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. Bill

    Great work, on the other hand Obama is a follower not a leader...

    June 25, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. Oh Boy!!!???

    Last I checked, we had some issues in this country that need to be addressed.

    This is absolutely the last thing we should do.

    C'mon right wingers. The sharing of wealth is bad, but you'll get behind these guys on a diplomatic IT rescue mission!?

    June 25, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. Chris - Seattle

    What is it with these Senators? They want to put more power into the hands of a minority group in Iran so that they can be imprisoned/killed by the oppresive regime for using the power of the internet to level the playing field! Though I invite the leveling, I think it's very short sighted and ignorant for them to continue to push the square peg into the round hole! I think we all need to shut up about it and let the pieces fall where they may as it relates to Irans election results, but we can still be supportive of the Iranian's loss of life, freedom & voices during an election that was for the most part predicatable!

    June 25, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. Hope

    Get a doctor the are ready for medical check up. Mc Saine is time to get a dose with more streagth, just a thought

    June 25, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. girlymen love the GOP

    What happened to your famous"bomb ,bomb Iran theory,McCain?Just get Liebermans country,Israel, to do it,whats a little collateral damage,you will still have your oil,which is really what you want.

    June 25, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. Josh B OHIO

    Wouldn't that legislation be a waste of Tax Payer money? Wasteful spending right? How about using that money to improve our Communications here!
    We can not help those in Iran, they must help themselves.
    We have lead by example with our own revolution many years ago, let them have their own.

    June 25, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. JVS

    I see Senile McCain is yelling at clouds again. Poor old man. Obama isn't going to listen to you, you pathetic old loser.

    June 25, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. Stuffit

    James, Ho. TX June 25th, 2009 12:47 pm ET

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

    Funny, I thought the three stooges were Harry, O, and Girly.


    June 25, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. Jonathan, Florida

    how does this effort of theirs benefit our country in our time of need. this is just one more sure indicator that the GOP (and i do place lieberman in that category) are out of touch with our countries reality. this latest attempt for legislation goes beyond just pandering to the right and is just irresponsible.

    June 25, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. steve

    I think Liebermann and McCain are trying to start a war with Iran.

    June 25, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    @Erik "Can you believe that Mahmoud compared Obama to Bush?"

    Sometimes you have to go outside our borders to hear the truth. First the world saw Dubya steal an election, like in Iran. Then you have the Obama Chicago style back-door politics. Now, after you clear away all the nice words, Obama policy towards Iran is essentially the same, with less clarity. And we are still at war and escalating in places. Of course there is going to be suspicion. They do start to look more alike than different by what they DO.

    Oh you think Obama is SO Different because he said so? I have some swamp land to sell you!

    June 25, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. ender

    John, Lindsey, and Leiberman.

    What on earth are you three thinking? This isn't our business. This isn't our concern. We have enough of our OWN concerns to deal with. Why don't you three do your jobs and help fix the debacle you've helped to place us in instead of sticking your fat noses into other nations business. And I always love how republicans cry about spending here in the United States but when it comes to spending money on OTHER nations they quickly start handing out checks.

    Why don't you three start working for US and stop worrying about what everyone ELSE is doing.

    June 25, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. Alan in Marietta

    This is the very definition of meddling. What we our response be if another country was aiding one side in an internal civil matter against the government. Obama need to veto the bill if it ever sees the light of day. On the surface, this idea sounds like posturing from a person who joked during his campaign that he wanted to "Bomb. Bomb. Bomb. Iran."

    June 25, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    Freedom isn't free! Freedom isn't free!

    (But the USA will pay to give those Iranians freedom won't we?)

    June 25, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Doug in New Jersey:

    What are you talking about? Seriously.

    June 25, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. JVS

    Doug from New jersey, why do you hate our troops? Why are you so Anti-American? Are you part of the right-wing Taliban ?

    June 25, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. TM of CO

    What is going on in Iran right now is definitely unjust. However, who the heck are we to go in there and change things that their governement has put in place? Our elected officials certainly wouldn't like it if Iran helped the citizens of this country find a way around some of the assemine orders Bush and his thugs put on us. This country has a right to manage it's own affairs. We aren't the world police!!!!! What is wrong with you people

    June 25, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. Sheryl

    Her we go again with THE THREE STOOGES!!!!!!!! Trying to change the news cycle! McCain you didn't WIN!!!!!

    June 25, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. Steve

    yea, people are losing their homes, jobs, livelihood, so lets send some funds so the iranians can keep going on their internet, and watch iranian porn, cant these ssenators just go away already. Arent they 100 years old each?

    June 25, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. Tesap;Savannah GA

    ???Their doing what????

    Why can;t we just leave those people alone and let them change their own country..........

    More like a cast for Grumpier Old Men IV

    June 25, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. avahome

    So just how much money has already been spent on Iran over the past 30 some years...........and what has it gotten us? Someone please ask McCain and his boys for me.

    June 25, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  22. Blue

    Please, who would want advice from these three men? They are three angry men. Let me remind you that Obama won, and he is the President of the United States.

    June 25, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. Squigman

    To the G.O.P.

    Keep your nose out of other peoples business. Your want and need to become a part of modern history, has past it's prime. I doubt I'd even consider a republican candidate qualified for any office now, unless the office was dedicated to the study of infidelity and hypocracy. Your party and the people who claim to be a part of your party need to open their eyes to the fact that the American people, are some of the best informed on the planet. We also have memories of your misdeeds, and outright lies that brought you to power 9 years ago.

    June 25, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  24. michaelam

    Earth to John?! Iran is none of our business......stay out of it and don't make things worse. There are people in our OWN country that need our help. Keep the money here, John!

    June 25, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. Concerned in CA

    This is exactly the type of action that gives the regime the ammunition to say that the US is meddling in Iran's affair. We have a president how has responded very appropriately to this event. We don't need 3 senators pushing legislation that has no hope of helping the people who need it. It will only serve to make the regime take more drastic measures.

    I'm sure they were singing a chorus of Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran while they were drafting this.

    June 25, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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