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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/24/09

Iran and Change and Context

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There is tremendous upheaval in Iran in the wake of the most recent elections. The people are risking their lives for a fair election and for some transformative change in governing. The protests which started over the election have to some extent shift to a more fundamental split in the ruling council. What the ultimate outcomes will be remain in question. What is clear is that hundreds of thousands of Iranians are in the streets challenging the fairness of the elections and the decision by the Supreme Leader. What is clear is that the Iranian government is responding to harshly, even brutally, quash the protests. What is not clear, and what is conveniently not being reported is the role of foreign nations in what is happening in Iran.

Below are two reports, one from ABC in 2007 and one from CNN on 2008 discussing U.S. covert operations inside Iran.

This first video is an investigative report by Brian Ross on ABC Now aired on 2/24/07. It discusses the Bush administration approval of $400 million for CIA operations with the intent of destabilizing the government of Iran. (5:34)

The second video is a CNN "Late Edition" interview with Seymour Hersh on U.S. intervention in Iran. It was aired on 6/29/2008. (5:01)

While recent news reports "tsk-tsk" over claims of U.S. intervention, it is only fair to note that the U.S. has intervened. We just do not know in what ways. And while we hear feigned outrage that Iran is monitoring all cell phone and electronic communication in Iran thanks to Nokia Siemens Networks sale of network monitoring systems to Iran, and how invasive and silencing such activities are, we hear virtually nothing about the U.S. doing the same thing (Feingold Expresses "Concern" that Obama May Now Endorse Warrantless Wiretapping (6/13/09); E-Mail Surveillance Renews Concerns in Congress (6/16/09)).

I am in no way trying to demean the actions and risks of the people of Iran in trying to force responsiveness to their concerns and desires from the government of Iran. However, I also feel that it is critically important for us to place this within a larger context. Rather than arguing about whether President Obama is being "forceful" enough or not, and pointing to the "anti-democratic" and "brutal" activities of the Iranian government, we should perhaps look at our own activities and responses. The United States is not the icon of the global right to freedom of speech and assembly. "Dissident" groups are being (and have been) infiltrated and monitored; massive electronic surveillance has occurred and continues to occur. Black suited special police squads are present at virtually every demonstration in the U.S. with batons, stun guns, fire extinguishers full of pepper spray, and "non-lethal" rounds.

If we are going to gasp in horror at the Iranian governmental response to protestors in the streets, we should perhaps also gasp at the U.S. government's response to protestors in the streets.

This video is from the WTO Protests in Seattle in 1999.

Much has been made of the ejection of international media from Iran, and that the activities are being reported on social networking sites. What would we know in the U.S. if our media were not reporting on what was coming out on Twitter and YouTube and other sites? In the U.S., the media has largely refrained from covering protests, and we too have "twittered" and "YouTubed" and blogged to little avail.

There are a number of messages to be taken from the events in Iran. There are a number of questions to be asked. I hope that those messages and questions go beyond the manufactured boundaries of the Iranian government's response to the people raising their voices in protest, and risking their lives on the streets.

Supportive Action for the people in Iran
As Iran continues to intensify the crackdown on "dissidents," it is important to let the Iranian government know that the world is watching - and cares. One supportive action you can take to help complicate the identification of those people in side Iran who are trying to get the word out to the world is to add yourself to Twitter. Another impact of this action is to show the Iranian government that people are engaged in this issue. Please note that you can skip adding your email address book to Twitter on sign-up. (I did not think of this, but it was passed on to me by another activist for broadcast).

1- Create a Twitter account (with what ever name you like)

2- Set your time to Tehran's time (+12 1/2 hr)

3- Set your location to "Tehran" or another Iranian city (Esfahan, Tabriz, and Shiraz, Mashhad)

4- Set your status something meaningful

By doing this, attempts to identify twitters inside Iran will take longer and become more difficult.

Articles of Note
U.S. Is Said to Expand Covert Operations in Iran. Job Warrick. Washington Post. 6/30/2008.

Preparing the Battlefield:The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran. . Seymour Hersh. New Yorker. 7/07/2008.

U.S. escalating covert operations against Iran: report. Reuters. 6/29/2008.

Reports Suggest Obama Faces Early Choice On Iran Covert Ops. Ron Synovitz. Global Security. 1/13/2009.
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Rowan Wolf is an activist and sociologist living in Oregon. She is the founder and principle author of Uncommon Thought Journal, and Editor in Chief of Cyrano's Journal Today.

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