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


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


[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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


[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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


[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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


[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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


[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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


[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


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


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


[68] Mike Musgrove

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