Iran blames the U.S. for many of its cyber-woes

Iran blames the U.S. for many of its cyber-woes

Summary: Once again, Iran isn't happy about the U.S.

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It's often very interesting to compare news sources. Depending on where the news originates, you can get a completely different flavor of the story. This is certainly the case with news coming out of Iran on Sunday about their new "Cyber Police" operation.

If you read the AP report, presented via Boston.com, you'll get the impression that Iran's just trying to defend itself from "political opposition".

But if you read the official news announcement from the Fars News Agency, Iran's semi-official news propaganda machine, you'll notice that -- really -- Iran blames the U.S. for its cyber-woes. According to Fars, this new Cyber Police operation is all about preventing the U.S. from mucking about with their country.

Let's establish some rules of engagement before we go on.

First, we're read by many Iranian citizens and many of them are wonderful people. We have no quarrel with the citizenry of Iran. But the nation of Iran is not considered a "friend" of the United States.

Second, it's been well-established over the years that the United States has tended to muck about in other nations' business. If you're an American intelligence operative, then this mucking about is to protect America's strategic interests. If you're a muck-ee, then you're less than thrilled with American meddling.

Iran appears to be using America's tendency to meddle as an excuse to round up and arrest internal dissidents and protesters. According to Fars, the U.S. is guilty of "provoking sedition and illegal demonstrations and rallies through releasing unreal and unfounded news and reports after the June presidential elections in the country."

Apparently, Iranian authorities haven't heard of Twitter. The Twitter traffic after the Iranian elections was off the charts and was capturing the attention of news media worldwide -- until Michael Jackson died.

Once Michael Jackson died, all media became Michael Jackson Forever, and the Iranian election issues were completely forgotten.

Frankly, I think that Iranian authorities should spend more their time policing their own behavior and less time cracking down on their citizenry for imagined slights. But, then again, I'm an American.

Topic: Social Enterprise

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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29 comments
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  • Of course they do!

    Is there anything they DON'T blame us for?
    itpro_z
    • Clogged toilets

      @itpro_z
      Oh wait, here it is, number 1276 on the list of "it's all the US's fault".
      My bad. :(
      John Zern
    • No there isn't...

      @itpro_z ...anything they don't blame us for. The United States makes such a wonderful enemy. You can keep poking us in the eye for a long time before we will actually do anything. And when we do its going to be something like: "Well now you've done it! We are going to pass a resolution against you! That will teach you a lesson!" I think the whole purpose of countries like Iran and North Korea pursuing nuclear weapons is to make sure we stay their enemies - which helps them keep up the siege mentality and gives them someone to blame for all their problems - someone other than their own leadership that is.
      cornpie
  • The US doesn't justify stupid laws by unfairly blaming other countries...

    The US doesn't justify stupid laws by unfairly blaming other countries. We blame Sarah Palin.
    cchx111
  • Gewirtz's selective sense of outrage...

    When the internet enables embarrassment of Hillary Clinton:

    Gewirtz: "If we can?t play nice, our toys might be taken away. The true legacy of Wikileaks might not be increased transparency in our governments. The true legacy of Wikileaks might be the destruction of the Internet freedoms we all hold so dear."

    Then when the Iranians announce their own internet police, it's "Frankly, I think that Iranian authorities should spend more their time policing their own behavior and less time cracking down on their citizenry for imagined slights."

    I'm wondering if Mr. Gewirtz considers this entirely a matter of situational ethics - that he will lecture the Iranians for doing exactly what American officials are doing while acknowledging that it's "do as I say, not as I do."

    I would imagine if pressed he'd resort to the ultimate catchall; American "exceptionalism," that is the US government may do anything it wants without regard to ethics or legalities because Americans are inherently superior to all other people, and the US government in particular is God's hand on earth, so anything it does may be interpreted as the will of God.

    Oh, and don't know if y'all saw this:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE70H6TO20110118
    "A congressional official briefed on the reviews said the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers."
    but...
    ""We were told (the impact of WikiLeaks revelations) was embarrassing but not damaging," said the official"

    So I don't know, maybe all governments should spend less time cracking down on their own citizens for imagined slights?
    HollywoodDog
    • RE: Iran blames the U.S. for many of its cyber-woes

      @HollywoodDog

      Nice rebuttal. But somehow defending Iran is like defending David. It just doesn't seem right somehow. Grin. (You implied a defense of Iran's Government policies when your cited David Gewirtz's defense of our Government's Wikileaks policies.)

      @David Gewirtz<br>David .. I enjoy your columns and this one as well. You make us think, entertain and, at times, "infuriate us Apple users" but I really believe you need to respond to HollywoodDog's comments because his comments bring up important issues.

      In particular, what are the differences between Iran's government cranking down on its dissidents and the US Government's cranking down on its pro Wikileaks' citizens and institutions? Both governments portray their "targets" as traitors and as a legal justification for their governmental actions.

      In defense of your prior stated positions which HollywoodDog quoted, I suspect that you would state that Americans which took government secrets were not "imagined slights" or those news agencies which published those documents were acting within the law. (Although, the New York Times must has been acting within the law since I have not read of any US Government legal action against the Times yet. The only US Government actions that I have read about have concerned blocked internet access to The New York Times and the Wikileaks web sites (to name a few) and the steps taken to ascertain which government employees have read those leaked documents. (With some implied Government threat of job loss or career advancement opportunities.)
      kenosha77a
      • I see no hypocrisy.

        @kenosha7777

        The main difference is Iran is cracking down on its citizens for speaking freely. The US is cracking down on military personnel that swore an oath to protect and serve according to the rules of the agency he was work for. Bradley Manning stole and distributed information that was a violation of his agency. The Iranians were protesting an election. Big difference. Or talking freely under a dictatorship unfavorably vs selling out your country that guarantees the protections that the former were trying to exercise.
        osreinstall
      • RE: Iran blames the U.S. for many of its cyber-woes

        @kenosha7777 Okay, I'll take the bait, but with a short answer.

        As far as I can tell, Iran is aiming at citizen's general use of the Internet, particularly things like Twitter postings. The U.S. is not. The U.S. is specifically going after an entity that was the recipient of top-secret information stolen out of a military installation by someone who swore an oath never to do that.

        They are quite literally different beasts. Now, if the U.S. government ever started coming after us because we post blogs, use Twitter, post in forums, etc., then it's time to rise up and protect our Constitutional rights.

        But, honestly, as much as I enjoy HollywoodDog's comments (sometimes I imagine him chewing on a plastic chew toy and growling happily), I think his comparison is specious. Wikileaks is a non-U.S. organization that stole our property and Iran is targeting its own citizens.

        Apples and oranges.
        David Gewirtz
      • I do not defend Iran, implicitly or otherwise!

        @kenosha7777... I criticize Iran for its internet police, and would offer a laundry list of other criticisms if you'd like, although I don't need to.
        HollywoodDog
      • Gewirtz, You Lie!

        @kenosha7777 ... Gewirtz writes: "The U.S. is specifically going after an entity that was the recipient of top-secret information stolen out of a military installation by someone who swore an oath never to do that."

        Stratfor: "The bulk of the documents (379,565, or about 97 percent) were classified at the secret level, with 204 classified at the lower confidential level. The remaining 12,062 documents were either unclassified or bore no classification."

        "Wikileaks is a non-U.S. organization that stole our property"
        Wikileaks did not "steal" anything. There is no law governing the possession of this information once it's 'out of the bag'. Here's a rule of thumb; if the government couldn't prosecute me for having a folded NY Times under my arm as I walk down the street which contains reprints of this information, they can't prosecute anyone else including Wikileaks for possessing it either.

        While we're on the subject, Glenn Greenwald has a WL update today:

        "(1) Last month, The New York Times' Charlie Savage reported that the DOJ -- in order to distinguish Julian Assange and WikiLeaks from investigative journalists -- was seeking to prove that they actively conspired beforehand with Bradley Manning to "steal" classified information, as opposed to merely receiving and then publishing it after the fact. That prosecution tactic has apparently run into a major roadblock. According to NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski, "investigators have been unable to make any direct connection between" Manning and Assange, as "there is apparently no evidence [Manning] passed the files directly to Assange, or had any direct contact with the controversial WikiLeaks figure."

        If true, that would leave the Obama DOJ with two options: (1) prosecute WikiLeaks and Assange for doing nothing more than receiving and publishing classified information: an act that is simply not a crime in the U.S. and could not be prosecuted as one without criminalizing much of investigative journalism (indeed, it's no different than what The New York Times did in this case and countless other cases), or (2) defy political pressure, honor the First Amendment, and accept that Wikileaks did nothing criminal.



        (2) The DOJ's apparent failure to find the evidence it needs to prosecute WikiLeaks underscores the reasons for the increasingly inhumane treatment to which Bradley Manning is being subjected. It's long been clear -- and reported -- that the Obama DOJ desperately needs Manning to incriminate Assange in order to be able to prosecute him (by, for instance, providing the Manning-Assange link that the DOJ is unable to prove). The harsh, punitive conditions under which Manning are being held is designed -- like most detainee abuse -- to force him to say what his captors want him to say (yesterday, Amnesty USA followed Amnesty International in denouncing Manning's detention conditions as "inhumane").

        Not only did Quantico officials this weekend contrive reasons to deny Manning his only real reprieve from isolation -- periodic Saturday visits from his friend David House -- but they also last week made his conditions even harsher by placing him on suicide watch even though three separate brig psychiatrists said it was unwarranted."

        Back to my chew toy, Grrrrr.
        HollywoodDog
  • Apparently Iran is responsible for the death of Michael Jackson...

    What a coup - it moved their own problems right off the front pages.

    [i]Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean there isn't a conspiracy.[/i]
    snberk341
  • According to you, the U.S. is the good guy and the bad guy.

    <i>Second, it?s been well-established over the years that the United States has tended to muck about in other nations? business.</i>

    That statement sound like it came straight out of Al-Jazeera or Pravda, or from Iran's own official government newspaper.

    So, tell me, according to you, has the U.S. ever done any good for anybody in other parts of the world?
    adornoe
    • RE: Iran blames the U.S. for many of its cyber-woes

      @adornoe@... <br><br>America has done tremendous good for the world. We also have caused some difficulty. There is no black and white when you're talking a nation as vast and with as many interests, resources, and complexities as the U.S.<br><br>The world would be a far, far worse place without the United States. Don't ever, for a minute, imagine otherwise.

      This, by the way, is an excellent discussion. Glad to be part of it.
      David Gewirtz
      • When the U.S. &quot;caused some difficulty&quot;, was it intentional?

        n/t
        adornoe
      • RE: Iran blames the U.S. for many of its cyber-woes

        @David Gewirtz

        Certainly the USA has done some good things in the past. But it is doing some terrible things today. And it seems to me that Americans like you David, who make the assumption that the United States is automatically the good guy, are actually a major part of the problem.

        Today, you people illegally kidnap your enemies, torture them, imprison them without without trial, invade their countries, bomb their hospitals and schools. Meanwhile you skilfully engineer your alliances so that you can continue to consume far beyond your fair share of the planet's resources, using money you borrow from countries much poorer than your own.

        Your economy is a huge house of cards based on unprecedented and unsustainable levels of debt. And you don't seem to care - acting as if the appalling mess you have made will somehow have a happy Hollywood ending. http://www.businessinsider.com/us-debt-position-unstable-2010-9

        Your military adventures are paid for by the bonds your government sells to other countries, on the strength that the US dollar still has a recognised international value. For example, the Iraq fiasco has been largely paid for by the Chinese. Worse, many of your recent military adventures have turned out to be expensive, bloodthirsty disasters that have done nothing other than to destabilise the area of conflict whilst lining the pockets of those leading a few of your major corporations. Iraq and Afghanistan have cost you in excess of a trillion dollars! http://costofwar.com/en/

        And when your servicemen finally return home, they are treated appallingly. More than a quarter of your rising homeless population are veterans http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21678030/ns/us_news-military/

        You lecture the rest of the world on how to run our economies, using your military and financial "muscle" to impose "the American Dream" on nations for whom it is entirely inappropriate. Worse, you ruthlessly punish those such as Cuba that reject it. Meantime, while your rich become unbelievably rich and your financial institutions bleed the rest of your nation dry, your own poor are left to rot in the tent villages and shanty towns that are springing up around so many of your major cities.
        http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/us/26tents.html?_r=1

        You lecture the world on human rights. Yet you flout the Geneva Convention by relabelling your enemies as "enemy combatants", thus denying them their basic human rights. You tolerate Guantanamo Bay, waterboarding, extraordinary rendition and appalling atrocities such as those that took place at Abu Grahib. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amnesty-international/six-years-on-abu-ghraib-v_b_558339.html

        Your politicians spout about democracy and open government, yet you people go to extraordinary lengths to silence those who blow the whistle on your heinous crimes. http://www.smh.com.au/national/letters/alarming-silence-after-calls-for-a-whistleblowers-head-20101203-18jxb.html

        You must understand that the United States represents less that 5% of the planet's population. Therefore you do not have the right to consume the lion's share of the planet's resources. Nor do you have a God-given right to act as global policemen. Moreover, you no longer have the moral high ground that you once enjoyed.

        At one time it was a relatively few radicals and religious fundamentalists who hated the USA. Most of the world saw the USA as the shining pinnacle of the free world. But your last president changed all that forever. Now I'm sorry to say that if you people don't change the way you deal with the rest of the world, then worldwide fear, contempt and hatred of the USA can only continue to rise.

        Best wishes, G.
        mrgoose
  • There is nothing new here ...

    Weeks before Mussad admitted that the the US Intelligence community worked with them on the virus which has hobbled the Iranian nucler program, there were rumors that we were involved.

    Our "meddling" created the Shah of Iran which led to the Islamic Republic of Iran. We looked the other way when the Israelis bombed an Iranian nuclear plant decades ago.

    We armed Saddam Hussien during the Iraq-Iran war. When that war was over, Hussein went after his neighbors so we deposed Saddam Hussein and stood back while he was executed. Now, Iraq is virtually ungovernable.

    When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, we armed the Mujahadeen and when the Soviets retreated, rather than helping rebuild Aftghanistan, we left too. Our inaction created the Taliban and now Afghanistan is ungovernable. We are now allies with Pakistan against the Taliban and allies with India against Pakistan.

    Since World War I, the U.S. has led the Western democracies as they manipulated middle-eastern borders for their own gains. We turned the largest oil fields over to Saudi Arabian princes who declared themselves "protectors of the faith" while most of the world's Mulims live in poverty.

    After World War II, we displaced Palestinians to create the State of Israel based upon an ancient belief that God gave Palestinian lands to the Jews around 1200 BCE. (In truth, none of the Western democracies were willing to Welcome the Jews back into teir cultures. The US was the lone exception - but even then, we welcomed Jews to our shores only begrudgingly.)

    We deserve all the blame we are getting for our meddling! Shame on us!
    M Wagner
  • No population can be oppressed against its will ...

    It takes great courage perhaps but if the Iranian people were willing to stand up to their government, there is little that the Iranian government could do. This is just as true in China.

    The proof in all this was in the liberation of Poland from Soviet Control, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and ultimately the collapse of the Soviet Union itself.
    M Wagner
    • The Soviet Union collapsed, but mostly, not because of uprisings

      by the people.<br><br>The biggest cause of the Soviet Empire's downfall was the unsustainable economic system which could not produce enough to keep the empire competitive against the U.S. or Europe or other countries in Asia. If communism/socialism had been systems which could sustain the empire, then the Soviet Union would be alive and well today, never mind the subjugation which would still be ongoing.
      adornoe
    • Iran has good reason not to trust the United States

      Back in the 1950's Iran [b]DID[/b] have a democratically elected Government. Then on 1953-08-19, the Iranian coup d'etat, took place. The removal of the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh was orchestrated by the intelligence agencies of the United States and the UK.

      The reason? The democratically elected government of Iran had nationalised the Anglo-American oil company! Also, newly elected US President Dwight D. Eisenhower was scared that Iran might become run by "Commies"

      So the despotic but US-friendly Shah was put on the throne aided by a particularly nasty bunch of fascists and former Nazis. Needless to say, the Shah was a cruel and evil dictator who was eventually overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

      Thus the current state of play in Iran is a direct result of American meddling in Iran's affairs in order to steal its oil.

      Read all about it:-

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Revolution

      Best wishes, G.
      mrgoose
      • Well, in Iran, the radical elements are in charge now, so you must be happy

        about how things turned out.

        BTW, have you ever considered what the people in Iran wanted? Forget that Americans might have intervened where they shouldn't have, did the rulers in Iran, no matter if "installed" by outsiders or by internal politics, did any of them have the real will of the people behind them.

        Also, what causes countries to be unstable to the point that ,outside intervention is sometimes the best course for that country, no matter how much you might hate the intervention?
        adornoe