Evgeny Morozov, a blogger for Foreign Policy and a fellow at the Open Society Institute, questioned the “Twitter revolution” in an op-ed for the Boston Globe. He pointed out that “social media could do wonders when it comes to making many people aware of government’s abuse or the venue of a rally”, but “organizing protests is quite different from publicizing them; the former requires absolute secrecy, that latter one strives for the opposite.”

“However tempting it might be to attribute the Iranian protests to the power of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media,” Morozov added, “we should be extremely careful in our conclusions, especially given that the evidence we are working with is extremely sparse.”[66]

Morozov also told the Washington Post that it “is not at all certain” that Twitter “has helped to organize protests”, but “in terms of involving the huge Iranian diaspora and everyone else with a grudge against Ahmadinejad, it has been very successful.”

During a live discussion with readers, he observed that many posters had listed their location as Tehran in “solidarity” and that the Iranian diaspora was highly active in using social media. He also pointed out that it isn’t known whether a person with an Iranian sounding name posting content Farsi about events in Tehran was actually “in Tehran or, say, Los Angeles”.[67]

When Twitter Inc scheduled maintenance for the website, the U.S. asked the company to postpone the work so the service would not be interrupted as it was being used to rally people into the streets to protest the election. “One of the areas where people are able to get out the word is through Twitter,” a senior State Department official told reporters. “They announced they were going to shut down their system for maintenance and we asked them not to.”[68]

Iran shortly thereafter summoned the Swiss ambassador, who also represents U.S. interests in the country since the U.S. severed diplomatic relations after the 1979 revolution, to complain about American interference in Iranian affairs.[69]

One might be tempted to argue that the strategy for regime change implemented under the Bush administration that including funding for propaganda, support for Iranian dissident groups, and backing for anti-regime militants and terrorists has changed under the new administration of President Barack Obama. There is no evidence, many have pointed out, of U.S. meddling in the Iranian election.

But then, neither is there any clear indication that Obama ever revoked the policy strategy implemented under Bush. The most likely scenario is that Obama has put the military option favored by some in the Bush administration on the back burner in favor of other means to carry out a change of regime in Iran.

Whatever the case may be, given the record of U.S. interference in the state affairs of Iran and clear policy of regime change, it certainly seems possible, even likely, that the U.S. had a significant role to play in helping to bring about the recent turmoil in an effort to undermine the government of the Islamic Republic.


Certain name variants in this report have been changed within quoted text for consistency. British spellings have also been changed to American English.

An earlier version of this report said that Al-Arabiya was a “state owned” channel. It is a Saudi-financed channel operating out of Dubai and the text has been changed to reflect this.

[1] Remarks by President Barack Obama in Cairo, Egypt, White House, June 4, 2009

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Cairo-University-6-04-09/

[2] David Lowe, “Idea To Reality: A Brief History of the National Endowment for Democracy”, National Endowment for Democracy, Accessed June 22, 2009

http://www.ned.org/about/nedhistory.html

[3] William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2000), p. 180

[4] Susan F. Rasky, “C.I.A. Tied to Nicaragua Provocations”, New York Times, September 21, 1988

http://www.nytimes.com/1988/09/21/world/cia-tied-to-nicaragua-provocations.html

William Blum, Rogue State, p. 175

[5] William Blum, Rogue State, p. 157

[6] Ibid., p. 157-8

[7] Ibid., p. 183

[8] Ibid., p. 177

[9] Ibid., p. 182

[10] William Blum, “US coup against Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, 2002” (Excerpted from Freeing the World to death: Essays on the American Empire), KillingHope.org, accessed June 22, 2009

http://killinghope.org/essays6/venez.htm

Eva Golinger, “The Proof is in the Documents: The CIA Was Involved in the Coup Against Venezuelan President Chavez”, VenezuelaiFOIA.info, accessed June 22, 2009

http://venezuelafoia.info/evaenglish.html

[11] Information on grants for years 2005-2007 available on the National Endowment for Democracy website, accessed June 22, 2009

http://www.ned.org

[12] Information from the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation website, accessed June 22, 2009

http://www.iranrights.org/

[13] WHOIS domain lookup, accessed June 22, 2009

http://www.whois.net

[14] National Endowment for Democracy website, accessed June 22, 2009

http://www.ned.org/grants/06programs/grants-mena06.html#iran

[15] Information from the National Iranian American Council website, accessed June 22, 2009

http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=826&Itemid=28

[16] “The neocons have learned nothing from five years of catastrophe”, The Guardian, January 31, 2007

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/jan/31/comment.usa

[17] National Endowment for Democracy website, accessed June 22, 2009

[18] “NIAC Calls for New Election in Iran”, National Iranian American Council Press Release, June 20, 2009

http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1452&Itemid=2

[19] “US plotting Velvet Revolution in Iran?”, Press TV, November 18, 2008

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=75784&sectionid=351020101

[20] Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger, “Bush plans huge propaganda campaign in Iran”, The Guardian, February 16, 2006

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/feb/16/usnews.iran

[21] Howard LaFranchi, “A bid to foment democracy in Iran”, Christian Science Monitor, February 17, 2006

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0217/p03s03-usfp.html

[22] Scott Ritter, “The US War with Iran has Already Begun”, Al Jazeera, June 20, 2005

http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0620-31.htm

[23] “Recruiting the Next Generation of Iran Experts: New Opportunities in Washington, Dubai and Europe”, Unclassified State Department Cable, released March, 2006

http://images1.americanprogress.org/il80web20037/ThinkProgress/2006/0293_001.pdf

“New ‘Office of Iranian Affairs’ Outlined in State Department Cable”, Think Progress, March 1, 2006

http://thinkprogress.org/2006/03/01/iran-doc/

[24] Lionel Beehner and Greg Bruno, “Intelligence on Iran Still Lacking”, Council on Foreign Relations, December 4, 2007

http://www.cfr.org/publication/12721/

[25] “Recruiting the Next Generation of Iran Experts”

[26] Charles A. Kupchan and Ray Takeyh, “The wrong way to fix Iran”, Los Angeles Times, February 26, 2006

http://articles.latimes.com/2006/feb/26/opinion/oe-kupchan26

[27] Elise Labott, “U.S. to sharpen focus on Iran”, CNN, March 2, 2006

http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/03/02/us.iran/

[28] Guy Dinmore and Daniel Dombey, “Bolton: sanctions ‘help regime change’”, Financial Times, October 24, 2006

http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto102420061730242214&page=2

[29] Steven R. Weisman, “Cheney Warns of ‘Consequences’ for Iran on Nuclear Issue”, New York Times, March 8, 2006

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9801E0D61531F93BA35750C0A9609C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

[30] Peter Baker and Glenn Kessler, “U.S. Campaign Is Aimed at Iran’s Leaders”, Washington Post, March 13, 2006; A01

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/12/AR2006031201016.html

[31] Guy Dinmore, “US and UK develop democracy strategy for Iran”, Financial Times, April 21, 2006

http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto042120061741075322&page=1

[32] Laura Rozen, “U.S. Moves to Weaken Iran”, Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2006

http://articles.latimes.com/2006/may/19/world/fg-usiran19

[33] Grant information obtained from the National Endowment for Democracy website, accessed June 23, 2009

http://www.ned.org/grants/02programs/grants-lac.html

[34] Laura Rozen, “U.S. Moves to Weaken Iran”, Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2006

http://articles.latimes.com/2006/may/19/world/fg-usiran19

[35] Negar Azimi, “Hard Realities of Soft Power”, New York Times Magazine, June 24, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/24/magazine/24ngo-t.html?_r=3&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print

[36] Seymour M. Hersh, “The Iran Plans”, New Yorker, April 17, 2006

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/04/17/060417fa_fact

[37] “Tehran insider tells of US black ops”, Asia Times Online, April 25, 2006

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HD25Ak02.html

[38] “Seymour Hersh On Covert Operations in Iran”, NPR, June 30, 2006

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92025860

[39] Scott Ritter, “Acts of War”, Truthdig, July 19, 2008

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080729_acts_of_war/

[40] Seymour M. Hersh, “The Next Act”, New Yorker, November 27, 2006

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/11/27/061127fa_fact

[41] “Target Iran: Former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter and Investigative Journalist Seymour Hersh on White House Plans for Regime Change”, Democracy Now!, December 21, 2006

http://www.democracynow.org/2006/12/21/target_iran_former_un_weapons_inspector

[42] William Lowther and Colin Freeman, “US funds terror groups to sow chaos in Iran”, Telegraph, February 25, 2007

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1543798/US-funds-terror-groups-to-sow-chaos-in-Iran.html

[43] “Report: U.S. Sponsoring Kurdish Guerilla Attacks Inside Iran”, Democracy Now!, March 27, 2007

http://www.democracynow.org/2007/3/27/report_u_s_sponsoring_kurdish_guerilla

[44] “ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran”, ABC News ‘The Blotter’, April 3, 2007

http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/04/abc_news_exclus.html

[45] “Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran”, ABC News ‘The Blotter’, May 22, 2007

http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/05/bush_authorizes.html

[46] Tim Shipman, “Bush sanctions ‘black ops’ against Iran”, The Telegraph, May 27, 2007

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1552784/Bush-sanctions-black-ops-against-Iran.html

[47] “Former Pakistan Army Chief General Retired Mirza Aslam Baig says Iran and Pakistan under siege of western conspiracies”, Pakistan Daily, July 8, 2008

http://www.daily.pk/politics/politicalnews/5406-former-pakistan-army-chief-general-retired-mirza-aslam-baig-says-iran-and-pakistan-under-siege-of-western-conspiracies.html

“‘US backs Jundullah to destabilize Iran’”, Press TV, July 9, 2008

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail.aspx?id=63054&sectionid=351020101

[48] ‘Gunmen attack’ south Iran election office”, BBC News, May 29, 2009

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8074640.stm

[49] “Iran official blames U.S. in deadly mosque bombing”, Reuters, May 29, 2009

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE54R5O320090529?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

[50] “Gunmen attack Ahmadinejad election office”, Agence France-Presse, May 29, 2009

http://rawstory.com/news/afp/Gunmen_attack_Ahmadinejad_election__05292009.html

[51] “‘Gunmen attack’ south Iran election office”, BBC News, May 29, 2009

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8074640.stm

[52] “US condemns ‘terrorist attacks’ in Iran”, Agence France-Presse, May 30, 2009

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jj8UWc4-2zQ2Ix1VBz_0RwB7iVGQ

[53] “‘Gunmen attack’ south Iran election office”

[54] “Gunmen attack Ahmadinejad election office”

[55] “Rigi’s brother exposes US ties with Jundullah”, Press TV, June 9, 2009

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=97484&sectionid=351020101

[56] “Iran ‘uncovers cyber plot to topple gov’t’”, Press TV, April 11, 2009

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=91129&sectionid=351020101

[57] Johns Lyons, “Students slaughtered in Tehran university attack”, The Australian, June 19, 2009

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25658596-601,00.html

[58] Michael Weissenstein and Anna Johnson, “Amateur video turns woman into icon of Iran unrest”, Associated Press, June 23, 2009

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jeJnPi6AOx5JpqWi2Wwv3AaesBPAD9902QK00

[59] Mike Musgrove, “Twitter Is a Player In Iran’s Drama”, Washington Post, June 17, 2009

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/16/AR2009061603391.html

[60] Noam Cohen, “Twitter on the Barricades: Six Lessons Learned”, New York Times, June 20, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/weekinreview/21cohenweb.html

[61] Andrew Sullivan, “Follow-Up On Earlier Posts”, The Atlantic ‘The Daily Dish’, June 13, 2009

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/06/followup-on-earlier-posts.html

[62] Peykeiran.com webpage, accessed June 23, 2009

http://www.peykeiran.com/Content.aspx?ID=2104

[63] E-mail correspondence with Kourosh Ziabari

[64] Noam Cohen

[65] “ABC’s Jim Sciutto’s Twitter Account ‘Hijacked’ By Pro Iranian Government Messengers”, ABC News ‘The World Newser’, June 18, 2009

http://blogs.abcnews.com/theworldnewser/2009/06/abcs-jim-sciuttos-twitter-account-hijacked-by-pro-iranian-messengers.html

[66] Evgeny Morozov, “The repercussions of a ‘Twitter revolution’”, Boston Globe, June 20, 2009

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/06/20/the_repercussions_of_a_twitter_revolution/

[67] Evgeny Morozov, “Iran Elections: A Twitter Revolution?”, Washington Post, June 17, 2009

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2009/06/17/DI2009061702232.html

[68] Mike Musgrove

[69] Ali Akbar Dareini, “Iran accuses the US of meddling in election crisis”, Associated Press, June 17, 2009

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090617/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iran_election