Archive for category Iran

Heckler interrupts Obama: ‘No war with Iran!’

Saw this live last night on MSNBC. From Raw Story:

While speaking at a fundraising event on Thursday, President Barack Obama was briefly interrupted by a supporter who urged him not to go to war with Iran.

“We promoted human rights,” Obama said. “We made it clear that America is a Pacific power. We demonstrated that if countries like Burma travel down the road of democratic reform, they will find a new relationship with the United States. And we leading again by the power of our moral example. That’s what change is.”

“No war with Iran!” a member of the crowd shouted.

“No one has announced a war, young lady,” Obama responded. “But we appreciate your sentiment. You’re jumping the gun a little bit there.”

Jumping the gun? Oh, that’s right, we’re supposed to believe that the war on Iran will be “announced.” Covert wars don’t count, apparently.


Hey CNN, The Smoking Gun Could Be Your Credibility Going Boom

A CNN poll two years ago found 71 percent of Americans believe that Iran currently has nuclear weapons. That’s not surprising, given the steady stream of misinformation coming from CNN and other so-called journalistic enterprises. HuffPo’s Michael Calderone describes the beating of the Iran war drums as a “media frenzy.” Apparently they have learned nothing from the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

Glenn Greenwald: “[T]his commentary on The Iranian Threat by CNN’s Erin Burnett (‘frightening,’ she observed)… really just mocks itself.”

Meanwhile, in the real world, SecDef Leon Panetta just yesterday said about Iran that “the intelligence does not show that they’ve made the decision to proceed with developing a nuclear weapon.” Also in the real world, but never mentioned on cable news, Israel has had a nuclear arsenal since the late 1960s.

Glenn Greenwald: Erin Burnett: Worst of the worst

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald, Erin Burnett Argue Over Burnett’s Iran Coverage

Matt Taibbi: Another March to War?

Virtually all of the Iran stories of late have contained some version of this sort of rhetorical sophistry. The news “hook” in most all of these stories is that intelligence reports reveal Iran is “willing” to attack us or go to war – but then there’s usually an asterisk next to the headline, and when you follow the asterisk, it reads something like, “In the event that we attack Iran first.”


SecDef Panetta: Iran Not Developing Nuclear Weapons

Via Raw Story:

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta let slip the big open secret that Washington war hawks don’t want widely known: Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. Panetta headed the CIA until last July, so it’s reasonable to suppose he is well-informed on this subject.

Are the news media going to clarify this point for us? There is no Iranian nuclear weapons program. Just like Saddam’s so-called “weapons of mass destruction,” it doesn’t exist. Furthermore, even if Iran does pose a future threat to our national security (which is debatable) that cannot justify the USA initiating a war of aggression.

While we’re on the subject, can somebody tell the GOP presidential candidates? Except for Ron Paul, they all seem to relish the thought of attacking a nation of 75 million people for no good reason.

UPDATE: It’s worthwhile to note that Iran is already under attack by somebody. There have been eight terrorist bombings and at least one shooting in the past year, all directed at people who may be involved in Iranian nuclear power and missile research.


Free Bradley Manning!

I really hate associating myself with Michael Moore or Bradley Manning with an insignificant post, because I’m not anywhere near worthy, but:

From Michael Moore:

A Man in Tunisia, a Movement on Wall Street, and the Soldier Who Ignited the Fuse

Protesters chant slogans against the political party of former President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, on January 21, 2011. The city was where Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit seller, had a confrontation with a municipal inspector that eventually led to his self-immolation in front of the governor’s office in protest. The act fatally burned Bouazizi and is said to have sparked the protests that toppled President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali’s government.

It’s Saturday night and I didn’t want the day to end before I sent out this note to you.

One year ago on December 17th, Mohamed Bouazizi, a man who had a simple produce stand in Tunisia, set himself on fire to protest his government’s repression. His singular sacrifice ignited a revolution that toppled Tunisia’s dictator and launched revolts in regimes across the Middle East.

Three months ago on December 17th, Occupy Wall Street began with a takeover of New York’s Zuccotti Park. This movement against the greed of corporate America and its banks — and the money that now controls most of our democratic institutions — has quickly spread to hundreds of towns and cities across America. The majority of Americans now agree that a nation where 400 billionaires have more wealth than 160 million Americans combined is not the country they want America to be. The 99% are rising up against the 1% — and now there is no turning back.

Twenty-four years ago on December 17th, U.S. Army Spc. Bradley Manning was born. He has now spent 570 days in a military prison without a trial — simply because he allegedly blew the whistle on the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. He exposed what the Pentagon and the Bush administration did in creating this evil and he did so by allegedly leaking documents and footage to Wikileaks. Many of these documents dealt not only with Iraq but with how we prop up dictators around the world and how our corporations exploit the poor on this planet. (There were even cables with crazy stuff on them, like one detailing Bush’s State Department trying to stop a government minister in another country from holding a screening of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11.’)

The Wikileaks trove was a fascinating look into how the United States conducts its business — and clearly those who don’t want the world to know how we do things in places like, say, Tunisia, were not happy with Bradley Manning.

Mohamed Bouazizi was being treated poorly by government officials because all he wanted to do was set up a cart and sell fruit and vegetables on the street. But local police kept harassing him and trying to stop him. He, like most Tunisians, knew how corrupt their government was. But when Wikileaks published cables from the U.S. ambassador in Tunis confirming the corruption — cables that were published just a week or so before Mohamed set himself on fire — well, that was it for the Tunisian people, and all hell broke loose.

People across the world devoured the information Bradley Manning revealed, and it was used by movements in Egypt, Spain, and eventually Occupy Wall Street to bolster what we already thought was true. Except here were the goods — the evidence that was needed to prove it all true. And then a democracy movement spread around the globe so fast and so deep — and in just a year’s time! When anyone asks me, “Who started Occupy Wall Street?” sometimes I say “Goldman Sachs” or “Chase” but mostly I just say, “Bradley Manning.” It was his courageous action that was the tipping point — and it was not surprising when the dictator of Tunisia censored all news of the Wikileaks documents Manning had allegedly supplied. But the internet took Manning’s gift and spread it throughout Tunisia, a young man set himself on fire and the Arab Spring that led eventually to Zuccotti Park has a young, gay soldier in the United States Army to thank.

And that is why I want to honor Bradley Manning on this, his 24th birthday, and ask the millions of you reading this to join with me in demanding his immediate release. He does not deserve the un-American treatment, including cruel solitary confinement, he’s received in over eighteen months of imprisonment. If anything, this young man deserves a friggin’ medal. He did what great Americans have always done — he took a bold stand against injustice and he did it without stopping for a minute to consider the consequences for himself.

The Pentagon and the national security apparatus are hell-bent on setting an example with Bradley Manning. But we as Americans have a right to know what is being done in our name and with our tax dollars. If the government tries to cover up its malfeasance, then it is the duty of each and every one of us, should the situation arise, to drag the truth, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the light of day.

The American flag was lowered in Iraq this past Thursday as our war on them officially came to an end. If anyone should be on trial or in the brig right now, it should be those men who lied to the nation in order to start this war — and in doing so sent nearly 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to their deaths.

But it is not Bush or Rumsfeld or Cheney or Wolfowitz who sit in prison tonight. It is the hero who exposed them. It is Bradley Manning who has lost his freedom and that, in turn, becomes just one more crime being committed in our name.

I know, I know, c’mon Mike — it’s the holiday season, there’s presents to buy and parties to go to! And yes, this really is one of my favorite weeks of the year. But in the spirit of the man whose birth will be celebrated next Sunday, please do something, anything, to help this young man who spends his birthday tonight behind bars. I say, enough. Let him go home and spend Christmas with his family. We’ve done enough violence to the world this decade while claiming to be a country that admires the Prince of Peace. The war is over. And a whole new movement has a lot to thank Bradley Manning for.

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Pretty GOP Hobbits Fantasized About Israel Bombing Iran After Israel Bombed Iran.

On November 12, 2011, Israel’s Mossad bombed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps missile site which killed among others, Maj. Gen. Hassan Moghaddam, chief architect of Iran’s ballistic missile program.

On November 22, a gaggle of pretty Hobbits put on make-up and played ‘pretend president time.’  They filled a big room with as many greasy Bubba Hobbits as they could find. Then they and huffed and they puffed and pounded their chests and the Bubba Hobbits clapped and cheered.  It was a glorious time and laughter rang throughout Middle Earth.

When the subject of the evil kingdom of Iran came up, the pretty Hobbits grew serious and the Bubba Hobbits got scared.  Each of the pretty Hobbits  attempted to out-boast the other about how tough they are and the Bubba Hobbits clapped with joy.

One by one, the pretty Hobbits contemplated the idea of supporting the Israelis should they decide to bomb Iran.  None of them seemed to know that Israel had been bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities and killing their nuclear scientists, most recently, the week before.  Even Fox News had pictures.

This is the picture of the missile site, close to Tehran before the explosion on November 12, 2011.


Iranian authorities will not admit this was an air strike but responded by launching missile from Lebanon into Israel.

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Iranians to Captured Hikers: ‘What About Guantanamo?’

Camp Delta

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, two Americans captured and held by Iran since 2009, had an interesting point to make at their news conference yesterday in New York (via Think Progress):

According to Bauer and Fattal, Iranian prison guards repeatedly used the harsh conditions of Guantanamo Bay and CIA prisons around the world to justify their own human rights violations:

BAUER: In prison, every time we complained about our conditions, the guards would immediately remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay. They would remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world, and the conditions that Iranians and others experience in prisons in the U.S. We do not believe that such human rights violations on the part of our government justify what has been done to us. Not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments, including the government of Iran, to act in kind.

According to the hikers, extended solitary confinement “was the worst experience of all our lives.”

It was already a well-known fact that torture and inhumane treatment of detainees by the USA helps other governments try to justify similar acts. In violation of the U.S. Constitution and international treaties, the Obama administration continues to hold people indefinitely without any charges being brought against them, under conditions similar to the Iranian prison Bauer and Fattal experienced.


The Weakness of Islam and the Evolution Toward Human Rights

Let me by very clear.  In the US, Islam is one faith among many; Muslims in the US are every bit as technologically sophisticated, committed to democracy, and citizens of a modern, pluralistic nation as are their Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and atheist neighbors.  American Muslims in many ways are reflective of American culture.  They are “us.”

But, the weakness of Islam is an interesting challenge, captured in this phrase by Joshua Micah Marshall:

Indeed, the weakness of the world of Islam–an ideology and culture that sees itself not only as superior to the West and the world’s other great civilizations but as properly in the vanguard of history–is the kernel of the threat it poses, the heart of violent Islamism’s toxicity. At the beginning of the 21st century most of the world is, for better or worse, rushing along the current of globalization. By any measure, the world of Islam lags far behind. With the exception of a few countries with vast amounts of wealth based on natural resources, it is impoverished and trailing the rest of the world on numerous fronts. Where is the great Muslim power? There is none. Where is the world of Islam’s advanced technology-driven economy? There is none.

It’s a paradox for which there isn’t an easy answer. Read the rest of this entry »


Why Do ‘They’ Hate Us?

Times Square
Times Square

As I mentioned almost a year ago, in the last decade the U.S has been directly involved in military attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen (including two full-scale invasions and occupations). Our closest ally Israel has attacked Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, plus Turkish civilian vessels on international waters.

What national security consequences can we expect from these attacks on Muslim countries? Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani immigrant who pled guilty to an attempt to detonate a car bomb on a busy Saturday night in Times Square, tells us:

“Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me the first droplet of the blood that will follow.”

Glenn Greenwald:

The very idea that we’re going to spend an entire decade dropping a constant stream of bombs and other munitions on and in multiple Muslim countries and otherwise interfere in their governments — and then expect that nobody will try to attack us back — evinces such a child-like sense of imperial entitlement that it’s hard to put into words. And yet this is exactly the mindset that pervades our discussions of Terrorism: why would anyone possibly want to do something as heinous and senseless as placing a bomb in the United States? I just don’t understand it. What kind of an irrational fanatic and monster would even think of something like that? Of course, the people who say such things rarely apply the same language to our own political leaders…

Our foreign and national security policy is irrational. We are provoking a threat that the Pentagon cannot defend us against, even with a budget that exceeds military spending in all other countries put together.

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald: They hate us for our occupations

Related One Utah post:
Why Do ‘They’ Hate Us? (October 20, 2009)


Canceling Bush’s European ‘Missile Shield’ Was An Easy Call

The Bush administration proposed a missile defense system that doesn’t work, to be deployed to the Czech Republic and Poland to (supposedly) counter Iranian ICBM’s that don’t exist. Eastern Europeans didn’t want it. Our Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff don’t want it. It pissed off the Russians. The Obama administration just canceled it. It was an easy call if there ever was one. Naturally the neocons are screaming about it.

Ground-based interceptor missileThe Weekly Standard and the National Review led the cries of “appeasement,” “surrender,” and “weakness,” with the likes of super-hawk John Bolton calling Obama’s move “pre-emptive capitulation.”

On Faux News Charles Krauthammer complained that Russia can now take over all of eastern Europe, and the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes warned hysterically that Obama’s decision might lead to a situation worse than the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Originally proposed in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan, ballistic missile defense (aka “Star Wars”) is an enormous waste of money. It’s supposed to work like the scene in “Wanted” (2008) when a gunfight culminates in both shooters’ bullets colliding in mid-air, twice! That just doesn’t happen without Hollywood special effects. The Missile Defense Agency has spent well over $120 billion to prove that the system Reagan envisioned can’t work in the real world.

Matt Yglesias:

The right wants us to at great expense build a missile shield that doesn’t work, in places it’s not wanted, to protect Western Europe from Iranian missiles that don’t exist, in order to antagonize the Russians.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that criticism of the Obama plan is “not yet connected to the facts. We are not, quote, ’shelving’ missile defense. We are deploying missile defense sooner than the Bush administration planned to do so.”

Rather than building huge, fixed ground-based interceptor (GBI) complexes in Eastern Europe, President Obama wants to buy more small, mobile Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) weapon systems and place them, initially, on the U.S. Navy’s Aegis cruisers. The SM-3s are capable of shooting down short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, unlike the GBI, which is designed to shoot down ICBMs (but can’t).

More info: Fact Sheet on U.S. Missile Defense Policy.

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The Question Helen Thomas Almost Got to Ask

Helen Thomas, the dean of the Washington DC press corps and one of the last real journalists covering the White House, is a national treasure. At yesterday’s press conference, without being called on, Thomas tried to follow up a softball question by CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux with some hardball (emphasis added):

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right. Last question. Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Thank you. Back to Iran, putting a human face on this. Over the weekend, we saw a shocking video of this woman, Neda, who had been shot in the chest and bled to death. Have you seen this video?


SUZANNE MALVEAUX: What’s your reaction?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking. And I think that anybody who sees it knows that there’s something fundamentally unjust about that.

HELEN THOMAS: Then why won’t you allow the photos —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hold on a second, Helen. That’s a different question. (Laughter.) And I think it’s important for us to make sure that we let the Iranian people know that we are watching what’s happening, that they are not alone in this process. Ultimately, though, what’s going to be most important is what happens in Iran. And we’ve all been struck by the courage of people. And I mentioned this I think in a statement that I made a couple of days ago. Some of you who had been covering my campaigns know this is one of my favorite expressions, was Dr. King’s expression that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” We have to believe that ultimately justice will prevail.

All right. Thank you, guys.

Helen Thomas interrupted to ask Obama to reconcile his statement about the importance of the Iranian images with his own attempts to hide photographic evidence of American human rights violations. Other so-called reporters in the room laughed at her question, the toughest question anyone asked in the whole press conference. They laughed.

Glenn Greenwald:

The premise of Thomas’ question was compelling and (contrary to Obama’s dismissal) directly relevant to Obama’s answers: how is it possible for Obama to pay dramatic tribute to the “heartbreaking” impact of that Neda video in bringing to light the injustices of the Iranian Government’s conduct while simultaneously suppressing images that do the same with regard to our own Government’s conduct?

In a post on Balkinization, law professor Alice Ristroph notes the parallel between the suppressed images of American government crimes and the images coming out of Iran. And she explains the importance of seeing and believing: “Sometimes, images convey ideas and information for which we have no words.”

Related One Utah posts:
Washington vs. The Rule of Law (June 1)
President Obama Lied About U.S. War Crimes (May 28)


Iranian Revolution 2.0

Well, it looks like Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei has a problem. The same kind of popular resentment that overthrew the Shah’s regime 30 years ago is now aimed at him and President Ahmadinejad. The theocrats who still support the “Supreme Leader” are not going down without a fight, and they might even succeed in clinging to power for now.

Khamenei has essentially declared all protesters enemies of the state. Security forces were deployed to stop demonstrations in the streets, escalating the violence. Regime opponents and reporters are being arrested. The million-strong Basij militia is tracking dissidents by day and beating and killing them by night, hoping as time goes on that the constant threat of violence will intimidate everybody.

Yesterday, thousands of people continued to march, shouting, “Don’t be afraid– we are together. Death to the dictator.” Today, the streets of Tehran were reported to be quiet.

The world is watching, as President Obama has pointed out. Thanks to courageous people with cameras and Internet access, we can see some of what’s happening. But there’s not much that we can do, for two reasons:

  • The U.S. is going to have to deal with whatever Iranian regime emerges from the crisis. It would be foolish to take sides in their politics. Even if Mousavi was our friend (he’s not), public or covert support for him would simply add substance to the constant accusations of foreign involvement in Iran’s internal affairs.
  • Americans are in no position to lecture Iranians on democracy, honest elections, and human rights. We’re the country that intervened to subvert Iran’s democratic government in 1953. Our recent presidential elections haven’t exactly been a model for the world. Worst of all, our own war crimes and human rights violations are serious and ongoing. Prosecutions have been few, most of those guilty haven’t even been fired from their government jobs.

Some have demonstrated in sympathy with the Iranian opposition. Yesterday on the steps of the Utah state capitol, ironically, there were more Utahns angry about Iran’s stolen election than we ever saw come out against our own stolen elections in 2000 and 2004.

The Iranian crisis has become an occasion for stomach-churning hypocrisy by American politicians in general, and Republicans in particular.

For example, last Friday enthusiastic defender of torture Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) treated the House to emotional rhetoric about “America’s moral responsibility to speak out on the protection of human rights wherever they are violated.” He went on to criticize President Obama’s lack of verbal commitment to Iranian rights, as if hot air were the answer.

Matt Yglesias: “It’s worth keeping in mind that the people trying to loudly position themselves as the Iranian people’s greatest friends are the exact same people who wanted to drop bombs on Iranians just a couple of weeks ago.”

UPDATE: A small gathering in Tehran today was attacked by Iranian government security forces.

Helicopters hovered overhead as about 200 protesters gathered at Haft-e-Tir Square Monday. Hundreds of anti-riot police quickly put an end to the demonstration.

At last count, 33 journalists are being held in Iranian jails.


Updated: Breaking Mousavi Arrested: Rafsanjani Resigns, Iranian Police Fleeing from Demonstrators

This post is currently on the DailyKos recommended Diaries. Thought you should know, there is a coup happening in Iran.

Update V: I’ve lost my translator (Payman) for the night. He promised a birthday dinner to a Bosnian friend. We’ll be back at it very early tomorrow. People are finding ‘other’ ways to get the news out, so we hope to have more news by morning.

Update IV:

Link: A committee of respected Ayatollahs (the spiritual fighters) have requested that the election be invalidated for the purpose of restoring the people’s trust in the Islamic Republic. “We request the people to stay calm and not to provoke the government agents.”

Pyknet: Mousavi has been place under house arrest. He was arrested on his way to Khamenei’s house. All communication has been shut off. Khamenei has issued a statement claiming that HE that he is leading this coup to SAVE the Islamic Government (Nezam)

Update: Sianat az ara (Protectors of Votes) Iran’ Election Commission, have called the result fraud and are calling for new election. They pointed to the suspension of text messaging Thursday night and the disruption of phone service for the campaigns and pthers, and ballot shortages. Sianat az ara is a group of election monitors chosen by the four candidates. Ahmadinejad campaign is rejecting the claim of fraud and dismissed the committee as pro-Mousavi.

It is almost 9:30pm in Iran. In the north (rich part) of Tehran, the curfew is being ignored.

Photos here. Mo’ pix here. is reporting; Translation –

Rafsanjani has resigned all duties in protest to Supreme Leader Khamenei’s endorsement of Ahmadinejad as winner of yesterday’s election.

This article from Forbes on Thursday provides recent background on Rafsanjani’s case.

Rafsanjani, known in many circles as the Godfather, responded in kind with an open letter to the supreme leader demanding punishment for the aggression. That was perhaps the fuel on the fire for the streets. The anti-Ahmadinejad protesters felt more secure and confident after the division among the ruling elite became public and the streets went wild with human chains and slogans demanding Ahmadinejad’s resignation.

****** First Diary from this morning ***** Just uploaded to YouTube, this video shows Iranian police and Revolutionary Guards (Bassiji) CLEARLY running away from the protesters. From a video from a popular independent Iranian website

Cliff here reporting for famous (around here :)) Iranian exile and writer Payman here in Salt Lake City. The title of the video is “Demonstrators Election Announcement.”

The guy in the white shirt in the center of the frame at 7 seconds in is ‘plain clothes guard.’

We will continue to post video from ‘the inside’ as they come up.

American news outlets such as NBC are reporting that the police are keeping things under control, but we are hearing and seeing otherwise. Iranians expect Khamenei will begin rounding up the more visible activist but also current public officials who did not support Ahmadinejad.

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