Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 14, 2011

The "Democracy Council" And The "Green Movement"

How much is the "Green Movement" in Iran a product of covert U.S. activities?

Cyrus Safdari at Iran Affairs made an interesting find which may help to answer that question.

A document by the Democracy Council (a U.S. government cover operation?) marked "FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY: NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION" was leaked on Scribt but soon removed. A copy is here: CONCEPT NOTE - TAASH COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK [TCN]: VIRTUAL SANCTUARY FOR IRANIAN CIVIL SOCIETY (pdf).

The ten page paper describes a "secure" internet system which could be used as a central hub for all media activities of the Iranian opposition.

Taash Communications Network (TCN), developed by the Democracy Council (the Council) in collaboration with the leading representatives from the Green Movement, will help to meet this demand by providing the first robust, multilevel (internet, web, mobile, and satellite broadcast) communications channel for regionally produced progressive (uncensored) content and communications. TCN will operate as branded technological distribution portal platform) made available to independent content and communications produced by and for progressive and reform – minded Iranians.

The system would be "owned" by a European cover entity and would be "secure" versus the Iranian government. But all traffic going through it would of course be monitored by the "Democracy Council".

The "Democracy Council" is already running similar activities. On page 9 of the paper it proudly boosts:

The Council has implemented programming to support online social networking in Iran and currently maintains a strong network of internal activists, including the Green Movement, whose leaders have requested direct support from DC to develop its communications strategy and online capabilities. DC project staff includes the producers and hosts of VOA Persian News Network Technology shows with a focus on digital activism, and internet & mobile access. Their Facebook page attracts 500,000 hits per month inside Iran. In collaboration with VOA PNN, DC staff developed a Persian iPhone and Android application.

As Cyrus analyzes:

All this goes to show two things, frankly: Iran affairs is in the hand of amateurs, and the Green Movement apparently DOES have foreign backing. In my humble opinion, these sorts of information warfare campaigns directed against Iran are silly and mostly just self-serving. If they have any persuasive effect, it is in the US rather than in Iran, and even there it is largely negative because it creates a sort of dogma about the Green Movement that may be favored by certain exiles and their wishful thinking, but has no real relationship to Iranians inside Iran. See, the people of Iran don't lack for information. They have had years of this sort of media campaigns directed towards them. They're not fooled. But the "blowback" (deliberate?) of these sorts of campaigns creates a certain narrative and conventional wisdom that (is meant to) box policymakers in the US when dealing with Iran. Afterall, that's why you see so many articles which doth protest too much that the Green Movement is alive and the "Jasmin Revolutions" sweeping across Arab countries not only do not work in Iran's favor but will ultimately topple the Islamic Republic etc. Rubbish.

Feel free to sleuth through the paper. There are several names of opposition figures as well as "Democracy Council" helpers in there which deserve some further googleing.

Posted by b on March 14, 2011 at 12:41 UTC | Permalink


My first reaction reading this is, what a terrific idea: provide people access to ICT in a region in which communications are closely monitored and political dissent is suppressed. I'm a little surprised you prefer people not have access to adequate ICT for the purpose of political communication & dialogue, b.

There is just no question that the Egyptian revolution, the one that you love, was also supported "externally" by ex-pat groups and NGOs.

really, the only thing that this article does for you is revealed, once again, you're rather bizarre support for theocratic dictatorship. And we all know why you support a theocratic dictatorship.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 14 2011 15:02 utc | 1

But also, this is interesting:

The second phase of TCN operations would be a satellite channel that will be at the disposal of all TCN contributors. The W3A satellite, owned by Eutelsat operates at position 7E, a comparatively higher orbit that makes it less vulnerable to interference.

A few weeks ago you & debs (urekismet) arrogantly dismissed the view that alternative RF access is possible to supply a political insurgency with a functional communication network. This seems to be an interesting possible refutation.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 14 2011 15:02 utc | 2

As a commentator on Cyrus' blog notes, this is exactly the sort of propaganda operations that the CIA performed during the Cold War against the Soviet Union, acording to a book called "The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters" by Francis Stoner Saunders. This included indirectly funding cultural institutions and intellectuals, even going as far as to get the Museum of Modern Art to promote Abstract Expressionism because it was politically-neutral and countered Soviet Realism.

Posted by: hass | Mar 14 2011 15:44 utc | 3

sloth There is just no question that the Egyptian revolution, the one that you love, was also supported "externally" by ex-pat groups and NGOs.

ex pat groups and ngos is not the US government.

of course the green movement is coordinated by outsiders! the wikileaks revealed this was a goal and idea of a number of israelis. i think dagan and netanyahu both had stated as much. organizing dissedents and students in iran. even so far as murmerings about finding politicians, this was 06 07. and i recall the jpost article alerting the world to the twitter accounts around the election and they were all opened the same day...and not coming out of iran.


Posted by: annie | Mar 14 2011 17:23 utc | 4

Democracy Council is a 501c3. Look it up. This does not exclude the possibility that it is some kind of intelligence community front. Who cares?

The bottom line in this is that b opposes providing Iranian dissidents with access to new media technologies, because b supports the theocratic dictatorship of the Iranian mullahs.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 14 2011 17:37 utc | 5

One could spend one's life googling and still not understand what's going on in Iran. I'm not sure whether the top leaders of the Green Movement are under house arrest, or what normally passes for real arrest. And rowdy spectacles do occur every so often in the world's parliaments; but it's rare indeed, to see a melee around around the Speaker's Podium, with a crowd of majority MPs calling for the execution of the leaders of the opposition party.

I'm struck by the idea that millions of Americans are politically illiterate, and are partisan, just in the way that crowds are, at a sporting event. On the other hand, informed Iranians understand what damage US meddling, coup-making, and sabotage, have done since the 1950s. But government that has been under a prolonged siege by a strong outside power, is not likely to be a very progressive place, and the power structure reacts in a conservative way, as one would expect.

Who in the opposition party, in the midst of political repression and torture, would not at least be tempted to use a secure communications network with such a robust capability? On the other hand, it opens, in the minds of intelligent Iranians, the possibility of being seen as the pawns of a foreign power. The backchannel relations between the Islamic Government and US administration,( particularly Reagan's administration) have been strange to say the least.

We come then to the uses of disinformation, which is at least as attractive to the CIA and other secret US outfits, as the rather obvious carrot of a communications network, dangled at the end of a stick. The real goal of this occult process, and its much more useful aim, is to stir up political turmoil and internecine strife in Iran.

Posted by: Copeland | Mar 14 2011 17:43 utc | 6

so so tired of slothrop's inanities - in his way no different at all from brian & denk - continually using baseball bats when something a little more refined or a little more simple is required

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 14 2011 17:58 utc | 7

Appears that the mighty American Empire prefers Qadhafi over the competition. Well, well, old goat.

It's a pity you didn't know which way the wind was blowing there, r'giap, when you were covering the waterfront, as you like to say.

The only complexity of analysis you have is the type that covers your ass with an ointment of obfuscation. go ahead, throw yourself all in for the insurgents. They apparently deserve to be on your side.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 14 2011 18:30 utc | 8

Good ol' Owen Kirby.

Hey, at least he's consistent.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 14 2011 18:38 utc | 9

It is a shame that the Israeli lobby has steered us away from our natural ally and business partner Iran. It hurts us and it hurts the Iranian people, all so that a pack of rowdy European Jews can gain incremental leverage over Palestine.

Posted by: Tom | Mar 14 2011 19:04 utc | 10

Hey now, hey now. I'll have you know I am 100% against theocratic dictatorship, and having worked my tail off for many weeks in the wake of the '09 election in Iran to nail down just what was so and what was not, it became perfectly crystal clear that THE PEOPLE OF IRAN WANT THE CURRENT REGIME. A bunch of university students and an elite with nostalgia for their Westernized liberties under the brutal Shah in North Tehran -- with a great deal of help from agents provocateurs and foreign covert ops -- are about the sum total of this Green "Revolution" malarkey as it concerns actual Iranians in Iran. Ahmadinejad really won by that much and the Islamic Revolution in Iran still has the AVID support of the vast majority of its citizens. So one can be BOTH in favor of the Islamic Revolution and against theocratic dictatorship. I am. Anyone who actually feels the people have a right to choose their leadership, and that IS what Iran has done, has NO business meddling.

Posted by: 99 | Mar 14 2011 21:02 utc | 11


That doesn't matter, because even if the people didn't vote to retain a theocratic dictatorship, the theocratic dictatorship would reject the will of the people, anyway. The Iranian system is illegitimate, because the mullahs would never permit a Democratic delegitimization of the mullah's supreme authority.

But nice try. USukers play this whole game of "the people voted to be oppressed by weird medieval clerics" all the time.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 14 2011 21:18 utc | 12

You don't KNOW that. You just like to THINK that. You're just talking thin air. You haven't a clue what it's like to be a poor Iranian Muslim. There is EVERY reason to believe they do not feel oppressed in the least. You can't see past your own cultural values, and neither can some of the secular Iranians infected with them under the Shah, but the masses called bullshit on it, and NOT under any delusions of what we only call freedom either. They knew what they were rising up for in 1979, and the majority of them still value it. 2009 was a free and fair election -- with the constraint of the approved candidates -- and they EVEN went so far as to do a recount, which is more than we get HERE. Gore won 2000 and Kerry won 2004, but not even after all the numbers are toted up do WE go with the will of the people. So maybe you ought to shake out your ingrained assumptions about what constitutes oppression and what constitutes "weird medieval clerics". In any case, YOUR values aren't what count in Iran. The Iranian people's values are.

Posted by: 99 | Mar 14 2011 22:39 utc | 13

Why "slothrop" pretends that it matters what the Iranian people choose is difficult to understand, in view of the fact that he clearly believes that what matters in Iran is what the US government chooses: an hereditary despot is just dandy but a popularly acclaimed critic of the booboisie is off the scale.

The analogy with the Cold War is right on: the US government, the John Birch society,and, no doubt "slothrop" too, never had the tiniest real interest in whether the peoples of the Soviet Union were rich or poor, enfranchised or subject to political and social dictation, well fed or starving, fed propaganda or encouraged in critical thinking. Voice of America was lying!

What concerned the US government, et al, was that the Soviet Union did not follow orders. This was clearly confirmed by the attitude taken towards the people of Russia, during years of shock treatment under Washington's friend Yeltsin. The Russians starved and suffered and, all of a sudden, it didn't matter a damn. It was the way things are. There was no alternative.

As to theocracy, the bench mark is Wahhabi Saudi Arabia ( a fully owned subsidiary of the US Empire) which not only imposes draconian laws, far more oppressive than any imagined in Iran on its citizenry, but also sends its troops (with Washington's approval) to put down democrats, respopulate the torture chambers and persecute shi'ites in neighbouring lands.

The first condition for a free election in Iran, Haiti, Honduras or anywhere is that only those qualified to vote should take part. The US government however believes that, so long as it does so behind a rolling barrage of propaganda, lies and misrepresentations, it may with impunity swing elections wherever cheques can be cleared. It gives democracy a bad name, which is intended because if democracy ever came to America...

Posted by: bevin | Mar 14 2011 22:42 utc | 14

Just one for instance: Most Iranian women want the chador, and even a great many of those who don't kind of like it anyway, because [1] it eliminates class consciousness between women; and [2] it's very handy when you look awful and need to be out in public anyway.

When they rose up in 1979, they did it to get Sharia Law. They clearly have not changed their minds.

Posted by: 99 | Mar 14 2011 22:51 utc | 15

I'm sorry that my previous post on this subject disappeared (perhaps in the spam trap? and it will later appear). I spent quite a long time on it, suggesting that in Iran there is a historic divide people-aristocracy, and that is the source of the present problem.

Posted by: alexno | Mar 14 2011 23:04 utc | 16


You seem to miss the point. It doesn't matter whether the dictatorship is popular or unpopular. The mullahs will not permit their replacement by elections. So, the elections are just plebiscites, under conditions of (implausible) legitimation by plebiscite, and a fraud under conditions of (plausible) deligitimization by plebiscite.

Take your pick. It's not democracy.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 15 2011 0:48 utc | 17

Thanks to b for the illuminating links. You really have to love the U.S. intelligence agencies for their (very American) tendency to blab about what they are doing. The net result is that U.S. citizens, in virtue of their preference not to know about their own governments darker activities, remain almost alone in not knowing. (Would that other allies and rivals were as "transparent".)
By the way, this is probably the outfit that provides the Slovenian up-link facility mentioned in the document.

Question: is there any relation between
Jim Prince of the Democracy Council and Erik Prince of Xe/Blackwater? Probably not, since Erik is strictly a GOP type. Nevertheless, I can't help wondering.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Mar 15 2011 8:02 utc | 18

@alexno - there is no comment in the spam trap ... don't know what happened to yours.

Posted by: b | Mar 15 2011 8:37 utc | 19

slothrop, over 80 percent of Iranians consistently participate in their elections, so apparently they disagree with you regarding the legitimacy of the elections.

Posted by: liz | Mar 15 2011 13:00 utc | 20

@liz, just because elections have high participation doesn't make them legitimate. During the cold war, participation in elections in the Soviet Union was at 99.9%. Of course, the people there only had one choice. If the government controls who can be on the ballot, how legitimate can elections be?

Posted by: hotleaker | Mar 16 2011 15:30 utc | 21

Hotleaker -- while some repressive regimes do claim 99% participation rates, no one has cited any reason to assume that the 86% election participation rates in Iran are in any way falsified.

Posted by: hass | Mar 16 2011 17:11 utc | 22

As an atheist in no way I can defend mullahs but after reading the following 38 page report by Eric A Brill on June 2009 Iranian election and studying four Western Polls (such as the one by WPO of University of Maryland) I believe Eric that "not a single credible evidence of fraud exists on that election"

This is amazing. MSM by repeating lies made the whole world believe that the election was fraudulent.

Who were those who spread that big lie? Now we are finding out "who".

Posted by: skeptic | Mar 22 2011 15:02 utc | 23

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