The differentiating variable becomes clear: information sympathetic towards the Iranian regime is deemed not credible while information sympathetic towards Mousavi and his reformist supporters is considered trusted. This is simply a matter of faith.
The ‘Fatwa’ letter and ‘talk of a ‘green revolution’
The Guardian on June 8, a day after Tehran Bureau had posted the “open letter” claim, reported another useful part of the “narrative” constructed prior to the election:
Experts agree the higher the turnout the greater the chance that Mousavi will unseat Ahmadinejad, possibly in a second round run-off. Iran’s interior ministry said it was hoping for a record turnout among the country’s 46 million voters.
So if it turns out there is a high turnout and Ahmadinejad wins, it must therefore be a dubious result, if we trust the unknown “Experts”. This part of the “narrative” is eerily similar to the assertion in the “fatwa” letter itself that a high turnout could serve to counteract the regime’s alleged attempts to fix the election. And the Guardian report refers to that letter in the very next sentence:
But there was no response to a report that ministry employees were instructed to rig the election results on the basis of a fatwa – religious edict – from a pro-Ahmadinejad ayatollah.
Tehran Bureau is the named source of this “report”.
On June 9, still three days before the election, the website Rooz ran an article on the “fatwa” entitled “Mesbah Yazdi’s Decree to Rig Votes”. The website is published by a self-described “reformist journalist” as a part of the Iran Gooya media group.
Rooz has prominent ad links to WashingtonTV, a “Washington, D.C.-based news site” offered in both English and Persian. Curiously, that website was launched in early May, barely a month before the Iranian presidential election. And that site’s “About” page interestingly states:
With the approach of Iran’s tenth presidential election, to be held on 12 June 2009, the site is also devoting a special section to daily updates of news and events on the election.
It also states that “WashingtonTV has writers and contributors in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, including contributions by citizen journalists from inside Iran.” The website is registered by Proxy, Inc. through GoDaddy.com, Inc. This is a means of protecting the privacy of the registrant.
Why would a legitimate news organization want to hide its organizational information? If you do a WHOIS lookup of the New York Times website, for example, you’ll see that it is registered to “New York Times Digital, 620 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10018, US”. There are administrative and technical contacts. The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, CBS News, etc., are all registered to their respective news corporations, with organization street addresses and contact phone numbers and e-mail address.
There is some contact information available on the WashingtonTV website. The phone numbers are all area code 202, Washington, D.C. In fact, they’re all the same number, 470-3030. The News Desk, Video Production Lab, Advertising Department, Editors, and more are all the same phone number, with only three different extensions between them.
There is also a mailing address given. However, it’s to a P.O. box with ZIP code 20043-4151. A lookup of ZIP code 20043 on the U.S. Postal Service website reveals that this ZIP code is a “Special Case”. What are special cases? They include cases where “The ZIP CodeTM is used for a specific company or organization.” It could also be a military ZIP Code: “Military – This is a military specific ZIP code for an APO/FPO (Air/Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office) or a domestic military installation.” Or it could be: “PO Box Only – This ZIP Code is for a specific PO Box.”
In other words, this ZIP Code doesn’t exist, except for by use by a single organization, the U.S. military, or a single P.O. Box – or a perfect cover, perhaps, for an intelligence black propaganda or PSYOPS operation.
Rooz is also registered through a proxy. While there are numerous proxy services available (many servers provide them), it happens to also be by Proxy, Inc. through GoDaddy.com.
As already noted, Rooz’s “About” page states, confusingly, that it is published by “an independent and reformist journalist”, but also states that the “Publisher” is “Iran Gooya media group, registered in France on January 21, 2005”.
Gooya is a website that has come up repeatedly in my investigations into numerous claims that have been made throughout the events that followed the election. The site’s homepage has prominent ads for BBC Persian, the Voice of America Persian News Network, and Radio Farda.
The VOA and Radio Farda are operated out of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) and are prohibited from broadcasting into the U.S. because it would violate the Smith-Mundt Act, which forbids USIA (the Ministry of Propaganda, if we drop the Orwellian euphemism) from being used “to influence public opinion”.
Gooya is similarly registered through the same proxy as Rooz. Its news website similarly features ads for BBC Persian, the VOA Persian, and Radio Farda.
Returning to the alleged “fatwa” letter, Rooz reported:
Following the discovery of a “Fatwa” (“religious decree”) issued by ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi which sanctions cheating in Friday’s presidential election and was published in an open letter written by a group of Ministry of Interior employees, the heads of the Election Supervision Committees established by reformist candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi sent a letter to the head of the Guardian Council, Ayatollah Jannati, warning about the possibility of manipulating election results.
This article states that the alleged letter “has been signed by a number of Ministry of Interior employees”. Interestingly, the text of the letter at Tehran Bureau had no signatures. Rooz adds:
The letter does not reveal the identity of the seminary school professor, but describes the qualities of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s spiritual guide, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.
According to the translation of the letter, the “fatwa” supposedly issued by Yazdi stated:
If someone is elected president whereby Islamic principles that are currently on the rise in Lebanon, Palestine, Venezuela and other parts of the world, start diminishing, it is Haraam [forbidden by Islam] to vote for that person. We shouldn’t vote for that person and we should inform the people not to vote for him either, or else. For you, as administrators of the election, everything is permitted to this end.