The “fatwa” also appeared in an article in Newsmax by Kenneth Timmerman. Writing a day before the election, Timmerman followed the “narrative”:

As the wildest campaign of the past 30 years winds down, Iranians are worried that their votes won’t decide the result of the election Friday. Instead, they fear, the unelected officials at Iran’s Interior Ministry in charge of counting those votes will sway the outcome.

Timmerman provides some further insightful information about the “fatwa” letter:

Supporters of “reformist” candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, with the backing of the Persian Service of Voice of America, claim to have discovered a secret “fatwa” or religious ruling issued by a radical cleric close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They contend that it encourages bureaucrats at the Interior Ministry to do “whatever it takes” to get their man elected…. The “fatwa” was revealed in an open letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei from a pro-Mousavi group of Interior Ministry officials, who asked him to intervene to keep the election fair.

Thus, if Timmerman is correct, the “open letter” was an example of a “copy and paste” job by Tehran Bureau of information propagated by the Mousavi campaign and the VOA.

Timmerman also reported that while there was a movement among opposition groups both in Iran and the U.S. (and elsewhere) to boycott the election, the VOA had “urged Iranians to go to the polls no matter what” in coverage slanted towards Mousavi:

Well-respected parties, including the Iran Nation’s Party, the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, Marze Por Gohar (Glorious Frontiers), and others have called for a boycott. But in recent weeks, editors and supervisors at the Voice of America’s Persian Service have banned them from the airwaves.

“It would be one thing if they just closed their eyes,” Roozbeh Farahanipour, a spokesman for Marze Por Gohar, told Newsmax. “But it’s as if the State Department and Voice of America had become campaign advisers to Mousavi.”

Some Iranians believe that has happened.

Saeed Behbehani, the owner of Mihan TV in suburban Washington, D.C., says he recently spoke with a well-known Iranian-American businessman who boasts of his ties to the State Department and who just returned from a trip to Dubai. The businessman said he met with Mousavi’s campaign manager, Mehdi Khazali.

“The day after they met, VOA put Khazali on the air,” Behbehani said.

Some of the VOA broadcasters themselves are upset at how slanted the U.S.-taxpayer funded network has become.

Timmerman also had this prescient comment (again, recall this was one day prior to the election):

And then, there’s the talk of a “green revolution” in Tehran, named for the omnipresent green scarves and banners that fill the air at Mousavi campaign events.

The “green revolution” as it has since come to be called, refers to protestors who support Mousavi and charge that Ahmadinejad’s win was the result of electoral fraud. Why would there be talk of a “green revolution” before the election results were announced? Unless, of course, it was all part of the “narrative”, planned beforehand to lead to the protests – which were “not spontaneous”, we may recall – in an effort to destabilize the Iranian regime.

Timmerman continues with a perhaps even more extraordinary acknowledgment about the role of the NED (emphasis added):

The National Endowment for Democracy has spent millions of dollars during the past decade promoting “color” revolutions in places such as Ukraine and Serbia, training political workers in modern communications and organizational techniques.

Some of that money appears to have made it into the hands of pro-Mousavi groups, who have ties to non-governmental organizations outside Iran that the National Endowment for Democracy funds.

And Kenneth Timmerman, as Daniel McAdams has pointed out, is perhaps in as good a position as anyone to know. He’s the President and CEO of The Foundation for Democracy, “established in 1995 with grants from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), to promote democracy and internationally-recognized standards of human rights in Iran.” He’s also the author of the book Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran.

The claim of the “fatwa” was picked up by Jeremy J. Stone and repeated in the Huffington Post in a piece entitled “How the Iranian Election Was Stolen”. Stone touts the report from Tehran Bureau as evidence for his assertion that the election was stolen:

According to an open letter of early June by a group of employees who work on elections in the Interior Ministry — after May polls showed that Ahmadinejad would lose the election – [Iranian Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah] Yazdi gave the Interior Ministry employees a Fatwa, a religious degree, authorizing the changing of votes.

Muhammad Sahimi likewise repeated the claim at Antiwar, stating matter-of-factly that the results of the election had been “rigged” and describing it as an “election coup”. The men behind this “coup” have as their “spiritual leader” Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, the person who allegedly issued the “fatwa” for the elections to be rigged. Sahimi states without qualification (and without a source) that:

Two weeks before the elections Mesbah issued a secret fatwa – which was leaked by some in the Interior Ministry – authorizing the use of any means to reelect Ahmadinejad, hence giving the green light for rigging the elections.

This is the only piece of evidence in the entire article to support the assertion that the election was “rigged”.

“As loony and baseless as possible”

The Iranian regime, of course, has claimed that the U.S., Britain, and Israel are behind the claims of a fraudulent election. “Americans and Zionists sought to destabilize Iran”, asserted Intelligence Minister Mohseni Ejei, rejecting allegations of vote rigging.

While remarks from Iranian government officials are certainly not evidence for it, it nevertheless certainly remains a perfectly plausible explanation, despite a strong tendency by commentators in the U.S. media, both mainstream and alternative, corporate news and blogs, not only to dismiss the possibility, but to portray the very suggestion as an absurdity.