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  4. Diane - Dallas, TX

    Doug from New Jersey – you and your holier than Thou fellow Republicans are nothing but a bunch of warmongering imbeciles!

    June 25, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  5. Chris

    Ummm.... where are we going to get the "funds" to throw at another country? Weren't these same Republicans just complaining about Obama's budget and him spending too much? So it's okay to spend money on a country in which America has exactly no stake, but it's wrong to spend money on American citizens? These people are ridiculous. No.

    June 25, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  6. ge ontario

    there corporate friends can see coin to be made here in a month or two thet will be crying bomb-bomb- iran killing the same people they are behind today tommrow they read the news paper to see witch way the wind is blowing

    June 25, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. DianeR PC Fla

    By calling President Obama timid and weak, the GNOPers are saying they believe we should just ,"Bomb,Bomb, Bomb, Bomb-Iran". Wasn't that McCain's chant during the 2008 campaign? This funding proposal would add just another layer to the accusations by Iran that the US is meddling and further exacerbate a tenuous situation in that country's effort to obtain a nuclear weapon. I guess the GNOPers don't really care about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and are just looking for an excuse to use one on Iran. Keep up the good work GNOPers. I'm not so sure you have the safety and well-being of all Americans at heart by your moronic behavior. For the sake of my half-Iranian grandson's relatives in Iran, McCain and Company, please sit down and shut up as soon as possible. I'm begging you as a grandmother!!!

    June 25, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  8. Voice of Reason

    Pure showboating... These Geezers in Congerss are worried about poll outcomes and how they look to their constituencies, so they come up with something as lame as this?

    What're they going to do? Have soldiers in Iraq lob cellphones over the fence?

    Besides, this would just validate Ahmedinejad's claims that the US is interfering. I'd rather not give his delusions a leg to stand on.

    June 25, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  9. yougottabekidding

    Ok, so later they can use this same technology against us? Are these GOP's numb-skulls for real? Leave Iran alone! Let them take care of their own business!!

    June 25, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. doug, fairbanks, alaska

    Lieberman makes me sick!

    June 25, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. Bill

    stay out of other countries business. look what happened in iraq. use the money for americans.

    June 25, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. Thomas

    I hope the Senate will carefully consider ALL the possible results of this action. Especially the unintended consequences.

    This is not an issue to go into emotionally.

    June 25, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. yougottabekidding

    These GOP's losers need to focus on other issues affecting Americans!

    June 25, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. Dixon

    McCain lost the debate on how to handle foreign policy last November. He continues to weaken our countries message and putting our troops at risk with his weak ideas on handling foreign Policy. Obama is working through this by thinking it through and using a measured response. The Bush, Cheny and McCain knee jerk reactionary type responses that have put us at war in two counties has proven not to work. They need to stop campaigning and think of what is best for us and our troops.

    June 25, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  15. Obama Victim

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

    June 25, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  16. Susan

    LIEberman, still palling with McCain?

    June 25, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. Fred the Moderate

    You people just can't keep your cool can you? Just got to have a knee jurk reaction to everything in the world even though it has "NOTHING" to do with us.

    Iran is somebody else's country. We have no interest in it at all other than to watch and bear witness to their brutallity. In the next few years we must try to work with them to stop their nuclear program, which doesn't mean at the point of a gun. That, obviously never works!

    So here we go again, the good old GOP trying to get points for pushing something that will end our negotiations for another 8 years. It would be nice if these children would sit down for once and let the president and other grown-ups handle matters of state, something they fail at each and ever time.

    June 25, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  18. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    What a stupid idea.... why are we getting involved in this? Maybe they can send some stamps and envelopes too?

    June 25, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  19. Proud Member..Party of No

    Back in the day before the dumbocrats neutered the CIA, that agency would have taken care of this sort of thing behind the scenes. That was a much more effective way to deal with it but, of course, dumbocrats live in a utopian world where everyone holds hands and sings songs so they decided that the CIA is evil and needs to be declawed so...here we are.

    June 25, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. James - St. Paul, MN

    As more US politicians clamor to show their "strength" to the Iranians, the corrupt regime in Iran can and will rightfully claim that our nation is interfering in their internal election process. Mr. Obama has been tempered and thoughtful in his response, objecting to the violence, while acknowledging that the election process is not his to control. When will these other US politicians begin to understand that Iran and other countries have a right to elect as they see fit. They also have a right to protest their elections as they see fit. If Iranian politicians were scrambling to send funds and equipment to any US party who felt their votes did not count in a US election, the US would probably send troops in to Iran in response. When will American politicians learn that the whole world does not revolve around their own personal interests?

    June 25, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  21. Steph

    Aren't these the same people who say we don't have any money to fix healthcare, provide a better education to our children or to increase services to our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan? Why does this get priority over services for our own citizens? If they are so worried about making sure everyone has technology to communicate worldwide, why not fund infrastructure to provide free internet access to all Americans?!?!

    June 25, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  22. Lynn

    Didn't the Three Stooges lose the election? They remind me of women who need to all go to the bathroom together when they are out for dinner.

    Reza Aslan (one of the experts that CNN constantly uses to explain Iran and the Tranian situation) stated on the Daily Show yesterday: "

    "All I can say is thank you God for Barack Obama."

    I second that statement and wish CNN would give equal time to the MANY people mostly experts on their shows that do indeed support the President's approach.

    June 25, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  23. smokey

    Oh my God, this is all we need, is another war..What is with these people, especially McCain and Graham...Why are they so hell bent on interfering in Iran..Its as if they are trying to deliberatly undermine Pres Obama..Instead of being on the same page, once again they are the party of NO..To bad they cannot take this much interest or time as they have on the Iranina issue and apply to Health care..They don;t seem to undestand these people , even the protesters do nt want helpt especially from the US..And to make matters worse we McCain who just last year was yelling BOMB, BOMB BOMB BOMB IRAN !. No suddenly he is all Mr symphathy..Aparrenlty he is still in denial that he lost the election and is not the President..Would somebody please give thees people something constructive to do to occupy their time with, instead of meddeling where it does not belong..PLEASE BEFORE THEY FOOL AROUND AND START ANOTHER WAR !!!

    June 25, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  24. Fair is Fair

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

    You might be on to something there, Randolph. NJ and MA have the highest car insurance rates – and they're both ultra-blue. Having a nice day!

    June 25, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. Ernestine

    And this is going to work how? It will be a waster of money that we don't have.

    June 25, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
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