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The Race for Iran

WIKILEAKS AND THE 2009 IRANIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

By Eric A. Brill

Barbara Tuchman tells this story in The Proud Tower, her impressive history of the lead-up to World War I. Philipp Ernst, the father of surrealist painter Max Ernst, once painted a scene of his backyard garden, but left out a tree because he believed it would ruin his composition. Later, overcome with remorse at his “offense against realism,” he chopped down the tree.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory spoiled many pre-painted pictures of Iran’s 2009 presidential election, and critics have since insisted he does not belong in the scene. Most seek to prove their point by contending that post-election protesters were brutally mistreated – a proper subject to raise, but unconvincing when offered as evidence that the election was fraudulent.

Electoral fraud would have been easy to detect. For the first time ever, the Iranian government reported the vote-count separately for each of the 45,692 local polling stations, not merely a national total for each candidate. Many thousands of Mir-Houssein Mousavi’s representatives had observed election-day activities at polling stations all across Iran and in 95 other countries, and had signed a government form to verify the local vote-count reported to Tehran. When official figures were published for the 45,692 local polling stations, no one disputed the vote count reported for any of them. Mousavi continued to make sweeping fraud allegations, but none of his on-site observers has ever backed him up. Fraud occurred everywhere, it seems, but nowhere in particular. Some Mousavi supporters attribute this to a fear of punishment. Apparently it is safe to insist that blatant electoral fraud occurred all over Iran, but dangerous to give an example.

The deafening silence of Mousavi’s election-day observers has had its effect. After some widely  cited “preliminary analyses” published shortly after the election, not a single scholar (to this writer’s knowledge) has published a systematic challenge to the official result. Respected journalists such as the New York Times’ Roger Cohen, who initially offered statistical proof of election fraud (easily refuted), retreated to subjective pronouncements such as “Sometimes you have to smell the truth, breathe it.

Evidence or not, some US State Department employees apparently never stopped believing in fraud. According to a January 2010 “Wikileaks” cable sent from the US’ Iran-watching station in Dubai:

While we don’t know nor might not ever know the real June 12 vote count, it is clear that … there was systematic vote count fraud (if in fact the votes were even counted) ….

He did not explain what made this “clear,” or give any reason at all. Perhaps he had been persuaded by Roger Cohen’s several “smell and breathe” articles published shortly after the election. Whatever unstated reasons this cable writer may have had, Mr. Cohen was content to learn that they agreed: “It is good to know that this is the innermost conviction of American diplomacy.” A single cable from a field office in Dubai is hardly a sufficient basis for such a statement, but Mr. Cohen may well be correct.

Other Wikileaks cables did state reasons. Three days after the election, an “Iran watcher” in Turkmenistan reported that:

Based on calculations from Mousavi’s campaign observers who were present at polling stations around the country and who witnessed the vote counts, Mousavi received approximately 26 million (or 61%) of the 42 million votes cast in Friday’s election, followed by Mehdi Karroubi (10-12 million). … Ahmadinejad received “a maximum of 4-5 million votes.”

In other words, Mousavi had outpolled Ahmadinejad by 21 million votes – an astonishing 32-million vote difference from the 11-million vote margin reported for Ahmadinejad. This Turkmenistan source claimed to know who had engineered this massive fraud – the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps – and how:  In a departure from past election practices, local vote counts had been reported directly to the Interior Ministry in Tehran, rather than to regional election offices:

The Iranian authorities knew … that attempts to falsify individual precinct counts could be countered by observers from the Mousavi and the other campaigns [at regional election offices], so … they had no choice but to conceal the precinct results [by ordering that local vote counts be transmitted directly to Tehran].

Once the local results reached Tehran, the Interior Ministry could report whatever numbers it liked. No one would ever know whether the vote count from one – or even all – of the 45,692 local polling stations had been altered, or ignored entirely. Each local vote count would become an indistinguishable drop in the ocean.

The Turkmenistan Iran watcher knew just how to expose this fraud:

[T]he international community should … demand that the Iranian authorities release and account for the results from each precinct.

Excellent advice – but Iranian election officials had already done precisely that, without being prompted. Anticipating (correctly) that a disappointed candidate might dispute the reported result, they had ordered ballot-box level reporting so that local vote-counts could be verified by each candidate’s on-site observers. Anticipating (correctly again) a very high turnout, they had ordered that local vote counts be transmitted directly to Tehran so that results could be tabulated more quickly.

If the 2009 election results had been reported as in previous elections – a single nationwide total for each candidate – this Turkmenistan Iran watcher might have had a valid point. This time, his complaint merely proved the wisdom of the old adage: “Be careful what you ask for.” It was a simple matter for Mousavi to detect fraudulent vote-counting: compare the official vote count with the count witnessed by Mousavi’s own observers. He has never reported any discrepancy. The Iranian government appears to have reported the very same vote-counts that Mousavi’s own observers had witnessed.

This may explain why election critics quickly shifted their focus to the post-election protests and government crackdown – an important subject in its own right, but separate from the election. A December 2009 Wikileaks cable reports that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani encouraged the United States to support this new tack:

Rafsanjani believed that the best help possible from foreigners would be to say that the elections were not fair and to note the human rights violations in the aftermath…

In yet another Wikileaks cable (August 28, 2009), the source predicted that Iran’s Supreme Leader would die from cancer within months (an old rumor even then), upon which Rafsanjani would get himself appointed as Supreme Leader and “then invite Ahmadinejad to resign and call a new election.” Since Ahmadinejad predictably would decline and the Supreme Leader has no authority to call a new election or remove the President, presumably Ahmadinejad was to be forced out. This inevitably would require assistance from the very same Revolutionary Guard leaders who had just engineered his fraudulent election. All very confusing, but nevertheless offered up without comment in this cable – as was this remark: “The real tabulation results show Mousavi winning 16 million votes” – a substantial decline from the 26 million votes reported by the State Department’s source in Turkmenistan.

Though this assessment may change as more Wikileaks cables are released, those released so far make at least two points clear: (1) the US State Department has received considerable election-related information from secret Iran watchers in several foreign countries; (2) those sources have reported a great deal that is demonstrably false, and nothing that cannot be found very quickly by anyone with access to the Internet.

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198 Responses to “WIKILEAKS AND THE 2009 IRANIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION”

  1. Torobche says:

    To Hamed Nematollahi,

    It would be great (and in fact necessary) if you could explain in a paragraph to us the logic by which one can extract a single bit of information from the cable you so exited about. It is a cable from an OUTSIDER who is highly biased to prefer Musavi and is getting his info from highly biased sources.

    If you look at the other old “stale” cable, there the guy gives some actual numbers based on his “connections” with Musavi’s representatives, you would now the degree of illusion, as a result of their wishful thinking, that these guys are living in.

  2. here is another “fresh” cable from the first day after the election:
    http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/06/09RPODUBAI247.html

  3. Torobche says:

    “I am asking for a bit of decency, to allow Iranian civil society to function – as any real democracy would allow”

    The very first element of democracy is election, and you have proved through your comments that you do not respect an election in Iran right now unless it elects your candidate. You do not qualify to mumble democracy to us.

  4. Torobche says:

    “I hope you taste better than you speak”

    It does not taste that bad, just a bit salty at the end, wanna try?

  5. Pak says:

    Dear Radish,

    You need to take a chill pill. I am not out there smashing windows or blowing up buildings; I am presenting my thoughts online. And I am not calling people to the streets to kill Ahmadinejad or the mullahs; I am asking for a bit of decency, to allow Iranian civil society to function – as any real democracy would allow – so that Iranians of all types can come to an informed conclusion about the elections.

    You are not helping much by simply telling me I am wrong and that I need to shut up and put up. In fact, you are only motivating me, so carry on please.

    And comparing Binam and I to MEK just shows you are all talk and no substance. I hope you taste better than you speak.

  6. Torobche says:

    And now let me make it straight to Radical Greens like Binam and Pak.

    You are the pity of Iran and Iranians. You upper class who has used most of the resources of the country and dream about a western-style Iran and chew on words like “Democracy” without having the slightest commitment to democratic values when it comes to losing an election.

    You consider yourself “supporters of democracy and human right”? Did you cancel Kahrizak or Mr Khamene’i? What did you do for Iranian poor of the villages? Did you even care about them? Yes, you Binam, you who keeps saying the nonsense that Eric has to to go Iran before you give him the credit (that no one cares for). Have you gone to villages in Iran where Ahmadinejad has indeed done a fantastic job and has changed their view drastically? Do you ever wanted to understand why such poor people love him?

    You claim to be supporters of “Iranians”, but what you really are is “supporting your friends and your own class who builds your identity” period.

    I was with you, and I voted for Mousavi, because I found Ahmadinejad’s decisions (in many levels) very harmful to Iran’s future. But I do respect other fellow Iranian’s votes, even if I find it deeply wrong. Something that you lack deeply. You are Iran’s first problem, and only after you we will deal with Ahmadinejad and Khamneyi’s problems and mistakes etc.

    What do you think others are? Morans who can’t understand what you are doing/suggesting? Just encourage everyone to go out, and be happy about them being killed so that you can keep going and basing your new “argument” on “them being killed” and we all forget that you encouraged them to go out based on the fraud in the first place?

    Again I remind you: I was with you, and I know you very well. Let me make it clear to you: AS long as people like me are in Iran, we will not let well-fed-and-yet-demanding people like you destroy what we have build with a lot of endeavor in 30 years. Do not forget that. You are nothing compared to Rajavi’s fellows. I hope that gives you and estimate of how you are perceived to ordinary Iranians like me (by ordinary I also refer to people who live below Kargar street of Tehran, for example).

  7. Torobche says:

    Dear Eric and Reza,

    Thank you so much for the great work. I am an Iranian and I had voted for Mousavi. I loved him till about a month after the election that I started to realize he is trapped himself in a bad situation surrounded by Radical Greens like Binam and Pak.

    I really praise the nerve you put in answering nonsenses of fanatics like Binam, Pak (and people who are not really interested in logic, like Scott). As it is very clear from the posts and comments, they do not have any real *argument* on the subject and that is exactly why they are so interested to link the election to as many other things as they can to obscure the discussion.

    They are not even morally OK to the point that they attack everyone who is arguing stronger than them on this subject as “supporters of rape”. This is just nasty and stupid (both at the same time), but they think it is OK to say that, because they are breathing in Facebook and Balatarin’s atmosphere and do not get how ugly their stance here is.

    As an ex-supporter of Mousavi and and Iranian and someone who knows Persian, I tell you that these days most of these Radical Greens KNOW that they have lost the election. I refer you to this prison tape by Tajzade (one of the big shots of the greens) in prison:
    http://www.tabnak.ir/fa/pages/?cid=114576

    in which he explains to his friends how stupid the claim of the election is. He makes this point to them as an expert on the subject because he was in charge of the implementation of the election in Khatami’s government. But he claimed fraud just after being released from the prison.

    I also confirm Eric that not everything the fanatic greens say here is from their dishonestly. They are so deep into illusion that sometimes makes it very hard for them even to read very basic and elementary logical sentences and digest it. It is part of their identity not to understand certain trivialities.

    If you read their claims. They simply have ASSUMED the fraud and just look at where to smell it (as you correctly put it). They never really wanted to know if there has been a fraud or not in the first place.

    They go far to make mathematically stupid claims as “the straight line graph of the election” which is now known to be silly (see the Law of Large numbers in math). But fortunately keep saying the same mathematically wrong statements such as:

    “A partial recount was conducted which was televised.”
    “A very limited and selective recount….”

    It was not “selective” it was “random” and “10%”. If you knew elementary stuff in statistics, you would know that random selection among 40 K boxes at a rate of 10% gives an approximation of the real numbers up to 1 percent with EXTREMELY high confidence.

  8. Rd. says:

    oh my my aren’t we getting a bit testy!! :-)

    Speaking outside Downing Street on Friday, David Cameron, the British prime minister, said: “What we saw on the streets of London yesterday was completely unacceptable.

    “Of course there is a right to protest peacefully, there always should be, but there is not a right to go on the streets of London wanting to pursue violence and smashing up property.”

    Having problem with freedom of expression? Perhaps the red jackets need some help with enduring the great britain!!

  9. Loyal says:

    Scott:
    ( my post yesterday stooped at moderation, here is last part).
    4- It does not matter if Mr. Rezaei accepted recount or not because there were recount in 5 specific districts picked by Rezaei and there were recount with presence of monitors and Candidate representative
    IM indeed published documents including signatures of Rezaei representative confirming recount.

    Here you can see signiture of Rezaei representative.
    http://img151.imageshack.us/img151/1411/electionpic32009.jpg

  10. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Iranian,

    Yes. The new poll really ought to suggest to Dr. Lucas that his interpretation of the situation in Iran is subjective rather than objective on his part.

    http://www.docstoc.com/docs/65872019/Iran-Public-Opinion-2010

    What is clear from this is that the Iranian people are not monolithic – they differ on many social and economic issues but are united on areas of major national interest.

    I am surprised about one thing: Rafsanjani is regarded favorably by more Iranians than I would have expected. Khatami still enjoys widespread support but that is not shocking. He is a decent and uncorrupted man.

    Mousavi and Karroubi enjoy the support of nearly 35-40% of Iranians, but the Green movement has less support – probably because of its more radical elements.

    It is a good read.

  11. Iranian@Iran says:

    Scott Lucas,

    Running away again after failing to produce any evidence to support your claims? Did you see the recent Iran polls? They hurt don’t they?

  12. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    It’s the end of the (election) line for you, sir, when you can’t deal with the long-standing queries and have to repeat entire posts of tired polemic.

    Kooshy,

    Days after the election, I said the issues were transparency and legitimacy. Have held that position for 18 months and see no reason to shift.

    See y’all next time internal issues come up on RFI.

    Best,

    S.

  13. Reza Esfandiari says:

    James,

    Iranians may support nuclear weapons for national prestige reasons. Most Iranians would feel aggrieved that Israel and Pakistan – two former satrapies in the Persian Empire – should have nukes but not Iran.

  14. James Canning says:

    Rd.,

    Perhaps it is just as well the people of Iran are not in charge of nucear policy. And quite obviously, better relations with the “West” would be facilitated by a certain toning down of the stridency of some of Ahmadinajad’s statements.

  15. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Kooshy,

    The poll has lots of interesting observations.

    http://www.docstoc.com/docs/65872019/Iran-Public-Opinion-2010

    I think this is the most insightful survey to date.

  16. kooshy says:

    Reza regarding the new poll

    Regardless of the Iranian opinion and voting on the election which is past and by now irrelevant (like the cables release) this is actually not too good for Iran’s international regional standing. The new narrative is, that is not just the Iranian government that wants and is bent to make the bomb is also majority of the Iranian people who are asking to get a bomb, you see, if one couldn’t stick it with first try then one might increase the adhesive area.

  17. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Great stuff, Rd.

    Try and post as much as you can here.

    I guess Scott Lucas will dismiss this as unreliable.

  18. Rd. says:

    poll findings;

    Key findings from national telephone survey of 702 Iranians between August 30 and Sept 7, 2010 include:

    Iranians divided on government’s performance.
    Dissatisfied with economy.
    Worry over sanctions and isolation.
    Want to focus on domestic affairs.
    Favor closer ties to the West.
    Rising tensions sparked hostility toward the US, Europe and UN.
    Favor nuclear arms and do not want to back deals to halt enrichment.
    Independent polls do not contradict official turnout of 2009 election, which gave around 60% of vote to Ahmadinejad.
    Support to religious institutions remains substantial but majority expect democratization.

    …..

    very peculiar that the polster would frame the question of peaceful nuclear activities as “Favor nuclear arms”.

  19. Kooshy,

    My only special knowledge relates to the 2009 elections.

    Eric

  20. Rd. says:

    missed, there is a power point link in the article below.. with questions and charts!!

  21. kooshy says:

    Eric

    Thanks, this is clear to me and the majority followers of this debate, like I thought, he refuses to take a stand, in my opinion he wants to keep the issue alive for some possible future advantage.

    Let us assume, based on all information available to us today, everyone has to make a personal decision whether the elections were fraudulent or not. Based on your comprehensive study of the 88 elections I can confirmatively know what your decision is, obviously I know how I feel, but do we at all know where Scott stands with regard to this assumption. I fear not, why doesn’t he want to take a firm stand? , do you have any thoughts; maybe now that’s where this debate should be moved to.

  22. Reza Esfandiari says:

    James,

    More bad news for Scott. A new poll is out that reports that 60% of Iranians voted for President Ahmadinejad in the election. Also 71% want nuclear *weapons* in defiance of the government’s defense of peaceful energy.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j01lWEft-nSRiSucCk-EB-Y9lUPg?docId=CNG.5ecbda1132f2622b919e251d461cca6c.201

    If someone can get access to the questionnaire itself, that would be great.

  23. Kooshy,

    The fine distinction Scott draws is between (1) providing that fraud occurred, which he correctly claims he’s never asserted; and (2) citing facts which arguably suggest that fraud occurred.

    He claims he’s done the latter.

    I claim he’s done neither.

  24. kooshy says:

    Scott

    Considering, your reply of a few days ago to me where you stated “I have never claimed that the [Iran’s] elections are proven fraudulent” would it be fair to say that you are currently uncertain if that elections were in fact fraudulent or not. My question to you is, what if based on what you know today, you had to make a decision as whether or not the election were conducted fraudulently, based on that assumption can you, with all your honorable honesty explain, which way you would be more likely to tilt, and on what convincing evidence which you consider to be overwhelming, to confirm this decision.

    I personally hope unlike Roger Cohen you are not claiming to “smell and breathe” the fraud. For one thing everyone knows what Eric’s position on this regard is but it is rather now vague to us what is your position, it seems to me and a lot of other viewers that you rather make the river muddy to see if it can be fished easier and that hasn’t worked well.

    Regards

  25. James Canning says:

    b,

    Yes, the polls taken by various respected international organizations show Ahmadinejad received 60% of the total presidential vote in 2009. Scott Lucas finds this fact inconvenient.

  26. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Eric,

    Scott hasn’t even bothered to look at the very results he is so quick to dismiss.

    I’d like to know what the explanation is for all the ballot box results showing *no votes* for Ahmadinejad in Sistan va Baluchestan province.

    http://moi.ir/Portal/File/ShowFile.aspx?ID=7663398c-e880-4c60-ae04-5086ab568728

    If Mousavi was getting >99% of the vote in some tallies, should we regard this as fraudulent?

  27. Scott,

    I had written what the Guardian Council asked Mousavi to do:

    “Mr. Mousavi, please ask your observers to look over these ballot-box by ballot-box results, and let us know if any of them does not match up with what your observers witnessed on election day.”

    You replied:

    “That is the evasion you have used since Day 1. To challenge the numbers, Mousavi and his staff need documents and computer records. They have not had access to those since 12 June.”

    They didn’t need documents and computer records, Scott. They just needed whatever little piece of paper a Mousavi observer had used to write down the vote count at his polling station.

    Enough for now, Scott. You’re merely digging yourself a deeper hole with statements like that. For your own good, I strongly encourage you to reread my post from yesterday that I’ll repeat here because I think it closes with the best advice anyone could give you:

    Scott,

    Writers like Roger Cohen long ago stopped looking closely at the facts of the 2009 Iran election — for one simple reason: When one looks too closely, he quickly recognizes that it’s impossible for an honest person to claim there is any evidence of fraud. Thus, if one wishes to continue yelling “Fraud!”, it’s advisable to turn away from the facts and discipline oneself never to look at them again.

    That’s what Roger Cohen has done. No more claims about “statistical correlations” and that sort of thing from him — he just “smells and breathes” his fraud now. He’s not asking for intellectual respect any more, just respect for his subjective feelings, and we can give him that. Some people even consider him intellectually honest to continue shouting “Fraud!” on this basis, though that requires a somewhat broader definition of honesty than many of us subscribe to.

    Where calling oneself “honest” gets much more difficult, Scott, is when one does look at the facts of the 2009 Iran election — when one claims to be doing more than merely “smelling and breathing” his fraud — and still claims to find fraud despite the utter absence of evidence. That requires a definition of “honesty” even broader than the one on which Roger Cohen now relies.

    This is the uncomfortable position you now occupy, Scott. If I were you, I’d back away as gracefully and quickly as you can from the facts. Just claim instead that you “smell and breathe” fraud in some way that you can’t really explain, but assure us that your feelings are nonetheless sincere. We’ll try our best to respect those feelings, and give you credit for a journalistic sort of “honesty.”

    That’s about all you’re going to be able to salvage here, Scott, but it’s better than nothing. Roger Cohen figured that out a long time ago.

  28. Scott Lucas says:

    Reza,

    “I’m sorry but the protests against the election result were not exclusively peaceful – they were violent and caused by hooligans, and possibly some armed opposition groups.”

    Earlier this week, you wrote that the protests of 15 June had been peaceful.

    Meanwhile, a sampling of today’s news:

    1605 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch (Censorship Edition). An EA source alerts us….

    On Sunday night, pages and copies of the newspaper Iran were confiscated because of an article by executive director Kaveh Eshtehardi defending Mehdi Hashemi, the son of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. The seizures were ordered by Tehran Public Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi. Doulatabadi also warned other newspaper not to print any material identifying Hashemi by name.

    Groups within the regime are seeking the trial of Hashemi on charges of fraud and electoral manipulation, and an arrest warrant has been issued for him. He has been in London since summer 2009.

    1545 GMT: Un-Free Press. Iran has tied China for the Gold Medal in Imprisoning Journalists.

    According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Iran and China are each holding 34 journalists, almost half of the 145 reporters behind bars.

    1530 GMT: Political Prisoner Alert. Ali Shakouri Rad, a leading member of the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been arrested again after a public debate in Khorramabad with a former managing director of the Islamic Republic News Agency.

    Reports claim Shakouri-Rad was detained after he claimed that Sadegh Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary, had congratulated Mir Hossein Mousavi on victory on Election Day in June 2009. (The claim complements statements by others that Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani had congratulated Mousavi as well.)

    Shakouri Rad has been charged with “spreading lies and propaganda”. He was arrested earlier this autumn but was released, reportedly after the intervention of Ayatollah Shobeiri Zanjani with the Supreme Leader.

    http://enduringamerica.com/home/2010/12/9/the-latest-from-iran-9-december-a-return-to-normal.html

    S.

  29. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    Your small plot of ground for legitimacy gets smaller with each mis-understanding re the Form 22s.

    “The Interior Ministry pulled the rug out from under him by publishing the ballot-box by ballot-box results.”

    The Interior Ministry published numbers. There is no documentary evidence available that supports those numbers.

    “Mr. Mousavi, please ask your observers to look over these ballot-box by ballot-box results, and let us know if any of them does not match up with what your observers witnessed on election day.”

    That is the evasion you have used since Day 1. To challenge the numbers, Mousavi and his staff need documents and computer records. They have not had access to those since 12 June.

    “It’s not clear to me how you’ve fastened up the odd notion that a local vote count can be considered valid only if backed up by a Form 22.”

    And that statement — which fails to comprehend the basis for legitimacy in an election, not just in Iran but in other countries — shows up all the purported detail in your report. If you do not have validated forms for local stations, signed by the requisite officials and available for scrutiny, then your numbers remain just that: numbers.

    I’m happy to leave you in that faith-based position so we can move on to the importance of the wider political context, then and especially now.

    S.

  30. Scott,

    “You might start by understanding the basic response to your reports: where have I claimed that fraud has been proven?”

    Please reread my preceding comment to see what I’ve claimed.

  31. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    “I want impartial readers, who might believe there is merit to these fraud allegations, to understand just how weak the supporting arguments are.”

    You might start by understanding the basic response to your reports: where have I claimed that fraud has been proven?

    S.

  32. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Pak,

    I don’t know what “crimes” you are referring to. The government in Iran has punished those responsible for crimes which is what a responsible government ought to do.

    Your entire argument is that because human rights abuses may happen in Iran, this delegtimizes the government. That is a complete and utter nonsense because then there wouldn’t be a single government on earth which could then claim any legitimacy.

    I’m sorry but the protests against the election result were not exclusively peaceful – they were violent and caused by hooligans, and possibly some armed opposition groups. The images and videos prove this. You think that these sorts of seditious acts should go unpunished and that it contravenes human rights for the government to arrest and prosecute those responsible. I think you are completely wrong

    The opposition was offered a legal way to address their grievances but they refused.

    Either you have uphold rule of law or you don’t.

    But carry on with your delusions if you must.

  33. Incidentally, for those readers who wonder why I bother to continue trying to persuade Scott Lucas that he has no grounds for claiming the 2009 election was fraudulent, I’ll mention that I have a motive separate from Scott (who will undoubtedly never be convinced). I want impartial readers, who might believe there is merit to these fraud allegations, to understand just how weak the supporting arguments are.

  34. Pak says:

    Dear Reza,

    You said: “You don’t give a damn about human rights. If you did, you would care about where they are most egregiously abused – outside of Iran.

    Those who burn buses ,and engage in acts of sedition seeking to overthrow a duly elected government, are not part of a democratic and civilized society *period*”

    Firstly, I do give a damn about human rights, which is why I am supporting my brothers and sisters in Iran. Clearly it is you who does not give a damn about human rights, because you are Iranian who supports the regime’s crimes against the Iranian population. I support human rights everywhere. My focus however, as an Iranian, is on Iran. And when people like you, and the regime as a whole, proclaim Iran as a glorious democracy that upholds justice, my motivation becomes greatly increased.

    Secondly, you ignore other factors that are part of a democratic and civilised society. These include allowing peaceful protests, allowing civil organisations to function, having an independent judiciary, having a free media, etc. Democracy is not as simple as voting for A or B. It is about empowering the people and having a transparent and accountable government.

  35. Scott,

    “Those two paragraphs are not an answer to the issue of the Form 22s/Form 28s and why they have not been produced to verify the legitimacy of the election. They are an evasion. No more. Mousavi’s challenge was that the original figures from the Form 22s were not the figures that made up the announced count.”

    Certainly Mousavi said that the Interior Ministry altered (or ignored) local vote counts once they reached Tehran. I’ve always wondered whether he ever regretted making that allegation. My strong hunch has always been that he was not aware, initially, that the Interior Ministry intended to publish ballot-box by ballot-box results. Had it not done so, Mousavi’s allegation could have been neither proved nor disproved. It would just be out there forever, casting doubt on the validity of the election. That’s probably what Mousavi assumed would happen when he made the allegation shortly after the election.

    Unfortunately for Mousavi, the Interior Ministry pulled the rug out from under him by publishing the ballot-box by ballot-box results. Much to his dismay, it instantly became possible to prove or disprove Mousavi’s allegation. The obvious question, posed immediately to Mousavi by the
    Guardian Council, was this (in essence):

    “Mr. Mousavi, please ask your observers to look over these ballot-box by ballot-box results, and let us know if any of them does not match up with what your observers witnessed on election day.”

    The answer to that question, as we all know, has been utter silence.

    Whether Mousavi had 40,676 observers, as the government says, or 25,000, as his spokesman says, he had a very large number of them. Not one has come forward to back up his claim. They’ve just left their candidate hanging out there on his own – “twisting slowly in the wind,” to borrow an old Watergate-scandal phrase. I don’t consider it a stretch to say that their silence tells us this: The vote count reported by the Interior Ministry for every polling station observed by a Mousavi observer is exactly the same as the vote count witnessed by that observer.

    It’s not clear to me how you’ve fastened up the odd notion that a local vote count can be considered valid only if backed up by Form 22 signed by a Mousavi observer. If that were true – which, as you well know, it’s not – the potential consequences would be downright absurd. Any candidate who reached election day and believed his prospects were not looking good could simply tell his observers to stay home, or to go to their polling stations but refuse to sign the Form 22 at the end. Presto – invalid election. Indeed, Rezai and Karroubi, who got a relative handful of complaints between them, could make the very same charge you now claim Mousavi has made, and demand that the election be invalidated and done over. (Again, for the record: Mousavi has never actually made this demand; you’re making it for him. He’s never expressed the slightest interest in examining Form 22′s.)

    I hope that’s sufficient for you to understand how absurd your baseless demand really is.

    The Iranian election laws provide for a candidate to send observers to every voting place, for the observers to have an unobstructed view of what happens there, to complain if they see wrongdoing, and to have their complaints promptly investigated and resolved. Presumably, if the facts warrant it, wrongdoing at a particular polling station could even call for invalidating all votes at that polling station –– for example, if local election officials were seen dumping the ballot box contents into a sewer.

    But there has to be a complaint.

    The people who vote at a polling station may not have their votes nullified merely because a candidate declines to send an observer, or because the observer forgets to set his alarm clock and sleeps in, or shows up but decline to sign a Form 22. The government isn’t required to prove that a candidate’s observer was present at every polling station – much less that he was satisfied with what went on there. If a candidate chooses not to send an observer at all, that’s fine – no law requires him to send one. If an observer shows up, does not like what he sees, but makes no complaint, the government is not required to prove he was satisfied. It’s entitled to assume he was satisfied unless he reports that he was not.

    For example, if his vote count differed from the reported vote count – that would be something he might consider complaining about. I certainly would, if I were an observer. Would you?

  36. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Scott,

    You reported the bloody riots in Thailand but did not reflect upon them. You reported the bloody crackdown in Kyrgyzstan but did not reflect upon them.

    You positively dwell upon a “crackdown” in Iran that has not affected the vast majority of the people (as surveys have shown). I wish people outside of Iran really knew how little an effect this green movement has had on daily life, especially outside of the Tehran and Qom.

    People in Iran have a right to have their vote respected and their security protected. The post-election unrest bore rise to a movement that did not respect either the votes of 24 million or the property of others – burning, looting and smashing it up.

    Why should anyone seriously suppose that this movement cares one iota about civil rights when it has engaged in such civil disruption and a rejection of the democratic process?

    “Where is my vote?” really translates “Why don’t *I* always get what I want”?

    Call it the tyranny of the majority, but that is democracy.

  37. Scott Lucas says:

    Reza,

    One modification….

    “If you support human rights, then at least respect the democratic rights of the majority [and also the minority].”

    S.

  38. Scott Lucas says:

    Reza,

    “Did the Nixon administration become ‘illegitimate’ following the Kent state massacre when 4 students were killed and others savagely beaten for protesting the war in Vietnam?”

    I certainly would have protested, instead of providing excuses — the death toll was “no more than 4 over the course of a year”, it was “more or less the same number killed in XXXXXX”, “abuses….were investigated and dealt with”, etc.

    S.

    P.S. — We covered Thailand. Thanks.

  39. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Pak,

    You don’t give a damn about human rights. If you did, you would care about where they are most egregiously abused – outside of Iran.

    Those who burn buses ,and engage in acts of sedition seeking to overthrow a duly elected government, are not part of a democratic and civilized society *period*

    If you support human rights, then at least respect the democratic rights of the majority. If you can’t do that, then shut up.

  40. Goli says:

    Nahid,

    Please continue to share news and photos of the President as he visits various cities and regions in Iran. I appreciate them as I don’t get the chance to look for them independently. Thank you.

  41. Pak says:

    If you can, please watch this clip from Jon Stewart:

    http://www.juancole.com/2010/09/squirrel-stewart-skewers-media-islamophobia.html

    There is only one response to questioning democracy and civil rights in Iran…

    SQUIRREL!

    Yes, the squirrel is the West. Here are some examples from this thread alone:

    “Let me ask you a question: Did the Nixon administration become “illegitimate” following the Kent state massacre when 4 students were killed and others savagely beaten for protesting the war in Vietnam?”

    “The leaked diplomatic cables reveal how the US government uses deceptions, bribes, and threats to control other governments and to deceive the American and other publics.”

    “In virtually every country with a representative democracy there are two main parties or factions, but also many more minor ones and independents. In the U.S congress, there is hardly any of that political pluralism: it is just Republicans or Democrats (occasionally an independent sneaks in).”

    “The American justice system has been subverted. That much is clear. The justice system must be held to account, repeatedly, and that can only happen through a sharing of information about the nature of the on-going crimes in as public a manner as possible.”

    “Remember that Assange is out to make the public aware of the hypocrisy of the US (and other) governments. The US is doing its best to prove him right.”

    “Again, speaking from the peanut gallery (I hope you know that expression), I must say that I think the threat of violence from those outside the country seeking regime change is of an order incomparably larger than the violence of those seeking to maintain the regime. Do I have that wrong?”

    “Several years ago, I was at an Oakland Raiders football game. It was a must-win for the Raiders and they lost. Once outside the coliseum, many of the fans took to the streets and engaged in a mass demonstration. Oakland Police Department arrived in full force and ordered the crowd to disperse. When the crowd refused, Oakland PD fired rubber bullets into the crowd. The crowd got the message.”

    “Whatever the shortcomings of Iranian democracy may be at the moment — and it has them, just as American democracy does — my very strong hunch is that you would be less inclined to write what you are writing now if Mousavi had won.”

    “The same way I can accept the American war of choice in Iraq, the torture at Guantanimo, the sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, the imperfect 2000 election and so on, I can certainly accept lil’ ol’ Islamic Republic Iran the way it is.”

    “Yes, many people have been imprisoned, abused or killed in the aftermath of the election and, thankfully, the regime took this seriously and prosecuted some officials responsible. But blame must be placed firmly on elements within the green movement for inciting and taking part in sedition – the burning of property, looting of banks, attacks on the security forces that began on June 13th and only ended after Ashura. I have no sympathy for those who cannot accept a democratic verdict and resort to street violence to make their voice heard. I also know for a fact that the Iranian police, unlike some in the Baseej, exercised restraint in dealing with rioters: using water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets instead of live ammunition, as happened in Thailand this year.”

  42. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Scott,

    Of the 5,000 detained following the election, the vast majority have been released: most within 24 hours. I don’t know exactly how many were killed, but it is no more than 100 over the course of a year – more or less the same number killed in a week during riots in Thailand earlier this year – and which you and other sites essentially ignored because the Thai government is a U.S. ally.

    Abuses did occur in Kahrizak and some other prisons but they were investigated and dealt with according to the law…something that conspicuously didn’t happen following the closure of Abu Ghraib.

    Let me ask you a question: Did the Nixon administration become “illegitimate” following the Kent state massacre when 4 students were killed and others savagely beaten for protesting the war in Vietnam?

  43. Scott Lucas says:

    Loyal,

    Thanks for thoughtful response.

    “Even if overnight vote counts were manipulated (electronically or otherwise) in Tehran , hard copy documents with seal and signature were available for comparison and challenge ( it was done).”

    Where are the hard copy documents and when have they been brought out for comparison?

    “Musavi were unable to point to any specific tainted ballot box/ station .”

    Because the original documents were never presented to allow for a meaningful investigation.

    “Indeed 10% of votes were recounted randomly and were filmed (video). There were no meaningful discrepancies between official IM count and recount of that 10% randome recount.”

    The recount was filmed but that does not cover the. Who carried out the selection? How, where, when, and by whom was it done?

    “There were separate and independent inquiry on Rezaei’s request of recount for specific districts and it turned out against Rezaei too.”

    Rezaei has not accepted the outcome of that enquiry.

    S.

  44. Scott Lucas says:

    Reza,

    From your lengthy apologia, there are 14 words of value:

    “Many people have been imprisoned, abused or killed in the aftermath of the election.”

    S.

  45. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    Those two paragraphs are not an answer to the issue of the Form 22s/Form 28s and why they have not been produced to verify the legitimacy of the election.

    They are an evasion. No more.

    Mousavi’s challenge was that the original figures from the Form 22s were not the figures that made up the announced count.

    No more evasions. Prove the Government right. Prove him wrong.

    S.

  46. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Binam,

    The Leveretts have been the ones to point out that Iran has greatly expanded its political, economic, cultural and military power over the past decade and that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan have contributed to this. 15 years ago, Iran faced a United States at its zenith whereas now you can sense the decline of American hegemony coupled with the rise of China and regional powers. The United States has begun the 21st century as Britain began the 20th century and can we should expect a similar collapse of its own empire by around 2050. Given the rise of secessionist movements in American states, the very future of the Union is not certain.

    If ever substantive evidence was provided that demonstrated that the 2009 election was a fraud, then the Islamic Republic would lose all its legitimacy and support. Of course, that is exactly why people like Scott cling to the idea of a rigged election.

    Yes, many people have been imprisoned, abused or killed in the aftermath of the election and, thankfully, the regime took this seriously and prosecuted some officials responsible. But blame must be placed firmly on elements within the green movement for inciting and taking part in sedition – the burning of property, looting of banks, attacks on the security forces that began on June 13th and only ended after Ashura. I have no sympathy for those who cannot accept a democratic verdict and resort to street violence to make their voice heard. I also know for a fact that the Iranian police, unlike some in the Baseej, exercised restraint in dealing with rioters: using water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets instead of live ammunition, as happened in Thailand this year.

  47. Iranian@Iran says:

    I’m pretty convinced that Scott Lucas knows Ahmadinejad won, but he’s invested too much in the green people.

  48. b says:

    To note: My comment below is a quote from the IPI opinion poll report.

  49. b says:

    Iran, Lebanon, Israelis and Palestinians: New IPI Opinion Polls – International Peace Institute.

    The leaders of Iran’s opposition Green Movement are favored by roughly one-third of Iranians, the poll found, similar to their results in the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Although there were widespread charges of fraud, all the post-election polls show that around 60% of the people who were interviewed say that they voted for Ahmadinejad in 2009, close to the official and much-disputed figures.

  50. Binam says:

    Reza jaan,

    “I would say that the media focus on Iran has dramatically changed over the past 15 years. When Rafsanjani was president, Iran was barely given any attention.”

    Well for a while after Cold War ended the West needed an enemy to replace and they found it in Saddam Hussein. So Both Rafsanjani and Khatami managed to lay relatively low. Then came 9/11 and the enemy without a state – Al Qaida. But when it became clear that it makes no sense to have an enemy without a state, Saddam came back into the spotlight and the Iraq invasion happened based on phony evidence linking him to 9/11, Al Qaida and WMDs. Then when Saddam was out of the picture, Iran became a good target and the person who helped this narrative more than anyone else is none other than RFI’s very own Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – the scarecrow who stole the elections – the man whose rhetoric does wonders for Israel.

    Reza-ye Aziz,

    So if the rest of us ever conceded that Ahmadinejad won the elections, would you then concede that he has in fact jailed journalists, lawmakers, students, filmmakers, activists and innocent bystanders? Because you seem to somehow conveniently ignore all this by sticking to “the facts.” Facts that we still find questionable.

    If in 50 years evidence surfaced that proved once and for all that there was no fraud in Iran’s 2009 elections, people like me and Scott would just be convinced and we would be thankful for the surfacing of the TOTAL truth. Because all we’re saying is that “facts” are incomplete and flawed. However, if solid evidence surfaced that proved YOU wrong once and for all, then you would feel stupid wouldn’t you? Because you’re putting all your eggs in the same basket – basket of the Islamic Republic led by one Khamenei! Inshallah ke ta un moghe hamamoon zende hastim va hanooz inja be ham miparim!

  51. Scott,

    “Note that Mousavi is claiming that the Form 22s and Form 28s, which had the “authentic” counts, were effectively set aside as these totals were created and reported. That is why I have said repeatedly that Mousavi’s claim can be countered — and the legitimacy of the election established — by producing those Forms.”

    For the record, Mousavi never has said such a thing. In any case, I suggest you consider these two paragraphs from my article, added several months ago specifically to deal with your belated “Scan the Form 22s” argument. You’ve become quite fascinated with that argument over the past several months, perhaps out of desperation, but please don’t become so enamored of it that you imagine Mousavi finds it equally fascinating. There is no reason to think the thought has ever crossed his mind.

    EXCERPT FROM ARTICLE:

    At least one Iran analyst [THAT WOULD BE YOU, SCOTT] has pressed the Form 22 argument even further, insisting (a year after the election) that Ahmadinejad’s election was invalid because the Interior Ministry did not scan all 45,692 Form 22′s – signatures, thumbprints and all – and post PDF images of them on the Internet.[13] It is not clear why the government should have undertaken this effort, which Mousavi himself never requested (nor did any other candidate, in this election or any other) and which Iran’s election laws do not provide for. While this would have made it easier for Mousavi to examine Form 22′s, Mousavi has never expressed any desire to examine Form 22′s in the first place, and the Interior Ministry has never indicated it would resist such an effort, even today. Nor is it clear, if Mousavi sincerely suspects fraud, why he would prefer to examine copies of Form 22′s scanned and posted by the Interior Ministry rather than the originals.

    Most important in response to this argument, it is not clear what this analyst hopes to establish by examining Form 22′s, whether scanned PDF copies or originals – at least at polling stations where a Mousavi observer was present. Regardless of whether an observer signed a Form 22, or even saw one, presumably the observer wrote down the vote count he personally witnessed. If his personally recorded vote count matches the vote count reported by the Interior Ministry, obviously no dispute exists. The votes cast at that polling station should simply be counted – regardless of what the Form 22 may state, or who may have signed it, or whether it even existed. Examining Form 22′s could be useful if a Mousavi observer ever challenged the Interior Ministry’s reported vote count for his polling station. But this has never happened: none of Mousavi’s 40,676 registered observers has ever disputed the Interior Ministry’s reported vote count for his polling station. Examining Form 22′s could also be useful at any polling station where Mousavi did not have an observer and now disputes the vote count. But there are relatively few polling stations in this category. Even if this analyst narrowed the scope of his scan-and-post demand, many would question his common sense. Anyone who sincerely believes that the Interior Ministry’s fraud can be detected by examining Form 22′s will prefer to examine the originals – not scanned copies posted by the Interior Ministry itself. After all, if the Interior Ministry misstated the vote count for a polling station, there is good reason to suspect it will try to hide its fraud by altering the Form 22 before scanning it.

    END OF EXCERPT FROM ARTICLE.

  52. Humanist says:

    I mistakenly uploaded this post in the wrong thread of this site, I am cutting and pasting it again here
    ———————————————————————————-

    Fiorangla

    After watching half of the video on that congressional hearing your reflections touched me too.

    You Wrote [....Berman’s opening statement included a reiteration of the refrain we’ve heard all too frequently: “sanctions on Iran are pleasantly severe . . ’biting’ sanctions are harming Iran’s economy.”
    Am I the only person who considers such statements, and the glee with which they are uttered, to be disgusting, outrageous, contrary to Geneva Conventions, and evil? ]

    No, you are not alone, so many millions of good people around the world are on your side, look at the space of Internet, countless bloggers feel your emotions… we all get appalled watching a group of psychopaths rejoice from inflicting distress or pain on ordinary people and on those who dare to stand up for their rights and resist the harmful, ruthless hegemonies.

    The type of individuals you saw on that video are the same bunch of the deranged who, in 1990s, imposed severe pains on the lower class Iraqis where among a million who perished from starvation or lack of medicine were half a million innocent children. You have to see the pictures of starving children to realize those sanctions were horrendous crimes that will stand out in the human history, those are in the class of Nazi crimes.

    The bunch are also the type of self-righteous, merciless zealots who are collectively punishing the Palestinians in Gaza ( a heartrending supreme crime that Noam Chomsky brands it as “sadistic, murderous”).

    Thanks for the post. I learned quite a lot, the content of video is truly mind boggling.

  53. Loyal says:

    Scott:
    Musavi listed first two items as evidence for nullification of election in his official letter to GC.
    Do you seriously think GC will consider A-Nejad statements during TV debate as degrading Imam? Even if true there was no ground for nullification( that was no place for political gimmicks) . It only showed his state of disturbed mind at the time if anything GC would consider his rebellious conducts against Khameneei and establishment anti Imam not of A-Nejad’s.
    On item #4 I assume you are familiure with rules , regulation and procedures of election.
    There were between 14 to 17 designated personnel for each station and at least 8 separate signature on every single ballot box with official seal . Signature of at least 8 designated personnel , plus station monitors were required for each box and in addition for form #27 and tally sheet. Each box was sealed before and after with presence of monitors. Government or any other group could not possibly change those tally sheets in significant ways. There were 600,000 personnel and 90,000 observers.
    Even if overnight vote counts were manipulated (electronically or otherwise) in Tehran , hard copy documents with seal and signature were available for comparison and challenge ( it was done) .
    Musavi were unable to point to any specific tainted ballot box/ station .
    Indeed 10% of votes were recounted randomly and were filmed (video). There were no meaningful discrepancies between official IM count and recount of that 10% randome recount.
    There were separate and independent inquiry on Rezaei’s request of recount for specific districts and it turned out against Rezaei too.
    I hope you review and reconsider your conclusion about item 4 which you said is important.
    Every items of Musavi’s letter has been responded and refuted by GC spokesman Kadkhodaei and IM . According to constitution GC was the venue for his protest and unfortunately he refused to be present and defend his letters .
    What he asked was outside of laws , that was deadend for him regretfully..

  54. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Scott,

    You’ve lost me:

    The quote from Mousavi’s website clearly states that the Ministry of the Interior swapped Mousavi’s tally with that of Ahmadinejad (vezaarate keshvar jaa ye mousavi raa baa ahmadinezhaad avaz kard).

    So, instead of Mousavi receiving 13.3m votes and Ahmadinejad 24.5, it was the other way round. This is why Eric and I have been so emphatic about the precinct-level data because it undermines the merit of this claim. It is easy to fix the overall result, but not the disaggregated one.

    I would urge you to actually look at some ballot boxes, rather than just dismiss them as “regime data.” Take Sistan va Baluchestan (the Sunni province which Mousavi won) as an example:

    http://moi.ir/Portal/File/ShowFile.aspx?ID=7663398c-e880-4c60-ae04-5086ab568728

    It is difficult to see how this data could have been manipulated when Mousavi is getting 99% of the ballot box tallies in some districts like Khaash.

  55. James Canning says:

    Juan Cole argues that the leaked cables show that Iran is “winning” and Israel is “losing” in the Middle East. I think this is the wrong way to view matters. If it is in Israel’s own best interests to get out of the Golan Heights and the West Bank, in order to fit into the neighborhood, it is better for delusional thinking by some Israeli leaders to be chucked into the rubbish bin.

  56. Humanist says:

    Eric

    Your analytical mind, strong logic and impartial basing of all your assertions on the actual numbers or on the official statement has produce another EXCELLENT work.

    You fully deserve a deep respect from all who detest wars, corruptions, deceits and dishonest or murderous hegemonies.

    Hats off to Eric A. Brill.

  57. James Canning says:

    Scott,

    Didn’t a number of polls show that Ahmadinejad got more votes than the other candidates combined?

  58. Scott Lucas says:

    Loyal (and with a nod to Reza),

    Thank you for bringing in the information of Mousavi’s complaint.

    I agree much of the first and second point is a political tactic to counter Ahmadinejad’s tarnishing of his opponents as “corrupt”. If they are “corrupt”, then they have no standing in challenging the election. So Mousavi makes a move which is tangential, trying to discredit Ahmadinejad with the invocation of national security and the Imam

    Beyond that, however, the points you list are all relevant to the election. The opposition has repeated claimed that there were conflicts of interests amongst those supervising the election, especially amongst the Guardian Council. That is the gist of Mousavi’s second paragraph in Point 1.

    Points 3 and 5 make specific points regarding the blocking of observers and the shortage of ballots.

    But it is Point 4 which is most important. The suspicion amongst the opposition campaigns, backed up by reports they were getting on Election Day, were that results were being “created” in higher levels of the system. (The observers in the polling stations — honest citizens as you suggest — would not have been part of this.)

    This is the point that Reza inadvertently makes with his misunderstanding of the Mousavi camp’s claim that the vote totals were “swapped”. They are arguing that the results on the night, and subsequently the publication of the precinct results, were not taken from the actual ballots but were manufactured.

    Note that Mousavi is claiming that the Form 22s and Form 28s, which had the “authentic” counts, were effectively set aside as these totals were created and reported. That is why I have said repeatedly that Mousavi’s claim can be countered — and the legitimacy of the election established — by producing those Forms.

    Without those Forms, we only have the numbers which supporters of Ahmadinejad can trust and which opponents can distrust. The Guardian Council’s supposed enquiry did nothing to resolve this.

    Best,

    S.

  59. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    Your long attempt, with Roger Cohen as strawman, to plant a flag falls because of 12 words.

    “When one does look at the facts of the 2009 Iran election….”

    The facts are incomplete. Simple as that.

    I respect that, from those incomplete facts, you want to weave your narrative of justification. I understand that, to protect that narrative, you isolate it from wider political context (because I know that, when faced with that context, you eventually concede points beyond the simplistic 63% declaration). And I appreciate that you want to thump your chest to the gallery about “uncomfortable position”.

    But there is really no way for you to advance on your own supposedly comfortable position. You can’t find the documents for “complete facts”. Indeed, you can’t find much beyond the GC’s report. So that is the ground you must occupy.

    So be it. The terrain of importance extends far beyond the small plot where your flag is planted. And if you want to preach about honesty, I’ll be happy to meet you there, far beyond the study to which you cling.

    S.

  60. Scott Lucas says:

    James,

    “Scott Lucas,

    Do you concede that if all votes cast in the 2009 Iranian presidential election had been correctly tallied, Ahmadinejad would have won?”

    Do you mean “won” as in a majority or a plurality of the vote?

    S.

  61. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Iranian,

    Scott Lucas is prepared to argue his case here. He avidly follows RFI.

    However, his expertise is not Iran but American foreign policy in the Middle East and
    North Africa.

    Enduring America gives me the impression that Iran is far more a priority in American policy-making than I had imagined.

    I would say that the media focus on Iran has dramatically changed over the past 15 years. When Rafsanjani was president, Iran was barely given any attention.

    Evidently, Iran has become a real problem to U.S global hegemony.

  62. Iranian@Iran says:

    I think Scott Lucas is not worth responding to.

  63. kooshy says:

    Don’t forget, one would always “Smells and breathes” to cook something, even if the meal may turned out to be not tasty to the cook.
    This recipe, which chef Scott and Co. have been working hard to cook (prepare), is now too old (rotten) to be consumed by anyone.
    Now, if you don’t plan to be starved you may consider changing the cook (chef) or go with a different recipe that this chef know how to cook.

  64. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Loyal,

    Mousavi was never a reformist. The IIPF and MOIR staked their come-back on the election but I don’t think they seriously thought Mousavi could win even if he was supposed to appeal to conservatives and independents.

    I think that now Mostafa Kavakebian of the Mardomsalari party stands much to gain as he has distanced himself from Khatami, Mousavi and Karroubi.

  65. Loyal says:

    Reza:

    I think reformers twin towers Mosarekat and Mojahedin Engelab Eslami who recruited Khatami and managed his affairs (even his downfall) were reason for Musavi’s misguided actions. They had resources , organization and experience that Musavi needed. They managed his campaign and provided all their resources inside and abroad .
    They were behind all pro Musavi pre election polls and psychological warfare. They fed Musavi what he wanted to hear and I think he was convincing he will win, anything short of big victory must have been fraud.
    No surprise government arrested most of twin towers leaders and let Musavi and Karubi out of jail ( for now).

  66. Reza Esfandiari says:

    To be honest, I don’t know what Mousavi’s aides claim any more.

    Mousavi’s immediate response to the election outcome was this:

    “The results announced for the 10th presidential elections are astonishing. People who stood in long lines and knew well who they voted for were utterly surprised by the magicians working at the television and radio broadcasting,”

    In other words, the result – announced over six rounds of vote counts throughout the night – were simply made up.

    But you should note that the Mousavi camp released this statement on June 13th and which still remains on their website:

    http://mowj.ir/ShowNews.php?7208

    کودتای شبانه علیه انتخاب مردم: وزارت کشور جای موسوی را با احمدی‌نژاد عوض کرد

    It means in Persian: “Nightly coup of the choice of the people: The Interior Ministry swapped the tallies between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad.”

    Now, this extraordinary claim might have had some merit had the Interior Ministry not released the provincial and district results later that day, and the precinct-level results about 10 days later.

    When I read that, I knew that the real hoax was being perpetrated by Mousavi and not by the Interior Ministry and electoral commission.

  67. Loyal says:

    Scott:
    This is same IM that conducted election during reformist victory (Khatami).
    GC, IM, SG are independent from each others . SG monitors were mostly local teachers, social works and respectable professionals and there have been no claims of misconducts by these monitors. Do you have any evidence they are part of any election fraud ?
    Although Musavi in his first letter to GC in section 3 complained about some elements in IM and SG whom did not cooperated in issuing ID cards to his representative there were no claims against SG monitors , even after a year there has been no revelation of such conspiracy for cover up of that magnitude.
    Musavi’s first letter was poorly prepared that GC gave him additional few days beyond deadline to edit and substantiate some of his unusual claims.
    His mindset perhaps could be best described in his first and second reason for Election nullification .
    According to his letter ,A-Nejad accusation against Hoj Rafsanjani during TV debate and degrading Imam Khomeini by A-Nejad are ground for nullification of election.


    In the name of God Peace be upon you Following the our numerous correspondents with that respected Council regarding the clear violations by some elements of the Ministry of Interior (responsible for polling and vote counting) and one of the presidential candidates which has affected the outcome of the 12 June election, we list these violations
    below one more time and insist that the disqualification of this Election process is clear beyond any
    doubt and thus should be nullification:

    1. During the campaign period and specially in the debates, Mr. Ahmadinejad has made
    outrageous accusations (of corruption) against many persons including Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani
    , the respected head of the “Experts Council” (in charge of monitoring and selection of the
    Supreme leader in case of his death or disqualification) and the head of the Council for

    “Tashkhise Maslahat” (in charge of resolving disputes between Guardian Council and the Parliament) and Mr. Nategh‐e Nouri , member of the same council and also the head of the
    Special Investigation Unit (“Bazrassi‐e Vizhe”) appointed by the Supreme leader (also ex
    parliament‐speaker) in the national media (State TV), which according to the Persecutor
    General, is in direct violation of the law and a criminal act punishable by the law. These
    accusations were the basis of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s campaign against other candidates, including
    me (Sorry for the tedious text, the original text is as tedious)

    2. During the TV debates, he (Ahmadinejad) said things which were harmful to the national security and degrading to our great late leader Ayatollah Khomeyni. Moreover, he revealed state secrets and combined them with inaccurate statements, including accusing the Government of
    the Islamic Republic or Iran and the Ministry of Interior (under Mr. Mousavi as the Prime Minister,
    1981-89) of hiring and organization of street thugs and militia for attacking and suppression of the
    youth, cutting “neck ties” and forcibly shaving youth’s heads (i.e. unorthodox haircuts, as in signs
    of the influence of the western culture) -which is of course false and has never been proved in a
    court of law- which are again criminal acts and punishable by the law.

    3. The elements of the ministry of interior and the state governors were grossly uncooperative and did not issue ID cards for our representatives (in polling stations) –Mousavi and Karoobi’s, both. Therefore, many polling stations were completely unsupervised by us (which is again against the law).
    4. Opposite to what was agreed upon before –that the vote counting would be carried out
    manually‐ the election bureau of the ministry of interior started to announce vote counts of
    large numbers already before the counting was completed in many of the polling stations. This is
    while the official forms No. 22 and 28 (for reporting the tallies to the central election bureau)
    was not even sent to the central bureau by the polling stations and the tallies were only based
    on the numbers entered in the computer network system (very sketchy system, unsecure
    software with numerous bugs, was not supposed to be used).

    5. Hundreds of polling station all around the country specially in larger cities ran out of voting
    ballots many hours before the closing time of the polls which caused long delays and waiting
    time for the voters (many were turned around). With respect to the fact that 17 million surplus

    ballots were printed (17 millions more the number of qualified voters), the delay in distribution

    “.

  68. Scott,

    Writers like Roger Cohen long ago stopped looking closely at the facts of the 2009 Iran election — for one simple reason: When one looks too closely, he quickly recognizes that it’s impossible for an honest person to claim there is any evidence of fraud. Thus, if one wishes to continue yelling “Fraud!”, it’s advisable to turn away from the facts and discipline oneself never to look at them again.

    That’s what Roger Cohen has done. No more claims about “statistical correlations” and that sort of thing from him — he just “smells and breathes” his fraud now. He’s not asking for intellectual respect any more, just respect for his subjective feelings, and we can give him that. Some people even consider him intellectually honest to continue shouting “Fraud!” on this basis, though that requires a somewhat broader definition of honesty than many of us subscribe to.

    Where calling oneself “honest” gets much more difficult, Scott, is when one does look at the facts of the 2009 Iran election — when one claims to be doing more than merely “smelling and breathing” his fraud — and still claims to find fraud despite the utter absence of evidence. That requires a definition of “honesty” even broader than the one on which Roger Cohen now relies.

    This is the uncomfortable position you now occupy, Scott. If I were you, I’d back away as gracefully and quickly as you can from the facts. Just claim instead that you “smell and breathe” fraud in some way that you can’t really explain, but assure us that your feelings are nonetheless sincere. We’ll try our best to respect those feelings, and give you credit for a journalistic sort of “honesty.”

    That’s about all you’re going to be able to salvage here, Scott, but it’s better than nothing. Roger Cohen figured that out a long time ago.

  69. James Canning says:

    Bussed-In Basiji,

    The CIA continues to say that it has no intelligence the Iranian government wants nuclear weapons. This appears to be one reason no new NIE on Iran has been issued.
    And CIA analysts on Iraq in 2002 generally were sceptical about Iraqi WMD. The conspiracy to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq was a political fraud carried out by Dick Cheney and others, and Cheney many times visited the CIA headquarters to ensure key evidence Iraq had destroyed its WMD was kept out of the White House. Cheney was protecting the “deniability” of the team of lawyers he was using to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq.

  70. James Canning says:

    Scott Lucas,

    Do you concede that if all votes cast in the 2009 Iranian presidential election had been correctly tallied, Ahmadinejad would have won?

  71. James Canning says:

    Spiegel.de online today has an interesting story re: leaked cables and Austria. In one, a US diplomat complained that the Austrian foreign minister had said her country “is not the 51st state of the US”. Other cables complained the US had little leverage over Austria and Austria continued to trade with Iran contrary to US demands.
    Bravo, Austria!

  72. Scott Lucas says:

    Cyrus,

    If you have been over this “repeatedly”, you should do better than a simplistic, polemical assertion.

    The treatment of the opposition on Election Day is certainly connected to the conduct of the election.

    And (paying respect to Eric, who has shown far more deliberation of the issue) the “subsequent treatment” of demonstrations certainly affected the supposed scrutiny of the election. The security forces’ crackdown on public protest on 20 June preceded the Guardian Council process of a “recount”. The raids on opposition offices preceded that process. So did the detentions of opposition politicans, activists, and journalists. In those circumstances, how is it possible to argue that there was fair scrutiny of the election?

    Indeed (and again, I should put respectfully to Eric, given our other discussions), if the system was so confident of its handling of the election, why did it take repressive measures against the opposition from 12 June and not allow peaceful demonstrations after 15 June?

    S.

  73. Scott Lucas says:

    Reza,

    “Mousavi admits that only about 100 of his monitors were actually excluded – most of them for arriving late or for not having the proper accreditation.”

    That’s wrong — see the testimony of Alireza Beheshti.

    “If Mousavi’s team rejects the precinct-level data then they should present their own data. Why have they not?”

    And where would they get this data in the environment when their offices were raided and equipment and files seized?

    “The recount involved a random sample of 10% of ballot boxes.”

    Can you establish for us that the sample was random?

    “The main opposition views that the votes were not even counted”

    The “main opposition view” is that the votes were not counted properly.

    “In my report, I carefully examine the ballot box data to see if there are any tell-tale signs of fraud. It is not my fault if I don’t find any.”

    No, it’s not your fault. It is just the limits you have set upon your scrutiny.

    Best,

    S.

  74. Scott Lucas says:

    Loyal,

    Were Minister of Interior monitors “independent”?

    Even assuming they were, that does not preclude alteration of the numbers higher up the chain.

    S.

  75. Loyal says:

    Although Musavi had more than other candidate representatives at poll stations, absence of candidate representatives at poll stations are not ground for nullification or proof of cheating.
    Every poll stations had independent monitors from Provisional, Interior ministry and GC) as required by election laws for monitoring. There were no reports of the kinds of misconducts as claimed by Musavi by mandated monitors.

  76. Binam says:

    Pirouz,

    In a football game the outcome is very clear. Your team either wins or loses in a super transparent environment. Now suppose you were all blindfolded at that game and all you could rely on was voices of the announcers of the opposing team! That’s more like the situation in Iran in 2009.

  77. Binam says:

    Reza,

    “I haven’t seen any results which can be attributed to manipulation. In my report, I carefully examine the ballot box data to see if there are any tell-tale signs of fraud. It is not my fault if I don’t find any.”

    Many people have examined the ballot box data and have been unable to conclude one way or another. Nate Silver’s analysis for example says that based on the data provided one cannot prove that there was election fraud, but it doesn’t mean that there wasn’t. You can’t say you “carefully examined” data provided by the very government that would arrest you if you were to ask to do a more thorough research on the topic of the 2009 elections! Careful examination means nothing if the data being examined has potential to be flawed or manipulated – and in this case it certainly has this potential.

  78. Pirouz says:

    Scott,

    Several years ago, I was at an Oakland Raiders football game. It was a must-win for the Raiders and they lost. Once outside the coliseum, many of the fans took to the streets and engaged in a mass demonstration. Oakland Police Department arrived in full force and ordered the crowd to disperse. When the crowd refused, Oakland PD fired rubber bullets into the crowd. The crowd got the message.

    So using your logic, Scott, the “context”, such as the demonstration after the game and the OPD’s heavy handed response should have annulled the outcome of the football game. Well Professor, it don’t work that way for the NFL: or the IRI.

  79. Cyrus says:

    Scott, we’ve been over this repeatedly: the subsequent treatment of the riotors in Iran has no bearing on the question of whether there was election fraud, and feigned outrage over the human rights abuses cannot be used to make up for the lack of evidence of election fraud.

  80. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Scott,

    Mousavi admits that only about 100 of his monitors were actually excluded – most of them for arriving late or for not having the proper accreditation. Even if he had just 1000 monitors on the day, we could at least verify the ballot boxes that they had observed. That was Eric’s point all along.

    If Mousavi’s team rejects the precinct-level data then they should present their own data. Why have they not? They have never claimed that in ballot box 20 in town X the results were not 123 but 456. That would be necessary to substantiate their claims.

    The recount involved a random sample of 10% of ballot boxes – this is part of Iranian electoral law. If there had been massive fraud, we should have found it in this representative sample.

    The other thing a PhD candidate whom you supervise might ask is : are the results plausible? That was what Ansari’s Chatham House report asked and which I answered.

    I haven’t seen any results which can be attributed to manipulation. In my report, I carefully examine the ballot box data to see if there are any tell-tale signs of fraud. It is not my fault if I don’t find any.

    Your theory that the results may have been massaged doesn’t hold up to serious scrutiny and also contradicts the main opposition views that the votes were not even counted.

  81. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    “My paper covers every one of those complaints in excruciating detail.”

    Not exactly. Nor did you successfully address those issues in discussions on previous threads.

    “It’s time you gave up this ‘linkage’ between the election and what happened afterward.”

    I think you have put your position beautifully: treat the election in isolation from political context. Which means that you never have to consider the intimidation, manipulation of information, or bending of legal procedure that occurred. You never have to consider the protests and how they were handled. You never have to consider the obvious answer to your sheltering question, “Why won’t a Mousavi observer step up and prove me wrong?”

    So you never have to consider what legitimacy really means.

    S.

  82. Scott Lucas says:

    *Corrected final paragraph….

    No, but I would also not accept a PhD candidate who did not raise questions about an official account. I would not accept the “wilful denial” of someone who does not realise that officially-produced data — especially data lifted out of its political context — does not necessarily constitute proof. And I certainly would not accept a PhD candidate who did not realise that evidence may have been suppressed or rendered unavailable.

  83. Scott Lucas says:

    Reza,

    “The election was conducted in the presence of over 40,000 observers from the challenging candidates as well as those from the Interior Ministry, Guardians council and the judiciary’s national inspectorate.”

    Not true. Mousavi’s aides say that they had nowhere close to 40,000 in the stations on the day.

    “Strange that *not one* of the tallies for the 45,692 ballot boxes* has ever been contested by Mousavi’s crowd, don’t you think?”

    Not true. The tallies have repeated been challenged by the Mousavi campaign.

    “A partial recount was conducted which was televised.”

    A very limited and selective recount….

    “The Guardians council conducted an investigation into the losing candidates’ complaints and published a report dealing with all of them. This included releasing a sample of documents showing that candidate monitors had signed and certified the results.”

    A very small sample….

    “So, you presumably think that all that data was just randomly generated?”

    No, what I am suggesting is that it was possible alter the figures on the results from the ballot boxes before the “official” results were announced. Produce the Form 22s and that suggestion can be refuted.

    “Would you accept it if one of your PhD candidates dismissed the outcome of the presidential election because they couldn’t be bothered to examine the available evidence?”

    No, but I would not also not accept a PhD candidate who did not raise questions about an official account. I would not accept the “wilful denial” of someone who does not realise that officially-produced data — especially data lifted out of its political context — does not necessarily constitute proof. And I certainly would not accept a PhD candidate who did not realise that evidence may have been suppressed or rendered unavailable.

    Best,

    S.

  84. Scott,

    I think it’s time for you to reread my paper. It covers every one of those complaints in excruciating detail. It’s time you gave up this “linkage” between the election and what happened afterward. The latter may have merit, but people inevitably wonder whether you really believe that when you insist on supplementing your arguments with unfounded claims about a stolen election.

  85. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    One example is the reports from “Iran Watch” in Turkmenistan who actually spend time talking to Iranian truck drivers at the Turkmen-Uzbek to get Iran info. This has to be among the shitiest assignments in the foreign service. All that hard training, dreams of glamorous assignments in tropical and exotic places and then being assigned to a truck stop in the middle of central Crapistan. I almost feel a little sorry for these ass-lickers.

    Good luck to them, and I admit we are shaking in our boots at the scary prospect of the hard-hitting info the truck drivers from Mashad are likely to reveal to these crafty Americans.

  86. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Scott,

    So, you presumably think that all that data was just randomly generated?

    Strange that *not one* of the tallies for the 45,692 ballot boxes* has ever been contested by Mousavi’s crowd, don’t you think? As Eric pointed out, the Iran watcher in Ashgabat demanded that the precinct results be published to verify the outcome.

    In his “victory” speech on June 12th, Mousavi claimed that his representatives all over the country had informed him that he was heading to a landslide victory and that he was the “definite winner”. You’d think he could provide some alternative data.

    Let’s see again:

    1) The election was conducted in the presence of over 40,000 observers from the challenging candidates as well as those from the Interior Ministry, Guardians council and the judiciary’s national inspectorate.

    2) Around 500,000 election workers were involved that included teachers.

    3) All of the precinct level results were published within 10 days.

    4) A partial recount was conducted which was televised.

    5) The Guardians council conducted an investigation into the losing candidates’ complaints and published a report dealing with all of them. This included releasing a sample of documents showing that candidate monitors had signed and certified the results.

    And you are still not satisfied.

    All I can say to you, Professor Lucas, is that a true scholar does not engage in such willful denial. Would you accept it if one of your PhD candidates dismissed the outcome of the presidential election because they couldn’t be bothered to examine the available evidence?

  87. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    That’s a credit to Yale University, and doesn’t take away from the fact that most State Department and CIA analysts are ass-licking career drones who don’t care about reality and who, like you, depend on a very limited and skewed pool of so-called “sources” for their Iran info. Again, we hope and pray that they continue in exactly the same fashion as they have in the past.

  88. Scott Lucas says:

    BiB,

    “Their current stand on Iran is certainly not going to help them move up the career latter at the State Department or CIA.”

    No, but it didn’t hurt them at Yale University…. :-)

    S.

  89. Scott Lucas says:

    Reza,

    The precinct-level data is just numbers without supporting documentation.

    Scott

  90. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    You summarise theory very well. Practice is a different matter.

    “That’s how Iran did it in the 2009 Iran presidential election.”

    No, not when opponents are detained on Election Day and others go into hiding to avoid arrest, not when Fars News publishes results before the “official” count, not when ballots are counted and results are announced suspiciously quickly, not when the Speaker of Parliament among others may have told the candidate — who ultimately lost — that he had won.

    Not when the Form 22s, which could make the case you set out in theory, are never revealed.

    Best,

    S.

  91. Scott,

    “A Government and a system does not establish legitimacy by shouting, “Prove us wrong.” It does so by establishment, “We prove we are right.””

    Correct, Scott. And how a government properly goes about it is exactly the way the US and Iran do it:

    1. They set up procedures which, if followed, will yield a fair election.

    2. They invite all candidates to send observers to every voting place to ensure those procedures are followed, and they make sure those observers are given an unobstructed view of everything that happens.

    3. They invite all candidates to report all violations of those procedures, and they promptly and thoroughly investigate all those that are reported.

    4. They publish the vote counts, ballot-box by ballot-box, after the election.

    5. They invite the losing candidate to let them know if any vote count is incorrect or if any other form of fraud occurred that hasn’t already been reported and investigated.

    6. If they don’t hear any complaints from the candidate, they declare the election results final, inaugurate the winning candidate, and get on with life. Shouts of “fraud,” without more, are not considered complaints: the candidate must supply details, or those shouts are considered to be nothing more than expressions of disappointment.

    That’s how we do it in the US. That’s how Iran did it in the 2009 Iran presidential election.

    What such governments do not do is this: They don’t simply annual an election, nullifying the expressed wishes of a very substantial majority of the country’s people, when a losing candidate continues to yell “Fraud!,” refuses to supplies details, and insists that the government jump through some new hoops that he thinks are a preferable method of establishing the election’s validity.

    Al Gore in 2000 pointed to specific polling stations, made specific allegations of wrongdoing, and demanded that votes be recounted in those specific places. Whether the government did that fairly is a matter of much debate even today, but the point here is that Al Gore did not ask for the election to be annulled, or come up with new methods of election validation that the government must follow before he would acknowledge he’d lost. He’d have been laughed off the stage if he had.

  92. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Scott says:

    “I have never claimed that the election has proven to be fraudulent. I have argued that, for many people inside and outside Iran, it was not transparent and that therefore many have questioned whether it established the legitimacy of the Government.”

    It seemed perfectly acceptable to all until the result was announced. Why else did the candidates and their supporters participate? It is more a case of sour grapes than a resulting lack of legitimacy.

    “A Government and a system does not establish legitimacy by shouting, “Prove us wrong.” It does so by establishment, “We prove we are right.””

    But the Interior Ministry did do that by releasing all the precinct-level results, thus allowing people to contest the disaggregated data. How much more transparent can you get?

  93. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Gee, Scott and Pak you seem to feel spoken to,

    Unlike the usual ass-lickers in the US government, the Leveretts seem to be trying to understand reality before making policy suggestions. Their current stand on Iran is certainly not going to help them move up the career latter at the State Department or CIA.

    I know it’s a little hard for you understand these complicated issues. It’s OK, keep trying we’re rooting for you to be the source of information about Iran for the US government.

  94. Pak says:

    Dear B-in-B,

    You said: “It’s probably pretty similar with the ass-lickers over at the CIA.”

    Following on from Professor Lucas’ post, I should also point out that it is rude to call Flynt an “ass-licker”.

  95. Pak says:

    Dear Pirouz,

    You said: “I can tell you it’s a matter of accepting Iran for what it is, socially and politically.

    The same way I can accept the American war of choice in Iraq, the torture at Guantanimo, the sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, the imperfect 2000 election and so on, I can certainly accept lil’ ol’ Islamic Republic Iran the way it is.”

    But you do not accept the US for what it is. From reading your posts for the last year or so, I have learned that you do not hesitate to exercise your democratic rights by criticising the US, which you rightly should. “Accepting” something for what it is, especially when it commits crimes, is an insult to the men and women who sacrificed to much to achieve democracy in this world.

    But I guess that as an American-Iranian your loyalty is spread too thin and you cannot offer the same treatment to Iran.

    This is also why you are not a peace activist, or an activist at all. Activists should have universal values. But still, thank you for putting a smile on my face!

  96. Scott Lucas says:

    BiB,

    “One of the things we in the Islamic Republic rely on, is the laughable analysis of western so-called Iran experts and the extremely limited and skewed sources they use to get ‘information’” about Iran.”

    It’s really not very nice of you to attack the authors of RFI this way. They mean well.

    Best,

    S.

  97. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    1. Ahmadinejad won the elections with an overwhelming majority in a fair and legitimate election. The vast majority of Iranians support the Islamic Revolution, the Islamic Republic and the Supreme Leader. Now get on with your pathetic lives.

    2. One of the things we in the Islamic Republic rely on, is the laughable analysis of western so-called Iran experts and the extremely limited and skewed sources they use to get “information” about Iran. In fact some of it is what in security circles is called “disinformation”.

    3. One thing Wikileaks proves is the complete ideological basis of US foreign analysis. It seems reality is not relevant to these ass-licking career drones in the State Department. It’s probably pretty similar with the ass-lickers over at the CIA. We hope and pray to Go Almighty that they continue to do their work exactly as they have in the past.

  98. Scott Lucas says:

    I would have loved to have played with the authors of RFI, kicking around this analysis, but there were events — which illustrated that, as the authors struggle to prove legitimacy over the elections, issues are far beyond June 2009 — to cover in Iran yesterday.

    One essential correction, as it points out the limitations of this attempted justification.

    Eric writes, “But continuing to insist that the 2009 election was fraudulent only weakens their credibility on other issues.”

    I have never claimed that the election has proven to be fraudulent. I have argued that, for many people inside and outside Iran, it was not transparent and that therefore many have questioned whether it established the legitimacy of the Government.

    The authors of RFI, before their manipulations and distortions of the WikiLeaks cables, make a fundamental mistake.

    A Government and a system does not establish legitimacy by shouting, “Prove us wrong.” It does so by establishment, “We prove we are right.”

    Best until we meet again,

    S.

  99. Arnold,

    I’ve been thinking more about your point about the agenda-driven release of the Wikileaks cables, and recognize that I may well not have understood you correctly.

    I had understood you to mean that Wikileaks itself was selectively releasing the cables to advance some Wikileaks agenda. That may or may not be the case, but I doubt it (unless “agenda” is defined broadly enough to include just disclosing everything to everybody), and I doubt that’s what you had in mind in any event. Nor is the State Department in a position to advance its agenda through direct control over the cables’ release, for the simple reason that it flatly refused to work with Wikileaks to edit or even review any of its 250,000 cables (but more on the State Department’s “back door” re-entry below).

    I now understand you probably were referring instead to the agenda of the three news organizations through whom Wikileaks is releasing the cables: the Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times. Here I do see an opportunity for mischief, and this may be what you have in mind.

    Each of those news organizations can slant the cables in one or more of three ways:

    1. By editing the cables.

    2. By deciding which cables to make public.

    3. By selecting among cables to support a position taken by the news organization in an editorial or article.

    I haven’t studied the cables with this in mind, but my recollection is that most or all of the editing has been relatively minimal and aimed at hiding identities. It may be that the meaning of a cable has been changed here or there, but I doubt that’s happened much. Nevertheless, here lies an obvious opportunity for the State Department to get back in the game. The Times, for example, is consulting with the State Department in the editing process, and it seems likely to me that the State Department’s editing advice is heavily influenced by an effort to get the horse back into the barn to the limited extent still possible.

    The State Department’s efforts here probably affect also the Times’ decisions on which cables to make public at all – a “no release” decision, after all, amounts in effect to “heavy editing.” I suspect the Times will largely defer to the State Department on this.

    As for the third way (selecting among released cables to support a position taken by the news organization), that’s available to all of us – assuming, of course, that we all have the same cables to choose from when we write our papers and give our speeches. My hunch is, as yours probably is, that the Times’ decision on what to release and – almost as important in the short and medium run – when to release is not based entirely on the merits of each particular cable as a Times editor picks it off the top of the pile for review, but rather how well a particular cable (notably including one far down in the pile) supports a point of view about to be presented in some Times editorial or article. A cable that fails this test might eventually be released (or might never be), but the Times editors might not get around to it for a few months (or years).

    Each of the three news organizations is getting the same cables from Wikileaks (or so I understand), and so there is some pressure on each of them to release everything Wikileaks gives them as soon as possible and edited it as little as possible, so that the news organization, in comparison with its two counterparts, is not considered to be excessively restrictive in its selection or its editing – not that the news organization necessarily cares what people think about this, of course, but it will naturally prefer that readers not shift to its competitors’ comparatively “open” Wikileaks websites. On the other hand, if all three news organizations happen to want to advance the same agenda, it’s entirely possible (maybe highly likely, in your view) that each of three is making the same heavy-handed editing and selection decisions with the understanding that the other two are doing the same thing – “conscious parallelism” is the term in anti-trust law, as I recall. In an even more complex conspiracy, the three could even have reached an understanding that none of the three will release a cable if any one of them prefers that it be kept secret for a reason that the other two don’t care about (for example, some German grudge against Iran that the UK couldn’t care less about) — but I can’t imagine three big organizations like these could pull off something that would probably require secret explicit communication of the wishes of each.

    Whether or not such an unspoken or spoken understanding has been reached among these three news organizations, I’ll note that I read recently, as you may have read too, that Wikileaks has started releasing the cables through several additional news organizations (I don’t know which ones). I don’t claim to know its reasons for doing this, and can think of several good reasons that have nothing to do with my speculations. Whatever the reasons, to the extent Wikileaks expands its distribution in this way, it will soon undercut the ability of the three large news organizations to drive their agenda through their control of cable releases. Their efforts to do so will become more and more evident, and even people who don’t pay attention or couldn’t care less about agenda will soon start heading to the websites that have the fullest menu of released cables.

    That, of course, would put us back to where I (probably mistakenly) thought we were when you raised this: considering whether Wikileaks itself is selectively releasing cables to advance some political agenda of Wikileaks itself (other than its obvious and well understood agenda of disclosing everything to everybody). That I still don’t see as plausible.

    Thoughts?

  100. Binam says:

    Pirouz,

    “The same way I can accept the American war of choice in Iraq, the torture at Guantanimo, the sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, the imperfect 2000 election and so on, I can certainly accept lil’ ol’ Islamic Republic Iran the way it is.”

    I don’t think Americans should ACCEPT the Iraq war; they should hold Bush accountable for having started a war based on lies and deceptions. They shouldn’t accept Guantanamo, Abu Gharib and Bagram either. They should speak out against it and make sure it doesn’t happen again – as many Americans are doing and at least trying to avoid future missteps. They are writing about it, making films about it, speaking out against it.

    As Iranians we should NOT just accept and forget Kahrizak, attack on student dormitories, running over protesters, killing them, raping them, etc. We should not forget or ignore imprisonment of students, activists, filmmakers, journalists and lawyers. To accept all these is to make the oppressors comfortable at what they do, whether they are Iranians oppressing other Iranians or Americans oppressing Iraqis.

    You can’t be a peace advocate and support the Leveretts. They are wolves in sheep clothing. Their goal is to define all Iranians with one brush stroke – one that connects them all to Ahmadinejad. That way, Israelis can make the case for war against Iran easier – without any complications.

  101. Pirouz says:

    Pak, speaking as an Iranian-American (Iranian father, American mother), I can tell you it’s a matter of accepting Iran for what it is, socially and politically.

    The same way I can accept the American war of choice in Iraq, the torture at Guantanimo, the sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, the imperfect 2000 election and so on, I can certainly accept lil’ ol’ Islamic Republic Iran the way it is.

    I think the Leveretts’ policy advocacy of US directed efforts of rapprochement with the Islamic Republic is right on, for both Americans and Iranians. It offers a wonderful alternative to the failures of the past three decades. But hey, if you’re into continued confrontation and conflict, that’s up to you. Myself, I’m a peace advocate.

  102. Pak says:

    Dear Binam,

    To be fair to Eric, we can throw questions and discussion points at one another all day, but we are both entrenched in our beliefs. I just hope that he explores modern Iranian history a little more before spending so much time on a large article that misses the mark completely.

    As for the Iranians on this blog, there is not much we can do. If they are willing to support the imprisonment, torture, murder and rape their own citizens, I doubt we can convince them of anything. They tend to be bigoted and blame the West for everything under the Sun. But, they ironically depend on an American to prove the elections were fair. They also engage in discourse on a blog run by former CIA and WINEP employees.

    Life is full of mysteries.

  103. jay says:

    Pak says:
    December 7, 2010 at 9:59 pm
    “… but I have contextual and consequential evidence of considerable manipulation.”

    Dear Pak,

    this is intriguing! Is this evidence something you can share with others?

  104. Pak says:

    Dear Eric,

    I concluded the same thing a long time ago, but the reason I continue to question your assertions, and the wider assertions of this blog, is so that you – plural – never become too comfortable and righteous.

    An example of such comfort and righteousness:

    Castellio said: “The American justice system has been subverted. That much is clear. The justice system must be held to account, repeatedly, and that can only happen through a sharing of information about the nature of the on-going crimes in as public a manner as possible.”

    I just hope, for the good of my sanity, that Castellio is not Iranian.

  105. Pak,

    “My argument is that your evidence is flawed and misunderstood, because its foundations are in an opaque and partisan political institution. Your evidence also fails to consider the political dynamics of Iran. Therefore, neither you nor I have proof of the outcome, but I have contextual and consequential evidence of considerable manipulation.”

    I would like to say that I understand what this means, but I regret that I’m not able to do that. I think it’s best for both of us to terminate this discussion and move on.

  106. Empty says:

    “What’s between parenthesis can be ignored without jeopardizing the meaning.” –From: English Language and Usage

  107. Pak says:

    Dear Eric,

    You are asking a question that is impossible to respond to, because, if you read my response to Binam, nothing in Iranian politics is distinct. Had Mousavi won, anything could have happened. I can speculate, but what is the use?

  108. Pak says:

    Dear Empty,

    “Still within constraints.”

    My diagnosis: selective blindness

  109. Pak,

    Whatever the shortcomings of Iranian democracy may be at the moment — and it has them, just as American democracy does — my very strong hunch is that you would be less inclined to write what you are writing now if Mousavi had won.

  110. Pak says:

    Dear Eric,

    Your argument is that you hold what you call evidence of a fair election and I do not have such a claim, therefore you are right and I am wrong.

    My argument is that your evidence is flawed and misunderstood, because its foundations are in an opaque and partisan political institution. Your evidence also fails to consider the political dynamics of Iran. Therefore, neither you nor I have proof of the outcome, but I have contextual and consequential evidence of considerable manipulation.

  111. Empty says:

    RE: “It is not the same in Iran. Post-revolution elections represent entire ideological shifts (still within constraints). There is far more at stake and there are far more relevant actors with a stake in the outcome.”

    For a government that is so dictatorial, elections that are so rigged, and ballot boxes that are so pre-determined, it is a gem to hear from an opposition how an election could “represent entire ideological shifts.” I diagnosed: Cognitive Dissonance.

  112. Binam says:

    Well said Pak. Well said.

  113. Pak,

    “It is not radical to suggest that election fraud could take place.”

    Of course it’s not “radical” to suggest that. One always should consider that possibility. My point is simply that Mousavi had — and still has, for that matter — all the information he needs to show that fraud occurred, but he hasn’t.

    Fraud doesn’t occur “in general,” Pak. It occurs at specific places, at specific times, in specific ways. It’s fine for someone to make sweeping allegations of fraud, as Mousavi did and some of his supporters still do. But at some point, they’ve got to deal with the one-word question that will eventually occur to everyone in the audience:

    Where?

  114. Pak says:

    Dear Eric,

    You said: “Many important things happen before an election and after an election. But on election day, it’s just an election.”

    I cannot make it clearer. May be it is your Western perspective that creates a barrier to understanding my argument, because in the West you have established, mature democracies where shifting from Democrat to Republican, or Labour to Conservative, does not really make a radical difference. The situation in the US may be more complicated, but at the end of the day Western democracies are settled down and well-oiled. In the UK, the day after elections is so mundane and boring that most people even forget elections took place.

    It is not the same in Iran. Post-revolution elections represent entire ideological shifts (still within constraints). There is far more at stake and there are far more relevant actors with a stake in the outcome.

  115. Pak,

    Thanks. I hope you’ll pass on how you bold-face things here. Arnold uses italics, and explained it once, but I didn’t pay close enough attention.

    Eric

  116. Pak,

    “Foreign observers (such as Eric) fail to take into account the context of the elections.”

    Many important things happen before an election and after an election. But on election day, it’s just an election.

  117. Pak says:

    I hope everybody enjoyed my fabulous HTML skills.

    By the way Eric, while I am delighted to see that you have established your own website, I am sad that you have failed to upload an ‘about me’ section. Please do so, because I am waiting in anticipation!

  118. Pak says:

    Dear Binam,

    The problem is twofold:

    1. Foreign observers (such as Eric) fail to take into account the context of the elections. They believe that there were simply 4 candidates fighting for presidency. What they do not see, or do not understand, is that Ahmadinejad and Mousavi did not simply represent two ends of the same spectrum; they represented two completely different interpretations of the entire meaning of the IR’s existence (one could say revolution vs evolution).

    Ahmadinejad, who already had the explicit backing of Khamanei, was also backed by the Revolutionary Guards and key institutions such as the Guardian Council (through Jannati). Mousavi on the other hand had the backing of Khatami and Rafsanjani, who represented and still represent the gravest threat to Khamenei’s ideological control and the Revolutionary Guards’ grip on society (through security) and economy (through “privatisation” and black market trade).

    Essentially, Ahmadinejad’s camp controlled key political institutions, including the security apparatus. Mousavi’s camp had less control of political institutions, but had the backing of key social institutions such as intellectuals, students, lawyers, doctors, womens rights activists, trade unions and so on. And by the way, the last time these social institutions mobilised, Iran saw election turnouts similar to last year.

    This context is also historical and can be viewed by former elections. One quick example would be the letter sent to Khatami, signed by 24 Revolutionary Guards commanders – including the current commander, General Jafari – telling him to change his reformist policies, otherwise they would “take the law into their own hands.”

    I could go into more detail, but I expect most Iranians already know the story. I also hope that foreigners can take the time to educate themselves a little about Iran.

    Anyway, my point is that the elections were not a distinct entity, because of the ideological and physical battle to interpret what the IR stands for; they were part of a political continuum that is still being played out on the streets now. That is why Eric’s analysis is so incredibly shallow. That is why this sentence, “[it] was a simple matter for Mousavi to detect fraudulent vote-counting: compare the official vote count with the count witnessed by Mousavi’s own observers,” is so naive.

    2. Separating post-election events from the elections is a mistake. I am not talking about the murder, torture and rape, which is itself an entirely different story; I am talking about the political movements that occurred.

    Firstly, many post-election events were actually planned before the elections, such as arranging arrest warrants for reformist politicians. After the elections, the regime went wild and arrested as many influential reformists as possible, as if it were Macy’s on Black Friday. Secondly, the show trails, which implicated people for “crimes” that were totally irrelevant to the elections, exposed a deeper agenda to cleanse the regime. Thirdly, the regime proceeded to close down a number of established political parties. Fourthly, the role of the Revolutionary Guards in political affairs became explicit.

    More generally, saying that the ransacking of Mousavi’s office is, “an important subject in its own right, but separate from the election,” is self-defeating when demanding Mousavi to provide evidence of election fraud. How about closing in on Mousavi’s closest advisers? Or executing his nephew? Do you really believe that in this intimidating environment, where his closest advisers were in prison, Mousavi could state his case? Again, this separation of events shows how shallow and naive Eric’s understanding of the situation is.

    And for a state like Iran, where there is extreme political ambiguity and opaque, intertwined institutions; where the military interferes in politics; and where the institutions running the elections are neither democratic nor neutral, it is not radical to suggest that election fraud could take place.

  119. Binam says:

    I personally can’t trust anyone who is afraid of going to Iran. If you change your mind, Emirates has the most affordable flights to Tehran.

    http://emirates.com

  120. Binam,

    I’ve read Mousavi’s report. It was translated into English. If I had worked for Mousavi, been asked to write a report explaining his claims, had written that, and were capable of being objective about what I’d written, I’d have immediately apologized to Mousavi and resigned.

    I think it’s probably best that we do without further interactions, Binam. I don’t think either of us has gained much from this.

  121. Binam says:

    Eric,

    Sure, make it personal when you feel cornered. You know fully well that if you were to go to Iran you would have a more complete and accurate report that we could all enjoy. It may be that you’d come to the same conclusion – that there was NO election fraud – but at least then you could shut people like me up by saying that you’ve been to Iran and have talked to everyone.

    There’s a reason why Roger Cohen becomes Roger Cohen and you, well, just our beloved Eric from an online forum.

    Next time, just base your entire report on the oppositions claims:

    http://www.rahesabz.net/story/6184/

    If you do, I will still give you a hard time, because you’ve stuck to only one side.

  122. Binam,

    In an earlier post, I suggested that you were either not bright enough to understand this, or that you were not being entirely honest in what you write. You’ll recall I was leaning toward the latter.

    I still believe those are the two possibilities. I’m no longer as confident as I was a while ago about which possibility is more likely.

  123. Binam says:

    “I’ll say this just once more, Binam; this is getting a bit tedious: It wouldn’t make any difference whatsoever. All that matters is this:

    The Iranian government published the vote count for 45,692 polling stations, and not one of of Mousavi’s observers has disputed it. ”

    How can you say that Eric. How can you say that going to Iran wouldn’t make ANY difference? If historians could travel back in time to write about their subject wouldn’t you think they would be able to paint a more accurate picture? Unfortunately for them the Time machine hasn’t been invented yet. But fortunately for you, there are daily flights to Tehran.

    You said it yourself: “THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT” published the vote count, and here we are saying the Iranian government IS the culprit, and is NOT reliable. And all you do is base your entire argument on what THEY said. It’s like saying Israel is not breaking international law with their settlements because they published a report claiming they didn’t!

  124. Binam,

    “Suppose you go to Iran and ask “Why haven’t you challenged the vote count for any polling station?” And suppose their answer was “I have!” What would you do then? Say “no, you haven’t!”

    That’s exactly what I’d say. Trust me on this one, Binam: If Mousavi could come up with even one observer to support his fraud claim, he’d have long ago found some way to get that interesting piece of information out of Iran.

  125. Binam,

    “And you are yet to answer this question: Would your report be MORE credible or LESS credible if you were to go to Iran and talk to all sides and do a thorough research?”

    I’ll say this just once more, Binam; this is getting a bit tedious: It wouldn’t make any difference whatsoever. All that matters is this:

    The Iranian government published the vote count for 45,692 polling stations, and not one of of Mousavi’s observers has disputed it.

    Knowing Persian, going to Iran, talking to Mousavi’s supporters — nor anything else — would change that. It might be very interesting to talk with them about other issues, just as it would be very interesting to read what you and other election-doubters have to write about other issues. As for the election, though, unless we can get past that fundamental question, I don’t know that there’s much to talk about — in any language, in any country.

  126. Binam says:

    Eric,

    Suppose you go to Iran and ask “Why haven’t you challenged the vote count for any polling station?”

    And suppose their answer was “I have!”

    What would you do then? Say “no, you haven’t! I didn’t read anything about it back in the United States, then you must have not challenged it.”

    Just saying… It would hurt to actually GO to Iran and ask that question. Or would it hurt and is that why you’re afraid about going to Iran?

  127. Binam says:

    Eric,

    “If Binam, Scott and others have complaints about Iran’s government — as they certainly do — they would advance their own cause to stick to those other complaints. They may find that many people here agree with much of what they have to say. But continuing to insist that the 2009 election was fraudulent only weakens their credibility on other issues.”

    Many people here in fact DON’T agree with those other complaints! They claim Iran’s internal problems don’t even exist and that Ahmadinejad is man of the people who has delivered on all his campaign promises. I think the fact that you completely IGNORE wrongdoings of the Iranian government weakens YOUR credibility.

    And you are yet to answer this question:

    Would your report be MORE credible or LESS credible if you were to go to Iran and talk to all sides and do a thorough research?

  128. Binam,

    “I believe that’s exactly what I’m doing! How I see it, the Leveretts ARE enemies of Iran, because what they are doing essentially helps Israel and their cronies in the US government.”

    That’s quite a charge. Can you elaborate, inasmuch as many people on this site disagree, and would be more likely to level that charge at you instead.

  129. Binam,

    “[Eric] continues to ask “why hasn’t a single Mousavi monitor come forth with information to prove his case for fraud?” But has HE himself tried speaking to Mousavi’s people?”

    No, I haven’t. But if I did, I’d merely ask them a question that’s so obvious that I’d almost be embarrassed to ask it:

    “Why haven’t you challenged the vote count for any polling station?”

    That’s really the only question that matters, isn’t it?

  130. Binam says:

    “I think you would do better to focus your attacks on enemies of Iran while making clear what improvements could or should be achieved within Iran.”

    I believe that’s exactly what I’m doing! How I see it, the Leveretts ARE enemies of Iran, because what they are doing essentially helps Israel and their cronies in the US government.

  131. James Canning says:

    I recommend Gareth Porter and Jim Lobe, “Cables Belie Gulf States’ Backing for Strikes on Iran”

    http://www.truth-out.org/cables-belie-gulf-states-backing-strikes-iran65714

  132. Castellio,

    You wrote to Binam:

    “Yours is a difficult position: to hate the current regime, to seek change, to not be a puppet to those on the outside who would impose change through massive violence.”

    Well put.

    Just as I am not a “puppet” of the Iranian government — despite occasional assertions to the contrary, based on my conclusion that Ahmadinejad was validly elected — I don’t consider Binam a “puppet” of those who would like to bomb Iran. Nevertheless, much of what he and other election-doubters write advances the cause of those who would like to bomb Iran. The claim that Iran’s government is illegitimate is a very important element of the bomb-Iran crowd’s argument.

    If Binam, Scott and others have complaints about Iran’s government — as they certainly do — they would advance their own cause to stick to those other complaints. They may find that many people here agree with much of what they have to say. But continuing to insist that the 2009 election was fraudulent only weakens their credibility on other issues.

  133. Binam says:

    Castellio,

    Thank you for your respectful response. Points well taken…

    My main argument is that we can’t possibly have a discussion about the alleged election fraud without having heard from all sides in an environment free of intimidation and fear. If I were to start citing Green Movement websites and presenting whatever reports or claims they have as my sole source to proving my case, I would be making the very same mistake that Eric is making. I would never do that.

    If we are not presenting FACTS and EVIDENCE to support what is essentially our hunch or as you rightfully claim wishful thinking, it’s simply because we’re in the EXACT SAME POSITION as Eric – outside of Iran, behind our computer screens. OF COURSE I don’t have facts and evidence, but at least I admit it and don’t write massive blog entries and try to present it as FACT and EVIDENCE. Eric’s problem is that he relies SOLELY on government data. He continues to ask “why hasn’t a single Mousavi monitor come forth with information to prove his case for fraud?” But has HE himself tried speaking to Mousavi’s people? Has he even tried? I know I haven’t. I am not sure why you don’t think Eric going to Iran to do his reporting ON THE GROUND is not necessary. I doubt it would make his report less credible if he were to speak to all sides.

    “I must say that I think the threat of violence from those outside the country seeking regime change is of an order incomparably larger than the violence of those seeking to maintain the regime. Do I have that wrong?”

    You have that right. None of us here are pro-war with Iran. There are two different approaches. I think painting the false image of an Iran where the government has 100% support from its people is far more dangerous than acknowledging the complexities of Iran’s internal politics and the fact that many Iranians are themselves against the policies of their government. Israel can and will make the case for war with Iran if it convinces the world that all Iranians are extreme conservatives like Ahmadinejad. The Green Movement and images of young Iranians from a diverse background taking to the streets against Ahmadinejad’s government is possibly the worst thing that could have happened to Israel’s anti-Iran campaign. They could no longer paint a false one-sided image of Iran and Iranians. So in a sense, the Leveretts in my opinion are beating on the drums of war and advancing Israel’s causes by trying to imply that there was no Green Movement, their numbers are small and that all Iranians all not moderates, but extremists like Ahmadinejad.
    They are wrong.

    And if Student Day (16 Azar) is any indication, the Green Movement is not dead. “Shit” says Israel!

  134. Binam,

    “Your critics (myself included) have pointed out that you have reported a great deal that is false – relying entirely on numbers and news articles reported by the government of Iran.”

    You discredit yourself by writing such things. What you write is not true, and I’ve made that clear enough. You’re either not bright enough to get it, which strikes me as unlikely, or you’re not being entirely honest in your writing. I think it’s the latter, but it’s without question one of the two.

  135. Binam,

    “Forgetting that in this very article you essentially try to discredit the Iran-watchers because they are either in Turkmenistan or Dubai. At least they’re closer to Iran than you are.”

    Good point, and it appears at least from those two cables that one’s proximity to Iran does make a difference. The Dubai source overstated Mousavi’s vote count by only 3 million votes. The Turkmenistan source, farther away, was off by 13 million.

    Again, not clear whether either of them spoke Persian. Probably not, considering how far off the mark they were.

    Still think it makes a difference?

  136. Binam,

    “But I find it fascinating that on the one hand you essentially criticize those “Iran watchers” for not being in Iran by concluding: ‘(2) those sources have reported a great deal that is demonstrably false, and nothing that cannot be found very quickly by anyone with access to the Internet.’”

    I don’t criticize the Iran watchers because they’re not in Iran. I criticize them because they’re incorrect. The Turkmenistan “Iran watcher” reported that Mousavi had received 26 million votes. That’s very, very far from the mark.

    It’s unclear from the cable whether the Turkmenistan source spoke Persian. I doubt it made a difference. Do you think it did?

  137. Castellio says:

    James, I had thought as you do (did?). But it’s been proven unjustified. Hillary was a terrible choice. Keeping Gates was a terrible choice. Obama made them. We have to take that in and understand the man from the choices he has made. He is not a wimp. While he considers himself a hard-hearted realist, he is, as history has determined and will continue to determne, a hard-hearted fraud.

  138. James Canning says:

    Binam,

    I agree with Castellio that Iranian opponents of the current government seem willing to help avowed enemies of Iran, if that works to bring injury of some sort to the current government. This is a dangerous course to pursue. I think you would do better to focus your attacks on enemies of Iran while making clear what improvements could or should be achieved within Iran.

  139. James Canning says:

    Rehmat,

    Hezbollah would prefer to focus its energies on improving the social and political conditions of the Shia community in Lebanon. But for now it is obliged to be on medium-to-high alert against an Israeli attack (or staged provocation originating in Lebanon).

  140. Castellio says:

    Binam, tell me why Cohen’s “smell and breath” claims are right.

    Yousuf never responded with information to counter Eric’s facts or claims. Neither have you. Neither has Cohen.

    Eric tries to convince you with arguement, but does not succeed. You do not even try to convince Eric with argument.

    That is what I see from the sidelines.

    I conclude that the anti-regime animus among many Iranians blinds them to the support the regime actually has. That animus may be justified. You certainly think it is. I accept that. I believe you try to ensure that your animus does not make you an accomplice to those who want to out and out destroy Iran through a bombing campaign, otherwise you wouldn’t be on this site to begin with, and so I respect that in you.

    Yours is a difficult position: to hate the current regime, to seek change, to not be a puppet to those on the outside who would impose change through massive violence.

    Again, speaking from the peanut gallery (I hope you know that expression), I must say that I think the threat of violence from those outside the country seeking regime change is of an order incomparably larger than the violence of those seeking to maintain the regime. Do I have that wrong?

    I’m out here. I’m listening. I’m reading. Others are, too. Make your case.

  141. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    Wow. I think Obama thought he needed to pay his respects to the Israel lobby etc but actually thought he could get somewhere in resolving the Israel/Palestine problem. I figured his efforts would be very likely to fail when he named Hillary Clinton to State. I have never seen any indication from her that she has an ability to think strategically, as opposed to being skillful at reciting talking points.

  142. Rehmat says:

    “Hezbollah is valuable to Iran, but Iranians have also begun to grumble about the financial and political costs of supporting the Lebanese militia. Hezbollah’s fate now depends more on Lebanese politics and tensions with Israel than on Iran. Hezbollah will be a major component in any conflict involving Iran. Yet its participation may not be automatic. Hezbollah will weigh domestic considerations, including a war’s impact on the Shiite community.” – Emile Hokayem, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS – aka Israeli Hasbara think tank).

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/dark-israeli-clouds-over-lebanon/

  143. James Canning says:

    The Irish Times has a leader today (Dec. 7th) calling for approval of the Iranian application to refuel the TRR. Simple concept that seems to escape the comprehension of most US newspaper editorial writers.

  144. Castellio says:

    Yes, James, I think Obama was definitely running off at the mouth when he talked about “Change you can believe in” as a candidate. And when you write: “Yes, how truly pathetic that Obama felt obliged to lick Netanyahu’s boots!” I don’t think the words “felt obliged” are correct.

    When Obama’s first choice for staff was Rahm Emmanuel, when his first answer to the press gallery was to say that it made no sense to speculate as to Israel’s having nuclear weapons, when he has never pushed to prosecute any of the constitutional law breakers but rather has given them succor, when he has expanded the foriegn wars both in terms of depth and range, when he has paid off the bad debts of the Wall Street criminals and confirms tax breaks to the rich, when he brought in a medicare bill that is not universal and works by guaranteeing profits for the insurance industry as the government already guarantees profits for the military and financial sectors, when he has given Israel everything they ask for while promising lands that aren’t his to give….

    I could go on, but you get my point. Lets not pretend or hope in retrospect.

    By their fruit you shall know them. Obama never meant change. He does not mean change. He is an impediment to change.

  145. Binam says:

    Eric,

    First of all, I’m honored to be on your list of people to ignore – a true badge of honor I must say.

    But I find it fascinating that on the one hand you essentially criticize those “Iran watchers” for not being in Iran by concluding: “(2) those sources have reported a great deal that is demonstrably false, and nothing that cannot be found very quickly by anyone with access to the Internet.” Same can be applied to you. Your critics (myself included) have pointed out that you have reported a great deal that is false – relying entirely on numbers and news articles reported by the government of Iran.

    You also conclude: “(1) the US State Department has received considerable election-related information from secret Iran watchers in several foreign countries;” When you yourself are a [non] secret Iran watcher from a foreign country! Only you don’t report to the State Department, but to the Leveretts and a handful of us who frequent this forum. And to this day you have failed to convince any of us of your claims, which makes me wonder how you plan on convincing the world over if you can’t get past us!

    Then in response to Yousef you say:

    “Try as I might, I can’t understand how being in Iran or knowing how to speak Persian would make a difference at all here. The information I present is all out there — in Persian, English, and probably several other languages. One can think about that information in whatever language he thinks in. That leaves just the writing part, and English is a good enough language for that.

    If knowing Persian and being in Iran does make a difference, I’ll expect to see some wise comments from you on what I’ve written. Even if it does not, I look forward to whatever you have to say about what I’ve written.”

    Forgetting that in this very article you essentially try to discredit the Iran-watchers because they are either in Turkmenistan or Dubai. At least they’re closer to Iran than you are.

    And since you don’t speak Farsi or understand Iran on a cultural level – you will never in a million years understand someone as respectable as Roger Cohen who RIGHTFULLY makes “smell and breath” claims.

  146. James Canning says:

    One point that should be made, or two points, about Sadegh Kharazi, is that he favors normal relations between Iran and the US, and he stresses that Iran “wants a sense that it is respected as part of the [nuclear] negotiations.” Surely this is not too difficult a concept for Obama to grasp.

  147. James Canning says:

    Dan Cooper,

    Bravo! Yes, how truly pathetic that Obama felt obliged to lick Netanyahu’s boots! And get kicked in the teeth as a reward! Grotesque.

    The Iranian foreign ministry wonders why “the west” has been so quiet about the recent assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. Does everyone assume Mossad was involved?

  148. Dan Cooper says:

    Washington’s pathetic capitulation to Israel while pleading for a meaningless three-month freeze on settlement expansion—excluding Arab East Jerusalem—should go down as one of the most humiliating moments in U.S. diplomatic history.

    The Charade of Israeli-Palestinian Talks

    By Noam Chomsky

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27019.htm

  149. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    Iran has stated on the record consitently that it will continue to produce LEU but would consider suspending enriching to 20% if the TRR refueling application is approved. What to me is remarkable is that most press reports about the Geneva meeting failed to discuss the Iranian IAEA application, or even to mention it other than in passing.

  150. Dan Cooper says:

    Iran is winning and Israel is losing.

    That is the startling conclusion we reach if we consider how things have changed in the Middle East in the two years since most of the WikiLeaks State Department cables about Iran’s regional difficulties were written.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27020.htm

  151. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    Are you saying Obama was just running his mouth when he talked about “Change” during the campaign? Or was he at least a tad bit sincere, but since then the Israel lobby has squeezed his privates to make clear who is in charge?

  152. Rd. says:

    U.S. to Host World Press Freedom Day in 2011

    This was posted by b in another forum, but well worth repeating here;

    Assange has now been put into jail for very spurious and false rape charges from a CIA connected woman while the State department issues this: U.S. to Host World Press Freedom Day in 2011

    Remember that Assange is out to make the public aware of the hypocrisy of the US (and other) governments. The US is doing its best to prove him right.

    The United States is pleased to announce that it will host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, from May 1 – May 3 in Washington, D.C. UNESCO is the only UN agency with the mandate to promote freedom of expression and its corollary, freedom of the press.

    The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.

    Posted by: b

  153. Castellio says:

    Kooshy, thanks for the article by Sasan Fayazmanesh. I think it very pertinent.

    Fiorangela, your posting at 12.34 is to the point. You lament your lack of individual politcal influence… I think our job now is to keep pointing to the crimes being committed, and the failures of the justice system to deal with them. That is, make particular the consequences of your statement: “Am I the only person who considers such statements, and the glee with which they are uttered, to be disgusting, outrageous, contrary to Geneva Conventions, and evil?”

    The American justice system has been subverted. That much is clear. The justice system must be held to account, repeatedly, and that can only happen through a sharing of information about the nature of the on-going crimes in as public a manner as possible.

    James (at 2.28), don’t you tire of postiting Obama as an opponent to the forces of the Israeli Lobby? There isn’t a shred of real (non-rhetorical) evidence that he’s not entirely supportive of the current situation in Palestine and the Lobby’s sway in the Congress, the Media, the Department of Justice and the Supreme Court.

  154. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Ardashir,

    Well done in spotting this. Anyone who has visited rural Iran in the past 5 years knows that there have been considerable improvements in the infrastructure and public services provided. It is no surprise that they would have voted for these benefits.

    However, many remote areas are still underdeveloped.

  155. kooshy says:

    I also have read that Iranian pistachio, rug and rose water is exported to Israel by way of India

  156. Enforcing sanctions can be difficult. Hard to tell whether a rug, or a shipment of pistachios, originated in Iran or some other country.

    One thing for sure, though, according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal: When one looks at the “high-ceilinged lobby and stately exterior of the new headquarters of Bank Leumi” in Tel Aviv (partially owned by the Israeli government), and marvels at its “thousands of square feet of gray-beige Gohara stone,” he will be looking at “a coveted variety of marble found only in Iran’s Lorestan province.”

    Understandably, many in Israel are quite upset to learn that Israeli contractors are continuing to purchase Iranian goods.

  157. “Iran [nuclear] talks end with little sign of progress.”

    What a surprise.

  158. Pirouz says:

    Eric, I agree with Arnold. You continue to do fine work on analyzing the 2009 election. Thanks for your time and talent.

  159. Ardeshir Hesamfar says:

    AMERICAN HYPOCRISY

    In public, US was crying “election fraud” in June 2009 election of Iran’s Ahmadinejad. But, in secret cables, US officials were admitting, “most [Rural Iranian voters] probably voted for Ahmadinejad, as a result of gratitude for improved health, education, and infrastructure services . . .” See paragraph 7 in: 09/18/2009 cable from Baku

    Cable Viewer
    213.251.145.96

  160. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    Glenn Kessler tends to be a propagandist for the Israel lobby, in his reporting. Why should the US be reluctant to accord Iran an adequate degree of respect? Because Obama worries about political retaliation by the Israel lobby? Apparently!

  161. kooshy says:

    The last few sentences on this WP article should be of Interest.

    Iran talks end with little sign of progress

    By Glenn Kessler
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, December 7, 2010; 12:10 PM
    “We have done the easy bit,” said a senior European Union official in an interview, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “There is no guarantee the next bit will work.”
    “Yet he pointed out that the prospect of another meeting is actually more solid than the last round of talks. Then, Jalili never actually agreed to a meeting; he simply agreed not to dispute the West’s announcement of a follow-up meeting. It was essentially a bit of theater for the media, but the prospects for that meeting were rather tenuous. “
    This time, Jalili also announced the meeting. As the E.U. official put it: “A meeting in itself is not a success. But in order to have successes, you have to have meetings.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/07/AR2010120701362.html

  162. Castellio says:

    Arnold et al.

    An important retake on the cables and their spin by the NYT.
    http://www.counterpunch.org/porter12072010.html

    Undoubtedly the Times and the US government are working to spin cablegate to their advantage, but the cracks are there to be pried open.

  163. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    As we saw in the recent US elections, there is only one party when it comes to the issue of Israel, and the subverting of American national security interests in the Middle East by the Israel lobby. And that entire topic is VERBOTEN! Touch it and most politicians are as dead as they would be if they touched the electrified third rail at a train station.

  164. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    The “senior US official” would necessarily have “low expectations” because the Israel lobby demands as much. High expectations, prompted by an intelligent and fair-minded approach to the situation, will not be tolerated by the neocons and other warmongering elements of the Israel lobby that is so busy these days trying to subvert the national security of the American people.

  165. James Canning says:

    Lady Ashton said the next round of talks will take place in Istanbul. This is a good thing in my view.

  166. kooshy says:

    The last paragraph of this report?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/07/iran-nuclear-talks-end
    Iran nuclear talks end on a vague note

    Six-nation group and Iran agree to meet again in Istanbul – but wording of agreement is disputed within hours

    Iran and six world powers today/yesterday ended talks on Iran’s nuclear programme agreeing to meet again in Istanbul next month, but nothing else was agreed, and the gulf between the two sides was as wide as ever.
    Even the wording of the agreement to meet in Istanbul was disputed within two hours of the end of the Geneva meeting, underlining the fragility of the dialogue.
    A senior US administration official said: “The expectations for this set of talks were low, and I can’t say they were exceeded.”
    Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, speaking on behalf of the six-country group, said the Istanbul talks next month would “discuss practical ideas and ways of co-operating towards the resolution of our full concerns about the nuclear issue”.
    Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief negotiator, however, said this had not been agreed, suggesting something much vaguer.
    “The only official agreement that came out of talks was that we are going to meet in Istanbul for co-operation to find common ground,” an irritated Jalili said. “I didn’t say these words. Lady Ashton did. She turned to the other representatives at the meeting and they all agreed. Anything besides this should be considered disrespectful to the meeting.”
    He added: “In just the few minutes it took to get from the meeting to this hotel [where he talked to the press] it would be regrettable if the wording of the agreement had been changed.”
    The Iranian negotiator said repeatedly that his country would “absolutely” not negotiate over the enrichment of uranium, which he describes as Iran’s inalienable right.
    Getting Iran to abide by UN resolutions demanding a suspension of enrichment is the long-term goal of the six-country group – the US, Britain, Russia, China, France and Germany.
    The row over wording suggested that further talks were by no means guaranteed. Speaking in Tehran, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also suggested that further talks would be conditional on the dropping of international sanctions against Iran.
    Failing that, the president said, the Iranian response would be “regrettable”.
    At Jalili’s press conference in Geneva, the Iranian negotiator spoke above a gold-framed, black-ribboned portrait of Majid Shahriari, an Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated in Tehran on Monday last week.
    He blamed Shahriari’s killing – and the wounding of another nuclear scientist in a simultaneous and identical attack – on the UN security council. In a resolution three years ago, the council had named the wounded scientist, Fereidoun Abbasi, as being involved in “banned nuclear activities”.
    “This is reminiscent of the middle ages,” Jalili said. “We have to ask what is the relationship between the UN security council and the terrorists, because terrorists have taken it upon themselves to carry out resolutions.”
    Other diplomats taking part in the Geneva meeting all said that no progress had been made on substance, but added that the continuation of a dialogue was better than the alternatives.
    “If I’m to be honest, it was exchange of familiar positions done in a tone that was better than it sometimes has been in the past,” a European official said.
    “If we’re going to take this forward we are going to have to find some substance to move it forward on.”
    A diplomat from the six-nation group said just enough common ground had been found in Geneva to justify a further meeting, and he defined that common ground as “the agreement to talk about the nuclear issue”.
    However, Jalili made clear the only nuclear issues Iran wanted to talk about were the weapons stockpiles of the west and Israel, and their failure to disarm.
    The general consensus, however, was that an agreement to talk at all was as good a result as could be expected.
    “It was a useful bit of diplomacy,” a British diplomat said. “The outcome of the meeting reflected what we wanted to get out of it. We wanted it to be the start of a process.”
    The tensions and distrust surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme deepened further today when a Iranian defector claimed the country was receiving North Korean technical assistance.
    Mohammad Reza Heydari, who resigned in January as Iran’s consul in Norway, said that from 2002 to 2007, when he headed the Iranian foreign ministry’s office for airports, he saw many technicians from North Korea travel to Iran.
    “I witnessed repeated round-trips of North Korean specialists and technicians given that I was right there at the border who came to collaborate on the Iranian nuclear program,” he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
    Heydari added that their visits were handled “in a very discreet way, so they could come through unnoticed.”

  167. James Canning says:

    Another possibility is that Hillary Clinton herself was being deceived, and those wishing to mislead her arranged for the obviously false information fed in from sources in Central Asia etc. Those persons wanting “cover” for their scheme of deceiving Clinton would need the planted false intelligence.

  168. James Canning says:

    I thought Zbig Brzezinski was on target when he commented to Spiegel: “It’s also interesting that so much emphasis [in US newspapers] is put on leaks that could be calculated deliberately to damage American-Turkish relations.” Here again, is the Israel lobby propaganda machine being seen in full operation? How many stooges of the Israel lobby are to be found in the ranks of US news media?

  169. James Canning says:

    Hillary Clinton is well aware of the need lawyers have, for “cover” when they are setting up an unethical or illegal scheme that may well blow up in their faces. Were American diplomats encouraged to supply false information regarding the Iranian elections, as part of an effort to provide cover for Clinton’s failure to engage with Iran?

  170. James Canning says:

    Do the leaked cables show that there is a deliberate scheme of misrepresentation in play, to discredit the Iranian government and make it easier for delusional “supporters” of Israel to press for more foolish sanctions, etc etc etc?

    I recommend Sadegh Kharazi’s comments in today’s Financial Times: “Iran is ready to talk, but not under duress”.

  171. Fiorangela says:

    crisp and to the point. Thanks, Eric.

    for your next mission, if you choose to accept it: How to get this information into the hands and heads of critical decision makers, as well as the American public? The mass of disinformation and the pernicious behavior of crucial policy makers and enforcers — Howard Berman, Gary Ackerman, Ed Royce, Ros-Lehtinen, Stuart Levy, Dennis Ross, Eric Cantor, with whom Benjamin Netanyahu met, in New York City, the day after the November elections — is massive and has seeped deeply into the minds of the American public. How does this tidal wave of influence get turned back, short of a revolution?

    Howard Berman, Gary Ackerman, Ed Royce, Ros-Lehtinen, Stuart Levy, Dana Rohrbacker were key persons at a Dec 1, 2010, hearing before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, which Berman chairs. Berman’s opening statement included a reiteration of the refrain we’ve heard all too frequently: “sanctions on Iran are pleasantly severe . . .’biting’ sanctions are harming Iran’s economy.”

    Am I the only person who considers such statements, and the glee with which they are uttered, to be disgusting, outrageous, contrary to Geneva Conventions, and evil?

    As appalled as I may be by the speech and actions of the above, I, as an American citizen and taxpayer, have no power or ability to influence the decisions these people make. They are elected in districts other than my own, and pay no heed to a citizen who is not a voter in their districts.

  172. Alan,

    “I do think there is a considerable amount of very sharp analysis on many other things. For example, the role of Iran in Iraq, and the fact that nobody seemed to believe the regime was in any kind of danger from at least as early as September 2009.”

    A simple test: When you read the cables’ analysis of Iran’s role in Iraq, or the act that nobody seemed to believe the regime was in any kind of danger at least as early as September 2009, were you reading anything you hadn’t read elsewhere several times, expressed just as well or better?

    It’s certainly true that these cables reveal what employees of the US State Department felt about these issues — that I grant, and I’ll acknowledge that I’d been uncertain about its views on many subjects before the cables were released.

    But did you really read any new or better analysis than you’d already read?

  173. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Eric,

    U.S. elections are free in that anyone can run for office and have his/her name on the ballot paper, but can they be regarded as fair when money and corporate media exposure, as well as district gerrymandering , effectively decide the outcome? In virtually every country with a representative democracy there are two main parties or factions, but also many more minor ones and independents. In the U.S congress, there is hardly any of that political pluralism: it is just Republicans or Democrats (occasionally an independent sneaks in). I am surprised that such a system rigged in favor of two mega-parties actually has any support: turnout in the recent congressional election was just 47% – and this was regarded as high.

    The 2005 election in Iran pitted 3 conservatives, 3 reformists and 1 centrist against each other. It was a more open contest than 2009 because there was no sitting president. However, the turnout was relatively low ,at 60%, in large part because the electorate were unfamiliar with many of the candidates apart from Rafsanjani.

    Also, had the reformists been more united, then Ahmadinejad might not have made it into the second round. Also, because reformist voters boycotted the 2003 municipal election, Ahmadinejad and his allies won the poll and he became mayor of Tehran.

    The lesson is that the Iranian people had the option to prevent the rise of Ahmadinejad but failed to do so in 2003 and 2005. It was too late come 2009.

  174. One of the most interesting of Mousavi supporters’ post-election complaints was the government’s exclusion of other candidates.

    There is no need here to debate the merits of that practice, which is different from US election practice. (Here, anyone who wants to run may run and, if he can raise the several hundred million dollars in campaign funds necessary to win the nomination of one of just two major parties, will have a pretty good shot at becoming president.) What is most striking about Mousavi’s complaints on this issue is that they didn’t occur until after the election. Until then, he was apparently content to have the government exclude reform candidates — to pull up the gangplank behind him. Truth be told, he probably would have preferred that Karroubi have been excluded too: his supporters often encouraged voters not to “waste” their vote on Karroubi, an effort that may explain Karroubi’s surprisingly poor showing.

    Mousavi’s pre-election silence on the “excluded candidates” issue may have reflected his clear memory of what had happened in the previous presidential election:

    “In the 2005 presidential election, the Guardian Council had rejected two reform candidates, Mohsen Mehralizadeh and Mostafa Moeen, an action roundly criticized in the Western press and in a strongly worded public letter from Iran’s Supreme Leader. The Guardian Council reversed its decision the next day, increasing the number of approved candidates from five to seven. The three reform candidates in that election – Mehralizadeh, Moeen and Mehdi Karroubi – shared 36% of the vote, led by Karroubi’s 17%. Because no candidate had received a majority, a run-off election was held between the two top vote-getters: Hashemi Rafsanjani (21%), and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (19%). Many reformist supporters stayed home.”

  175. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Eric,

    Roger Cohen offers a typically sycophantic appraisal of U.S diplomats in their assessment of the “fraud” that has taken place in the election:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/03/opinion/03iht-edcohen.html?_r=1&src=twrhp

    “Overall, my longstanding admiration for America’s conscientious diplomats has been redoubled, not least for this under-reported nugget on the turbulent Iranian election of 2009, contained in a cable of Jan. 12, 2010, from Dubai: “While we don’t know nor might not ever know the real June 12 vote count, it is clear that the turnout was at record high levels and that there was systematic vote count fraud (if in fact the votes were even counted) to ensure that Ahmadinejad ‘won big’ in the first round.”

    It is good to know that this is the innermost conviction of American diplomacy: the fraud was evident to anyone in Tehran during the election and its violent aftermath.”

    It seems the “fraud” only became “evident” when the result was called. During June 12th, Cohen and the media in general, were not reporting anything unusual happening at the polling stations. Everything was going smoothly and the turnout was high.

  176. Reza,

    Ballot-box stuffing, vote switching, vote rejection — all of these are violations that can and should be detected by a candidate’s on-site observers.

    These are merely several of the many possible types of election-day fraud, and most or all of a candidates’ observers will have been carefully instructed in advance what to look out for on election day — that is their only reason for being there, after all, and presumably they are strongly motivated to do their job well.

    Before voting begins, observers routinely inspect the ballot box to be sure it is empty. Then they watch as election officials seal the box in such a way that a breaking of the seal will be detectable. The ballot box is placed where observers can see it (there are as many as 14 watching in a typical polling station). During the day, it is the observer’s job to watch carefully to be sure that only voters drop ballots into the box — and one at a time. He is also expected to watch out for voter intimidation, improper voter “assistance” (for example, a Basij militia man accompanying some illiterate old farmer into the voting booth — that tends to raise eyebrows), improper rejection of voters’ credentials, not allowing a voter to drop his completed ballot into the ballot box, destroying or altering completed ballots before they are dropped into the box, permitting a person to vote more than once (which can be prevented by making sure each voter’s photo ID card is stamped, and that his ID card does not already have a stamp when he arrives at the polling station). The list goes on. To be sure, there were 646 election-day complaints at the 45,692 polling stations, though all but a few involved minor matters such as long lines making it inconvenient for people to vote, temporary shortages of ballots, pens with ink that allegedly disappeared, and similar local inconveniences. A few (five, reportedly) observers were asked to leave for improper behavior — five, at 45,692 polling stations.

    When the polls close, observers watch as the seal is broken on the ballot box. The number of ballots is counted, and the number of ballot stubs (which will have been placed in a separate box) is also counted, to be sure there is the same number of each (in other words, a ballot-box stuffer would need also to stuff the “stub box”). Any ballot/stub discrepancy is reported on the government form used to record the local vote count.

    Then the election officials and all of the observers watch carefully as the votes for each candidate are counted, announced, and tallied. If a voter’s choice is not clear, an observer may dispute how election officials record his vote. If the dispute can’t be resolved then and there, the observer may, if he wishes, simply decline to sign the government form (Form 22) that is to be signed by local election officials and observers to verify the vote count. The total number of ballots is added to the unused ballots, and that total is compared to the number of ballots delivered in the morning to that polling station. Once again, any discrepancy is noted on the government form.

    When everything is done, the election officials sign the government form and ask each observer to sign it as well if he or she agrees with the vote count. If a candidate’s observer does not agree — for any reason or no reason at all — he may simply decline to sign the form, in which case he presumably will let his candidate know that wrongdoing occurred at his polling station. Even if he wonders whether some shenanigans occurred while he was on a bathroom break (and, perhaps, none of the other candidates’ observers was watching while he was gone, or were themselves in on the fraud), he may simply decline to sign.

    Then the final vote count is transmitted electronically to election headquarters in Tehran. According to the government, Mousavi’s observers were present there too. While Mousavi’s supporters vehemently dispute this, it really doesn’t matter. Honest or not, election officials in Tehran were “stuck” with whatever local numbers they received from the field. They reported all of those numbers in writing days later: 4 numbers (one for each candidate) for each of 45,692 polling stations. If they reported an incorrect number for, say, Polling Station 123 in Tabriz, it’s a fair bet that Mousavi’s election-day observer at Polling Station 123 in Tabriz will have promptly reported that his vote-count numbers for Polling Station 123 in Tabriz were different.

    If this had happened, there would be good reason to believe that election officials in Tehran indeed had altered or ignored the local vote count at olling Station 123 in Tabriz; they would have some explaining to do. But this did not happen — not for Polling Station 123 in Tabriz, not for any polling station. Anywhere in Iran. Anywhere in the 95 other countries in which Iranians voted that day.

    Mousavi’s supporters registered 40,676 observers, though his representative later claimed the number was closer to 25,000. He has failed to provide a list that can be cross-checked against the government’s list, so this discrepancy can’t be resolved. But it really doesn’t matter: even 25,000 observers is quite a large number, and yet Mousavi has not disputed the vote count at any of those 25,000 polling stations.

    One can go on, but anyone who would like to see more detail on election-day procedures should see http://brillwebsite.com/writings/iran2009election.html#MoreVotesThanVoters

  177. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric:

    These rumors that the regime is on the ropes always form the basis of Western hopes that this will be the negotiation session where Iran submits to US demands on its nuclear program.

    Last year at this time, the hopes were founded on the idea that the regime badly needed legitimacy because (contrary to every poll) most Iranians thought the elections were stolen and also because Iran’s notification of the Qom/Fordow plant was said to have angered not only the Western nuclear policy community, but also the Iranians(!) themselves.

    Quite comical to watch sometimes. Here is George Perkovich, well inside the US foreign policy mainstream.

    http://carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=23971

    Key Conclusions

    * The revelation of the Qom enrichment facility endangered a winning Iranian strategy and angered many within and outside Iran who gave Tehran the benefit of the doubt.

    * Obama’s willingness to negotiate with the Iranian regime—even as critics within the United States urged a tougher stance following Iran’s disputed elections and subsequent repression—put pressure on Tehran and helped bring them to the table.

    * Tehran’s violation of international law will undermine the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at home and could magnify his domestic challenges.

    * International rules are key to maintaining pressure on Iran and developing an enforceable agreement that will ensure Iran’s nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

  178. Arnold Evans says:

    Alan:

    For example, the role of Iran in Iraq, and the fact that nobody seemed to believe the regime was in any kind of danger from at least as early as September 2009.

    You say that based on what?

    I remember reading a lot of things like this in fall 2009.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8343990.stm

    The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned the Iranians not to use delaying tactics. They must accept the deal put forward in October, she declared, adding that it would not be changed.

    … … …

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad badly needs to boost his legitimacy, after winning a second term in elections in June which many Iranians believe were rigged.

    It seems to me the Western observers who didn’t think the regime was in any kind of danger were in a distinct minority in September 2009, until the smaller than expected demonstrations in February 2010.

    So if you have a cable that demonstrates that most diplomats thought differently, please link to it, keeping in mind of course the fact that you’re drawing from a small and likely skewed sample of cables available to the parties that are releasing them.

  179. kooshy says:

    Iran says won’t discuss stopping uranium enrichment

    GENEVA | Tue Dec 7, 2010 8:18am EST

    Dec 7 (Reuters) – Iran will refuse to talk about stopping its enrichment of uranium at the next meeting on its nuclear programme in January in Istanbul with six major powers, its chief nuclear negotiator said on Tuesday.

    “I am announcing openly and clearly that Iran will not discuss a uranimum enrichment halt in the next meeting in Istanbul with major powers,” Saeed Jalili told a news conference after two days of talks with the six powers. (Reporting by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Jonathan Lynn)

  180. Alan,

    You note “the fact that nobody seemed to believe the regime was in any kind of danger from at least as early as September 2009.”

    Rumors that the regime is on the ropes have taken on a new life lately, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed. I wonder whether the US State Department takes them more seriously today than they did a year ago.

  181. b says:

    Arnold writes:

    “The US was spectacularly failed by its foreign policy establishment on that issue, which bled into unreasonably hostile policies regarding demands on Iran’s nuclear program later. This intelligence failure cost the US a year of possible progress on addressing Iran.”

    It is not a bug, it is a feature.

    This was just as much an “intelligence failure” as the intelligence on Saddam’s WMDs was a “failure”. There was a plan to make the Iranian election look bad and the false “intelligence” was part of that.

    The most important article on the Iranian election was written BEFORE that election and published in Haaretz: Israeli diplomats told to take offensive in PR war against Iran – Foreign Ministry says goal of the campaign ‘to show the world that Iran is not a Western democracy.’
    Take it from there and it all makes sense.


    BTW – agree with you on wikileaks

  182. Rehmat says:

    “I can understand why a candidate for the highest office (in the US) would have to dissimulate or dissemble. You have to lie to get into office, that’s a given. However, once you get into office, you are either, fearless and true or you are a whore. And if you are fearless and true it will get you shot. That’s the Catch 22. Study your history and see if you can connect the dots on who got shot and why?” – Les Visible in Have Fun Bending Over for the Catch 22, October 22, 2008.

    Ahmadinejad beyond the Zionist propaganda
    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/ahmadinejad-beyond-the-zionist-propaganda/

  183. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Eric,

    I’m trying to decide on how many possible ways the election could have been stolen.

    Here is what I came up with:

    1) They never counted the vote: they just invented the results, including at the precinct level.

    2) They counted the vote but swapped the tallies between the two main candidates.

    3) They counted the vote but massaged the figures after the tallies were completed.

    4) They counted the vote ,and it was not altered, but there had previously been massive irregularities such as ballot stuffing, vote switching, ballot rejection etc.

    1-3 cannot possibly be true if Mousavi’s monitors observed the vote counts and certified them and continue to not contest them.

    4 remains a possibility but would have needed *massive* fraud to have taken place which would have been immediately obvious given the high turnout. If you had stuffed millions of ballots for Ahmadnejad then the national total would have exceeded 100%, not just some districts.

  184. Arnold Evans says:

    Fayazmanesh:

    The pressure tactics succeeded and, as this author observed in the above mentioned essay, after many direct trips to China by the likes of Dennis Ross, Jeffrey Bader, James Steinberg, and even Obama himself, China agreed to go along with the fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran. How could such information that has been reported by many news sources, including The New York Times itself, be viewed as revelations?

    When it comes to Iran, the US State Department cables, released by WikiLeaks, are important in so far as they confirm what we already know. They are also tantalizing if one likes gossip or is interested in the “he said/she said” aspect of these cables. But, as far as substance is concerned, there is hardly anything in these documents that one can consider to be a revelation. Much of what appears in the news media as sensational stories concerning US-Iran relations, presumably revealed by WikiLeaks, were readily available online through major electronic news sources. It is in the nature of corporate news media to make a mountain out of a molehill, to make sensational what is old news. The more sensational the news, the more profit they can make.

    What has been released has been less than 0.5% of the available documents, selected by the major electronic news sources that already were authorized to release diplomatic information that the US government was comfortable releasing.

    This release is a complete farce, Assange has been maneuvered, willingly or unwillingly into being a US government press officer. Sensationalizing the narrative that the US government had already been trying to advance.

  185. Alan says:

    Eric – I agree that there is nothing substantive on offer so far from the cables over the elections, and to be fair, I didn’t get the feeling the US officials involved considered them of great significance either. However, I do think there is a considerable amount of very sharp analysis on many other things. For example, the role of Iran in Iraq, and the fact that nobody seemed to believe the regime was in any kind of danger from at least as early as September 2009.

  186. Iranian@Iran says:

    Excellent as usual. Great job Eric.

  187. kooshy says:

    Revelations That Were Not
    Iran and the Leaks of Wikileaks

    By SASAN FAYAZMANESH

    The release of some US State Department cables by WikiLeaks concerning US-Iran relations has made sensational headlines in the news media. Yet, to those who follow these relations closely, there is hardly anything that is new in these cables. Consider three revelations that have appeared in major newspapers:

    Revelation 1): The Obama Administration was not sincere when it advocated engagement with Iran. At the same time that the administration was publicly talking about engagement, it was privately pursuing harsh sanctions against Iran. In other words, from the very beginning the Obama Administration essentially continued the “carrots and sticks” policy of the Bush Administration. This revelation appeared in many newspapers. For example, on November 30, 2010, the Christian Science Monitor wrote: “WikiLeaks revelations that American officials were planning to raise pressure on Iran with more sanctions and a missile defense shield—even while President Obama was making high-profile public overtures to Iran—are being seen in Tehran as validation of deep skepticism from the start about Obama’s effort.” The same source also adds: “Iranians and analysts alike say the leaked diplomatic cables show a half-hearted attempt at engagement in which the US administration’s ‘dual track’ policy, of simultaneously applying pressure and negotiating, was undermined by a singular focus on the pressure track and a growing assumption that engaging Iran was pointless.”

    The report states that American officials expected the “engagement” to fail. It quotes Gary Sick, “an Iran expert at Columbia University,” and a former member of the US National Security Council under Presidents Ford and Carter, as saying: “The US undertook its engagement strategy with Iran with the clear conviction that it would fail [while] preparing (and disseminating in private) an alternative pressure strategy. This is the most serious indictment of all.”

    It is astonishing that it has taken until now for some major newspapers, as well as some Iran “experts,” to find out about the discrepancy between what the Obama Administration has been saying and what it has been doing. Even before the 2008 presidential election, this author predicted that if Barack Obama was elected president, there will be no major change in the Bush Administration’s policy of “carrots and sticks,” and that a period of “tough” or “aggressive diplomacy” will appear before hostilities begin. The prediction was based on examining the writings of Obama’s advisors on Iran. In particular, I argued that in the case of Obama’s ascendancy to the presidency, Dennis Ross, the former director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy—which is a think-tank affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee—will be the main policy maker. After the election, in a number of essays, such as “The Fox Guarding the Chicken Coop: Dennis Ross and Iran” and “The Fourth Round of Sanctions on Iran: The End of ‘Tough Diplomacy’?,” I further analyzed Ross’s policy of “tough” or “aggressive diplomacy.” I argued that the aim of this policy was, from the very beginning, to go through “a series of motions intended to create the illusion of engaging Iran, with the intention of gaining international support for aggressive actions against Iran.” How could the media have missed all such facts that were readily available? Worse yet, how could some Iran “experts” have missed them?

    Revelation 2): The Obama Administration had offered Russia a quid pro quo: in exchange for the US not deploying missiles in Eastern Europe, Russia would support the fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran. This revelation also appeared in a number of major newspapers. For example, on November 28, 2010, David E. Sanger—who, in the case of Iran, does the same thing that Judith Miller used to do when it came to Iraq—and his colleagues in The New York Times wrote: The Obama “administration maneuvered to win Russian support for sanctions. It killed a Bush-era plan for a missile defense site in Poland—which Moscow’s leaders feared was directed at them, not Tehran—and replaced it with one floating closer to Iran’s coast. While the cables leave unclear whether there was an explicit quid pro quo, the move seems to have paid off.”

    Actually, there was an explicit quid pro quo, as I will show in a sequel to my earlier book, The United States and Iran: Sanctions, Wars and the Policy of Dual Containment. But for the time being, it is sufficient to say that in a June 10, 2010 essay, “The Fourth Round of Sanctions on Iran: The End of ‘Tough Diplomacy’?,” I actually referred to this quid pro quo. I even pinpointed the date when this tit for tat was first proposed: “In the July 2009 G8 meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, Obama, accompanied by Michael McFaul, the neoconservative Hoover Institute ‘expert’ on Russia and Iran, offered the Russians a quid pro quo: in exchange for a deal on the expiring 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and postponing the US deployment of anti-missile system in Europe, Russia would agree to impose harsher sanctions against Iran. In September of 2009 the Obama Administration sweetened the deal by promising to drop the deployment of anti-missile system in Europe altogether. As far as the fourth UNSC sanction resolution was concerned, the fate of Iran was nearly sealed.” I based my contention not on any secret documents, but on a series of reports that were made available by such sources as AP, AFP, Reuters and UPI. These same sources were available to the popular news media, such as The New York Times. The fact that the documents leaked by WikiLeaks appear as revelations to certain news media shows how shallow, if not purely ideological, their reporting is.

    Revelation 3): The US allies in the Persian Gulf, such as Saudi Arabia, were worried about Iran’s nuclear program and were offering oil to China, if China agreed to support the fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran. Again, this news appears in a number of major newspapers as a revelation, including the above mentioned report by David Sanger and his colleagues in The New York Times. They write: “There is also an American-inspired plan to get the Saudis to offer China a steady oil supply, to wean it from energy dependence on Iran. The Saudis agreed, and insisted on ironclad commitments from Beijing to join in sanctions against Tehran. . . Publicly, these Arab states held their tongues, for fear of a domestic uproar and the retributions of a powerful neighbor. Privately, they clamored for strong action—by someone else.”

    Once more, it is hard to believe that reporters who regularly write about Iran, such as David Sanger, did not know what was going on between the US and its client states in the Persian Gulf as far as Iran was concerned. Actually, on April 12, 2010, the same David Sanger, along with a colleague, wrote in The New York Times: “the Obama administration, in hopes of winning over Beijing, has sought support from other oil producers to reassure China of its oil supply. Last year, it dispatched a senior White House adviser on Iran, Dennis B. Ross, to Saudi Arabia to seek a guarantee that it would help supply China’s needs, in the event of an Iranian cutoff.”

    This trip was, indeed, very much in accord with Dennis Ross’s own policy of “tough diplomacy.” According to this policy, the US would exert pressure on its client states in the Persian Gulf so that they would distance themselves from Iran and get behind Israel. Before becoming president, Barak Obama stated this policy in a speech delivered at the 2007 AIPAC conference (the speech was actually written by Dennis Ross, James B. Steinberg, who is currently the Deputy Secretary of State, and former American Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer). Obama stated: We have “to persuade other nations, such as Saudi Arabia, to recognize common interests with Israel in dealing with Iran.” Once Obama became president, this policy was enforced vigorously.

    Beside Dennis Ross, many other members of the Obama Administration have been traveling regularly to the Persian Gulf region to tell the client states to get in line behind the US-Israeli policy of containing Iran. For example, as I pointed out in my June 10, 2010 essay, Jeffery Bader, a colleague of Dennis Ross, accompanied him in his trip to Saudi Arabia on November 26, 2009 (The Washington Post). Actually, Secretary of State Clinton made at least one trip to the Persian Gulf Arab states to persuade them to guarantee exporting oil to China in exchange for the Chinese vote in support of the fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran. On February 14, 2009, AFP reported: “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to the Gulf on Sunday to seek oil-rich Saudi Arabia’s help in pressing China to join the US drive for sanctions against Iran.” One of her aids, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, was quoted as saying: “Saudi Arabia has an important trading relationship with China already. . . We would expect them (the Saudis) to use these visits [by various US officials], to use their relationship in ways that can help increase the pressure that Iran feels.”

    The pressure tactics succeeded and, as this author observed in the above mentioned essay, after many direct trips to China by the likes of Dennis Ross, Jeffrey Bader, James Steinberg, and even Obama himself, China agreed to go along with the fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran. How could such information that has been reported by many news sources, including The New York Times itself, be viewed as revelations?

    When it comes to Iran, the US State Department cables, released by WikiLeaks, are important in so far as they confirm what we already know. They are also tantalizing if one likes gossip or is interested in the “he said/she said” aspect of these cables. But, as far as substance is concerned, there is hardly anything in these documents that one can consider to be a revelation. Much of what appears in the news media as sensational stories concerning US-Iran relations, presumably revealed by WikiLeaks, were readily available online through major electronic news sources. It is in the nature of corporate news media to make a mountain out of a molehill, to make sensational what is old news. The more sensational the news, the more profit they can make.

    Sasan Fayazmanesh (sasan.fayazmanesh@gmail.com) is Professor Emeritus of Economics at California State University, Fresno. He is the author of The United States and Iran: Sanctions, Wars and the Policy of Dual Containment (Routledge, 2008

  188. kooshy says:

    So if you, whether or not you are an Iranian who speaks Persian, are capable of rebutting or clarifying that information or his synthesis of it, please do so. I, and others, will read your contribution with a very open mind.

    Castellio

    Good luck with that request, but you might be wasting your time, for months everyone on this board is been asking Scott and Co. to provide a comprehensive detail study of election fraud, he just recently replied to me that “he never claimed that election were proven fraudulent” he thinks that no one could figure out his desired end result (legitimacy of the government) is not the mean of the technique his using to prove the elections were not valid ( same as the suggestion made by Rafsanjani according to the Ankara cable), as I wrote earlier this by itself ( getting him to say he can’t prove fraud) is an achievements of Eric’s unending patience on this subject.

  189. Yousef,

    Castellio wrote to you:

    “Yousef, is Eric pretending to be an expert on Iran or is he presenting the information he knows and opening it up to discussion and rebuttal? I think the latter.”

    Obviously I’m biased, but I’d say Castellio has it exactly right here. Try as I might, I can’t understand how being in Iran or knowing how to speak Persian would make a difference at all here. The information I present is all out there — in Persian, English, and probably several other languages. One can think about that information in whatever language he thinks in. That leaves just the writing part, and English is a good enough language for that.

    If knowing Persian and being in Iran does make a difference, I’ll expect to see some wise comments from you on what I’ve written. Even if it does not, I look forward to whatever you have to say about what I’ve written.

  190. Castellio,

    “Who actually determines “what the American government knows” in terms of the 2009 election in Iran? Who does the synthesis?”

    I don’t claim to know, but I suspect the general answer (not just for the 2009 Iran election) is that field office personnel (at embassies, consulates, IRPO, or whatever) are expected to collect information, maybe add a little analysis based on their knowledge of the country in which they’re serving, comment on the credibiility of sources when appropriate, and then ship off what they’ve got to more seasoned analysts in Washington. The latter, of course, will have multiple sources, colleagues to consult, research to conduct, and (one presumes) a bit more knowledge about the subject matter area than the field personnel. What they turn out presumably will be much more polished and thoughtful than what we’re seeing in most of these cables, which probably aren’t meant to be long opinion pieces (though I did read one early cable by some George Kennan wannabe that made all sorts of sweeping pronouncements about the past, present and future of Iran — presumably there are others I just haven’t seen yet). And then, of course, all that careful analysis gets taken into account (or ignored entirely) by the even-higher-ups who determine US foreign policy.

    This may be unfair, but I’ll add a personal observation, based on the Wikileaks cables I’ve read so far (not just for the piece I’ve written here on the 2009 election): I sure hope the Washington-based State Department analysts are a lot sharper than the people who wrote most of the cables leaked so far. If I had to pick just one emotion to describe my reaction to what I’ve read (not just for this piece, but in general), it would be sadness — disappointment that the level of analysis isn’t considerably higher than what’s evident in these cables. I always think of State Department people as among the best and the brightest, but that is rarely evident in what I’ve read so far.

    I’ve gotten over my sadness by reminding myself that the main job of the people in the field is probably just to collect the information, as I’ve described above. I sure hope that’s the reason.

  191. Arnold Evans says:

    I keep saying, we’ve seen such a small proportion of the cables, and only the ones that somewhere advance a narrative favored by one of the Western news organizations with access, and only segments of those that the US does not ask those news organizations to withhold.

    913 documents as of now. Less than 0.5%.

    So it is still possible to find holes in the narrative. There are interesting facts mentioned in the cables outside of the narrative the cables were released to advance. But by not giving any independent party access to the entire database, or stripping names and quickly releasing the rest as had been done earlier, Assange and wikileaks has just become a US government source.

    In the possible event the full set is ever released, we are going to learn many things about application of US policy, especially in the Middle East, that we are not being told by the NY Times.

    But back to the topic:

    The idea that Ahmadinejad had less electoral support than his opponents, which noticeably lacked any support or any plausible explanation immediately after the election, was the most damaging US policy idea since the idea that invading Iraq would be easy and inexpensive.

    The US was spectacularly failed by its foreign policy establishment on that issue, which bled into unreasonably hostile policies regarding demands on Iran’s nuclear program later. This intelligence failure cost the US a year of possible progress on addressing Iran.

    Those responsible for this intelligence failure, for the sake of the efficiency and effectiveness of the US foreign policy apparatus, should be required to explain why they think they were wrong and how they will prevent future mistakes of this kind.

    The Leveretts are probably the most important people in correcting this mistake – not to ignore Eric who gave them a detailed and strong argument that stands pretty much unrefuted to this day and without which the Leveretts would have been less successful.

    Without the Leveretts, the US likely would today think Ahmadinejad is an unpopular ruler on the brink of being removed from power, eager for a deal with the US that could give him legitimacy. It is laughable how wrong that US idea is, but it was the US consensus 12 months ago.

    On the other hand, there is no deal to be made under the current conditions, largely because what Iran is asking for is the worst case scenario for the US. Until Iran establishes that accepting an Iranian Japan-option is would be the US’ preferred alternative to something worse, maybe active hostility with Iran, maybe Iran building an actual weapon, the US will have no reason to accept an Iranian Japan option.

  192. Dan Cooper says:

    The leaked diplomatic cables reveal how the US government uses deceptions, bribes, and threats to control other governments and to deceive the American and other publics.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27012.htm

  193. Castellio says:

    Yousef, is Eric pretending to be an expert on Iran or is he presenting the information he knows and opening it up to discussion and rebuttal?

    I think the latter.

    So if you, whether or not you are an Iranian who speaks Persian, are capable of rebutting or clarifying that information or his synthesis of it, please do so. I, and others, will read your contribution with a very open mind.

  194. Yousef says:

    Eric Brill, out of curiosity, 1) have you ever been to Iran and 2) Do you speak Persian?

    If you cannot answer yes to either of these questions, isn’t it arrogant for you to portend to be an expert on Iran?

    thanks,
    Yousef

  195. Castellio says:

    Thank you for the article.

    Is information gathered by the Secretary of State similar to information gathered by the American spy agencies (CIA, NSA) or qualitatively different? Who actually determines “what the American government knows” in terms of the 2009 election in Iran? Who does the synthesis?