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. therealmarie

    McCain and unfortunately MSM believes he won the election. The combination of a delusional Senator and Corporate$$$ media will be the ruination of our country. Of course CNN will be the first to lead the way.

    June 25, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  2. geecee

    These three stooges need to give it a rest! Since when do they suddenly support Iranians? The have considered Iran the "Axis of Evil" since their fuehrers Bush/Cheney decided to call it such. Now all of a sudden they are on Iranians' side? They are interfering with an internal matter. We have a President, and it's not John McCain, whether he wants to accept that or not. Butt out, John!!

    June 25, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  3. FED UP

    In addition, why must we keep nudging these countries who would like nothing more than to wipe us off the map? Don't we have enough to worry about with North Korea? Aren't we still up to our waders in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    BUTT OUT JOHN!!!!!

    Hey Arizonans, do something smart for once and get rid of this senile old man.

    June 25, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  4. DT

    You cannot expect Obama to crack down on ahmadenijad when Obama wants to treat his opposition in this country the same way.

    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. A majority of Democrats in this country would fully support executing their fellow republican Americans and their families. Only hate, lies and selfishness consume the hearts of Democrats these days. It is not just their hateful liberal words on the net at sites like this, go to an ultra blue area and witness their total disregard for human life.

    False as false can be...Im active duty military, democrat, and DO NOT view terrorists lives as more important then the average american...watch what you say...get mote facts beofre you spew nonsense...

    June 25, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. doug

    What brave men!! Why not do the same to China and North Korea. Idiots.

    June 25, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. Avi Shlomo

    Good For you AIPAC soldiers. Iran as bad as it is, I do npot see the outrage when Israeli soldiers shooting at Palestinian demonstrators. This shows you how much this country is for sale. I just do not understand the Hypocracy. ARe not those the same Iranians demonstating against the US?

    June 25, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. ThinkAboutIt

    Doug, New Jersey: It is hyperbole like yours that has marginalized the GOP and made many a moderate Republican ashamed of the party's current leadership.

    What you have posted is absolutely nuts. I suggest you go live in a theocratic/totalitarian county and witness first-hand what true oppression is.

    Not getting your way is not oppression; just because someone doesn't agree with you does not mean they want to kill you; just because your party is out of power does not mean you will be rounded up and executed.

    Take a deep breath, for goodness sake and be thankful we live in a country where the transfer of power is NOT accompanied by violence and assassination.

    June 25, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. KP

    Don't these idiots realize that by pushing this legislation they are endangering the lives of Iranians protesting on the streets? This is not about the United States. Its about the evolution of freedom in Iran.

    June 25, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. joe

    Oh well there goes another home in the USA that could of been saved from forclosuer, GO GO GO SEN spend that money on things that are meaningless.

    June 25, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  10. Brina

    How about using that money for AMERICA......remember McCain (Country First).

    June 25, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  11. Bill Stern

    Good For you AIPAC soldiers. Iran as bad as it is, I do npot see the outrage when Israeli soldiers shooting at Palestinian demonstrators. This shows you how much this country is for sale. I just do not understand the Hypocracy. ARe not those the same Iranians demonstating against the US?

    June 25, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    Now now...why should we be suprised that our elected officials want us to stick our nose in other countries' business all the time? After all, the Clinton, Edwards, Sanford, Ensign, etc., "scandals" all highlight that it's PRECISELY what we love to do most as a people, don't they?

    June 25, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. New Day

    Ever notice how you havent seen these 3 buffoons sponsoring meaningful legislation in years? It's like they are fighting to be relevant again.

    This bill better fail with a resounding thud. How can you justify openly flooding Iran with propaganda? And who's message would it be? John McCain's? What's he going to tell them, where he would bomb them? Stop trying to be Daddy-know-it-all!!! What works for us in America, doesn't work for them. Let them decide their own future.

    oh, and Doug (NJ), I dont want to execute anyone but, I wouldn't mind the CIA waterboarding you to see if ur stupidity is a threat to national security.

    June 25, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  14. David

    John McCain is just trying to grandstand, still not able to admit to himself that he was rejected by the American public for president.

    Now he is willing to be used as a 'tool', by the Iranian government in an attempt circumvent the policies of the Iranian government who Iranians elected.

    Leiberman is not a Democrat, but hiding in the Republican half way house called "Independent'. This enables him to continue to play both sides of the fence and not take responsibility for either side or be trusted.

    These are the same two nut jobs who are violently against our own government ensuring Americans have access to the internet.

    June 25, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. FED UP

    Doug as a liberal nonparty affiliating American I am disgusted by you. If I lean anyway it would be Democrat, but your statements are opinion not fact about Democrats. While most of us want to keep matters in our own country and solve our own problems it is "often" Republicans who go around and stir up trouble with terrorists or fear monger us about what is going to happen.

    June 25, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. Terry from Texas

    How courageous of these Senators to take a firm stand against someone that everybody hates while gooning for the cameras.

    What about China? What about American corporations that help the Communists there monitor their people's thoughts and expression? What about the Patriot Act?

    June 25, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  17. Cleo

    Please stop the US government involvement into the affairs of other countries...Please let the US government help the people in this country...We need universal health care, jobs and retirement money for the next generation...Can we work on our stuff, before we start to tell another country what to do?

    June 25, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  18. DX in TX

    A Song for McCain, Graham & Lieberman:

    Three blind mice, three blind mice,
    See how they run, see how they run,
    They all ran after the farmer's wife,
    Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
    Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
    As three blind mice?

    Stay Out of Iran Boneheads!

    June 25, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. Alan

    This is EXACTLY the type of meddling the Iranian regime is PRAYING to see - and even announcing the PLANNED introduction of the legislation feeds into their paranoid ramblings to the people of their country.

    Right now the PEOPLE of Iran know better. That's why they're upset and taking things into their own hands.

    If we start PUBLICLY meddling...it justifies the ramblings of Iran's leaders.

    Sorry, John - you found out Americans aren't idiots this last election. Now you're assuming the average Iranian is an idiot - which Obama knows full well they are not.

    June 25, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  20. Ed

    Great idea! We'll just dock a cargo ship and off-load thousands of mainframes, PCs and network switches. And, oh, why not give them an FCC manual to teach them about public access to the airwaves.

    They will implode on their own schedule. Don't spend a dime on such a wasteful, cycnical attempt to position the US behind the demonstrators.

    June 25, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  21. Bill A

    Whoever called McCain a Judas should look at the "man" in the oval ofice now. The biggest liar in history, the least qualified President this country has ever had, and the most hypocritical person ever to grace the political arena in the U.S. John McCain is a proven patriot and war hero. Obama isn't fit to shine McCain's shoes. Our new "president" has presented nothing but one lie after another with the backing of the left-wing media (everyone but Fox News). Now Obama says he's going to spend another trillion dollars on government health care without raising the deficit. Another HUGE lie that won't be reported on by the mainstream media when it's proven to be a open, blatant LIE. This on top of the 1.8 TRILLION dollar deficit that he's already generated. Obama is nothing more than a crooked Chicago con-man lawyer.

    June 25, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. a little sad

    Pat, CA June 25th, 2009 12:20 pm ET

    pat c June 25th, 2009 12:16 pm ET
    why can't john mccain understand he lost the election.
    John McCain is still a duly elected member of the U.S. Senate. He has every right to express his opinions. So do Frank, Pelosi, Reid, etc. — who are not exactly MY favorite people. Sorry if you don't like it, pat c.


    The problem is that they are yelling "fire" in a crowded political theater. Undermining out foreign policy and playing into the hands of the Iranian government.

    June 25, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  23. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    OK, so we pass the legislation, Iran accuses us of meddling (which they have already done), so what? Why do we care what they think. they will go forward with their nuclear program no matter how much butt kissing Obama does. You libs need a dose of reality. They are killing their own citizens in the streets with the world watching. Do you seriously think they care what we say or do?

    June 25, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  24. FED UP


    We're more sorry that you don't get it

    June 25, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. John S.

    Well, this wouldn't be such a bad idea if they didn't make public statements about it. This is something we might actually be able to help them out with. Unfortunately, this was more about making press than about helping people. I assume this means Lindsey Graham will be running in 2012?? God help us!

    Oh, and I'm sure we have tons of this equipment laying around some government storage locker, so there should have been no need for $$'s to be spent anyway.

    June 25, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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