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. Lisa

    To Obama Victim – hell no we wouldn't. I don't care who or what party – this country needs to keep it's nose (and soldiers) out of other countries business. Period.

    These 3 senators are just always thinking of these kinds of "stunts" to try to appease their far right base. It'd be nice if they were even slightly concerned with their own citizens.

    June 25, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. RandyPA

    I'm surprised the GOP hawks aren't trying to supply weapons to the people of Iran. Come on McCain, if you want to meddle then do it big time. Idiots, just idiots.

    June 25, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  3. Phil


    This three-headed monster is an example of the GREAT SATAN!

    As Tom Petty said, everybody's had to fight to be free . . . not America's had to fight for everybody to be free!

    What dangerous egos!

    June 25, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  4. Steph

    To Obama Victim,
    I bet you were one of the "great americans" who condemned people for criticizing our former president. Remember...criticizing a president during wartime was unpatriotic. Well, we are still at war. That makes you one serious unpatriotic jerk.

    You rarely offer anything new to the conversation so please stop chiming in every day to insult the President of the United States.

    June 25, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. GOP = 21st century dodo

    WHOA. NO. STOP HIM. John "bomb Iran" McCain shouldn't be sticking his nose in thins.

    June 25, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. Anna, Mo

    Please tell me, are they going to offer the American people the same equipment to prevent our own government from their illegal surveilance of us?

    June 25, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. carepi1979

    The Republicans (in congress) want to make Obama look bad, because they know that as of today Obama will win the next election, so if they can blame Obama for say... going to war with Iran or North Korea that will be progress for them. I mean what do Republicans in congress stand for? they do not even want healthcare reform when americans here at home are dying because of lack of healthcare or lack of money to buy the healthcare.

    June 25, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  8. Ken, Arizona

    The likes of these three were in the driver's seat when they wrecked our country with their unwavering support for the invasion of Iraq and other outdated foreign policy decisions under the last regime. Why the hell would we want to let them drive again? There ideas are so 19th century and won't work in a 20th century world.

    June 25, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. Kari

    Just remember Senator McCain, you are not dealing with a fair and just government. You may end up suppling those in power with more tools to use against there own people.
    Would you have wanted foreign governments involved in the Bush/Gore election discrepancy?

    June 25, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. Michele Westminster, CO

    OLD FARTS with no new ideas....thank god McCain did not get voted in!!!

    Leave it to these bastards to try to start another war anyway they can!

    McCain you should be ashamed of yourself!!!!

    June 25, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  11. Smiley from Conyers

    Doug NJ – where do you get your information from? The racists in this country that go out there killing innocent folks or doctors are Republicans like yourself. Get off the moral high horse and see it for what it is – this country was run into the ground by a Repub and now the "Liberals" will have to clean it up. The US needs to mind their business and focus on the issues of this country.

    June 25, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. Ernestine

    Obama Victim Wrote 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………..


    So your saying you like this idea?
    This pathetic loser likes Obama and thank god he is in power, but I would be the first one to say this is a stupid idea, McCain is grandstanding with the other two stooges. We has a country cannot afford to be giving money to other countries and especially a country that told us to say out of there business and my president is doing the right thing.

    June 25, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. Pragmatic

    How about time and attention spent on Americans and our challenges! President Obama is working the issues of immigration and health care while the republicans are more concerned about Iran. Who has better agenda here? Why is the GOP budget all about money for the military and none for domestic issues?

    Note: Iran is an independent country! They remember when the CIA put the Shah back on the throne: now how well did that work?

    June 25, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. Melissa



    My god, you're so obsessive about Christian caring and spending too much money, but you want us to go into a completely unaffordable war that will kill thousands of people when the country is bankrupt?

    What in hell is wrong with you?

    Tired of the hypocrisy. Enough is enough.

    June 25, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. Melissa

    Obama NEEDS TO WORRY ABOUT HIS OWN COUNTRY, NOT ABOUT A FOREIGN COUNTRY. He has problems to deal with HERE. Stop warmongering.

    June 25, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. willard bullock

    I dont understand why obama are trouble blame on bush president cause he is blame evil on presdient bush so i belived that bush are great catched against terroist im belived that obama will not great his presdient so he have too big problems

    June 25, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. Mary

    Oh my, let's refer back to Roland S Martin's well written article from yesterday. Let's look at history and stay out of Iran's business.
    If it were not for the oil, we would have NO humanitarian interest in Iran, as evidenced by our lack of humanitarian interest in Africa where genocide has run rampant.

    June 25, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. James, Ho. TX

    The Three Stooges, McCain, Grham and Liebermen; See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil ! This is your Clan, Cheney !

    June 25, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. Jon

    Congress needs to introduce a bill recognizing Joe Lieberman a faithful Republican, get rid of this guy.

    June 25, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. Eileen

    Ahmadinejad to Obama: Stop 'interfering'

    This is exactly the type of response we were trying to avoid – and why the McCain theory on Iran is so wrong. Butt out McCain, this isn't your battle – it isn't OUR battle.

    June 25, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. Randolph Carter

    Is it just me or does John McCain kind of remind you of Schleprock? Wowzy wowzy woo woo. Have a nice day!

    June 25, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. Margaret

    First the right (and yes Joe is on the right) wants to drop bombs on Iranians and now they want to give them money?

    I thought we needed that money in THIS country?!

    I wish the right would make up their minds.

    June 25, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  23. bern

    I don't want anything to do with anything theses three are proposing....even if it might make some sense.

    June 25, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. Steve the Soothsayer

    Only when the free peoples of the world unite in opposition to tyranny can tyrants be permanently dispatched. Mealy-mouthed ambiguous pronouncements by our leaders will only encourage the tyrants to escalate the oppression of their people. History has taught us this lesson over and over again, yet there are still many out there who have yet to learn it. If not World War II, 9/11 should surely have demonstrated that our leaders can no longer afford to leave murderous dictators to their own devices.

    June 25, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  25. jeeze

    Need a tin foil hat Doug, New Jersey?

    June 25, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
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