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. Roy Coffey

    When will we learn to stay out of other peoples business??? Are we going to re-build every nation?

    June 25, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  2. Melissa

    I have so had enough of the Republicans. Why won't they go crawl back under their rocks?

    June 25, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. Len in Washington

    We need to butt out.

    Did you hear me, McCain? JUST BUTT OUT!!!!!!!!

    We're all tired of fighting the Worlds wars for them. This time....let them fight it out among themselves. We'll deal with the winners.

    June 25, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Why are these Senators getting involved with this? It seems that any way they can, they are hellbent on contradicting the stance that the POTUS has adopted in regards to Iran. They want to be involved, they are going to create political controversy and animosity, and then like the punks they are they are going to sidestep and let Obama deal with the political fallout. Its is so transparent to me.

    They are fighting the new foreign policy tone that the POTUS is trying to implement tooth and nail. They own't let go of old habits that HAVE NOT worked for us, but only created more enemies. What anyone in U.S. politics does is seen by another country as a direct reflection of the policies of the POTUS. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS SENATORS!

    June 25, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. Retired US ARMY

    This is exactly the type of foolish legislation that gives Ahmadinejad fuel for his argument of US interferenace in internal affairs if Iran. The legislation accomplishes nothing, the internal affairs of Iran are going to have to be taken care of by the Iranian people, not a couple of washed up has beens.

    June 25, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. Fla.

    Ridiculous–"fiscal conservative" is a farce.

    This wasteful nonsense would only aggravate an already volatile situation with money these neocons do NOT have!

    June 25, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  7. bill

    mccain and lindsy grahm.what a pair of idiots.then you throw in lieberman wow.now we have a threesome.get lost all three of you loosers.i am sick of you retards.oh take palen with you now its complete.

    June 25, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. KirksNoseHair

    Doug, New Jersey wrote:

    "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."

    LOL, are you republicans ever going to get a clue? Ever?

    June 25, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. Enlightened Voter

    Fair is Fair – NJ does not have one of the highest car rates, matter of fact they are lower than NY , PA, CA etc. go look up for yourself.

    June 25, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. TiredofGOP

    Wasn't it the GOP that has been yelling about the costs involved with all the big-business bailouts; and here these bozo's want funding to help a country on the terrorist watch list?? These guys are idiots, and we need to toss out the Growing Old Party before they mess up more.

    June 25, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. Mich

    Who cares if the Iran goverment calls it meddling Obama and the other need a back bone. Lets stop turning our backs on people who are suffering. Lets get some courage in our heart ,and help people who need help. This holding out just so you can have a conversation with a mad man in crazy. Lets get some courage please.

    June 25, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  12. JJ at Bucknell

    so... how 'bout we also get involved with the internal disputes in china, saudi arabia, zimbabwe, and so on... while my heart goes out to the protesters in iran– and i def hope they achieve more of the freedoms they seek and deserve!!!–, there will be many unintended consequences of such legislation...

    ...of course that legislation has no chance of passing, though... and these three senators know that... so, all this is is grandstanding and showboating, in my humble opinion.

    June 25, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  13. DJJ

    @ All three Senators – get off your moral and patriotic high pedestal already. The Party's "Moral Values" are in the toilet, or don't you read the papers and magazines, either?!
    Cry the values of our Constitution, uh, wait a minute, exactly where were you three when Cheney said the office of Vice President didn't fall under the Executive Branch, where was your outrage and your oaths to protect and defend the Constitution, both foreign and domestic?
    So the three of you would still wave the flag ( "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." – Ben Franklin) and give "I'manutjob" all the free media attention and justification he could ask for, courtesy of you three blundering idiots!

    June 25, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Joe "Judas" Lieberman and his republican colleagues. He shouldn't even be called an independent. What are his democratic values? Everytime I look up he's supporting his old buddy and pal McCain.

    June 25, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. Chris PA

    If we help the Iranians bypass government censorship of the internet, don't we also have to help the Chinese?

    June 25, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. KG

    These Congressional Clowns find the money to help people halfway around the Earth but can't spare a cent for American citizens. I think being a neocon should be classified as a mental disorder and disqualifies those possessing it from holding public office.

    June 25, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. GI Joe

    They don't have time to work on USA problems, but they have time for personal affairs AND

    They have time to stick their noses in every countries' business.

    Kick the bums out and put people in there that will earn their salary working on OUR problems.

    June 25, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Pete

    Why can't we just stay out of it. The last thing we need is to give Iran and other countries more fuel for hating America.

    June 25, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Adrienne

    Where is the money coming from for this?

    And why is American tax dollars being used to help anyone other than Americans?

    I am so sick and tired of these Republicans that will bend over and take it up the yin-yang wazoo for 'foreigners' – but hate their own. This is good money that could be used in AMERICAN schools for computers, books, materials, etc. etc.

    Again- putting foreign children ahead of American children. Typical Republican behavior.

    June 25, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. Dickelocker

    To Doug, NJ: Nobody is talking "execution," in either party. Your hyperbole is off the wall. 33% of Americans oppose the death penalty for murder, as do 40% of Democrats, but only 20% GOP per Galliup Poll in 2007. So who cares more for life? Perhaps you misspoke and meant "censor" Republicans.

    l certainly don't want to kill anyone, or censor you, but I wish the name-calling, emotional chest-pounding, paranoia, and lack of facts from both the left and the right would cease among CNN bloggers, so we might have adult civil dialogue, as Pres.Obama asks. Yelling may get my attention, but a two-way rant does not foster understanding nor give us a "more perfect union.".

    June 25, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. dan in Tucson AZ

    Iran is none of our business. Why are we legislating a foreign country? Please Washington, stop with the bully tactics.
    Why are these clueless idiots in Washington wasting time on this when we have enormous issues to deal with right here.

    June 25, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  22. smokey

    As a result of these 3 meddeling, why doesn't someone draft a resolution prohibiting US Senators from interfering in politics and issues that undermine the President's message. when it comes to nationl security issues..These 3 idiots are crossing over the line , and are just trying to be obstructionits as usual...if they cared so much about the human rights of these people , then why did they not do all of this 8 years ago ?? Oh, thats right Pres Obama wasn't in the WH at that time, they had oe of their own Bush, and look where that got us..If they had called these people the Axis of Evil for past 8 years, as well as isolate them, we may have been in a position to communicate with them and at least have a dialogue..But no, thanks to the past 8 years and now these 3, we have to start from scratch.. Somebody please tell McCain he lost and to let if go and move on !!!! Please !

    June 25, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. pa.

    They are three troublemakers, and should BUTT OUT! Vote these jerks out once and for all!

    June 25, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  24. haas

    Another McCain gimmick. McCain is a bitter old man and he's mad that he lost to Obama...he's mad as hell. For some reason he thought it was his turn to be president.

    Well folks, start paying attention to his Senate race coming up. He just might lose to a man named Chris Simcox. Arizona voters are fed up with McCain. He has not represented them and they may turn to the founder of the Minutemen. Maybe Megan can help save her father's election...doubt it.

    June 25, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. Rad

    Nice to see Lieberman looking out for Israel's interests! What country does he work for again?

    June 25, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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