6/25 What is 'Soft Power"? Iran's " women's movement"; Obama, & Media Muppets V. Helen Thomas; U.S.-Iran History

President Obama's Statement on Iran:
The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

War College warns military must prepare "in extremis" for "civil violence inside U.S."
IMF warns of economic riots
A new report by the U.S. Army War College talks about the possibility of Pentagon resources and troops being used should the economic crisis lead to civil unrest, such as protests against businesses and government or runs on beleaguered banks. “Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security,” said the War College report. The study says economic collapse, terrorism and loss of legal order are among possible domestic shocks that might require military action within the U.S. U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., both said U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson brought up a worst-case scenario as he pushed for the Wall Street bailout in September. Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO, said that might even require a declaration of martial law....

“The United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not interfering with Iran’s affairs. Some in Iran — some in the Iranian government, in particular, are trying to avoid that debate by accusing the United States and others in the West of instigating protests over the election. These accusations are patently false.”

`The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves'
Henry Kissinger, chairman of the CIA Forty Committee, whose task was to cause chaos inside the country which would lead to a military coup.

Inmates at American prison in Afghanistan were 'beaten and threatened with dogs and guns'
24 Jun 2009 Former inmates at an American prison in Afghanistan have accused their captors of subjecting them to torture and death threats. In a series of BBC interviews, prisoners who were held at the Bagram Airbase, near Kabul, said they were beaten, deprived of sleep and hung from the ceiling or threatened with dogs. Four claimed officials had put a gun to their head and threatened to kill them. The BBC separately interviewed 27 former inmates of Bagram around the country over a period of two months. www.legitgov.com

U.S. proxy, no problem
Report: Israeli Abuse in Palestinians interrogation
Ma'an News
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) issued its annual report highlighting ongoing abuse of Palestinians by the Israeli army and intelligence services. The report recorded testimony of some 600 Palestinian prisoners, according to the Hebrew newspaper Ma’ariv. Many of the testimonies were of prisoners recounting interrogations meant to produce confessions. The report shows that Israeli soldiers systematically shackle and blindfold prisoners then beat them while they are transported to prisons and detention centers. Detainees are frequently left handcuffed to chairs for hours on end..http://www.uruknet.de/?p=55428

Digest note:
MAJOR HQs for U.S. MEDIA PROPAGANDA: think-tanks & US / SOROS International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Notice absence of links to back-up bald-faced lies and insidious insinuation, usually attributed to alleged witnesses, Iranian govt., unidentified experts, analysts/experts.
Desperately stoking its destabilization fires [since last Sat. no significant crowds, just small groups shown on BBC news throwing rocks, molotov coktails, setting fires] and simultaneously trying to squelch spreading awareness of its intervention, U.S. / obama & supporters started claiming Iranian govt. is source of 'lies' about u.s. intervention being contemptuous of Iranian's 'revolutionary movement' -- despite evidence to the contrary [seehttp://www.burbankdigest.com/node/206 and
http://www.burbankdigest.com/node/205 ]
Iran Stepping Up Effort to Quell Election Protest
...“In a way one could say that Iran is no longer a theocracy, but a government headed by military chiefs” said a political analyst with years of experience in Iran who feared retribution if identified....Instead of heeding calls for moderation, the government has conducted one of the harshest crackdowns in its history. Dozens of former high-ranking officials have been jailed. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported.... Witnesses said people were trapped and beaten as they tried to flee down side streets.... Witnesses said they were met by a huge force of riot police officers and Basij vigilantes... Witnesses reported scenes of chaos and fear where riot police officers outnumbered demonstrators by about four to one...“I saw one group of about 100 people who began chanting ‘Death to the dictator’ on one of the side streets,” said another witness who insisted on not being identified for fear of arrest....
The pressure exposed deep cracks in the opposition, but also sparked signs of entrenched resistance.... It is not clear how far Mr. Moussavi, a former prime minister who is essentially an insider thrust into the role of opposition, would go to defy the system. He has not been seen since Thursday. So as the crackdown infuriates protesters, there is a greater gap with their ostensible leader, political analysts said......“People in the street have been radicalized, and I do not believe that most of them would today subscribe to Moussavi’s avowed platform,” said a political analyst with years of experience in Iran... Instead, Mr. Moussavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, a former university dean, continued to rally the opposition movement.

Isobel Coleman, Senior CFR Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy, Director of CFR’s Women and Foreign Policy program.
Coauthored Strategic Foreign Assistance: Civil Society in International Security.

From the great feminist U.S. imperialist strategic thinktank CFR, more evidence of u.s. 'regime change' intervention around Iranian elections aimed at winning wider western liberal support for u.s. agenda.
Notice CFR / Coleman's anonymous references to Iranian "women's movement" -- U.S. supported 'CIVIL SOCIETY' / STRATEGIC SOFT POWER groups --- and then the startling admission of "the reality of women's lives in Iran"

Reform and Women's Rights Movements Intertwined in Iran
Interviewee: Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy, CFR
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, CFR.org
June 24, 2009

There has been widespread participation of women in the demonstrations protesting the announced reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. CFR Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman, a leading expert on women's issues, says that "the reform movement and the women's movement in Iran are definitely and clearly interrelated" and have been for years. She says that if Ahmadinejad's victory stands, "you'll see a much more restricted Iran--more than what we've seen in the past few years. To squash what has happened in the last couple of weeks will take force and a very heavy hand. This will ultimately fall heavily on women, but it won't stop them."...

The reform movement and the women's movement in Iran are definitely and clearly interrelated. The women have been a key component of the reform movement since its very beginning. There have been women who have focused their reform effort specifically on improving legal rights for women and day-to-day livability for women. But they have worked alongside reformers who are focused on big-picture issues of democracy and human rights. Over time the two have merged. You've seen leading reformers going back to the 1990s taking on women's issues as part of their discourse, just as women have taken on human rights and democracy as part of their discourse. The two have really been intermingled over the past twenty years....

There's blatant legal discrimination in Iran against women, but the reality of women's lives is very advanced. Iran is not like other countries. Women are highly educated and most have jobs. It's not uncommon to see women as taxi drivers in Iran, while that would certainly turn heads in America. Women are pilots. There's a prominent woman who is a race car driver. There are women on television, women who are artists and who play a large role in the film industry in Iran. There are women members of parliament and two women have been vice presidents. Despite all of this, there [are] still pretty significant legal restrictions against women.

BBC: Power of Wome [A] n in Iran's Election
Author: Lyse Doucet
June 10, 2009
Bolstered by the active campaigning of Mir-Hossein Mousavi's wife, Zhara Rahnavard, "women's issues [in Iran] are on the agenda as they've never been before."Black is not the official colour of Mr Ahmedinejad's campaign, but in Iran, women's clothes make a statement.A long black chador, which means "tent", is the garment preferred by conservative women in a country where women's head scarves and modest clothing are mandatory.
President Ahmadinejad often speaks of women as the heart of this society. He talks of empowering them and makes much of his plan to provide insurance for housewives and share Iran's oil wealth with poorer families.
But Mr Mousavi has - for Iran - an unusual political asset; his wife, Zhara Rahnavard.
She is Iran's first top-ranking female university professor and like her husband is a respected painter. Their most daring move as a couple has caused a stir - they hold hands as they campaign together. In a BBC interview in Tehran, she described politics as art, and her choice of veil - a black chador with a flowery scarf peaking from beneath it - as a "beautiful composition."

"NEDA", the major media, Obama & Helen Thomas
The "Neda video," torture, and the truth-revealing power of images
Glenn Greenwald
...For the last question at his press conference yesterday, Obama was asked by CNN's Suzanne Malveaux about his reaction to that video and to reports that Iranians are refraining from protesting due to fear of such violence. As Obama was answering -- attesting to how "heartbreaking" he found the video; how "anybody who sees it knows that there's something fundamentally unjust" about the violence; and paying homage to "certain international norms of freedom of speech, freedom of expression" -- Helen Thomas, who hadn't been called on, interrupted to ask Obama to reconcile those statements about the Iranian images with his efforts at home to suppress America's own torture photos ("Then why won't you allow the photos --").
The President quickly cut her off with these remarks:

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on a second, Helen. That's a different question. (Laughter.)

The White House Press corps loves to laugh condescendingly at Helen Thomas because, tenaciously insisting that our sermons to others be applied to our own Government, she acts like a real reporter...[...]

"Middle East Elections 2009: Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq"
Congressional Research Service 7-5700
www.crs.gov R40586

The strategic influence of Iran in the Middle East, the stability of Iraq, and the ongoing war in
Afghanistan are at the forefront of U.S. policy and Congressional interest in the region. The
Obama Administration and many Members of the 111th Congress are making decisions about the
U.S. approach to the Middle East at a time when the consequences of recent decisions and events
may constrain U.S. options. In 2009, key elections in Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq could
reshape regional dynamics and either complicate or advance U.S. policy goals in the Middle East.
This report provides an overview of the election contests in Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq,
including possible outcomes and implications for U.S. policy. It will be updated periodically to
reflect major developments. For more information, see CRS Report R40054, Lebanon:
Background and U.S. Relations, by Casey L. Addis, CRS Report RL32048, Iran: U.S. Concerns
and Policy Responses, by Kenneth Katzman, CRS Report RL30588, Afghanistan: Post-Taliban
Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, by Kenneth Katzman, and CRS Report RS21968, Iraq:
Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks, by Kenneth Katzman.

A Smarter Weapon
Why two retired military officers believe it’s essential that the next president use outreach, good deeds and a strong military to make the United States safer.
By Anthony C. Zinni and Leighton W. Smith Jr.
3/ 27. 2008
As voters consider their choices for president, much is already weighing on their minds: talk about a U.S. recession, lack of affordable health care, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But another concern should be front and center — the candidates' vision for a better, safer America and world.

Our experience, both in and out of uniform, leads us to make a direct, personal appeal to all the presidential candidates that what the U.S. urgently needs is a new and vibrant strategic agenda for its national security and foreign policy. The reality is that many of the threats we face today — illegal immigration, radical jihadism and terrorism, public health and environmental problems — originate from complicated circumstances beyond our borders. And we know that young people who live in countries where they feel disenfranchised and without hope are prime recruiting targets for our adversaries.

We cannot inoculate our nation from these threats. Instead, we must address the roots of these complex problems. Simply put, it is time to repair our relationship with the world and begin to take it to the next level — a level defined not only by our military strength, but also by the lives we save and the opportunities we create for the people of other nations. We call upon the next president to elevate the use of tools such as development assistance and diplomacy as integral parts of our national security strategy... significant non-military investments help mitigate societal discontent, which promotes stability internally with the potential to remove destabilizing influences in the surrounding regions.

'A new commitment'... the next administration must reframe and restructure our foreign policy and national security architecture. ...The next commander in chief must be ready at the start of his or her administration to articulate a comprehensive strategy for how America is going to chart a new course by elevating the use of our non-military tools, followed by hard commitments of people and resources to the task. He or she must be ready to do what any military commander would do going into battle: Make sure your troops understand the mission and its importance and then work to execute the plan. Today's battle for peace requires the same seamless coordination, and the troops the next president must prepare include Defense, State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Security Council.

The great Chinese military general and strategist Sun Tze got it right in sixth century B.C. when he said, "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." We urge our next commander in chief to accept this sage advice. The American people should expect nothing less.
General Anthony C. Zinni and Admiral Leighton W. Smith Jr. retired Marine Corps and the Navy, respectively, co-chairs of the Center for U.S. Global Engagement's National Security Advisory Council.

Defense Firms Helping U.S. deploy "soft power"
Helping the U.S. deploy "soft power," long the purview of smaller firms, is evolving into one of the most promising lines of new business for big Pentagon contractors. These companies are strengthening their relationships with the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, both of which will play a key role in the Obama administration's efforts to tackle foreign-policy issues...
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has repeatedly stressed that more than just military might need to be employed against U.S. adversaries such as al Qaeda and the Taliban. One of his strongest messages came in November 2007, when he told a Kansas State University audience, "I am here to make the case for strengthening our capacity to use soft power and for better integrating it with hard power.... Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signaled the Obama administration's intentions to blend soft power with traditional military might in an approach that Prof. Nye and other industry officials have begun calling "smart power." In January, Mrs. Clinton used the phrase to describe her approach to diplomacy during her confirmation hearing. The next month, she used it again during a trip to Indonesia....

The term soft power was coined by Joseph Nye, a professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a former official at the State and Defense departments said "Soft power is getting what you want through attraction," ...

" Hard and soft power are related because they are both aspects of the ability to achieve one’s purpose by affecting the behavior of others. What is Soft Power? Leadership and power are inextricably intertwined. Broadly speaking, power is the ability to affect the behavior of others to get the outcomes you want, and there are three basic ways to do that: You can coerce them with threats. You can induce them with payments Or you can attract and co-opt them. Soft power rests on the ability to shape the preferences of others. .. Your power is greater if you can get others to buy in to your values and vision. The ability to establish preferences tends to be associated with intangible assets such as an attractive personality, values, institutions, and a vision that are seen as legitimate or having moral authority. If a leader represents a vision and values that others want to follow, it will cost less to lead. Soft power often allows a leader to save on costly carrots and sticks. Simply put, in behavioral terms, soft power is attractional power. In terms of resources, soft power resources are the assets that produce such attraction.... Machiavelli made it clear that hatred is something a prince should carefully avoid.19 When the exercise of hard power undercuts soft power, it makes leadership more difficult – as the United States is finding out in its struggle against jihadist terrorism. The ability to combine hard and soft power fruitfully is “smart power.... Successful leadership may rest more upon soft power than in the past, but the prize will go to those with the contextual intelligence to manage the combination of soft and hard power into smart power. " from Soft Power, Hard Power and Leadership, Joseph S. Nye, Jr. , 10/27/06

The Hard Road Back to Soft Power
Pamela Hyde Smith
Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
Amb. Pamela Hyde Smith is a research associate and teaches a class on public diplomacy at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. She recently retired from the U.S. Foreign Service, having served as Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova. Excerpts from the article:

Much of the world today views the United States negatively, considering it dangerous and unpredictable. Recent polling overseas confirms the continuation of the downward slide in global public opinion that gathered force with the 2000 U.S. elections and accelerated sharply in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq.

Current approaches to building support for U.S. policies and American values, from the State Department's worldwide public diplomacy to the Defense Department's public affairs activities in war zones, have failed to reverse negative attitudes so severe that they thwart the United States' ability to achieve its foreign policy objectives. Anti-American forces are taking advantage of the collapse of U.S. popularity across the globe, making anti-Americanism a national security threat. The U.S. government should take a series of immediate steps to regain American credibility overseas. The Bush administration must revise some of its signature policies and moderate its style of international discourse in order to regain the goodwill the United States previously earned. Much more emphasis on public diplomacy is essential. Additionally, Congress and the executive branch should use the next two years to restructure the apparatus of governmental soft power instruments, making them more effective and powerful.

The Pew Research Center's June 2006 Global Attitudes Project demonstrates what other polls have been saying in recent years: world public opinion has turned ferociously against the United States. Favorable opinion has plummeted in nearly all countries surveyed in Europe, Asia, and especially the Middle East. The United States has never been as unpopular in Western Europe. Even in the United Kingdom 41 percent of those polled think the United States is a greater threat to world peace than Iran. Most countries polled now view China more favorably than the United States. In Turkey, a NATO ally country, only 12 percent of those polled have a favorable opinion of the United States -- down from 52 percent in 2000. In Indonesia favorable opinion declined from 75 percent in 2000 to 15 percent in 2003, and it has risen to 30 percent today chiefly because of our tsunami assistance. In not a single majority-Muslim population country polled in 2002 did a majority believe that Arabs carried out the 9/11 attacks; these same majorities support Osama bin Laden and evince sympathy for suicide bombers.

Across the globe people believe that the Iraq war makes the world more dangerous, and this perception undercuts support for the overall war on terrorism. American actions at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Haditha combine with U.S. renditions, defense of torture, and violations of the Geneva Conventions to blacken the U.S. image. In the past, when foreign attitudes faulted the U.S. government, the American people still enjoyed favorable ratings, but this has been changing: between 2002 and 2005 favorability ratings of Americans fell in nine of twelve countries polled. As Roger Cohen memorably put it, the world has "stopped buying the American narrative."

A catalogue of further complaints completes the picture. World opinion faults the Bush administration for its unilateralism and preemption, unflinching support of Israel, and scorn for international organizations. The Bush administration's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol and its dismissal of the threat of global warming have been met with dismay by key Asian and European allies. Additional irritants include stingy assistance to the world's poor in comparison with other wealthy countries and the slow and ineffective response to Katrina, which made the U.S. government appear less generous and even-handed than America claims to be....

From 1953 until its merger with the State Department in 1999, the United States Information Agency (USIA) conducted most of U.S. public diplomacy and amplified its soft power. Although never perfect, USIA earned a creditable record "telling America's story to the world" through a hard-won alliance of broadcasting, cultural, educational, information, and advocacy programs. USIA, with more overseas posts than any other U.S. government agency, was the largest public diplomacy operation of any nation ever, as well as the world's largest publisher and a formidable broadcaster. A recent analysis sharply contrasts USIA's effective performance during the first Gulf War with public diplomacy's current failures.

The decline began in the early 1990s when the executive and legislative branches decided that Cold War-era funding levels for public diplomacy were unnecessary and USIA suffered severe cutbacks and eventual elimination. The broadcasting function was peeled off and consolidated with other non-military U.S. government overseas broadcasters under the autonomous Broadcasting Board of Governors. The public diplomacy function has not fared well in the traditionalist State Department culture, nor has broadcasting prospered under its new umbrella.

A flood of studies in the last few years broadly concludes that public diplomacy's ills since the merger include serious deficiencies in strategic planning and in coordinating activities across the government, within the State Department, and between State and U.S. embassies. However, the persistent inadequacy of personnel and program resources to sustain basic outreach overseas remains the most serious problem. Congress allots approximately $630 million to State Department public diplomacy and $645 million to non-military broadcasting, which together total approximately 4 percent of State's overall international affairs budget and 0.6 percent of the Pentagon's budget. To put these numbers into context, the United States spends the same amount on public diplomacy as Britain or France, despite the fact that it is five times bigger than either and has much more serious credibility problems. If the United States were to spend as much per person on public diplomacy in the Muslim world as it did in Germany and Japan after World War II, the budget for these countries would be $7 billion. The number of U.S. public diplomacy officers, which reached 2,500 in 1991, has since been cut in half, with technology replacing much of their personal contact work overseas....

Several steps by the U.S. government, combined with more vigorous support from the American public, can begin to reverse the damage to the U.S. image overseas. Karen Hughes's most pressing task is to persuade the president of the need for rebuilding credibility, an effort that will fail without his buy-in. Shifts in policy, the prime factor in forming public opinion, are the first priority. The Bush administration's marginal retreats from its first-term doctrines of preemption and unilateralism have failed to mollify our critics or nullify the threat anti-Americanism poses to U.S. security. Consequently, further U.S. work within international institutions, treaties, and alliances will be helpful, along with conspicuous fair play in trade relations. The U.S. government must take responsibility for mistakes it has made, punish those at fault, and move to rectify the consequences. Reviving the U.S. role as honest broker between the Israelis and the Palestinians is also crucial. Ultimately, the U.S. government will bolster its image abroad by treating other nations with renewed respect; listening to world opinion; and matching policy more consistently with American ideals and values such as fairness, the rule of law, human rights, opportunity, and humility.

To address the next priority, rebuilding soft power, the U.S. government should re-establish its good global citizenship by deploying American knowhow to solve global problems: fighting poverty, disease, tyranny, and environmental degradation as well as terrorism.... the U.S. government must combat anti-Americanism with as much energy and capital as it dedicated to winning hearts and minds...the ideological battle... during the Cold War.... Given the Islamic world's estimated population of 1.2 billion, the United States should start building relationships with 200,000 Muslim students, professors, teachers, journalists, political activists, and other influential people, not handfuls here and there as at present. Public diplomacy, consequently, needs more funding immediately, at least ten times the amount now allocated....

While these difficult, urgent steps are taken to halt the damage to American credibility, structural changes should be initiated so that the next president can rebuild soft power on a more stable foundation. The State Department should retain the policy advocacy and information functions of public diplomacy, which should be married with the policy formation process, but public diplomacy's long-term relationship building or "mutual understanding" programs should be divested from State. These activities -- academic and cultural exchange programs, speakers, and libraries -- would benefit from joining the U.S. government's other soft power efforts under the umbrella of a bipartisan supervisory board, thus forming a Smithsonian-like institution for outreach to overseas publics -- the "Public Diplomacy Institute."

A grouping of the State Department's exchange programs, the Peace Corps, the Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Institute for Peace, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors would enable these activities to network with each other and NGO and private-sector partners at home and abroad. This bundling would greatly increase the clout of soft power work in Washington. The Institute should also coordinate with the soft power efforts of the Defense Department, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies....The full text of the article is found on the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs Web site.

Has the U.S. Played a Role in Fomenting Unrest During Iran’s Election?
by Jeremy Hammond

Obama Sharpens Criticism Of Iran, Washington Post, June 24, 2009
Dateline: Foreign Policy Journal June 23, 2009
Has the U.S. Played a Role in Fomenting Unrest During Iran’s Election? Any knowledgeable observer would say yes, but that’s not the version you’ll hear on US media.

Following the announcement of victory for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his main opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi in Iran’s presidential election on June 12, the country erupted in turmoil as supporters of Mousavi flocked to the streets to protest what they claimed was a fraudulent election, while state security and militia forces cracked down on dissenters, sometimes violently. Iran claimed that the unrest was being fueled by foreign interference, a charge reported but dismissed in Western media accounts. But there is ample reason to believe the U.S. had a hand in fomenting the chaos that has since plagued the country..[1]

“The United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is not interfering with Iran’s affairs,” Obama said. “Some in Iran — somein the Iranian government, in particular, are trying to avoid that debate by accusing the United States and others in the West of instigating protests over the election. These accusations are patently false.”

The U.S.lost their principal ally in the Middle East when the Shah was in turn overthrown...in 1979.. what is incontrovertible is the U.S. long and sordid history of interference in Iranian affairs.

The National Endowment for Democracy
One mechanism by which the U.S. interferes in the internal political affairs of other nations is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a quasi-governmental agency with funding from both Congress and private individuals whose purpose is to support foreign organizations sympathetic to U.S. foreign policy goals. NED’s website states that its creation in the early 1980s was “premised on the idea that American assistance on behalf of democracy efforts abroad would be good both for the U.S. and for those struggling around the world for freedom and self-government.”[2] The idea behind NED was to create an organization to do overtly what the CIA had long been doing clandestinely, and the organization has developed its own history of foreign interference. “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” acknowledged Allen Weinstein, one of NED’s founders.[3]

In Nicaragua, for instance, the CIA provoked opposition activities in the hopes that it would prompt an “overreaction” from the Sandinista government. The NED was there, also, providing money to opposition groups while the CIA armed contra terrorists (using money from the sale of arms to Iran, incidentally).[4]

In the Bulgarian elections of 1990, NED spent over $1.5 million in an effort to defeat the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). When the effort failed and the BSP won, NED backed opposition groups that sowed chaos in the streets for months until the president and prime minister finally resigned. [5]

The complicity in the innumerable crimes of US foreign policy is seamlessly shared by the two major parties, with differences only in style and tactics, and with neither– despite propaganda– giving a damn about freedom or democracy for the people... Not surprising then, that Richard Gephardt, the former Minority Leader of the House of Representatives has been a longtime supporter of the Endowment and its work – meeting many times over the years with NED grantees from all over the world. Gephardt was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 and has served as both the Majority and Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives and as one of the nation’s leading Democrats for much of the last two decades. His NED bioblurb claims that, “He is an expert on economic issues and foreign affairs, and is an eloquent voice for fairness, justice, tolerance and human rights.” You wish.

The NED was in Albania supporting the opposition to the communist government that was elected in 1991. Once again, turmoil in the streets led to the collapse of the government, forcing a new election in which the U.S.-backed Democratic Party won.[6]

Between 1990 and 1992, NED financed the Cuban-American National Foundation, an anti-Castro group out of Miami that in turn funded Luis Posada Carriles, a terrorist harbored by the U.S. who was responsible for the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 73 people.[7]

NED was present in Mongolia helping to unite opposition parties under the National Democratic Union to defeat the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party that had won elections in 1992. With backing from NED, the NDU won in 1996 and U.S. media lauded the economic “shock-therapy” that the new pro-West government would implement. Under the new government, the National Security Agency (NSA) also set up shop with listening posts to spy on China. [8]

During the Clinton administration, NED was in Haiti working with the opposition to ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.[9]

NED was in Venezuela financing the opposition to President Hugo Chavez, including groups involved in the attempted coup in 2002 that nearly succeeded in his overthrow.[10]

NED is also active in Iran, granting hundreds of thousands of dollars to Iranian groups. From 2005 to 2007, NED gave $345,000 to the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF)...The website is registered to the Boroumand Foundation, listed at Suite 357, 3220 N ST., NW, Washington, D.C.[11][12][13]

Another recipient of NED grants is the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which received $25,000 in 2002, $64,000 in 2005, and $107,000 in 2006. The 2002 grant was to carry out a “media training workshop” to train participants representing various civic groups in public relations. The 2005 money was given in part to “strengthen the capacity of civic organizations in Iran”, including by advising Iranian groups on “foreign donor relations.” The 2006 grant was similarly designed to “foster cooperation between Iranian NGOs and the international civil society community and to strengthen the institutional capacity of NGOs in Iran.”[14]

The group’s president is Dr. Trita Parsi, whose parents fled political repression in Iran when he was four. He studied for his Doctoral thesis at the Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies under Professor Francis Fukuyama.[15] Fukuyama wrote in 2007 that “Ahmadinejad may be the new Hitler”, but that the use of military force against Iran “looks very unappealing”, and that airstrikes “would not result in regime change”, which was “the only long-term means of stopping” Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.[16] The NIAC similarly opposes the use of military force against Iran, and instead “supports the idea of resolving the problems between the US and Iran through dialogue in order to avoid war.”[17]

Following the Iranian election and subsequent violence, NIAC issued a statement saying that “The only plausible way to end the violence is for new elections to be held with independent monitors ensuring its fairness.”[18]

Last November, the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad-Javad Zarif charged the U.S. with attempting to orchestrate a “velvet revolution” in Iran. One of the means by which this was being carried out, he said, was by means of workshops. “American officials have been inviting Iranian figures to so-called scientific seminars over the past few years”, he said. “However, when the Iranians attend these sessions, they realize they have gathered to discuss measures to topple the Iranian government”.[19]

The Office of Iranian Affairs
In February, 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requested emergency funding from Congress to the amount of $75 million, on top of a previously allocated $10 million, “to mount the biggest ever propaganda campaign against the Tehran government”, in the words of The Guardian. The money “would be used to broadcast US radio and television programmes into Iran, help pay for Iranians to study in America and support pro-democracy groups inside the country.” The propaganda effort would include “extending the government-run Voice of America’s Farsi service from a few hours a day to round-the-clock coverage.” In announcing the request, Rice said the U.S. “will work to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom and democracy in their country.”[20]

The Christian Science Monitor reported candidly on the “implicit goal” of the requested funds as being “regime change from within”, and similarly noted that “The money will go toward boosting broadcasts in Farsi to Iran, support for opposition groups, and student exchanges.”

A former specialist on the Middle East from the National Security Council, Raymond Tanter suggested the U.S. could work with an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK). “If we are serious about working with groups from within,” he said, “it will have to be with the MEK, because there’s no other opposition force the regime cares about.” Mehdi Marand, a spokesman for the Council for Democratic Change in Iran, similarly said that some in the Congress were ready to remove the MEK from the terrorist list. “If the US really wants to help the democratic forces inside Iran,” he said, “the only way is to remove restrictions from the opposition.”[21]...MEK is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Based in Iraq, the group came under U.S. sway after the 2003 invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein.

According to former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who was among a few lone voices pointing out prior to the invasion of Iraq that there was no credible evidence the country still possessed weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. was already working with the MEK. Well prior, in 2005, Ritter wrote that the Bush administration had authorized a number of covert operations inside Iran. “The most visible of these”, he wrote, “is the CIA-backed actions recently undertaken by the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group, once run by Saddam Hussein’s dreaded intelligence services, but now working exclusively for the CIA’s Directorate of Operations.” The MEK’s CIA-backed operations within Iran included “terror bombings”, Ritter charged.[22]

A State Department cable unclassified in March, 2006 and entitled “Recruiting the Next Generation of Iran Experts” began by asserting that “Effectively addressing the Iran challenge ranks as one of the highest foreign policy priorities for our Government over the next decade.” The document outlines a plan developed under then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to “promote freedom and demoncracy [sic] in Iran.”

To this end, the State Department created the Office of Iranian Affairs (OIA) under the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, which would “reach out to the Iranian people” and bring more Iran experts into the Foreign Service and more Persian-speaking officers into the OIA, the Intelligence and Research Bureau (INR), and other branches of the State Department. Part of the “outreach” effort would be based in Dubai, a “natural location” for a regional office due to its “proximity to Iran and access to an Iranian diaspora”.[23]

The Dubai office would be modeled on the listening station in the Latvian capital of Riga, according to the document, which was where the U.S. had a listening station to gather information on the Soviet Union during the 1920s (George Kennan was at one time stationed there). The Iranian media has referred to the station as the “regime-change office.” A State Department official based in Dubai said the office’s purpose “is to get a sense of what’s going on in Iran. It is not some recruiting office and is not organizing the next revolution in Iran.”[24]

But the State Department cable also stated that among responsibilities of the Deputy Director of the Dubai station would be to seek “ways to use USG programs and funding to support Iranian political and civic organizations” and “to alert Washington on [the] need to issue statements on behalf of Iranian dissidents.”

The OIA would also create an International Relations Officer Generalist (IROG) position in Istanbul to advance “U.S. policy objectives with the Iranian [expatriate] community” in Turkey and Israel. A similar position would be created for the same purpose in Frankfurt, London, and Baku.[25]

In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times critical of the Bush administration’s designs on Iran, Charles A. Kupchan, a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and Ray Takeyh, also a senior fellow at the CFR, observed that the objective was “not just to contain Tehran’s nuclear ambitions but also to topple the Iranian government.” Their main criticism with the new “strategy for regime change” is that it was likely to “backfire and only strengthen Tehran’s hard-liners” by giving them cause to decry “U.S. ‘interference’” and thus lending them political leverage to implement a crackdown on dissidents.[26]

When asked whether the OIA was intended to promote regime change, a State Department senior official told CNN it was “to facilitate a change in Iranian policies and actions” before acknowledging, “Yes, one of the things we want to develop is a government that reflects the desires of the people, but that is a process for the Iranians.”[27]

Then US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton acknowledged in October 2006 that regime change was the “ultimate objective” of the U.S. sanctions policy, and adding that it “puts pressure on them internally” and “helps democratic forces” within the country and amongst the Iranian diaspora.[28]

Administration officials told the New York Times that then Vice President Dick Cheney was promoting the “drive to bring Iranian scholars and students to America, blanket the country with radio and television broadcasts and support Iranian political dissidents.” The program was to be “overseen by Elizabeth Cheney, a principal deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, who is also the vice president’s daughter.”[29]

A Washington Post article on the new office noted money would be spent on “opposition activities” and observed that “Although administration officials do not use the term ‘regime change’ in public, that in effect is the goal they outline as they aim to build resistance to the theocracy.” The Post also noted that a “setback” for the Bush administration had come when Congress cut $19 million from the funding that would mainly affect broadcast operations, thus affecting plans to increase Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts into Iran to 24-hours a day.[30]

The Financial Times reported in April, 2006 that the effort was being coordinated with the U.K. and noted that criticism of the administration’s strategy included some of the same Iranians the program was designed to bolster. “Serious Iranian opposition politicians are virtually unanimous in saying that foreign funding of activities designed to promote democracy, especially by the US or UK, would be counter-productive”, the Financial Times reported. The article also quoted Ali Akbar Javanfekr, a press adviser to President Ahmadinejad, as saying that Iranians are “alert” to the “propaganda of enemies”.[31]

In May, the Los Angeles Times reported that the OIA was headed by David Denehy, a specialist at the International Republican Institute (IRI).[32] The IRI has been a recipient of NED funds, and was active in Venezuela, including the year of the attempted coup, when the IRI received $299,999 from NED to “train” political parties (including the IRI, over $1 million in grants was given by NED to groups operating in Venezuela in 2002).[33]

NIAC president Trita Parsi explained the goal of the U.S. policy by saying, “The administration is trying to make regime change through democratization the policy, instead of making confrontation by military means the policy.”

The L.A. Times also reported that “at the Pentagon, an Iranian directorate will work with the State Department office to undercut the government in Tehran.” The new Iranian directorate, the report noted, “has been set up inside its policy shop, which previously housed the Office of Special Plans [OSP]”.[34]

The OSP was the office headed by Douglas Feith that was created to bypass the normal intelligence review process and stovepipe information bolstering the policy of regime change in Iraq, including information from Iraqi dissidents like Ahmad Chalabi, who was afforded little credibility outside Feith’s office.

In an article for Rolling Stone, author James Bamford revealed how a member of Feith’s cabal at the OSP, Michael Ledeen, set up a meeting with Iranian dissidents to further the goal of regime change in Iran. Ledeen had served as the Reagan administration’s intermediary with Israel during the illegal arms deal that became known as the Iran-Contra Affair.

At the meeting in Rome, Ledeen, along with Larry Franklin and Harold Rhode, met with an Iranian named Manucher Ghorbanifer in a safehouse provided by Nicolò Pollari, the director of Italy’s Military Intelligence and Security Service (SISMI). Pollari had just months before been responsible for providing to that Bush administration what would later be revealed to have been fabricated documents purporting to show that Saddam Hussein had obtained yellowcake uranium from Africa. The men discussed the possibility of using the MEK to further their goal of regime change in Iran, according to Bamford’s sources who were familiar with the meeting.

Additionally, Larry Franklin, who worked under Feith in the OSP, later met with two other men “who were also looking for ways to push the U.S. into a war with Iran.” The two men were Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). With the FBI watching, Franklin illegally passed classified information on a National Security Presidential Directive dealing with U.S. policy on Iran to AIPAC with the goal of having the influential Israeli lobby exert pressure on the White House to adopt the draft directive.

In the July 24 article, Bamford wrote, “Over the past six months, the administration has adopted almost all of the hard-line stance advocated by the war cabal in the Pentagon…. To back up the tough talk, the State Department is spending $66 million to promote political changes inside Iran—funding the same kind of dissident groups that helped drive the U.S. to war in Iraq.”

Writing in the New York Times Magazine in June, 2007, Negar Azimi wrote about how the Iranian newspaper Kayhan “editorializes almost daily about an elaborate network conspiring to topple the regime. Called ‘khaneh ankaboot,’ or ‘the spider nest,’ the network is reportedly bankrolled by the $75 million and includes everyone from George Soros to George W. Bush to Francis Fukuyama to dissident Iranians of all shades.”

Azimi added, “If the spider’s nest had a headquarters, it might well be the Office of Iranian Affairs, which sits on the second floor of the State Department” and “was charged with outlining, in close consultation with Denehy, how to spend the democracy fund.”

$36.1 million of the funds was to go to VOA Persian and Radio Farda. VOA has often featured Reza Pahlavi, son of the former Shah, who now lives in Maryland. On April 1, 2007, VOA featured the head of the Balochi terrorist group Jundallah, Abdel Malek Rigi, who was “introduced as the leader of an armed national resistance group.”

Mehdi Khalaji, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who previously had worked for three years at Radio Farda, told Azimi that the VOA’s new administrators “do not seem to be able to distinguish between journalism and propaganda…. If you host the head of Jundallah and call him a freedom fighter or present a Voice of America run by monarchists, Iranians are going to stop listening.”[35]

U.S. Covert Operations in Iran
In April, 2006, investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh wrote in the New Yorker magazine that “The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack.”

A source with ties to the Pentagon told Hersh that American units were operating in Iran and “working with minority groups in Iran, including the Azeris, in the north, the Balochis, in the southeast, and the Kurds, in the northeast.” The principle goal was to “‘encourage ethnic tensions’ and undermine the regime.”[36]

Asia Times Online reported shortly thereafter that a “former Iranian ambassador and Islamic Republic insider” had provided details “about US covert operations inside Iran aimed at destabilizing the country and toppling the regime – or preparing for an American attack.” According to the source, “The Iranian government knows and is aware of such infiltration.”

Richard Sale, intelligence correspondent for United Press International, corroborated the charges made by Hersh, saying that “The Iranian accusations are true,” but that “it is being done on such a small scale – a series of pinpricks – it would seem to have no strategic value at all.”

The Asia Times Online article continued, noting recent unrest in Iranian ethnic minority communities, including amongst Kurdish, Arab, and Balochi populations. In one incident “in late January, a previously unknown Sunni Muslim group called Jundallah (Soldier of Allah) captured nine Iranian soldiers in the remote badlands of Sistan-Balochistan province that borders Afghanistan and Pakistan.”[37]

In July, Seymour Hersh repeated in an interview with NPR that the U.S. was supporting anti-regime terrorist groups including the MEK, Jundallah, and the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). “The strategic thinking behind this covert operation is to provoke enough trouble and chaos so that the Iranian government makes the mistake of taking aggressive action which will give the impression of a country in acute turmoil”, Hersh said, in order to give the White House a casus belli.[38]

In a July 29 article, Scott Ritter wrote that “American taxpayer dollars are being used, with the permission of Congress, to fund activities that result in Iranians being killed and wounded, and Iranian property destroyed…. The CIA today provides material support to the actions of the MEK inside Iran. The recent spate of explosions in Iran … appears to be linked to an MEK operation….”[39]

Hersh wrote another article in the New Yorker in November noting that the Pentagon was increasingly conducting covert operations that had traditionally been the CIA’s domain and giving further details about its activities in Iran. “In the past six months, Israel and the United States have been working together in support of a Kurdish resistance group known as the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan”, which has conducted raids into Iran. He repeated that the “Pentagon has established covert relationships with Kurdish, Azeri, and Balochi tribesman, and has encouraged their efforts to undermine the regime’s authority in northern and southeastern Iran.”[40]

On Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh joined Scott Ritter in a conversation about the topic of Ritter’s book, Target Iran: The Truth About the White House’s Plans for Regime Change, which claimed the U.S. was conducting operations in Iran using the MEK. Ritter said the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was building a station in Azerbaijan to work with Iran’s Azeri population and was also working closely with the MEK.[41]

On February 27, 2007, the London Telegraph reported, “America is secretly funding militant ethnic separatist groups in Iran in an attempt to pile pressure on the Islamic regime to give up its nuclear program. “In a move that reflects Washington’s growing concern with the failure of diplomatic initiatives, CIA officials are understood to be helping opposition militias among the numerous ethnic minority groups clustered in Iran’s border regions. “The operations are controversial because they involve dealing with movements that resort to terrorist methods in pursuit of their grievances against the Iranian regime. “In the past year there has been a wave of unrest in ethnic minority border areas of Iran, with bombing and assassination campaigns against soldiers and government officials. “Such incidents have been carried out by the Kurds in the west, the Azeris in the north-west, the Ahwazi Arabs in the south-west, and the Balochis in the south-east.”

A former high-ranking CIA official told the Telegraph that the CIA’s funding for opposition and separatist groups was “no great secret”.

Fred Burton, a former US State Department counter-terrorism agent and author of Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent (published in 2008), also told the Telegraph that “The latest attacks inside Iran fall in line with US efforts to supply and train Iran’s ethnic minorities to destabilize the Iranian regime.”

And John Pike of the Global Security think tank in Washington said, “The activities of the ethnic groups have hotted up [sic] over the last two years and it would be a scandal if that was not at least in part the result of CIA activity.” Pike also said that “A faction in the Defense Department wants to unleash” the MEK. “They could never overthrow the current Iranian regime but they might cause a lot of damage.”[42]

Journalist and later author of The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Middle East Crisis (published in October 2007) Reese Erlich told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! in March 2007 that the U.S. was using Kurdish groups against Iran. “In the case of one group,” he disclosed, “the P.K.K. or the Kurdistan Workers Party and they are, along with Israel, sponsoring them to carry out guerilla raids inside Iran, and it’s part of a much wider plan by the United States to foment discontent and actual terrorist activities by ethnic Iranians in various parts of Iran. And when I was in northern Iraq, I was able to determine that that kind of activity is going on from Iraqi soil under the Kurdish controlled areas of Iraq, into Iran.”

Erlich also explained how the PJAK was formed as a breakaway group from the PKK and added that “they’re playing a very similar game with the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, another Iranian Group, and with groups in Balochistan, which is near the Pakistan Iranian border where some revolutionary guard bus was blown up.” He added that Israel was also “backing various Kurdish groups.”[43]

Further corroboration was given in April, according to the ABC News blog “The Blotter”, which reported that according to U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources, the Balochi group Jundullah, operating out of the Balochistan province in Pakistan, was carrying out deadly operations inside Iran under the guidance and encouragement of the U.S. Funding for Jundullah was not provided directly, but instead, “Tribal sources tell ABC News that money for Jundullah is funneled to its youthful leader, Abdel Malik Regi, through Iranian exiles who have connections with European and Gulf states.”

Referencing the attack on the bus Erlich spoke of in his interview with Amy Goodman, ABC News noted that Jundullah had taken credit for a number of terrorist attacks and kidnappings, including “an attack in February that killed at least 11 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard riding on a bus in the Iranian city of Zahedan.”[44]

Again in May, ABC News reported that “The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert ‘black’ operation to destabilize the Iranian government,” according to current and former intelligence officials. The presidential finding “reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international financial transactions.”

Retired CIA senior official Bruce Riedel said he couldn’t “confirm or deny whether such a program exists”, but added that “it would be consistent with an overall American approach trying to find ways to put pressure on the regime”.

Vali Nasr, adjunct senior fellow for Mideast studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told ABC News, “I think everybody in the region knows that there is a proxy war already afoot with the United States supporting anti-Iranian elements in the region as well as opposition groups within Iran”.[45]

The same day as the ABC News report, the Telegraph also reported that “President George W Bush has given the CIA approval to launch covert ‘black’ operations to achieve regime change in Iran, intelligence sources have revealed.” The official document endorsed “CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilize, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.” The plan would also include sabotaging Iran’s economy “by manipulating the country’s currency and international financial transactions.”[46]

In July, 2008, former Pakistan Army Chief General Mirza Aslam Baig went public with the charge that the U.S. was backing Jundullah operations based out of Balochistan province.[47] Jundullah claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of the Amir al-Mohini mosque in the city of Zahedan on May 14, 2009, and said the target had Revolutionary Guards holding a meeting inside. Iran accused the U.S. of being behind the bombing.[48]

Jalal Sayyah, an official at the governor’s office in Sistan-Baluchestan province, told state radio, “The terrorists, who were equipped by America in one of our neighboring countries, carried out this criminal act in their efforts to create religious conflict and fear and to influence the presidential election”.[49] Interior Minister Sadegh Mahsooli similarly said, “Enemies try to influence the election by terror, just as they did in Zahedan yesterday…. The terror agents are neither Sunni nor Shiite but American and Israeli seeking a Sunni-Shiite divide.” Opposition candidate to President Ahmadinejad Mir-Hossein Mousavi also blamed “foreign forces” for the bombing.[50]

The U.S. naturally denied the charge. “We condemn this terrorist attack in the strongest possible terms,” said State Department spokesman Ian Kelly. “We do not sponsor any form of terrorism in Iran.”[51] White House spokesman Robert Gibbs issued a statement saying, “The United States strongly condemns the recent terrorist attacks in Iran…. The American people send their deepest condolences to the victims and their families. No cause justifies terrorism, and the United States condemns it in any form, in any country, against any people.”[52]

The next day, gunmen attacked President Ahmadinejad’s campaign headquarters in Zahedan, and three men were arrested as they tried to escape.[53] The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that three people, including a child, had been wounded in the attack. According to Al-Arabiya, a state channel, Jundullah had claimed responsibility for the attack.[54]

On June 9, 2009, just days before the presidential election, the Iranian state news agency Press TV reported that the brother of Jundullah leader Abdel Malik Rigi, Abdulhamid Rigi, had confirmed in an interview that the U.S. had met with the group since 2005 and helped to arm them. He himself had also met with the Americans in Islamabad, Pakistan, he said, according to the report.[55]

A ‘Velvet Revolution’
Two months before the election, Iran announced that its Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) had uncovered a plot to overthrow the regime and accused the Netherlands of conspiring with the U.S. and U.K. to provide financial support to opposition groups and websites for “anti-government activities” to bring about a “soft overthrow” of the government.[56]...

Amid the chaos and charges of foreign interference in the elections, Iran cracked down further on dissent, blocking websites and issuing a ban on foreign reporters. During the confusion, the social-networking internet site Twitter reportedly became an important means for protesters to organize and keep each other updated. A Twitter user posts brief updates (“tweets”) via a web browser or cell phone text messaging. Other users may subscribe to that user’s tweets to receive instant updates. Thus, despite efforts to block other internet sites, Iran could not put a stop to Twitter activity without blocking all SMS communications.

But the “Twitter Revolution”, as some Western media have dubbed it, may not be all it appears. Blogs in the U.S. exploded with unconfirmed reports based on anonymously submitted tweets, many ostensibly coming from inside Iran. But as the Washington Post observed, “It is hard to say how much twittering is actually going on inside Iran.”[59]... The New York Times observed that “just as Twitter has helped get out first-hand reports from Tehran, it has also spread inaccurate information, perhaps even disinformation.” Among the false information spread via Twitter and repeated by bloggers were: “That three millon protested in Tehran last weekend (more like a few hundred thousand); that the opposition candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi was under house arrest (he was being watched); that the president of the election monitoring committee declared the election invalid last Saturday (not so).”[60]...The New York Times also observed that “Not only is it hard to be sure that what appears on Twitter is accurate, but some Twitterers may even be trying to trick you.” An example cited is that of fabricated posts purporting to be from ABC News reporter Jim Sciutto.[64] Sciutto said the Iranian government attempted “to turn technology against the protesters. Officials have started a number of fake opposition pages on Twitter, which are tweeting propaganda and misleading information.”[65] Sciutto offered no evidence it was actually the Iranian government that was responsible for Twittering in his name, but then, of course, it is easy to accept that the Iranian government is using Twitter to spread misinformation simply as a matter of faith. And yet, despite the great amount of false or unsubstantiated claims made by apparent supporters of the opposition, there’s reluctance on the part of the mainstream media and bloggers to attribute to it the word “propaganda”, much less to suggest that there might have been a coordinated effort by anti-regime groups or foreign intelligence services to spread misinformation or foment unrest.

Evgeny Morozov, a blogger for Foreign Policy and a fellow at the Open Society Institute, questioned the “Twitter revolution” in an op-ed for the Boston Globe. He pointed out that “social media could do wonders when it comes to making many people aware of government’s abuse or the venue of a rally”, but “organizing protests is quite different from publicizing them; the former requires absolute secrecy, that latter one strives for the opposite.” “However tempting it might be to attribute the Iranian protests to the power of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media,” Morozov added, “we should be extremely careful in our conclusions, especially given that the evidence we are working with is extremely sparse.”[66] Morozov also told the Washington Post that it “is not at all certain” that Twitter “has helped to organize protests”, but “in terms of involving the huge Iranian diaspora and everyone else with a grudge against Ahmadinejad, it has been very successful.”...

When Twitter Inc scheduled maintenance for the website, the U.S. asked the company to postpone the work so the service would not be interrupted as it was being used to rally people into the streets to protest the election. “One of the areas where people are able to get out the word is through Twitter,” a senior State Department official told reporters. “They announced they were going to shut down their system for maintenance and we asked them not to.”[68] Iran shortly thereafter summoned the Swiss ambassador, who also represents U.S. interests in the country since the U.S. severed diplomatic relations after the 1979 revolution, to complain about American interference in Iranian affairs.[69]

One might be tempted to argue that the strategy for regime change implemented under the Bush administration that including funding for propaganda, support for Iranian dissident groups, and backing for anti-regime militants and terrorists has changed under the new administration of President Barack Obama....Whatever the case may be, given the record of U.S. interference in the state affairs of Iran and clear policy of regime change, it certainly seems possible, even likely, that the U.S. had a significant role to play in helping to bring about the recent turmoil in an effort to undermine the government of the Islamic Republic.

Certain name variants in this report have been changed within quoted text for consistency. British spellings have also been changed to American English.
[1] Remarks by President Barack Obama in Cairo, Egypt, White House, June 4, 2009


[2] David Lowe, “Idea To Reality: A Brief History of the National Endowment for Democracy”, National Endowment for Democracy, Accessed June 22, 2009


[3] William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2000), p. 180

[4] Susan F. Rasky, “C.I.A. Tied to Nicaragua Provocations”, New York Times, September 21, 1988


William Blum, Rogue State, p. 175

[5] William Blum, Rogue State, p. 157

[6] Ibid., p. 157-8

[7] Ibid., p. 183

[8] Ibid., p. 177

[9] Ibid., p. 182

[10] William Blum, “US coup against Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, 2002” (Excerpted from Freeing the World to death: Essays on the American Empire), KillingHope.org, accessed June 22, 2009


Eva Golinger, “The Proof is in the Documents: The CIA Was Involved in the Coup Against Venezuelan President Chavez”, VenezuelaiFOIA.info, accessed June 22, 2009


[11] Information on grants for years 2005-2007 available on the National Endowment for Democracy website, accessed June 22, 2009


[12] Information from the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation website, accessed June 22, 2009


[13] WHOIS domain lookup, accessed June 22, 2009


[14] National Endowment for Democracy website, accessed June 22, 2009


[15] Information from the National Iranian American Council website, accessed June 22, 2009


[16] “The neocons have learned nothing from five years of catastrophe”, The Guardian, January 31, 2007


[17] National Endowment for Democracy website, accessed June 22, 2009

[18] “NIAC Calls for New Election in Iran”, National Iranian American Council Press Release, June 20, 2009


[19] “US plotting Velvet Revolution in Iran?”, Press TV, November 18, 2008


[20] Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger, “Bush plans huge propaganda campaign in Iran”, The Guardian, February 16, 2006


[21] Howard LaFranchi, “A bid to foment democracy in Iran”, Christian Science Monitor, February 17, 2006


[22] Scott Ritter, “The US War with Iran has Already Begun”, Al Jazeera, June 20, 2005


[23] “Recruiting the Next Generation of Iran Experts: New Opportunities in Washington, Dubai and Europe”, Unclassified State Department Cable, released March, 2006


“New ‘Office of Iranian Affairs’ Outlined in State Department Cable”, Think Progress, March 1, 2006


[24] Lionel Beehner and Greg Bruno, “Intelligence on Iran Still Lacking”, Council on Foreign Relations, December 4, 2007


[25] “Recruiting the Next Generation of Iran Experts”

[26] Charles A. Kupchan and Ray Takeyh, “The wrong way to fix Iran”, Los Angeles Times, February 26, 2006


[27] Elise Labott, “U.S. to sharpen focus on Iran”, CNN, March 2, 2006


[28] Guy Dinmore and Daniel Dombey, “Bolton: sanctions ‘help regime change’”, Financial Times, October 24, 2006


[29] Steven R. Weisman, “Cheney Warns of ‘Consequences’ for Iran on Nuclear Issue”, New York Times, March 8, 2006


[30] Peter Baker and Glenn Kessler, “U.S. Campaign Is Aimed at Iran’s Leaders”, Washington Post, March 13, 2006; A01


[31] Guy Dinmore, “US and UK develop democracy strategy for Iran”, Financial Times, April 21, 2006


[32] Laura Rozen, “U.S. Moves to Weaken Iran”, Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2006


[33] Grant information obtained from the National Endowment for Democracy website, accessed June 23, 2009


[34] Laura Rozen, “U.S. Moves to Weaken Iran”, Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2006


[35] Negar Azimi, “Hard Realities of Soft Power”, New York Times Magazine, June 24, 2007


[36] Seymour M. Hersh, “The Iran Plans”, New Yorker, April 17, 2006


[37] “Tehran insider tells of US black ops”, Asia Times Online, April 25, 2006


[38] “Seymour Hersh On Covert Operations in Iran”, NPR, June 30, 2006


[39] Scott Ritter, “Acts of War”, Truthdig, July 19, 2008


[40] Seymour M. Hersh, “The Next Act”, New Yorker, November 27, 2006


[41] “Target Iran: Former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter and Investigative Journalist Seymour Hersh on White House Plans for Regime Change”, Democracy Now!, December 21, 2006


[42] William Lowther and Colin Freeman, “US funds terror groups to sow chaos in Iran”, Telegraph, February 25, 2007


[43] “Report: U.S. Sponsoring Kurdish Guerilla Attacks Inside Iran”, Democracy Now!, March 27, 2007


[44] “ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran”, ABC News ‘The Blotter’, April 3, 2007


[45] “Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran”, ABC News ‘The Blotter’, May 22, 2007


[46] Tim Shipman, “Bush sanctions ‘black ops’ against Iran”, The Telegraph, May 27, 2007


[47] “Former Pakistan Army Chief General Retired Mirza Aslam Baig says Iran and Pakistan under siege of western conspiracies”, Pakistan Daily, July 8, 2008


“‘US backs Jundullah to destabilize Iran’”, Press TV, July 9, 2008


[48] ‘Gunmen attack’ south Iran election office”, BBC News, May 29, 2009


[49] “Iran official blames U.S. in deadly mosque bombing”, Reuters, May 29, 2009


[50] “Gunmen attack Ahmadinejad election office”, Agence France-Presse, May 29, 2009


The National Endowment for Democracy
One mechanism by which the U.S. interferes in the internal political affairs of other nations is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a quasi-governmental agency with funding from both Congress and private individuals whose purpose is to support foreign organizations sympathetic to U.S. foreign policy goals.NED’s website states that its creation in the early 1980s was “premised on the idea that American assistance on behalf of democracy efforts abroad would be good both for the U.S. and for those struggling around the world for freedom and self-government.”[2] The idea behind NED was to create an organization to do overtly what the CIA had long been doing clandestinely, and the organization has developed its own history of foreign interference. “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” acknowledged Allen Weinstein, one of NED’s founders.[3]