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. ThinkAboutIt

    It is simply hilarious that when George W. Bush campaigned in 2000 he said that the US should not be involved in nation building and regime change, criticizing the Clinton Administration for its foreign involvement in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia. Bush obviously lied and took us into Iraq under false pretenses.

    And here is the GOP calling yet again for us to get involved in another country's business. I don't get it – what's changed?

    Oh, Ik now, the GOP is now the party of political expediency, regardless of the consequences, to heck with everyone and everything else, as long as they can be in power and promote their disasterous financial, military, domestic and foreign policies.

    What a joke!

    June 25, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  2. David Newport, OR

    Oh I bet that will just make our relationship better with the EXISTING regime...you would think somewhere, we would learn not to mess with other countries choices

    June 25, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. dennative1

    Thank God John is not Pres. He just does not get it!!! He and his 2 buddies refuse to be wrong...are these the same guys who were for the Iraq war??

    June 25, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. David

    These are just more republicans doing the only thing they know how to do. Start conflict, hostility and war no matter where they are. I am so happy that we have a 'thinking' president.

    June 25, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. Keramos

    Maybe they should first set an example by getting our government out of snooping on our emails, telephone calls and whatever else they're monitoring. Sanctimonious scumbags senators.

    June 25, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. Heidi

    I am thrilled to see this being introduced. I want to know how I can help?
    I think there are quite a number of people in Iran who do not share the views of their government and do not know how to get out from under their control.

    June 25, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. grammy11

    If they get this crazy idea approved by Congress, I hope our ever wise President vetoes it. They are already blaming the US for getting involved now this would prove it. I agree with Obama's stance on this to support the Iranian people but stay out of it and stop trying to imitate Bush's bullying. When McCain said the Congress was on equal footing with the Admistration, I don't agree. Only the President has veto power.

    June 25, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. EarthCitizen

    It's amazing – one poster below asks how much money have we sent to Iran in that past 30 years? UNBELIEVABLE!
    The answer is ZERO!
    Perhaps you have mistaken Iran with Iraq – one Persian and the other an Arab country. Bet you did not know that.

    What US needs to do is to help the Persian Satellite TV stations with technology so that the brutal regime can't jam their signals into iran. They are the ones providing coverage and awareness in Iran. The State TV/Radio has kept people in the dark since the uprising.

    Remember the magic word all you pick up truck, SUV lovers and energy hogs:
    O I L....

    June 25, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  9. DT

    And I see them Repubs love sticking their noses in another countries business. Why wont we just worry about our country? Theres people HERE that need aid why dont we worry about them first? If Mccain were elected we'd be kicking down doors in Iran already...

    June 25, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. You had your window Repubs, and you blew it!

    Hmmm, so much for the Republican mantra of cutting spending. Complain all you want about Obama spending money, but at least he is spending it on the US.

    Republicans seem to only want to spend on other countries and wars.

    Good job guys, way to focus on Iran instead of focusing on the USA.

    June 25, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. IndepndentAmerican

    @ Doug, New Jersey:

    Your comment is typical of the far-right. Continue to condemn your fellow Americans who disagree with your ideology and the GOP will continue to lose elections.

    Its high time the GOP learns to stop meddling in other countries!

    THIS IS IRAN'S FIGHT NOT OURS! The U.S. can not afford to be the world's policeman any longer!

    June 25, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. Rick McDaniel

    When is the US government going to learn, that throwing money at a problem, solves nothing, nor does it get you any allegiance, from those you provide the monies to.

    The Islamic world is so brainwashed by the false "prophets", that the people cannot see what is truth and what is lies. The more uneducated they are, the more they will follow the false religion to the ends of the earth, or be killed in the effort.

    The biggest problem, is that much of the planet is going to be decimated and destroyed, in the process, and many innocent people murdered, by this religious fanaticism.

    Islam is the most dangerous thing in the modern world.

    June 25, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Who are we to criticize others' elections? We routinely disenfranchise millions of Americans, we use electronic voting machines that register votes even before polls open, and our Supreme Court selected a guy for president who lost the nation-wide popular vote! Still confused why other countries reject our version of 'democracy?'

    June 25, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. Jeff

    McCain, Lieberman, Graham...Three wrongs don't make a right. To the House and Senate...vote NO on this or know it will not be forgotten come election time...signed American Voters/ Taxpayers...our government...YOUR BOSS !!!

    June 25, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. ep

    In the world scene US has been seen acting like big brothers of the world. We get into other nation's business acting like heroes and savior. No doubt we should be kind and compassionate. However, we must have a clear priority and wisdom in doing so.
    Why are they doing this? Are the politicians working for the people?

    June 25, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. Pat, CA

    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," . . .
    What is wrong with that - whether a Republican or Democrat recommends this? Radio Free Europe and Voice of America have been successfully used for decades. No one HAS to tune in - but believe me, in Europe during WWII these were virtually the ONLY voices of reason that gave people the hope to keep going.

    June 25, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  17. H

    Lets stay out of this. We had our own disputed election in 2000 decided not by the voters but by the court and we would have fought anyone who tried to intefere. If we do intervene in Iran they will stop battling each other and join together in a shared hatred of us and our meddling ways. This is the Iranian's revolution and we should stay out of it. Obama is doing the right thing and his noninterference has got to be frustrating to the powers in Iran who would love nothing better than to have some good sound bytes of Obama getting involved in thier affairs. Leiberman, Senator Droopy Dog, is not a democrat and I wish the people of his state would see fit to stop sending him to Washington. We have no business in this battle and I do not believe Senator John McCain, who sang "Bomb Iran", is lookin out for the best interest of the Iranians. I am so glad he did not win.

    June 25, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  18. RJ

    You don't have money for health care for American but you have money for this.

    June 25, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. Uncle Ellsworthy

    Ahmadinejad to Obama: Stop 'interfering'

    Guess your precious Obama will be apologizing all over himself about this one too.

    June 25, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. goawayrepublicans

    Here's a thought, mind your own business, let the President deal with Iran, that twit Achmadenjerk is no match for Obama and if you ppl would just wait, you'll see. Mr. Bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran all of a sudden cares about it's ppl, yeah right! All Republicans are good for is starting wars, hypocrites.....

    June 25, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. Ken in NC

    Senator John McCain ,R-Arizona, Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina need to go to Iran and personally tell the Ayatolla to let his people be free and if they need assistance maybe they should take House Member Cantor-R of Va with them.

    Those guys need to keep their noses out of Iran. If it was left up to them we would be at war with Iran and North Korea before July 4th.

    June 25, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. LacrosseMom

    One more try................ @ Doug, New Jersey:

    You DO realize that the U.S. supported the evil Shah of Iran? That we sent millions to support his regime that was basically a reign of terror on the Iranian people?!

    How about Reagan selling weapons to Iran?

    And wasn't it McCain who wanted to "bomb........bomb.......bomb Iran"!?

    Doug, your comment is proof of the lies, hate, fear and division the GOPers spew daily.

    June 25, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  23. Deborah/Kansas City

    Another purely political ploy to try and benefit themselves. I agree that maybe PRIVATE CITIZENS COULD DONATE to a fund to help the Iranians, but not the US Government. John McCain is intent on getting his chance to BOMB BOMB BOMB IRAN. Let the people of Iran fight for their freedom; like all Americans have done and still are doing.

    June 25, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. Peter E

    The fact is that Moussavi has a long history of being a hardliner, has also been selected personally by the Supreme Leader as a hardliner candidate, and has engaged in anti-American and anti-Israeli protests and rhetoric repeatedly. It is a fact that from the standpoint of US interests there is no difference whatsoever between him and Ahmadinejad. Which is perhaps why this could be an opportunity for us to demonstrate that we care more than just about ourselves, we actually care about the Iranian people. That we are willing to support the Iranian people's choice, even if that choice is not in our interest.

    June 25, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Shawn - GA

    Why are you so hateful? I am speaking to those who use hate filled language on these pages day in and day out?

    You have not the right to be like that. Are you like this in your daily lives or just when you are behind a keyboard? I am worried about the youth of this country, you are the ones who can make a diffrence and make things better. However being filled with hate and anger is not the way.

    June 25, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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