God's Politics

God's Politics


Jeff Carr: Two Different Histories

posted by gp_intern

Yesterday we had a meeting at the Iranian Foreign Ministry headquarters, in some of the most beautiful and historic buildings I have ever visited. I wish I were able to send a picture to show you all the beautiful architecture and attention to detail in the craftsmanship of the building. Our meeting was with the Deputy Foreign Minister for Europe and the United States, a very senior level official in the Iranian government.

The meeting was held in a grand ballroom of the main building at the Foreign Ministry, and we were told that we were the first American delegation to have an official meeting in this building since the Islamic Revolution in 1978. The meeting did have a certain formality and historic feeling to it. The amazing thing was that the Deputy Foreign Minister spent over two hours with our delegation, both making statements and asking questions.

There were a couple important lessons that I took away from this meeting. First of all, the Deputy Foreign Minister is just a few months younger than me, so I felt an immediate connection with him. As he spoke of the history of relations between our nations, it was clear that the narrative and experiences he was speaking from were very different from my own. For him, the relationship between Iran and the United States begins in 1953, when the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) helped to overthrow their elected leader (Mossadegh) and install the Shah. For Dr. Jalili and most of the Iranians we have spoken to here, there is a great deal of pain associated with the 25-year reign of the Shah that ended in 1978 in the Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini. The Shah was a very oppressive dictator who ruled with an iron fist.

As he was telling this story, I was reminded of the tour we had been on the day before of the Shah’s “summer palace,” where we saw opulence and grandeur beyond description. That image was contrasted with the home where Ayatollah Khomeini lived before and after the revolution and up until his death. It was a very small home with simple furnishings. Quite a contrast between the two most recent leaders.

Dr. Jalili talked about his feeling as a 14-year-old, being set free from the oppression of the Shah during the revolution. For him, the revolution was a momentous event in his life and the history of his country, a day worthy of celebration and thanksgiving.

As he told his story, memories of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 began to flood my mind. I could see the images of American citizens being held hostage, with blindfolds, paraded in front of televisions cameras. I remembered seeing Ted Koppel on “Nightline” every night, starting the show with “The Iranian Hostage Crisis: Day 123,” and continuing on for 444 days. I can still remember the yellow ribbons on trees, cars, and buildings all over the country, and prayers being offered up for the American hostages every time we were in church.

I don’t think I have ever realized how traumatizing those events were for me, and how seared into my memory and psyche they are. How they serve as a filter, even today, 28 years later, to the way I (and I surmise many other Americans) see Iran. It is the narrative that informs my thinking about Iran today and the relationship between our nations.

What I have been thinking about the last few days is not whose narrative is right and whose is wrong. In this case, I’m not sure the facts of these past events are as important as the ways Dr. Jalili and I experienced them. The truth is they are both right, because both of us have a right to tell our own stories.

What is clear to me, however, is that we must find a way to tell our stories and to have our stories heard. And then we must begin to write a new narrative together. One that comes out of humility, mutual respect, and shared understanding. I am convinced it is the only path for a true and lasting peace with justice.

May God help both our nations and peoples to begin the healing and reconciliation process so we may avoid war and build that lasting peace.

Jeff Carr is the Chief Operations Officer for Sojourners/Call to Renewal. Learn more about this delegation at http://www.irandelegation.org/.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 23, 2007 at 8:37 pm


Jeff, I thought that watching “Letters from Iwo Jima” provided a similar opportunity to think about how differently we see reality, depending on what culture we were in at the time of an historic event. My parents knew persons who were serving in the US Marines at the time of the battle for Iwo Jima.I had the presence of mind one day several years ago when I saw one of them in the local grocery store to thank hijm for all he had done for our country. I glad I spoke to him about that, because he died shortly after that. He had been seriously injured at Iwo Jima. Letters from Iwo Jima allows us to see how similarly the people back home in Japan cared for their soldiers, at that same time. Japan was the aggressor, but the soldiers and their families suffered the consequences, along with persons living in the countries they occupied and allied tropos and their families. And your account of the adverse consequences of US support in the past for a leader of Iran whose policies were more aligned with the interests of our country provides a similar opportunity to see events as others saw them. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.



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Mark P

posted February 24, 2007 at 1:10 am


“What I have been thinking about the last few days is not whose narrative is right and whose is wrong. In this case, I’m not sure the facts of these past events are as important as the ways Dr. Jalili and I experienced them. The truth is they are both right, because both of us have a right to tell our own stories.” As a historian-in-training your method of thinking is rather frightening given its implications. To be sure we are obligated to step outside our Anglo-American mindset when looking at issues. The history of America’s foreign policy second half of the 20th often reflects evils committed in the name of good — for instance, the intervention in Iran — and I certainly reject such methods. “Shall we sin so that grace may increase? Surely not.” Nonetheless, historical equivocation and a rejection of the factual events in favor of the impressions caused is a dangerous and scary proposition. Your views and impressions are more likely to be both wrong than both right. When I look at, say, the Israeli-Palestine conflict, I cannot say that both are right, but I can assuredly say that both are wrong to varying degrees in varying circumstances. Yes, each side has a right to be heard and we should strive to understand *why* people act the way they do (i/e this hatred for America is not because we’re so good and they’re so bad, like it is often painted by conservatives). As I said, we need to step out of our American self-righteousness to recognize that the blood on American hands is darker and greater than we would ever like to think. Nonetheless, let us not forget that, ultimately, truth transcends perspectives and personal feelings. Let us never be so foolish as to think that how we feel matters more than the truth. The facts and the events DO matter.



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Kris Weinschenker

posted February 24, 2007 at 3:15 am


Your crediibilty is dropping rapidly considering the blogs you link to post such blasphemy…. http://jesuspolitics.typepad.com/jesus_politics/2007/02/link.html



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Mike Hayes

posted February 24, 2007 at 3:50 am


Facts do matter… but some of us perceive facts differently than do others among us… Stories are important… they help us see facts… Thank you Jeff for taking the time to share your experiences with us…We can’t all be there… and you are helping us gain a better apprciation of how the people of Iran perceive us…



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kevin s.

posted February 24, 2007 at 4:10 am


“Your crediibilty is dropping rapidly considering the blogs you link to post such blasphemy….” Utterly braindead blasphemy to boot. What does that cartoon even mean? It’s sort of a vague “Christianity is intolerant of homosexuals, so here is an image that reflects this sorta”. Mark, you have eloquently expressed how I feel about the problem of moral equivocation.



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butch

posted February 24, 2007 at 4:11 am


Kris Weinschenker You are one sick pup; I would be remiss to not say that out loud.



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butch

posted February 24, 2007 at 4:42 am


Mark the study of history is precise to the extent one can know all the facts and that leads to predicting the future. To not address another persons perceptions or feelings can lead to a future that understanding history would not predict. So, I think we need to dialogue about our different understanding of the same event or events and make a new better history for you to study.



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Mark P

posted February 24, 2007 at 5:57 am


“To not address another persons perceptions or feelings can lead to a future that understanding history would not predict. So, I think we need to dialogue about our different understanding of the same event or events and make a new better history for you to study.” Absolutely. To exclude Japan’s perspective from World War II, by example, would distort the historical record. However, I think we need to strive to find out what DID happen, and recognize that that factual narrative trumps “feelings.” Furthermore, history properly understood and recognized will always be more likely to accurately “forecast” the future or, at least, be prepared for it because human nature has not changed, and studying our history lends itself well to understanding humanity.



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butch

posted February 24, 2007 at 6:26 am


“However, I think we need to strive to find out what DID happen, and recognize that that factual narrative trumps “feelings.”” Only if the other person will give up their feelings. Of course you can make an argument to trump them but it may not matter. A new understanding must be hammered out to move on and make a new history. If he lived and suffered for 25 years under the Shad and blames the US then he must forgive or accept that we are a different US to move on. Feelings are wonderful and powerful and I embrace mine, THEN attempt to bring my intellect to inform my emotions. An imperfect science! Remember truth is your truth or if there is general truth it their truth but no one owns the ultimate truth.



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butch

posted February 24, 2007 at 6:28 am


it is their truth



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butch

posted February 24, 2007 at 6:38 am


Mark how would you like to have Saddam alive to tell us Iraq’s history as he knew it.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 24, 2007 at 6:59 am


“…no one owns the ultimate truth…”. butch,I agree. We all keep searching for it…



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butch

posted February 24, 2007 at 8:05 am


I think this is biblically sound, find enough truth to be at peace for today or just be at peace today trusting that you will find the truth tomorrow to justify your faith today.



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Anonymous

posted February 24, 2007 at 8:09 am


Jeff, Why do you continue to promote these falsehoods?The myth is that Mohammed Mossadegh was the elected prime minister of Iran in the early 1950s. The United States didn t like the fact that he was anti-imperialist, so the CIA engineered a coup and installed the hated Shah of Iran. The people of Iran have still not forgiven us for this, and it is a continuing source of radical Muslim hatred against us. Actually, Mossadegh was never elected by the Iranian people. He was appointed by the Majlis, the Iranian parliament, and the Shah of Iran, who was already in power, ratified the choice. Mossadegh soon got into a power struggle with the Shah, sought to overthrow the Shah, dissolved parliament, and suspended civil liberties. At this point the CIA orchestrated a coup that got rid of Mossadegh and kept the Shah in power. The radical Muslims were delighted with Mossadegh s ouster, because they viewed him for what he was, a secular socialist. The Ayatollah Khomeini preached a sermon thanking Allah that Mossadegh was gone.Promoting lies is no way to foster peace.



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Stephen Davidson

posted February 24, 2007 at 12:26 pm


Yet we are always supposed to forgive Iranians for kidnapping our fellow Americansd and killing us in the name of allah? Promoting a one-sided myth about Iran is not honest, whether or not the promoter of said myth is anonymous or not. The only way to foster peace is for Muslims to stop their totalitarianism. Plain and simple. Five-billion people do not want to be Muslims. Deal with that peacefully huh!



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Stephen Davidson

posted February 24, 2007 at 12:29 pm


Oh, by the way, when is Islam in all its dramtic forms, going to show humility, “MUTUAL RESPECT” or show a willingness to even want to understand others???Those, that do not want to become Muslims do not deserve death, dismemberment, imprisonment or Dhimmi (slave) status.



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Butch

posted February 24, 2007 at 5:15 pm


Stephen by example how would you personally teach humility?



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Mark P

posted February 24, 2007 at 5:39 pm


“Only if the other person will give up their feelings. Of course you can make an argument to trump them but it may not matter.” So you’re basically saying events, facts, and reality only matter in their relation to how people perceive. Ridiculous. “Remember truth is your truth or if there is general truth it their truth but no one owns the ultimate truth.” Partially crap. Of course no human being can lay claim to knowing the ultimate truth. However, the relativism that says all truth is truth is just plain stupid. There is absolute truth, though you are right to say that no human can lay claim to absolutely knowing all absolute truth. “Mark how would you like to have Saddam alive to tell us Iraq’s history as he knew it.” I might be missing your point, but I would like that very much. I would very much like to sit down and talk with Saddam Hussein.



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chuck

posted February 24, 2007 at 6:55 pm


The question now is how long will Israel permit Iran to be around to even have a history.



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Butch

posted February 24, 2007 at 8:18 pm


Chuck, How long do you think they should Israel permit Iran to exist?



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Butch

posted February 24, 2007 at 8:20 pm


Mark what you don’t understand is crap and stupid?



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Mike Hayes

posted February 24, 2007 at 9:26 pm


Anonymous, The people of Great Britain (and, I think, any country that has a parliamentary form of government) do not elect the prime minister, either. Jeff referred to the elected leader, Mossadegh. You described Jeff’s relating of the account he heard from Dr. Jalili about the anger of the people of Iran as a result of the US participation in the overthrough of Mossadegh, as “lies”… Maybe you were referring to the perception others have that Mossadegh was elected by the people themselves or some other part of the account by other persons than Jeff, but I do not think Jeff misrepresented what Dr. Jalili told him about what ordinary Iranian people (not extremists) think about US interference in their country, in the 1950’s.



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Joseph T

posted February 24, 2007 at 9:27 pm


It seems to me to seriously lessen credibility to post about historical events anonymously. Here is what anonymous said. Actually, Mossadegh was never elected by the Iranian people. He was appointed by the Majlis, the Iranian parliament, and the Shah of Iran, who was already in power, ratified the choice. Mossadegh soon got into a power struggle with the Shah, sought to overthrow the Shah, dissolved parliament, and suspended civil liberties. At this point the CIA orchestrated a coup that got rid of Mossadegh and kept the Shah in power. The radical Muslims were delighted with Mossadegh s ouster, because they viewed him for what he was, a secular socialist. The Ayatollah Khomeini preached a sermon thanking Allah that Mossadegh was gone. The fundamentally flawed premise here is that the “Shah” was “kept in power” and that he therefor had legitimate power. A British Embassy report from 1932 states that the British put Reza Shah “on the throne”. The Phalavis did not have an ancient inherited Monarchy. This so called “monarchy” was made up beginning with a coup in 1921, oil deals wih the British and increasing military power. The first self proclaimed “Shah” did some good things in education and “westernization” but became increasingly oppressive to the Shia majority. Mossadegh’s political career from the 20s was forged in opposition to the monarchy’s bid for absolute power, he was jailed for it. Mossadegh’s leadership was granted by the parliament, the most representative system in Iran. The power of the Shah came from the army, and from his control of Iran’s Oil wealth in a rip-off deal with the British.The Parliament first tried to bargain with the British for a fair market based oil deal. The “Shah” was as “secular” as Mossaddegh and more despised. As far as being socialist so was Teddy Roosevelt if you mean haveing political restraint on big business.America’s intervention was part of a world wide effort to prevent the nationalization of natural resources, which would have created a lot of independent countries with increased bargaining power to resist the big empires and make their own alliances and internal political systems. There is something obscene about a revolutionary democracy siding with phony monarchies against democratic nationalism. Especially when greed and imperial dominance at any price are the goals.Right now America has very little moral credibility when it speaks to Iran’s current human rights record. Right now there is no common set of values that bind the American people. The heart of the problem is a betrayal of the original vision of a self governing republic. It is time to become a nation among nations. Oil wars masquerading as wars for our increasingly fascistic version of democracy are not the answer.Yes I used the term fascistic to describe neo con political notions. I am not referring specifically to Nazi Germany or the axis powers. I am talking about systems characterized by powerful alliances between corporate or private big business, militarism, politics and media controlled by corporate or political alliances. The fascist mentality is characterized by triumphalism, demonization an “enemy”, and abuse of political or other minorities. Since the final fall of the monarchies in WW1 it is the major contender with non belligerant universal rights based democratic socialism(socialism meaning common interest limits on corporate power), for the forms most societies have taken. I sense Jeff Carr’s thoughts are coming from a very human and real contact with Iranians .We have to hear each other’s stories and move toward a new narrative that hears the humanity of the other while keeping our deepest values, and connecting and building together where those values overlap. It is ultimately time to awake out of the war mentality. The earth is in an ecological meltdown and armageddon will not fix it. We need to find our common narrative, and our shared spiritual and humane values or the only thing we will share is death, wars, famines, floods, starvation, the predatory destruction of remaining species and ecosystems, and the stench of fear.



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kevin s.

posted February 24, 2007 at 9:49 pm


“I am talking about systems characterized by powerful alliances between corporate or private big business, militarism, politics and media controlled by corporate or political alliances.” Which, regardless of your feelings about these powerful alliances, has nothing to do with fascism. Further, since you use of the word fasicm (in your words) has nothing to do with Nazi Germany, it really doesn’t have much to do with human rights either. My rights are intact, as are yours. “The fascist mentality is characterized by triumphalism, demonization an “enemy”, and abuse of political or other minorities.” Actually, it is characterized by authoritarianism. Having a common enemy can be a staple of any system of leadership. So can demonization. Not sure where you see the abuse of political or “other” minorities. Can you elaborate? Your final paragraph tips over the cliff a bit, so I’ll not respond.



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Joseph T

posted February 24, 2007 at 9:50 pm


Mark I don’t follow you. How is “all truth is truth” a relativistic statement? And don’t both believers and scientists rely on a great many relativistic statements, that is, statements about the relations between things, that are found to be “true”.And aren’t all propositions about truth relativistic statements employing comparisons? Isn’t every comparison a relativistic proposition? All language is relativistic by nature.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 24, 2007 at 10:10 pm


Joseph T, I think your last paragraph is correct…fear is responsible for much of what is being said on this blog about Muslims… without distinguishing extremists from ordinary persons like ourselves.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 24, 2007 at 10:11 pm


Stephen Davidson, You sound very fearful. I’m not aware of “Iranians” “killing us in the name of Allah” (by implication, all Iranians would be wanting to kill us in the name of Allah). I’m not sure what “all the dramatic forms of Islam” are that would bring “death, dismemberment, imprisonment or Dhimmi (slave) status” to all who do not want to become Muslims. Or perhaps you meant some other implication, perhaps extremists living in Iran wanting to do those things to us, but that is not clear from what you say. You sound very fearful.



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Joseph T

posted February 24, 2007 at 10:52 pm


Sure Kevin . I’ll be happy to throw authoritarianism into the mix.Our rights intact? Habeus Corpus? not if you are declared enemy combatant. Unlawful search and seizure is now rampant in direct contradiction to Supreme court rulings and Laws against warrantless invasions of telecommunications. Freedom of assembly does not mean zoned off areas, or surveillance of quakers and peaceful political dissidents . Finally, a government that tortures anyone is engaged in a direct assault on the very idea of human rights, and on the idea of due process of law. Everytime we engage in torture all taxpayers are made complicit in criminal behavior which is the essence of evil. If the neo-con-job, Cheney idea of a unitary executive is not authoritarian then neither was Nero.



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kevin s.

posted February 24, 2007 at 11:31 pm


But I have not been declared an enemy combatant, for the reason that I’m not an enemy combatant. The lack of habeus corpus rights for enemy combatants is not nearly sufficient to constitute fascist authoritarianism. The President is ceasing his warrantless wire-tapping program, unless I missed something, not that any reasonable person shoudl consider government listening in on international calls to suspected terrorists a hallmark of fascism.The question of whether we “torture” people is far from settled (though not in your mind, obviously). That said, I have a question regarding this: “Everytime we engage in torture all taxpayers are made complicit in criminal behavior which is the essence of evil.” Does this apply to anything that is sanctioned by government? I am curious because you have made a very bold claim here… “If the neo-con-job, Cheney idea of a unitary executive is not authoritarian then neither was Nero.” Well, both of them cut taxes.



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Mark P

posted February 24, 2007 at 11:41 pm


“How is “all truth is truth” a relativistic statement?” Starters: my mistake. I did not mean “all truth is truth” as a relativistic statement, but, rather, “all opinions are truth”… as in, if you feel it, it’s true. “And aren’t all propositions about truth relativistic statements employing comparisons? Isn’t every comparison a relativistic proposition? All language is relativistic by nature.” I think we’re deal with two different definitions of “relativistic.” What I am saying is that any time you decide that two contradictory statements/beliefs are simultaneously true, you’ve ceased to use your reason and have moved into the territory of the mindless. I am specifically speaking in refutation to the idea that what matters most is what people feel… not the actual truth which transcends the individual. Joseph T… talk about hyperbole. I agree that the United States Federal Government has overstepped its bounds massively… but let’s not pretend this is a new thing with George W Bush. The USFG began overstepping its constitutional bounds a hundred years ago. And, oh my. I think you just compared Dick Cheney to Nero. Am I in existential theatre, or did someone seriously just propose that? Don’t get me wrong: I think the administration is playing pretty fast and loose with or right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But the Nero comparison is humorous hypberpole at best.



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HASH(0x11760160)

posted February 25, 2007 at 4:15 am


Mark Someone is in agony right now as a direct result of U.S. use of extraordinary rendition, and because we directly use torture. To them it is not hyperbole. Kevin As far as complicity in government crimes, I think I went too far . If we know of such things and do nothing to oppose them we become complicit. Right Now there is a TV show actvely endorsing torture for ticking timebomb scenarios. his past fall, the Dean of West Point, Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, along with experienced military and FBI interrogators and representatives of Human Rights First, met with the creative team behind the hit Fox Television show 24 and tell them to stop using torture because American soldiers were copying the show s tactics.As for spying. Only at the initial revelation of the NSA spy program did the president and his crew claim that the program was only conversations with suspicious overseas people. They have since backed off that claim,and now refuse to directly assert that this is true. The NY Times has said the program has virtually no limits and includes massive data mining. Recently peoples bank records have been seized without due process.So far delegates of congress has not been allowed to see the records or exercise oversight. If this were democrats I think you would be saying what I ‘m saying, and so would I. In the case ACLU v. NSA, Detroit District Court judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled on August 17, 2006 that the program is illegal under FISA as well as unconstitutional under the First and Fourth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Her decision is stayed pending appeal. The NSA Spy Engine: Echelon By Jason Leopold t r u t h o u t | Investigative Report Monday 09 January 2006 A clandestine National Security Agency spy program code-named Echelon was likely responsible for tapping into the emails, telephone calls and facsimiles of thousands of average American citizens over the past four years in its effort to identify people suspected of communicating with al-Qaeda terrorists, according to half-a-dozen current and former intelligence officials from the NSA and FBI. The existence of the program has been known for some time. Echelon was developed in the 1970s primarily as an American-British intelligence sharing system to monitor foreigners – specifically, during the Cold War, to catch Soviet spies. But sources said the spyware, operated by satellite, is the means by which the NSA eavesdropped on Americans when President Bush secretly authorized the agency to do so in 2002. Another top-secret program code-named Tempest, also operated by satellite, is capable of reading computer monitors, cash registers and automatic teller machines from as far away as a half-mile and is being used to keep a close eye on an untold number of American citizens, the sources said, pointing to a little known declassified document that sheds light on the program. Echelon has been shrouded in secrecy for years. A special report prepared by the European Parliament in the late 1990s disclosed explosive details about the covert program when it alleged that Echelon was being used to spy on two foreign defense contractors – the European companies Airbus Industrie and Thomson-CSF – as well as sifting through private emails, industrial files and cell phones of foreigners. The program is part of a multinational spy effort that includes intelligence agencies in Canada, Britain, New Zealand and Australia, also known as the Echelon Alliance, which is responsible for monitoring different parts of the world. The NSA has never publicly admitted that Echelon exists, but the program has been identified in declassified government documents. Republican and Democratic lawmakers have long criticized the program and have, in the past, engaged in fierce debate with the intelligence community over Echelon because of the ease with which it can spy on Americans without any oversight from the federal government. Mike Frost, who spent 20 years as a spy for the CSE, the Canadian equivalent of the National Security Agency, told the news program 60 Minutes in February 2000 how Echelon routinely eavesdrops on many average people at any given moment and how, depending on what you say either in an email or over the telephone, you could end up on an NSA watch list. “While I was at CSE, a classic example: A lady had been to a school play the night before, and her son was in the school play and she thought he did a — a lousy job. Next morning, she was talking on the telephone to her friend, and she said to her friend something like this, ‘Oh, Danny really bombed last night,’ just like that,” Frost said. “The computer spit that conversation out. The analyst that was looking at it was not too sure about what the conversation was referring to, so erring on the side of caution, he listed that lady and her phone number in the database as a possible terrorist.” Ironically, during the first Bush administration, a woman named Margaret Newsham, who worked for Lockheed Martin and was stationed at the NSA’s Menwith Hill listening post in Yorkshire, England, told Congressional investigators that she had firsthand knowledge that the NSA was illegally spying on American citizens. While a Congressional committee did look into Newsham’s allegations, it never published a report. However, a British investigative reporter named Duncan Campbell got hold of some committee documents and discovered that Newsham was telling the truth. One of the documents described a program called “Echelon” that would monitor and analyze “civilian communications into the 21st century.” As of 2000, sources said, the NSA had Echelon listening posts located in: Menwith Hill, Britain; Morwenstow, Britain; Bad Aibling, Germany; Geraldton Station, Australia; Shoal Bay, Australia; Waihopai, New Zealand; Leitrim, Canada; Misawa, Japan; Yakima Firing Center, Seattle; Sugar Grove, Virginia. A January 1, 2001, story in the magazine Popular Mechanics disclosed details of how Echelon works. “The electronic signals that Echelon satellites and listening posts capture are separated into two streams, depending upon whether the communications are sent with or without encryption,” the magazine reported. “Scrambled signals are converted into their original language, and then, along with selected “clear” messages, are checked by a piece of software called Dictionary. There are actually several localized “dictionaries.” The UK version, for example, is packed with names and slang used by the Irish Republican Army. Messages with trigger words are dispatched to their respective agencies.” Electronic signals are captured and analyzed through a series of supercomputers known as dictionaries, which are programmed to search through each communication for targeted addresses, words, phrases, and sometimes individual voices. The communication is then sent to the National Security Agency for review. Some of the more common sample key words that the NSA flags are: terrorism, plutonium, bomb, militia, gun, explosives, Iran, Iraq, sources said. Because Echelon can easily spy on Americans without any oversight or detection, and because Echelon covers such a wide spectrum of communication, many current and former NSA officials said that it’s likely the agency used its satellites to target Americans, Mark Levin, a former chief of staff to Edwin Meese during the Reagan administration, wrote last month in a blog post on the National Review Online. “Under the ECHELON program, the NSA and certain foreign intelligence agencies throw an extremely wide net over virtually all electronic communications world-wide. There are no warrants. No probable cause requirements. No FISA court. And information is intercepted that is communicated solely between US citizens within the US, which may not be the purpose of the program but, nonetheless, is a consequence of the program.” Jason Leopold is a former Los Angeles bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswire. He has written over 2,000 stories on the Californ
ia energy crisis and received the Dow Jones Journalist of the Year Award in 2001 for his coverage on the issue as well as a Project Censored award in 2004. Leopold also reported extensively on Enron’s downfall and was the first journalist to land an interview with former Enron president Jeffrey Skilling following Enron’s bankruptcy filing in December 2001. Leopold has appeared on CNBC and National Public Radio as an expert on energy policy and has also been the keynote speaker at more than two dozen energy industry conferences around the country.



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Paul

posted February 25, 2007 at 6:31 pm

carl copas

posted February 25, 2007 at 6:33 pm


Joseph T, Keep fighting the good fight. The historical context you provided for Mossadegh is right on the money. As for fascism, no one has ever provided an entirely satisfactory definition for an ideology and type of government that arguably includes figures as disparate as Franco, Hitler, Mussolini, Peron, arguably the militarist government of Japan in the 1930s-40s. And I would add, if there’s an American variant of fascism, Cheney comes as close as any elected official has. (That’s leaving out marginal intellectuals such as Lawrence Dennis who was openly fascist.)



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kevin s.

posted February 25, 2007 at 7:08 pm


Jason Leopold was the guy who breathlessly reported that Karl Rove was being indicted. Your talking about that guy, right? So we have a guy who likes to make stuff up talking about a decades-old program, and this is proof that Cheney is a fascist?I also fail to see how a military official requesting that TV producers reconsider the use of torture on a popular show is evidence that the Bush administration is condoning torture, and there is no evidence that our military is emulating the tactics on that show.”And I would add, if there’s an American variant of fascism, Cheney comes as close as any elected official has.” He’s not even president! How many fascist leaders throughout history have been unwilling to lead? FDR was willing to lead for life, wanted to stack the supreme court in order to pass his economic agenda, and put people in internment camps just for being Japanese! Here’s a definition of fascism that fits the term as it has been applied on this board: “hyperbolic bludgeon”.



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Debbie

posted February 25, 2007 at 7:32 pm


There is an interesting article entitled “Iran Diary” by one of the participants of the delegation at: http://talkback.lancasteronline.com/index.php?showtopic=42166 IRAN DIARY On the edge of conflict, a Christian delegation from the U.S., led by Mennonite Central Committee andFriends, meets Muslim counterparts, goes places no Americans have been since the revolution, and has a session with Iranian leader Read more at http://talkback.lancasteronline.com/index.php?showtopic=42166



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Mike Hayes

posted February 25, 2007 at 8:55 pm


“…What is clear to me, however, is that we must find a way to tell our stories and to have our stories heard. And then we must begin to write a new narrative together. One that comes out of humility, mutual respect, and shared understanding. I am convinced it is the only path for a true and lasting peace with justice…”. Jeff,It has at least five years since I read “Blood Brothers” by Elias Chacour. It was a story about the struggles of the ordinary people of Palestine and Israel in their efforts to get past the effects of the violence by extremists on both sides. I think your characterization of the hopes of ordinary persons in Iran and the US for peace compares very well with Elias Chacour’s hopes for the peoples of Palestine and Israel. May there be peace… for the people of Iran and the US and Israel and Palestine… Peace with justice…



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Mike Hayes

posted February 25, 2007 at 9:08 pm


Debbie, Thanks for the link… was the second link supposed to be different from the first link? The daily diary in the first link gives a reader a sense of what it must be like for ordinary persons to try to talk across the differences that exist between the governments of our two countries…



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S. Heriger

posted February 25, 2007 at 10:05 pm


I was in my mid-twenties during the Iran hostage crisis, and I also had my worldview shaped by those events. Over the past 28 years, one thing in particular stands out, and that’s the hard-headed approach by both sides. They ignore dialog, and rattle their sabers instead, like two proud toughies in a schoolyard. Any way you cut it, this approach only allows the relationship to fester. Yes, Ahmadinejad is a hard-liner who seems out of touch with reality at times. I might say our own President has shown a similar disposition, although perhaps not at the same level.The point is simple. In spite of the differing agendas, it seems critical that both sides sit down at the table and talk. To refuse face-to-face dialog is to ignore the most likely path toward containment. By refusing to meet, it’s easier to demonize each other and continue with the harsh rhetoric that seems headed toward an armed conflict. Wake up, leaders…both of you. Before it’s too late.



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Bill

posted February 25, 2007 at 10:20 pm


I am responding on behalf of Anonymous. Because of the key words he used in in his last transmission he has been abducted by a roving band of deranged neo-cons. The neo-cons were under the command of the international zionist conspiracy. This cabal of zionists (Jews) now rule the United States totally and not just by whispering in the President’s ear as Pat Buchanan says. Not by just having too much influence in Congress as the beloved Jimmy Carter says. Not even just having the United States fight wars for Israel as Cindy Sheehan, David Duke and other enlightened people such as many of the Koz posters understand.The truth is that the elete of the Zionists have built an orbiting space craft where they can use mind control waves to convert otherwise normal people into the neo-con allience with zionism. Jim Wallis warned us in Sojourners about this evil allience of the Zionist Jews, many Republicans, and Christians who do not hate Jews. Some of these groups overlap. Even Jim did not realize the extent of the conspiracy.Many people think that George Bush is the evil genius that is causing all the evils in the world. That is only partly true. He would not be nearly as efective without his partnership with Zionism. He has been able to perfect a weather control machine that can generate and control huricanes, floods, and other so called natural phenonminum. When he wants to he can direct “natural” disasters directly at poor black people. On that note do not be fooled, the blacks appointed to positions in his administration are not real blacks. They are from the same evil civilization from a far distant planet that is assisting the elete Zionists with mind control technology. Farrakhan learned of this on one of his trips to the Mother Ship. (Please note: the Mother Ship is not part of the conspiracy of evil.)Many of Art Bell’s guests have known about this for a long time. The so called far left/right have known only pieces of this great conspiracy of evil. The general public has too often been too apethetic to realize the extreme urgency of these issues and piece it all together. Sojourners is one of the exceptions, and have given many warnings. Many things that cannot be said as directly in Sojourner writings are referenced by links. eg. Alternative News Media. That way these things can be referenced and have some deniability. There are great links to Ted Rall, Justin Raimondo and many others who understand parts of this great conspiracy that may soon destroy this planet and perhaps others.There is much more to say, but I have to quit rampling and get back to the urgent issue at hand. Anonymous was taken by the neo-cons to a location where he could be beamed up to the zionist space craft. His guard was down when he removed the tinfoil. The mind control rays usually cannot penetrate tinfoil. Some people have a natural restance to the rays. It is not understood why, but the space aliens are working on perfecting the ray. If we ever hear from Anonymous again, it is entirely possible that the portion of his brain that understands the neocon conspiracy has been removed and replaced by a zionist chip. The implant that was placed by his dentist did not work since it was too close to a gold cap on an adjoining tooth. Drastic measures had to be taken because he was about to reveal too much.There is much more that needs to be said about this urgent matter, but little time. Keep the foil on your head. Keep reading the postings of the far left/right blogs to reprogram what might have been erased. There is a point of no return where you may start to become a neocon and even acknowledge the “right” of Israel to exist. Remember some surfaces may reflect the mind control rays up to a non portected area of your head. Stay inside as much as possible.



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Mark P

posted February 26, 2007 at 12:06 am


carl: “And I would add, if there’s an American variant of fascism, Cheney comes as close as any elected official has.” Ridiculously unsupported: -Andrew Jackson was FAR (FAR [FAR]) more fascist than Cheney ever has been. Given the day’s technology, -Abraham Lincoln’s administration was at least as invasive as this administration (do any of you doubt that Lincoln would have monitored every resident of D.C. if he had had the technology?). -In different areas than national defense, Franklin D Roosevelt was far more destructive of the rights the Constitution was built to defend. -Take a gander at Federalist legislation after the election of 1800. Easily as suppressive and invasive (given the day’s technology) as the Bush administration’s work. You have no historical context for your statement. “What is clear to me, however, is that we must find a way to tell our stories and to have our stories heard. And then we must begin to write a new narrative together. One that comes out of humility, mutual respect, and shared understanding.” Agreed. The Western world has lost her imagination — using “imagination” in the highest sense, as used by Christopher Dawson or Russell Kirk. To change our culture, we must recapture storytelling, symbol, and myth. Without it, our culture will continue to decay — and I use culture, again, in the high sense, NOT in the way that Pat Roberston or Jerry Falwell or Rush Limbaugh talk about “culture wars” (a hideous metaphor). “They ignore dialog, and rattle their sabers instead, like two proud toughies in a schoolyard. Any way you cut it, this approach only allows the relationship to fester.” …its tough for me to respond to this, because you are certainly right that dialogue is needed in most circumstances. BUT: -Neville Chamberlain tried that with his wonderful agreement with Adolph Hitler. England needed Winston Churchill to stand up and say that “peace in our time” is godless. -And speaking of the Iranian hostage crisis note that while Jimmy Carter (perhaps the softest President of the 20th century) held office the hostages remained inexorably in Iranian hands Note also that immediately after Ronald Reagan won the election, Iran opened peace talks and that the DAY Reagan took office, the hostages were released. The historical record shows that once weak-willed though well-meaning Carter was on the way out, and Reagan was on the way in the Iranians started being a bit more receptive. -Speaking of Reagan, note that it was the combination of Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II that helped to doom the Soviet Union. These three were hardliners when it came to communism, unwilling to compromise. Reagan was FAR more aggressive in denouncing communism than any other president had been. He was laughed at for calling it an evil empire and EVERYONE (including those in his administration) were shocked when he uttered the following phrase, the most powerful statement against Communism ever uttered by an American President: The West will not contain Communism, it will transcend Communism. We will not bother to denounce it, we’ll dismiss it as a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written. Note also Thatcher s firm stand, and how incredibly vocal John Paul II became in the 80 s (particularly after he was nearly assassinated by a KGB agent [whom the Pope converted afterwards]). And see the result. -So while I think talk and communication are necessary, note that Ahmadinejad is a madman, though an articulate, intelligent, and charismatic one.



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Joseph T

posted February 26, 2007 at 12:14 am


Well Kevin Dick and Karl may not be president but they do make all the the plans and most of the decisions and that has to count for something. Obtained from the FBI through FOIA Guantanamo Bay Inquiry A survey of 493 FBI personnel who were asked whether they observed aggressive mistreatment, interrogations or interview techniques of GTMO Positive Responses: on several occasions, witness (“W”) saw detainees (“ds”) in interrogation rooms chained hand and foot in fetal position to floor w/no chair/ food/water; most urinated or defecated on selves, and were left there 18, 24 hrs or more. Once, the air conditioning was so low that the barefoot d was shaking with cold. Another time, it was off so the unventilated room was over 100 degrees, d was almost unconscious on floor with a pile of hair next to him (he had apparently been pulling it out throughout the night). Another time, it was sweltering hot and loud rap music played – d’s hand and foot was chanined and he was in a fetal position on the floor. Upon inquiry, W was told that interrogators [military contractors] ordered this treatment. Took place in Delta Camp * d was kept in darkened cell in Naval Brig at GTMO, then transferred to Camp Delta where he gave no info. Then taken to Camp X-Ray and put in plywood hut. Interrogators yelled and screamed at him. One interrogator squatted over the Koran. Another day a German Shepherd was commended to growl, bark and show his teeth to the prisoner. Subsequently someone laughingly told the W “you have to see this” and took him to an interrogation room where W saw a d with a full beard whose head was wrapped in duct tape * civilian contractor asked W (an FBI SA) to come see something. There was an unknown bearded longhaired d gagged w/duct tape that covered much of his head. SA asked if he had spit at interrogators, and the contractor laughingly replied that d had been chanting the Koran nonstop. No answer to how they planned to remove the duct tape. * W saw canine used aggressively to intimidate a d * d in darkened cell in Naval Brig where they planned to interrogate him for 24 hours straight, W was told the Secretary [Rumsfeld] approved this technique. Saw interrogator straddle the Koran while d was handcuffed to chair, d held in chain link cage w/cover over top Rumors that interrogator bragged about doing lap dance on d, another about making d listen to satanic black metal music for hours then dressing as a Priest and baptizing d to save him – handwritten note says “yes” * W heard rumor that male d was dressed in female clothing, made up and given a lap dance by female prison guard. Was told this was a tactic to break the d and get cooperation * W observed d in a stress position – w/in regs of military techniques but outside MIOG * W walked into Camp Delta observation room and saw d rubbing his leg due to possibly being in stress position. D was wearing leg irons and handcuffed w/cuffs chained to waist. W was advised the chains were adjusted to force D to stand in “baseball catcher” position. D was being questioned by 2 military officers. D was previously held in brig and questioned for 2 months w/no results. Permission had been granted to use “special interrogation techniques” * Nurse informed that a d was admitted to hospital for hypothermia, had low blood pressure and low body core temp; Lt Col subsequently said at daily staff mtg that d did not have hypothermia *A detainee brought into interview shack at Camp x-ray appeared to have broken fingers and facial injuries. W was told that d exhibited noncompliance w/prison guard and rapid reaction team was brought in to bring d into compliance. He was in a plywood shack adjacent to “dog cages”. D had black eye, facial cuts around nose, and taped fingers. He motioned to guards and said “they” handwritten note “yes – Do interview so we will have a formal record. I think I know what all he saw.” d on floor w/Israeli flag draped around him, loud music playing, strobe light flashing hw notes “No – consistent w/DoD policy. Israeli flag is over the top – but not abusive.” email from Valerie Caproni: “No further interview necessary. Loud music and strobe light would be within the notion of environment down’ that is an approved technique for DoD. The Israeli flag, though obnoxious, doesn’t seem to change the basic technique into one that would be unlawfully abusive.” * observed short shackling to the floor, cold temperatures, loud music, strobe lights and left in interrogation room for long periods – consistent with Dod policy – not FBI policy * lights were off in interview room except for a strobe light and loud music played while a clothed d sat on the floor alone handwritten note: “No. Psych-ops appron [?] w/in DoD guidelines” * W saw interrogation thru one-way glass – d seated in middle of floor while loud rap or heavy metal music played. Two interrogators stood above d laughing and blowing cigar smoke in d’s face. W thinks they were with Defense Humint Services or contracted by Army handwritten note “No – consistent w/DoD policy” * occasionally ds complained of inappropriate behavior i.e., incident in which d alleged female guard removed her blouse and, while pressing her body against a shackled and restrained d rom behind, handled his genatalia and wiped menstrual blood on his head and face as punishment for lack of cooperation * W observed d shackled to the bolt on the floor in a kneeling position in dark room w/flashing strobe light and loud music handwriting “no – consistent with DoD policy” * practice in which d wd be placed in interview room approx 6-8 hrs prior to interview w/AC turned down as low as 55 degrees. D would be restrained from adjusting AC hw note – “no – consistent w/DoD policy” D being debriefed by NAE for 15 hours periodically threw up in trash can. W was told D had ulcer and stress was irritating it. Later told he had stomach virus. hw note – “no – consistent w/DoD policy not nice but not abusive consistent w/ [?]oD policy” * W observed women crying near the river, their homes had been destroyed by planes. Trucks full of people trying to surrender were blown up by planes. On 2d day after capture, d was put in a ditch by Northern Alliance people. Next day, he was allowed to jump into a truck and taken to Mazar-e-Sharif where he was forced into a metal “shipping”-type container w/about 100 men. The container was then closed and d blacked out due to lack of air. When he awoke, there were new holes in the container., The man next to him was dead. He thinks he was in the container 24 hours – only 20 men survived. When it opened he was at Sabergaan jail. The dead were put into a hole and buried, he heard that those too weak to get out of the container were as well. US soldiers arrived about a month later * loud music and strobe lights



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Mark P

posted February 26, 2007 at 1:39 am


Source? You can say it was from the FBI all you want, but as of right now it’s Joseph T’s word. I’m not necessarily saying it didn’t happen, but for all we know you found it on Joe Schmoe’s “—- Bush” internet blog.



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Gary W.

posted February 26, 2007 at 1:41 am


I wish I were able to send a picture to show you all the beautiful architecture and attention to detail in the craftsmanship of the building. Does mean that you weren’t able to take pictures? I assume this to be true, otherwise surely there would be no problem posting them here for us to see. The meeting was held in a grand ballroom of the main building at the Foreign Ministry, and we were told that we were the first American delegation to have an official meeting in this building since the Islamic Revolution in 1978. The term “useful idiot” comes to mind here. There is probably a good reason you’re the first. What in the world makes you think that your meeting won’t be used to ultimately promote the anti individual freedom policy goals of Iran’s oppressive leadership, and to prevent any action that might interfere with them? Why is it that Jeff is so intrigued with talking to the leadership of Iran, who is no doubt just using him ala Dan Rather talking to Saddam, and not focusing on the Iranian people, who by all indications pretty much adore America and dislike their own leadership? Wouldn’t it make more sense to find ways to empower the people to effect change from within, and thereby avoid the war that everyone fears? You’re never going to get anywhere talking to these thugs, anymore than you would talking to Satan himself. They will only use you to further their own oppressive agendas.



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Janet Pierce

posted February 26, 2007 at 8:34 am


Hi Jeff I am pleased to hear of your impressions there in Iran. The general populace is nowhere near being the ‘thugs’ our government and media have pictured. There have been errors made by our past administrations as well as theirs…we can argue tit for tat forever but it takes courage to step up and make a move, and risk the criticism for the sake of some attempt towards a peaceful dialogue. I appreciate the posts by Joseph T regarding some revelant history. janet



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kevin s.

posted February 26, 2007 at 3:24 pm


“and risk the criticism for the sake of some attempt towards a peaceful dialogue.” Except that the risk isn’t criticism, but rather nuclear attack. I don’t see where the media has depicted the people of Iran as thugs. Unfortunately, the people are not in charge. The thugs are.



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karen

posted February 26, 2007 at 3:59 pm


I know this is not related to your original post, but if you are interested in biblical studies or in Christianity in general you have to check out Jesus Family Tomb. This totally amazing movie is coming out talking about Jesus as a husband AND a father!! Unbelievable. But what I like about the movie is that they use only experts to verify the studies. They actually have DNA and statistical proof that 1) Jesus existed, and 2) had a son. It’s truly the discovery of the millenium. Check it out at: http://www.jesusfamilytomb.com



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Joseph T

posted February 26, 2007 at 4:26 pm


ource? You can say it was from the FBI all you want, but as of right now it’s Joseph T’s word. I’m not necessarily saying it didn’t happen, but for all we know you found it on Joe Schmoe’s “—- Bush” internet blog. This information is right from the FBI and was published by the Washington Post, CNN, NY Times ACLU(http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/052505/), which is interesting because it shows that a lot was redacted, and the official FBI site (http://foia.fbi.gov/guantanamo/122106.htm) which is where I copied what I posted( I had to trim it some so the comments board would accept it. There are far more violent and gruesome reports from a Navy investigation. This is summarized in ACLU article with reference to govt. documents obtained through FOIA. (http://www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/gen/21236prs20051024.html ) I’m afraid this is far more than something I made up. The Abu Graibh photos were the tip of the iceberg, the worst photos showing such things as prisoners torn and bleeding from dog attacks have been kept from major media.Despite the secrecy, there are many witnesses to these crimes. Virtually all human rights groups elieve that US government inqiries to date are completetely inadequate, particularly because no one above the rank of sargent ha been indicted though the memos allowing torture come right from the top, and several have used the term cover up.



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Joseph T

posted February 26, 2007 at 4:58 pm


As far as Iran/US relations there are 2 excellent interviews on Democracy Now today, one about a peace plan sent to US from Iran in 2003, and one an interview with an Iranian student in the US whose parents have been dissidents under Shah and under present government. http://www.democracynow.org/ The New Yorker has published a new Sy Hersch article about a Joint Chiefs plan for bombing Iran with 24 hour notice from president.This may be an ill-conceived game of brinksmanship, but “the decider ” seems to have gone off the deep end, defying 70+% of the American people in Iraq. Call Senators; call Congressmen; write letters to paper; pray for peace.



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kevin s.

posted February 26, 2007 at 5:09 pm


“They actually have DNA and statistical proof that 1) Jesus existed, and 2) had a son. It’s truly the discovery of the millenium.” Well, if Karen the spambot thinks so…



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kevin s.

posted February 26, 2007 at 5:16 pm


I have seen the links provided, and the actual information itself isn’t quite so breathlessly conclusive as the press releases trumpeting it. You have no evidence that Abu Ghraib (wherein the incidents that occurred are being actively prosecuted) is the “tip of the iceberg”. Conflating homocides (which are illegal, and prosecuted) with interrogation techniques such as making someone sit in a 55 degree room (five degrees warmer than we set our thermostat in my house) might create a nice illusion of a mass cover-up, but it doesn’t work as an argument that our nation condones torture.



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Carl Copas

posted February 26, 2007 at 5:23 pm


“He’s [Cheney] not even president!” No he isn’t. But that has nothing to do with my point, badly expressed obviously. IF, IF, IF there’s an American version of fascism–and as I tried to make clear, it’s very hard to pin down a precise definition of “fascism”–Cheney’s beliefs in unitary executive, his disdain for public opinion, his contempt for a free press, his contempt for Congress all combine to make him a prime suspect. Given that “fascism” is so slippery a term, I generally prefer not to use it. Andrew Jackson was a fascist? Wow. He could barely read and write and believed the earth is flat. He thumbed his nose at John Marshall in 1831-32, which I supposed could be considered a fascist-like act. But he also warned South Carolina and John C. Calhoun that he would not tolerate an interpretation of states’ rights that would break up the Union. Would that more of his fellow southern slaveowners had taken Jackson’s position rather than Calhoun’s. It led, almost inexorably, to the Civil War. Federalist legislation after the election of 1800? The Feds lost the election of 1800, which elevated Jefferson, a Democrat-Republican, to the presidency. The Dem-Reps also captured control of Congress. Are you thinking of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798? “(do any of you doubt that Lincoln would have monitored every resident of D.C. if he had had the technology?).” Yes, i doubt it. “-In different areas than national defense, Franklin D Roosevelt was far more destructive of the rights the Constitution was built to defend.” But of course. That gosh-darned FDR wanted to alleviate some of the misery of the Depression. How DARE he come up with a New Deal that featured the WPA, Social Security, regulation of the stock market (Securities and Exchange Act) and banking (Glass-Steagall Act), a minimum wage and minimum work week (Fair Labor Standards Act,1938)? Now was he power hungry? Yes. Did he lie to the American public in 1940-41 regarding foreign events? Without question. Did he over-reach in the Supreme Court packing plan in 1937? Obviously he did. Did he destroy all or parts of the Constitution? Not by a long shot. It survived the Second World War, the upheavals of the Sixties, and Richard Nixon. After holding my breath for the past 5 and a half years, I think it just might survive George W. Bush and his neocon handlers.



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kevin s.

posted February 26, 2007 at 5:55 pm


The point about those other leaders was not that they were fascist, but rather that Presidents have a history of maneuvering for power on behalf of their pet causes. FDR wanted to alleviate poverty. Bush wants to alleviate the threat of terrorist attack. If you want to talk about how slippery the definition of fascism is, or the intellectual tenets of fascism, or how the term has been maligned, you may do so. But then, let’s extricate that discussion from the way the term has been used on this board, which is to draw a line between Bush and Hitler.



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Paul

posted February 26, 2007 at 5:57 pm


Joseph T, Talk about going off the deep end. Any contingency planner worthy of the name is going to have contingency plans for any possible scenario they can think of. To blame the pentagon for having a plan for such a possibility is really absurd.Yes, do pray that it never becomes necessary, but don’t waste energy by critiquing people for doing what they should. It has been truely said “noone hates war more than the soldier, because only the soldier knows the true horrors of war.” (MacArthur) cheers, Paul



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HASH(0x11777aa0)

posted February 26, 2007 at 6:35 pm


“Presidents have a history of maneuvering for power on behalf of their pet causes.” Indeed they do. And i would argue that the Bush administration has gone to extraordinary lengths, even measured against powerful presidents such as FDR, to maneuver for power on behalf of his pet cause.His administration’s actions suggest that his pet cause is not “alleviating the threat of terrorist attack.” Rather, it is hegemony in the Middle East in partnership with Israel and any willing Arab states, combined with an unprecedented aggrandizement of power in the executive branch.Hmmm . . . Come to think of it, maybe “fascist” is not such an inappropriate term after all.



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kevin s.

posted February 26, 2007 at 6:42 pm


You can’t have hegemony in partnership with anyone. That is an oxymoron. If we wanted to achieve hegemony over the region, we would have to look much further than Iraq and Iran. “combined with an unprecedented aggrandizement of power in the executive branch. ” Are you proposing that this is part of the President’s end goal? Think about what you are saying. You are suggesting that President Bush’s goal to consolidate power into the executive branch, which he will be vacating in less than two years.



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carl copas

posted February 26, 2007 at 6:48 pm


that last “anonymous” was me.



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Paul

posted February 26, 2007 at 6:53 pm


Some might find this discussion, of some of the difficulties in negotiating with Iran, helpful. http://www.opinionjournal.com/jer/?id=110009713 cheers, Paul



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carl copas

posted February 26, 2007 at 6:55 pm


“You can’t have hegemony in partnership with anyone. That is an oxymoron.” Of course you can. The Soviet Union had hegemony in Eastern Europe for 45 years, and they exercised hegemony in partnership with pliant communist governments from the Elbe to the Black Sea. Bush’s goal has been and is to consolidate power in the executive branch for as long as heads the branch. Cheney apparently believes in a strong executive just on principle (foreign policy concerns, etc.); see, for example, James Mann’s discusson of Cheney in Rise of the Vulcans. This is too much fun. But now I need to focus on work. God bless you kevin s; somewhere beneath that cranky exterior is a sharp mind and, I suspect, a pretty good guy. Have a great Monday, and I’m sure we shall joust again sometime soon. Oh, someday we should discuss Greg Boyd and his “open theology”; I recall you mentioning Boyd in a post some time ago.



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Mark P

posted February 26, 2007 at 7:51 pm


Karen-the-computer, your James Cameron film is little more than a sensational hoax: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6397373.stmThis information is right from the FBI and was published[ ] -Thanks, just looking for your source.The New Yorker has published a new Sy Hersch article about a Joint Chiefs plan for bombing Iran with 24 hour notice from president. -Standard policy, nothing surprising. We have contingency plans in the Pentagon for hundreds of possibilities, likely, possible, or otherwise. We have plans for attacking Mexico, for goodness sake. It s what a professional military does prepare for every possibility. It s not unusual or out-of-the-ordinary at all.Andrew Jackson was a fascist? -I ll start by comparing your criteria: – Cheney’s beliefs in unitary executive Cheney s beliefs? Andrew Jackson did more to augment the unilateral power of the executive branch than any other American political figure (the only ones in the same ballpark are Alexander Hamilton and FDR). – his disdain for public opinion, his contempt for a free press Disdain for public opinion? Jackson certainly didn t suffer there, as the first significant figure to push this Vox Populi Rex idea of democracy (though you could argue convincingly that Jeffersonian Republicanism is a forerunner) course he then decided that he was THE vox populi. It s what most the founders would have classified as mob rule a sort of authoritarianism via the empowerment of the mob at your back. – his contempt for Congress How about Andrew Jackson s active and aggressive contempt for the Supreme Court? How about his complete disregard for the natural rights of men when it suited his purposes? And back to your paragraph on Jackson – He could barely read and write and believed the earth is flat. Relevancy? History has shown tyranny as prominent or more prominent among the uneducated who attain power. Jackson, the common man, was also Jackson the uneducated and I think some of his strong-arm tactics come from his lack of education in the liberal arts. – He thumbed his nose at John Marshall in 1831-32, which I supposed could be considered a fascist-like act. If by thumbing his nose you mean completely disregarded a Supreme Court decision, sure. I fail to see how Jackson disregarding the separation of powers to do his own thing is somehow less fascist than Cheney s apparent beliefs about a unitary executive. -When was the last time someone thumbed his nose, and the end result was the death of four-thousand people and the relocation of the 13,000 peaceful, civilized individuals who survived? An ENTIRE PEOPLE GROUP FORCED to move 1,200 MILES because of their ETHNIC BACKGROUND and you dismiss the event as maybe fascist and a thumbing of the nose. Carl, can you really be that flippant? – But he also warned South Carolina and John C. Calhoun that he would not tolerate an interpretation of states’ rights that would break up the Union. How is using federal power to inhibit the sovereignty of the states a counterbalance to using federal power to overwhelm the decisions of the Supreme Court and force-march 17,000 peaceful men, women, and children 1,200 miles because you want their land? – Would that more of his fellow southern slaveowners had taken Jackson’s position rather than Calhoun’s. It led, almost inexorably, to the Civil War. Yes, what a shame that Calhoun didn t stick to oppressing Native Americans instead of throwing slaves into the deal too. – Are you thinking of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798? Yes, I meant before the election, during Adams’ term. – Yes, i doubt it. Consider the invasions of rights orchestrated under the Lincoln administration. Compare with the invasions of the current administration, considering the technology of 150 years ago. – But of course. That gosh-darned FDR wanted to I don t care what he wanted to do or what his purpose was in destroying property rights and creating a false set of economic rights all of which basically flew in the face of the original rights enunciated by the Declaration of Independence and supported by the framework of the United States Constitution. What he wanted to do has nothing to do with what he did or didn t do. -I am not a neo-con, and I do not defend neo-conservatism or the current administration, except to say that Cheney is not the most fascist elected official we’ve had, and he’s not even particularly close to that position.



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jerry

posted February 26, 2007 at 10:31 pm


wow! the wordsmiths are really digging on this jeff carr post. somehow all this historical knowledge and political name calling should be assembled and memorialized and flushed. all this stuff has been said so many times on this blog it is pathetic. and carr’s emotional statements are really neat, too. duh! maybe he would be interested in how i felt when i met as japanese school teaacher. why doesn’t someone give us a detailed report on the torture and mistreatment handed out by the muslims? so we can have a better perspective as to what is going on and thus not feel so bad about what our government is doing. when is all this brainpower going to address the issue of terrorist bombings and islamic clerics preaching for the death of americans and all non islamic peoples? and do you really think that the threats by iran to destroy isreal are “just talk”. all your history lessons do is show how wars and conflicts between governments are the norm. always have been and always will be. remember boys and girls, God loves Isreal.



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carl copas

posted February 26, 2007 at 11:07 pm


Jerry, I can turn on Faux, er Fox, news at practically any hour of the day and get info on Muslims torturing Westerners and each other. (Although it’s interesting how many hundreds of millions of Muslims don’t engage in such activity. And yes, they do speak out against activity, if you bother to look for such statements.) But I’m a lot more interested in fools for peace. Given the revolutionary implications of Christ’s teachings on the Kingdom of Heaven, and given how those teachings defied the common sense of his day, somehow, I think Jesus would be too. Have a good day and may the Lord bless you.



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Hali

posted February 26, 2007 at 11:23 pm


Mark P, Facts are only one component of history. The relevance assigned to facts is equally important and is inherently subjective. If you want to stick with the empirical, change your major and become a scientist (come over to the Dark Side!) The best a historian can do is present a selection of the most common perceptions of the facts. Furthermore, this blog is not historical, it is religious. In the religious sense, “truth” is an entirely different thing altogether. The BBC link you provided, by the way, contained no kind of “debunking” of anything. Was that the right link? Do you have anything more detailed?



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kevin s.

posted February 27, 2007 at 12:36 am


“The best a historian can do is present a selection of the most common perceptions of the facts.” This isn’t even close to true. “Furthermore, this blog is not historical, it is religious” Actually, it’s political, which you could interpret as being both, or neither, or somewhere in between.



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Mark P

posted February 27, 2007 at 12:42 am


Hali – the link I provided was not a debunking in and of itself. It was a journalistic and (pretty) objective piece; however, read the criticism contained within the piece, who wrote the criticism, and exactly who is supporting the movie. It’s a silly little movie that might be an interesting popcorn movie, but it’s historical validity is on par with a Dan Brown novel (which is to say, “little to none”). Obviously the relevance assigned matters, but that’s because, as you pointed out, history is only as good as our sources. However, part of the historian’s job is sifting for the truth — that is, what really happened and why it happened. Of course, at times there will be guesswork of varying degrees, and you will always have to understand the bias behind the sources and in yourself. But that doesn’t mean the truth doesn’t matter or that, because it’s difficult to find, we shouldn’t try and should just be satisfied with “perspectives.” “In the religious sense, “truth” is an entirely different thing altogether.” I strongly disagree. Contradicting my earlier “misspeak,” truth is truth and truth claims are truth claims. What might be different are the processes of verification… but that doesn’t mean that there is “religious truth” which is completely distinct from “historical truth” or “political truth.” Remember Jerry, “it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.”



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Hali

posted February 27, 2007 at 1:24 am


Mark P, I NEVER said that the truth (or empirical fact) doesn’t matter. I said it was only one component of history. However, as you correctly point out, all sources, and the historian him/herself, have their own bias that must be taken into account. Historians with different biases, looking at the exact same data set, will likely choose a different set of facts that they consider relevant. In Jeff’s piece, both he and Dr. Jalili got their facts already filtered, and the values they assigned to the story are very different. That is not to say that either one of them is misrepresenting the facts. A good historian would be interested in hearing both of their stories. In a religious sense, one does not dispute the facts either; it is the values that are important. I’m not talking about the flat-earthers or the creationists here, but the way we experience God’s presence. That absolutely cannot be empirically measured, because it is unique to each one of us.



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Mark P

posted February 27, 2007 at 3:09 am


I don’t think you can empirically measure relationship with God, but that doesn’t mean all paths are the right paths or there’s some sort of different “truth” that is religious — rather, there are different restrictions imposed on understanding the truth, but truth is truth no matter where you find it and it should form a cohesive truth. I dispute that values are important. Values are an invention of the 20th century, straight out of the relativism that I wish to combat.



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carl copas

posted February 27, 2007 at 4:09 am


“I dispute that values are important. Values are an invention of the 20th century, straight out of the relativism that I wish to combat.” Mark, could you elaborate on this? Thank you.



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Mark P

posted February 27, 2007 at 4:37 am


Well, for starters, I was probably a bit hasty in characterizing them as a 20th century innovation. They are rooted in the 19th century, but only came to the fore in the 20th. I believe in morality and virtue — external and independent of the human being. Values, on the other hand, consist of what you the individual consider important and meaningful. Family values are what you value in a family, by example. They individualistic, relativistic, and have no weight outside of reaching a mutual understanding (of what you and I respectively value). They are the invention of progressivism and have exploded under humanitarianism (what some errantly call secular humanism), libertarianism (this coming from a former libertarian converted to a more classically conservative standpoint), and many of the homocentric ideologies of our day. Hence I reject their importance.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 27, 2007 at 4:56 am


There are 6+ billion persons (intelligent life) on this small spec of the universe and only one third are Christian. Within that significant percentage of the earth’s population there are many different interpretations of what “truth” is. Beyond that segment of the earth’s inhabitants, many other perceptions of truth exist. Beyond that diversity, there might (or might not) be hundreds, thousands, or millions of other places in the universe where intelligent life resides. Did Creator God expect all of us here (and all of “them”, there (if “they” are there)) to accept Christianity, as we know it, here? And what about “original sin”? If intelligent life, everywhere it exists (if it does exist elsewhere), also had its “Adam” and “Eve”, how many times did God have to come down (to those other places in the universe) to rescue intelligent life in order to compensate for “original sin” (the infinite offense against an infinite God), requiring an “infinite sacrifice” to atone? Or, is it more likely that God came to this small spec in the universe to demonstrate God’s love for God’s creation? Or, do the words of some holy book, somewhere, adequately communicate the thinking of God, to intelligent life, wherever it exists? Everywhere it exists? Or, does God trust intelligent life, wherever it exists, to figure it out, for ourselves? I opt for the latter. In my view… What do you think?



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Mark P

posted February 27, 2007 at 8:24 pm


OoOoOoO….. Aliens. I wonder if they’re really purple? Oh, and Christ died once for all.



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kevin s.

posted March 1, 2007 at 1:19 pm


Mike. What do you believe about the Bible?



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Payshun

posted March 1, 2007 at 5:57 pm


Great thoughts Mike. p



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Jordan Lester

posted August 24, 2007 at 10:45 am


‘Anonymous, The people of Great Britain (and, I think, any country that has a parliamentary form of government) do not elect the prime minister, either. Jeff referred to the elected leader, Mossadegh. You described Jeff’s relating of the account he heard from Dr. Jalili about the anger of the people of Iran as a result of the US participation in the overthrough of Mossadegh, as “lies”… Maybe you were referring to the perception others have that Mossadegh was elected by the people themselves or some other part of the account by other persons than Jeff, but I do not think Jeff misrepresented what Dr. Jalili told him about what ordinary Iranian people (not extremists) think about US interference in their country, in the 1950’s.
Posted by: Mike Hayes | February 24, 2007 9:26 PM’
Mike has raised a good point: legitimacy to rule doesn’t always come from being directly elected by the people. In parliamentary systems, the Prime Minister is NEVER directed electly by the people. But rather, MPs (Members of Parliament) are elected to the House (often as a member of a certain political party). In the cause of a majority government, the leader of such a party is made Prime Minister. In a minority government (where opposition MPs outnumber government MPs), usually the party with the most seats will become PM (although there are exceptions). Last, coalition government can happen to (on the basis that 2 or more parties sign an agreement to share Cabinet positions and the collective number of MPs of such a government will usually either be a plurality or a majority.)
Once again, this idea that only democratically elected authorities are legitimate is an idea tracked back to the “French Revolution” of the late 19th century: before then, most of the Western World was either ruled by absolute monarchs (most of Europe except Britain) or limited Monarchs (Monarchs had to have the support of Parliament to tax the people,etc..)
And once again, as a Christian who lives in St.John’s,NL (the most Easterly province in Canada), I know that in the book of Romans, it says this in the first 10 verses,
“Submission to the Authorities
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Love, for the Day is Near
8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,”[a] and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. ” (to view this passage, use the site http://www.biblegateway.com )
In other words, any authority that exists only does so because God has allowed it to (so even though it has the authority to act, that’s not to say that they aren’t abusing it: this was written at a time when the Roman Empire ruled with a mighty hand). So in the CIA overthrowing Iran’s government in the 30’s, they were overthrowing that which God established and thereby showing contempt to the sovereignity of God over the affairs of man!



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Jordan Lester

posted August 24, 2007 at 10:52 am


And to supplement my previous post, the US is but an odd version of Democracy: one in which both chambers of Congress are elected, but the head of Government and State is also elected (making it a Democratic Republic).
Hence, this is my understanding of American Politics: the Democrats were formed as a political party which favoured more oversight powers for Congress (to keep the President in check), while Republicians felt that the President should have more power because it’s the job of the President to defend the power of all the USA. (Correct me here if i’m wrong: this is but a thesis I have, based on what I know about American Politics as a Canadian).
But anyways, just because Iran wasn’t a Republic (a system in which the Head of Government and State is directly elected) doesn’t mean that all systems that fail to do so aren’t legitimate. Perhaps to someone from a country which is a Democratic Republic (such as the US), Iran’s Government may not appear legitimate. But the real question is whether Iranians view their government as legitimate. And once again, I believe those 10 verses I quoted from Romans help to inform how a Christian ought to view whether a Government is legitimate or not!



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Saied

posted September 12, 2007 at 12:22 pm


This delegation, thought righteous in it’s own mind, has become a tool of the Islamic Republic. If people to people connection is what they are after they ought not meet with the deputy foreign minister of the despotic regime but venture off to visit some of the thousands of brave Iranians that are struggling for liberty and consequently are in the torture chambers of Evin prison and other prisons in the Islamic Republic of fear. Why does this American delegation concern itself with the plight of the Iranian masses who are struggling for nothing more than their most fundamental human rights. Why does this delegation not ask why the Islamic Republic has publicly executed 180 people in the last month. Why does this delegation not ask why over the last four months there have been nearly one million arrests for “appearance not consistent with Islamic dress codes”. Why does this delegation not ask about the whereabouts ant status of brave Iranian dissidents like Mr. Batebi, Mr. Ganji,. etc. Why does this delegation not interview the parents of Mr. Akbar Mohammadi, a student leader who was executed by the Islamic Republic- so they can understand the plight of the Iranian masses who are engaged in an epic struggle for freedom. Why does this delegation not take a little gander around the streets of Tehran and talk to ordinary people to understand the depths of economic, social, religious, and political repression that reigns in Iran today. They do not do these things because it is simply easier to live in the fantasy world that they have synthesized around themselves. Exchange niceties with the deputy foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of oppression and go home feeling good because they had an exchange with “THE OTHER”.
WAKE UP. Accommodation, dialogue, with these tyrants is a betrayal of the cause of freedom and liberty in Iran. It is as offensive a crime against the aspirations of Iranian people for self governance as the overthrow of Mossadeq was in the 1950s. Do not become the propaganda tools of the Islamic Republic.



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Saied

posted September 12, 2007 at 12:22 pm


This delegation, thought righteous in it’s own mind, has become a tool of the Islamic Republic. If people to people connection is what they are after they ought not meet with the deputy foreign minister of the despotic regime but venture off to visit some of the thousands of brave Iranians that are struggling for liberty and consequently are in the torture chambers of Evin prison and other prisons in the Islamic Republic of fear. Why does this American delegation concern itself with the plight of the Iranian masses who are struggling for nothing more than their most fundamental human rights. Why does this delegation not ask why the Islamic Republic has publicly executed 180 people in the last month. Why does this delegation not ask why over the last four months there have been nearly one million arrests for “appearance not consistent with Islamic dress codes”. Why does this delegation not ask about the whereabouts ant status of brave Iranian dissidents like Mr. Batebi, Mr. Ganji,. etc. Why does this delegation not interview the parents of Mr. Akbar Mohammadi, a student leader who was executed by the Islamic Republic- so they can understand the plight of the Iranian masses who are engaged in an epic struggle for freedom. Why does this delegation not take a little gander around the streets of Tehran and talk to ordinary people to understand the depths of economic, social, religious, and political repression that reigns in Iran today. They do not do these things because it is simply easier to live in the fantasy world that they have synthesized around themselves. Exchange niceties with the deputy foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of oppression and go home feeling good because they had an exchange with “THE OTHER”.
WAKE UP. Accommodation, dialogue, with these tyrants is a betrayal of the cause of freedom and liberty in Iran. It is as offensive a crime against the aspirations of Iranian people for self governance as the overthrow of Mossadeq was in the 1950s. Do not become the propaganda tools of the Islamic Republic.



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