What TV Pundits Don’t Tell Us About Iranian Protests

I wonder whether the people who pontificate endlessly on those 24-hour news channels in America are uninformed, misinformed or simply want to mislead their viewers in order to implement some hidden agenda. My suspicions are based not so much on what they say but on what they don’t say.

protestFor example, I have heard no one on television mention America’s involvement – make that interference – in Iranian politics. Commentators will tell you that the Iranian government has accused the U.S. of helping to foment the current unrest (photo at right), but I haven’t heard anyone explain why the charge might have some validity.

I found out about it in a Truthout article by Steve Weissman. Truthout is a service that scours the news of the day to bring you revealing information, and it seems to have a liberal bias, so you might be skeptical of Weissman’s charges. But Weissman quotes ABC News as the source of his information, and I think network reporters usually try to be objective. Furthermore, he says New Yorker Magazine’s Seymour Hersh “subsequently confirmed the story.”

Here’s an excerpt from Weissman’s article:

Back in 2007, ABC News reported that President George W. Bush had signed a secret “Presidential finding” authorizing the CIA to mount covert “black” operations to destabilize the Iranian government. According to current and former intelligence officials, these operations included “a coordinated campaign of propaganda broadcasts, placement of negative newspaper articles, and the manipulation of Iran’s currency and international banking transactions.”

In the language of spookery, this was an updated version of the destabilization campaign that the CIA had earlier used to overthrow the progressive government of Salvador Allende in Chile.

The plan had the strong backing of Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Steve Hadley and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams. As ABC noted, Abrams had earlier pled guilty to withholding information from Congress about efforts to destabilize the Sandinista government in Nicaragua during the Iran-contra affair of the 1980s.

ABC News also reported that American and Pakistani intelligence were backing a separatist militia of militant Sunni tribesmen from the non-Persian Baluchi region of Iran. The group – Jundallah (Soldiers of God) – conducted deadly raids into Iran from bases in Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province. Funding for this was reportedly funneled through Iranian exiles with connections in Europe and the Gulf States.

Weissman quotes Hersh as reporting that “the Democratic-controlled Congress had approved up to $400 million to fund the destabilization campaign” in Iran.

I find it hard to believe that President Obama would continue the subversive activities initiated by President Bush, but Weissman says the current U.S. administration has not indicated it would stop the destabilization campaign. “To the contrary,” Weissman writes, “in the build-up to the Iranian election, Washington sharpened its propaganda efforts. According to Ken Timmerman, the executive director of the right-wing Foundation for Democracy in Iran, the Persian Service of Voice of America clearly sided with the anti-Ahmadinejad candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.”

Weissman also quotes Timmerman as suggesting the National Endowment for Democracy is also involved in stirring up trouble in Iran.

Here’s the quote:

 The National Endowment for Democracy has spent millions of dollars during the past decade promoting ‘color’ revolutions in places such as Ukraine and Serbia, training political workers in modern communications and organizational techniques,” Timmerman wrote on newsmax.com.

“Some of that money appears to have made it into the hands of pro-Mousavi groups, who have ties to non-governmental organizations outside Iran that the National Endowment for Democracy funds.”

The National Endowment for Democracy is the umbrella organization under which John McCain’s International Republican Institute operates. It is funded in part by grants from the U.S. Government and in part by private contributions.

This is the kind of meddling that – if it is confirmed – could have tragic results for the protesters in Iran. There’s no way their uprising can succeed if the U.S. is perceived as promoting it. And the resulting government crackdown could be horribly bloody. It would be reassuring to find out that the Obama Administration pulled the plug on the Bush- Cheney “destabilization” campaign, and is discouraging the National Endowment for Democracy’s subversive activities.

I think the television pundits should dig up this kind of background information when they report on the Iranian demonstrations. And I wonder why they don’t. Is it because of ignorance? Or something more sinister?