6/26 USA TODAY: "U.S. grants support Iranian dissidents"

digest: Google shows only USA Today pub. this story, quotes & linked by Wall St Journal/WSJ:NYT silent, TV world news silent, focus on M. Jackson.

"moving forward" .....
U.S. grants support Iranian dissidents
By Ken Dilanian, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is moving forward with plans to fund groups that support Iranian dissidents, records and interviews show, continuing a program that became controversial when it was expanded by President Bush. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which reports to the secretary of state, has for the last year been soliciting applications for $20 million in grants to "promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Iran," according to documents on the agency's website. The final deadline for grant applications is June 30.

MORE: USAID report on support to Iranian dissidents
U.S. efforts to support Iranian opposition groups have been criticized in recent years as veiled attempts to promote "regime change," said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, the largest Iranian-American advocacy group. The grants enable Iran's rulers to paint opponents as tools of the United States, he said. Although the Obama administration has not sought to continue the Iran-specific grants in its 2010 budget, it wants a $15 million boost for the Near Eastern Regional Democracy Initiative, which has similar aims but does not specify the nations involved. Some of that money will be targeted at Iran, said David Carle, a spokesman for the appropriations subcommittee that oversees foreign affairs. "Part of it is to expand access to information and communications through the Internet for Iranians," Carle said in an e-mail.

President Obama said this week the United States "is not at all interfering in Iran's affairs," rejecting charges of meddling that were renewed Thursday by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Asked how the democracy promotion initiatives square with the president's statement, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said, "Let's be clear: The United States does not fund any movement, faction or political party in Iran. We support … universal principles of human rights, freedom of speech, and rule of law."

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said, "Respecting Iran's sovereignty does not mean our silence on issues of fundamental rights and freedoms, such as the right to peacefully protest."

The Bush program "was a horrible idea," Parsi said. "It made human rights activists and non-governmental organizations targets. Not so, said David Denehy, the former Republican political consultant and State Department official who used to oversee the spending. "To say that we were the cause of repression in Iran is laughable … Our programs sent a message to the people of Iran that we supported their requests for personal freedom," he said.

The State Department and USAID decline to name Iran-related grant recipients for security reasons.

After Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced a major expansion of the program in 2006 — Congress eventually approved $66 million — the Iranian government arrested activists and closed down their organizations. Several Iranian dissidents, including former political prisoner Akbar Ganji, denounced the U.S. funding as counterproductive.Some in Congress are happy the program is continuing."As the Iranian regime cracks down on its people, I strongly believe that we should be prepared to extend our hand in help and support to any Iranian civil society group that reaches out for it," Sen. Joseph Lieberman, wrote in an e-mail to USA TODAY.

Most of the money likely hasn't reached Iran but went instead to Washington-based groups, said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran expert who reviewed applications for the democracy program before leaving the State Department for the Brookings Institution. The United States lacks the insight to influence Iran's internal politics, she said. "We have such limited penetration of Iranian politics," she said. "We are so poorly positioned to add any value." http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2009-06-25-iran-money_N.htm

ALL QUOTES from: U.S. grants support Iranian dissidents

Let's be clear: The United States does not fund any movement, faction or political party in Iran. We support … universal principles of human rights, freedom of speech, and rule of law.

promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Iran
As the Iranian regime cracks down on its people, I strongly believe that we should be prepared to extend our hand in help and support to any Iranian civil society group that reaches out for it

Obama rejects Iran apology call
President Obama accused Tehran of violating "universal norms, international norms," and saying the bravery of the Iranian people is "a testament to their enduring pursuit of justice."
"I don't take Mr Ahmadinejad's statements seriously about apologies, particularly given the fact that the United States has gone out of its way not to interfere with the election process in Iran," Obama said during a news conference on Friday in Washington with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Scowcroft: "Of course" the US has agents working inside Iran
The US has intelligence agents in Iran but it is not clear if they are providing help to the protest movement there, a
Brent Scowcroft, former US national security adviser told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that "of course" the US had agents in Iran amid the ongoing pressure against the Iranian government by protesters opposed to the official result of its presidential election. But he added that he had no idea whether US agents had provided help to the opposition movement in Iran. "They might do. Who knows?" Scowcroft told Josh Rushing for Al Jazeera's Fault Lines programme.

Telecoms Aided Iran Government to Censor Internet:
A new report finds telecoms in Europe have helped the Iranian government develop one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms to censor the internet. It’s called deep packet inspection, and it’s also being used here at home.

Iran claims FBI blocking Web sites
June 26, 2009
Iranian broadcasters claim the FBI ordered the disruption of Internet servers that host Iranian Web sites in the wake of Iran's election fallout. The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting network claims the FBI ordered Washington to disconnect 80 news, social networking and other Web sites, including the Beirut bureau of Press TV, because of depictions of government protesters. http://www.upi.com/Emerging_Threats/2009/06/26/Iran-claims-FBI-blocking-...

The Obama administration intervened to quash a civil suit filed against Saudi Arabia by survivors and family members of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/jun2009/saud-j26.shtml

Obama Drafting Order on Detention
Saturday, June 27, 2009
The Obama administration... is drafting an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations. Such an order would embrace claims by former president George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war.

Who's A Low Level Terrorist? Are You?
By Emily Spence
June 26, 2009 "Information Clearing House" -- Recently, an American Civil Liberties Union report pointed out, "Anti-terrorism training materials currently being used by the Department of Defense (DoD) teach its personnel that free expression in the form of public protests should be regarded as 'low level terrorism." [1]...Nobel Peace Award recipients, such as American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), have had difficulties of their own on American soil. For example, "AFSC's work, always open and resolutely nonviolent, has been under government surveillance for decades. The Service Committee secured nearly 1,700 pages of files from the FBI under a Freedom of Information request in 1976. These files show that the FBI kept files on AFSC that dated back to 1921. Ten other federal agencies kept files on AFSC, including the CIA, Air Force, Navy, Internal Revenue Service, Secret Service, and the State Department. The CIA has intercepted overseas mail and cables in the 1950s, and some AFSC offices (and even its staff's homes) have been infiltrated and burglarized in the late 1960s into the 1970s." [2]
AFSC associate general secretary for justice and human rights, Joyce Miller, asked, "How can we speak of spreading democracy in Iraq while dismantling it here at home?" She further remarked, "Political dissent is fundamental to a free and democratic society. It should not be equated with crime." ...
Nobel Peace Award winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire after her flight from Guatemala had been directed to Ireland through Houston:"'They questioned me about my nonviolent protests in USA against the Afghanistan invasion and Iraqi war,' Maguire said later in a statement. 'They insisted I must tick the box in the Immigration form admitting to criminal activities.'...
Meanwhile stigmatizing dissidents is a fairly common practice. As such, "There are 1.1 million people on the [U.S.] Terrorist Watch List and there is a 35 per cent error rate, minimum, for that list," according to ACLU's Michael German. [6] Furthermore, the overzealous and aggressive surveillance tactics used by the National Security Agency (NSA) to check the public's e-mails, telephone calls and other communications are the same ones as were in use during George W. Bush's administration. Likewise, the amount of spying on personal exchanges... tracking e-mailed transmissions and other interactions in violation of federal law according to lawyers at the Justice Department. Regardless, the practice continues.... It embodies the kind of authoritarian mentality and oppressive activities that one finds in the worst types of tyrannical regimes... there's a certain inescapable irony and disingenuous quality presented by the Western government heads harshly critical of the Iran crackdown on dissenting citizens while they condone similar ironfisted policies in their own lands.

114 Democrats and 164 Republicans Vote Against Leaving Afghanistan ...

Pakistan: 3,500 "militants" killed in Swat, FATA: Reham Malik
'Pakistan Times' Federal Bureau
ISLAMABAD: In a Financial Times interview Interior Minister Rehman Malik said security forces have killed over 3,500 militants in Swat and FATA together and a good number have been injured. “The setback which the militants have received, it will take a lot of time for them to recoup. http://www.pakistantimes.net/pt/detail.php?newsId=1909