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Censorship The Internet

Man Attacked In Ohio For Providing Iran Proxies 467

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the never-underestimate-stupidity dept.
David Hume writes "electronicmaji is reporting on the Daily Kos that the individual known as ProtesterHelp (also to be found on twitter) was attacked in Ohio for providing network security for Twitterers in Iran, setting up private networks to provide secure proxies, calling for media networks to remove the Iranians Twitterers' information from their broadcast, and providing counter-intelligence services (including Basiji and Army Locations) within the Twitter community. ProtesterHelp was allegedly attacked by a group of men while walking to class in Ohio. The men, who appeared to ProtesterHelp to be either Iranian or Lebanese, drove up beside him and threw rocks at him while shouting, 'Mousavi Fraud.' ProtesterHelp further reported that his personal information has been leaked, and is currently being spread both online and inside of Iran amongst the government." Relatedly, Wired is also reporting that Google and Facebook have rushed out support for Persian. This move has allowed many pro-democracy groups to connect and translate their message to a broader audience.
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Man Attacked In Ohio For Providing Iran Proxies

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  • Waiting for it... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by R2.0 (532027)

    A man on US soil gets attacked by agents of a foreign government.

    Slashdot response: "It's the US's fault".

    Discuss.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That post would be a troll if it didn't have some truth to it.
    • by arizwebfoot (1228544) * on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:27PM (#28395147)

      Actually I was going to go with Obama saying it was Rush Limbaugh's fault and Rush Limbaugh saying it was Obama's fault all the while David Letterman was making a wisecrack about one of Palin's daughters as we learn that Jon and Kate are getting a divorce.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:31PM (#28395247) Journal
      I'd be inclined to suspect, pending further information, that the guys who pulled this are your basic freelance nationalists, rather than actual agents. A few guys in a car, throwing rocks to no apparent effect, isn't exactly 007 stuff. A "car accident" (or heck, a standard homicide, those are common enough, just nick the guy's wallet so it looks apolitical) would have been much more professional.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by scubamage (727538)
      Honestly, I am slightly troubled. I spoke with ProtestorHelp last night on the NetAnon. He was also trying to organize a support structure to help Pakistani refugees. I feel bad for him, he seemed like a swell fellow.
      • Re:Waiting for it... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 19, 2009 @05:55PM (#28397111)

        He's not alone (In the assault part he probably is). The concern is universal. A lot of us Tor Network admins who do not provide exit nodes have opened ports for twitter, IM, and IRC...

        There's a lot of silent backing out here by us geeks. I normally do not open ports because of DCMA risks and the fact that my Tor routers run on boxes that do other things. But this is special.

        If people want to help a little, throw up a Tor Network relay and open exit ports for IM and Twitter- they will get used. Even better, open up a bridge relay so those blocked in Iran can access the network. If you are not a fan of running Tor long term- no problem. Just bring it down when the crisis is over.

        If you do not know networking, or cannot quickly absorb the Tor docs- take a pass on this.

        Sorry for the anonymous coward status...

    • Re:Waiting for it... (Score:5, Informative)

      by religious freak (1005821) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:40PM (#28395391)
      For all the hatred spewed at the direction of the USA, I've got to say there's quite an effort underway by normal citizens to help. There are people from all over the world trying to help, but I'd say a good number of them are from the USA.

      I've been lurking around the IRC channels for a few days. Folks have been working on setting up proxies, and doing what they can to help. I question whether anything is actually being accomplished, but my hat is off to anyone who is at least trying to help facilitate communication. Personally, since I'm not a developer, I haven't found too much I can do. There are more than enough proxies out there at this point...
    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:24PM (#28396013)

      A man on US soil gets attacked by agents of a foreign government.

      Slashdot response: "It's the US's fault".

      If by the "the US" you mean "the US government", I'll just ask one question: who is supposed to protect people on US soil from being attacked by agents of foreign governments?

      I mean, last I looked, even those generally opposed to government doing anything else think that's the governments job.

      So, yeah, anytime that happens, its a failure of the US government. Possibly a failure that couldn't be effectively avoided without greater harms (e.g., to freedom), so one that must be an accepted risk, but a failure nonetheless. And unless you acknowledge the failure, you'll never get to the point of considering whether its a failure of the type that must be accepted, or whether it reveals a problem that can and should be addressed.

      (Even if they aren't agents of foreign governments, it is a government, if not necessarily a federal government, responsibility to effectively address violent crime.)

    • Re:Waiting for it... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:32PM (#28396105) Homepage Journal

      A: How did you figure out that the attackers were agents of a foreign government? It seems that hundreds of thousands of people in Iran are demontrating - sometimes violently - for BOTH sides. Do you suppose that all of them are agents of the Iranian government? DUHHH!

      B: Even if the are agents of a foreign government, who stated that it's the US' fault? I see that nowhere ahead of your post.

      C: My take on the matter is, silly twits who have no conception of personal security, let alone electronic security, shouldn't be involving themselves in international affairs. People have been stalked and killed for far more frivolous matters than international politics. The idiot is lucky he has nothing worse than a couple bruises from stones being thrown at him. He COULD have been the target of a more professional asassination squad. It never ceases to amaze me that people have the balls to "get involved", but not enough brains to think matters through before doing so.

      And, to think that some slashdotters have accused ME of having a high testosterone level......

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by secolactico (519805)

      The attack was uncalled for, but do we know for a fact that they were agent of a foreign goverment?

      "Appeared to be Iranian or Lebanese". Unless they showed him their passports, physical appearance will not really tell you where they are from.

      Think about the implications. If they are really agents of a foreign goverment, would it be an act of war?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by spun (1352)

      A man on Slashdot attacks Slashdot readers by implying they are all irrational US haters.

      Slashdot response: "Give that man a +5 Insightful, he's got us pegged!"

      Discuss.

  • It will be ugly (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pecisk (688001) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:23PM (#28395091)

    Islam hardliners see current Iran's regime as only force who can stand against 'Western corruption'. They are desperate as they influence around the world shrinks after more moderate US goverment came into power. So it propably wasn't ordered attack, just people who sees current democratical movement with Mousavi as leader as real threat for the regime.

    So this fight will echo around the world. If you support those guys in Iran, be ready to take some hits. Let's hope there won't be killings or something, but it will be ugly nevertheless.

    • by msgmonkey (599753) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:36PM (#28395319)

      For a start Irans shia form of islam means that it will never be seen as a force representing the majority of the muslim world and whilst to an outsider iranians may seem extremely religious they are n't, just look at the youth who are leading this thing.

      Islam as the reason for the way things are in Iran is a red herring, the people at the top are basically filthy rich and use the argument of "Gods will" against anyone who they sea as a threat to them, hence the use of the word "devine" by the ayatolla to describe the result.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:37PM (#28395345)

      They are desperate as they influence around the world shrinks after more moderate US goverment came into power.

      So Democracy in Iraq, neighbors to Iran, had no influence at all on Iranians *also* wanting real elections?

      I'm not saying having a more moderate U.S. president come into power. But let's not heap glory on only one side while forgetting (or trying to bury) the history that made this point possible.

      And speaking of moderate administrations, if students here and abroad are willing to take hits, perhaps the President of the U.S. should be as well. And before you repeat the mistaken idea that Iran will crack down harder if the U.S. spoke in support of the protestors, jut what do you think is happening today? Just what do you think is going to happen tomorrow, as Iran ha already warned? Expressing support and best wishes for the protestors gives them a boost in spirit that they need if they are to succeed. Even the president of France has come out strongly in favor of the protestors...

      I only want the best for Iranians as well, as one of my friends grew up in Iran. That is why I am so dissatisfied with the lack of upper level support to date.

      • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:22PM (#28395985) Homepage Journal

        I think it really is for the best for the US president to keep saying nothing.
        That being said have got to see if I can set up a proxy to help. At this point I think the credit must go to the Iranian people the best thing we can do is simply helo give them a way to speak.

      • by AhtirTano (638534) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:23PM (#28395993)
        So Democracy in Iraq, neighbors to Iran, had no influence at all on Iranians *also* wanting real elections?

        No. I had Iranian friends and roommates in grad school starting in the early 2000's. According to them, this is the most blatant the vote rigging has ever been. The guys fresh out of Iran before the last election (not the current one) told me point blank that Ahmadinajan was going to win for domestic economy reasons.

        The problem with U.S. support is NOT that the Iranian regime will crack down harder. The problem is that the US government is so unpopular there, that if we support them openly, many influential people will abandon the movement. It happened back in the early 90s with Bush Sr., and it could happen again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chris Burke (6130)

        Expressing support and best wishes for the protestors gives them a boost in spirit that they need if they are to succeed.

        Yeah, and erodes their support among the people of Iran (and hell, various factions of protestors themselves) by linking them with America, and in particular with American meddling. Yes many Iranians want a more free and open government, yes many of them want better relations with the West in general and US in particular. But they do not want us meddling in their affairs. They have a

      • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:51PM (#28396345)

        So Democracy in Iraq, neighbors to Iran, had no influence at all on Iranians *also* wanting real elections?

        Probably not. Iran had a real reform movement before the US invasion of Iraq, which was largely derailed, with the aid of the propaganda boost given to the hardline elements by the belligerence of the US in the region (and the invective direct at Iran as part of an "Axis of Evil" in particular) during the last administration.

        The "Democracy in Iraq" hasn't been considered much of a showpiece for emulation outside of the same group of people in the West who were cheerleaders for the war in the first place.

        And speaking of moderate administrations, if students here and abroad are willing to take hits, perhaps the President of the U.S. should be as well. And before you repeat the mistaken idea that Iran will crack down harder if the U.S. spoke in support of the protestors, jut what do you think is happening today?

        The problem isn't that Khamenei will try to crack down harder if the US takes sides, the problem is that the US taking sides, rather than merely supporting, generally, an end to violence and fair results, validates Khamenei's propaganda that the West, particularly the US and Britain, are behind the reform movement and that it is not a genuine, broad-based, organic domestic opposition. This could well undermine support for the opposition.

        Its not a mistake that the people in the US most vigorously wanting the President to take sides are the same people that openly expressed that either Iranian candidate winning would result in Iran continuing to be an "enemy" of the United States, and even in many cases that it was better if Ahmadinejad won, since that way we'd have a clear and unmistakeable enemy rather than a "reformer" that it might seem we could work with.

        Expressing support and best wishes for the protestors gives them a boost in spirit that they need if they are to succeed.

        I think its pretty insulting to the Iranian opposition, especially given the "spirit" they have demonstrated thus far, to suggest that their morale will crack if they aren't given an explicit and direct endorsement by a foreign leader, particularly the leader of a country that has pointed to their nation as an enemy for decades.

        Even the president of France has come out strongly in favor of the protestors...

        France is not the US, or the UK, so the political dynamic with respect to Iran is different. Franco-Iranian relations have been far more friendly than those of the US or UK with Iran, which means that individual instances of French criticism of Iranian government action don't feed into easy government propaganda narratives about manipulation by longstanding enemies.

      • by Patch86 (1465427) on Friday June 19, 2009 @05:35PM (#28396887)

        I'm not sure that Presidential interference would be particularly productive. In fact, it's almost certainly counter-productive.

        The main opposition in Iran is doing it's very very hardest to portray itself as again the President, but not against the Supreme Leader or the Islamic Republic itself. All their rivals need is some proof that they're really no-good collaborators with an invasive foreign power, and suddenly the opposition's more moderate supporters back the flip off.

        The Western world needs to do it's absolute best to keep the common people or Iran safe and free, but it can't interfere. This is one of those things that'll need to sort itself. If the best thing we can do is keep avenues of communication open to prevent people being locked down and suppressed, that's what needs to be done.

        Much kudos, incidentally, goes to Google Translate and Facebook for both rushing out Persian language versions of their respective sites.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      So it probably wasn't ordered attack, just people who sees current democratical movement with Mousavi as leader as real threat for the regime. I suppose you believe the Shah of Iran didn't have agents in the US spying on Iranian students here either. Oh, you poor naive little nerd... The current protests will accomplish nothing since there is no chance in hell the ruling elite will reverse themselves on this, but bringing their society to the brink of revolution might just convince them to have much better
  • by necro2607 (771790) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:27PM (#28395159)

    Well, not that I mean to be insensitive, but when you're messing with that kind of stuff, you want to be as anonymous as humanly possible.

    Like, purchasing hosting somewhere else in the world, with a one-time VISA/MasterCard cash card that you bought at a corner store with cash. You know? Uploading everything from your laptop while you're chilling at a coffee shop well distanced from your home.

    Maybe I'm just paranoid, but man, I would not be dealing with this kinda scenario where people are getting killed in the night and shit, unless I was doing it ultra un-traceable style. Because I would absolutely anticipate this kind of harsh backlash from the same crazy fuckers that are doing the same thing in Iran.

    I actually considered setting up an anonymous web-form -> twitter gateway, but it was just not worth the hassle to set that kind of thing up with the kind of anonymity I would require to be OK with doing that. :P

  • Now he knows that... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jayme0227 (1558821) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:28PM (#28395173) Journal

    he's making a difference.

  • No, this stops (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigSlowTarget (325940) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:30PM (#28395223) Journal

    No. This stops now.
    I don't have any money, but I am glad to provide a proxy or whatever if anyone is so crazed that they will attack people across international lines just to silence their speech. I don't have family and I'm not afraid of whatever they think they can do. Such people are scum and not worth fearing.

    I need help. I don't know the specific systems, steps and processes necessary to support these people. What do I do or where do I go to find out what to do?

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:43PM (#28395443) Journal

      I don't have any money, but I am glad to provide a proxy or whatever if anyone is so crazed that they will attack people across international lines just to silence their speech. I don't have family and I'm not afraid of whatever they think they can do. Such people are scum and not worth fearing.

      ...

      by BigSlowTarget (325940)

      If this is your course of action, might I suggest changing your nick to "TinyElusiveTarget"?

      Seriously, though, previous threads over the past couple days have had a lot of details on what to do and how to do it if you want to help. Alternatively, Fark.com has daily (or more frequent) threads on the Green Revolution, and there are always helpful posts in those threads.

    • Re:No, this stops (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ilgaz (86384) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:45PM (#28395463) Homepage

      The single click and least trouble free solution to help right now seems as this one:

      http://www.torproject.org/docs/tor-doc-relay.html.en [torproject.org]

      If you don't know about it, Tor is a distributed proxy system which helps people in oppressive areas.

      If you have questions about legitimacy of helping such a system, US DOD itself designed it and suggests their own personnel to use it when abroad.

      If you think like a Iran nerd, Tor would be the only solution to implement really fast to gather and send information now. It could be life saving since those countries are really at limit of spying the internet right now.

      They say just spare 20 KB (not MB) a second upspeed is enough. It is even lower than torrent traffic and shouldn't effect regular internet usage in any way even if you have multiple computers on NAT etc. (install to single in that case)

    • by scubamage (727538)
      Read this [emsenn.com]. You can also install Tor [torproject.org]. I respect your wishes, but must warn you that getting involved against a foreign nation might not be the smartest idea.

      I will demure and let you decide for yourself. Information is meant to be free.

  • skeptical (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:31PM (#28395237) Homepage Journal

    Anyone remember the nutjob who carved a backwards B into her face and blamed it on a black man?

    I'm very skeptical of this without corroboration.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

      Anyone remember the Republican campaign worker who carved a backwards B into her face and blamed it on an Obama supporter?

      Fixed that for you.

      I find it heartening that the freepers are so quick to dismiss this story. Perhaps they will recognize that they are identifying with the enemies of democracy in Iran, and the cognitive dissonance will result in personal growth.

    • Re:skeptical (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wordsnyc (956034) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:08PM (#28395813) Homepage

      I'm in Ohio. Ohio's a big place. How come nobody mentions a city? What "school"? What police dept. was notified? Why go public on the internet and not call the local media?

      If true, this is very disturbing, but I too am skeptical.

      And no, it's not impossible. The Shah's agents were here in OH in the 1970s. Seriously.

    • Re:skeptical (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheMuon (1424531) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:36PM (#28396165)

      Read about this on Huffpo after seeing it first posted on dkos. Nico Pitney, the guy doing the excellent live blog there apparently tried to confirm this story and was unable to. I'm thinking that this is very likely a hoax.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:32PM (#28395259)

    I have been on IRC (where everybody is organizing) constantly for the last 3 days or so watching the chatter on this.

    Dear god. Guys, some of the people doing this have got their head fully up their ass. People are going to get banned from their ISP or worse. You've got a bunch of idiots that cannot grok how to launch a DOS window running wide open proxies on their home cable connections.

    There are people running dedicated servers right now to ferry information out of the country, but some of these people are seriously going to get themselves into trouble.

    If you do not have a working knowledge of routing, pf/iptables, and squid, please do not run a proxy. You are going to get yourself into more trouble than having rocks thrown at you.

    Or worse, your misconfiguration is going to get people in Iran killed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MobyDisk (75490)
      What an interesting world, where misconfiguring a proxy in America gets someone in Iran killed.
  • by ultraexactzz (546422) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:36PM (#28395325) Journal
    Is anyone else disturbed by the fact that, apparently, a foreign government identified an American Citizen and had operatives attack that individual? On US Soil? I wonder if there will be hit squads next, or teams of operatives attempting to sabotage servers where proxies are being hosted...

    This is exactly why free speech is so critical - so that I can, for example, post a comment on Slashdot without worrying about thugs attacking me for it. Flames and trolls are one thing, angry guys throwing rocks at my car? Quite another.
    • by ender- (42944) <doubletwist&fearthepenguin,net> on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:00PM (#28395683) Homepage Journal

      Is anyone else disturbed by the fact that, apparently, a foreign government identified an American Citizen and had operatives attack that individual? On US Soil? I wonder if there will be hit squads next, or teams of operatives attempting to sabotage servers where proxies are being hosted... This is exactly why free speech is so critical - so that I can, for example, post a comment on Slashdot without worrying about thugs attacking me for it. Flames and trolls are one thing, angry guys throwing rocks at my car? Quite another.

      Seriously? Do you really think that the Iranian Govt/Hezbollah tracked down a Twitter user just to have a couple goons throw rocks at him? I find that hard to believe. If they really felt threatened enough to track him down and send people out to him, he'd be dead. At worst, this was the act of a couple mentally challenged Iranian/Lebanese ex-patriots who have bought into the BS that the Supreme Leader and his cronies have been spouting and decided to try to go scare this guy. And I'd be more likely to believe that these guys don't really even care about what's going on but stumbled on his real identity and drunkenly though it'd be "cool to go throw rocks at him and make him thing he's in big danger".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by twostix (1277166)

      Well the rest of the world (TM) is pretty used to that coming from your direction so in a perfect world it would be a nice little wake up call to how it feels and that perhaps you should stop doing things like that to the rest of us. Of course it's only the barest of tastes as they didn't kidnap and export him to Syria or Egypt to be imprisoned and tortured for the rest of his life, or better yet simply assassinate him as your country has so often done to people who it doesn't like in other countries.

      Not e

  • Wow (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dega704 (1454673) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:39PM (#28395365)
    The department of homeland security should be all over that soon if they aren't too busy confiscating laptops at the airports......
  • He should google Daniel Pearl to know what he's getting into.

    I too wish everyone respected each other in a peaceful fashion but clearly that's not the case.

  • What?!? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:41PM (#28395415)
    Google and Facebook are supporting Persian before they release support for Klingon?!? WTF?!? Man, there is one set of geeks with really misplaced priorities!
  • by Ortega-Starfire (930563) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:44PM (#28395453) Journal

    Time for this guy to get a conceal carry permit, a handgun, and most importantly, the training to know when to use the above. Online we defend ourselves with munitions known as anonymity and encryption. In real life we use body armor and small arms.

  • Pro-democracy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:47PM (#28395481)

    This isn't about democracy, although many people claim it is.

    If Mousavi had won and violent protests had started in the face of electoral fraud, the press would be condemning the protesters as a violent minority clinging to a past order. Similarly, if the protest had started in the middle of Ahmadinejad's term, to oust him out, the press and most people living in the west would side with them. This is good, this is healthy. It'd be healthier if people acknowledged that is has nothing to do with democracy. If Mousavi will be less repressive than Ahmadinejad, then he should take his place, regardless of what the polls say.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2short (466733)
      It's about democracy for me.

      "If Mousavi had won and violent protests had started in the face of electoral fraud, the press would be condemning the protesters as a violent minority clinging to a past order"

      And this theory is relevant to what? Mousavi (officialy) lost, and in the (fairly apparent) face of electoral fraud, massive non-violent protests began. Given the good evidence of fraud, the massive scope of the protests, and there generally non-violent nature, it's hardly surprising these are being cast
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Petrushka (815171)

      If Mousavi had won and violent protests had started in the face of electoral fraud, ...

      Can it not be about both wanting to see a genuine democratic election and wanting to see the slightly-less-evidently-supportive-of-a-fundamentalist-religious-regime guy win?

  • We have foreigners representing a foreign government attacking a US citizen on US soil for political and religious reasons. That's terrorism by definition. The Administration Party Line is "lone nuts" and there's no attempt to investigate the organizations they are connected to.

    We have a plague of right-wing extremists killing Americans for political and religious reasons. That's terrorism by definition. The Administration Party Line is "lone nuts" and there's no attempt to investigate the organizations
  • pay the price

    not a hero, unless you die

    there are others, pick whichever sounds awesomer to you

    wish i could be like him

  • ProtesterHelp Here (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:58PM (#28395645)

    cba to make account, but it's me, can e-mail on ph.on.twitter@gmail.com if you want to confirm

    Just wanting to say:

    1) I agree that this was not agency work, but nationalists.
    2) I had no clue how serious this was when I started, and by the time I took measures of security, it was too late
    3) I tried to have my personal info pulled from twitter, but they gave me form letter about deleting my account. Boo @twitter.
    4) Want to say thank you to all of the private sector security people who offered to advise/help
    5) go to http://iran.whyweprotest.net to see how you can help
    6) There are other reports of odd things happening to other prominent Americans. Cars trailing, seen parked outside their homes. I can't confirm these, but just saying, if you are involved in any major way (beyond proxies/tor setup), please be careful.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:03PM (#28395713)

    Given that Iran is operating under an authoritarian government, I would have thought that just shutting everything down would be quite possible. Cut all internet connections from the country save for a few government agencies, done. I can understand the difficulties in providing selective access across the board but I would have thought it would be simple enough for them to pull the plug. The only reason why they aren't must be because they are more reliant on the internet across their entire economy than I previously suspected -- they can't afford to pull the plug.

    That even an authoritarian government run by unpleasant people have trouble with this is encouraging; I would hope censorship in western democracies would be even less successful.

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday June 19, 2009 @05:33PM (#28396875)

      Given that Iran is operating under an authoritarian government, I would have thought that just shutting everything down would be quite possible.

      If you think of "authoritarian" and "not-authoritarian" as a binary switch between extremes, and if you assume that an authoritarian government not only is absolutely authoritarian in structure, but also of perfect in loyalty to the leadership and competence, that assumption would be natural.

      Reality doesn't quite work that way, and particularly not in the present situation in Iraq. It probably doesn't help the authoritarians that the "opposition" includes people who are former high ranking government officials with lots of contacts in and through the government at all levels, and that some are, in fact, current senior leaders*. Even authoritarian regimes don't have governments that are from top to bottom composed of mindless drones with unquestioning loyalty to the leader.

      Mousavi was the last Prime Minister of Iraq before the position was abolished in 1989; among others in the opposition, Mohammad Khatami is the most recent former President of Iran, and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is Khatami's predecessor as President and, perhaps more importantly, the current chair of the Assembly of Experts (a body whose official duties include supervising, electing, and dismissing the Supreme Leader), and there are others in positions of power that are either aligned with the opposition or, at the least, not committed to backing Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.

  • by Gumber (17306) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:13PM (#28395855) Homepage

    Assuming this story is true, I'd be concerned that this is an attempt to draw the US Government into a confrontation that will help the hard-liners in Iran. As for who would want such a thing.

    Clearly the hard-liners would like to try, once again, to get people to rally behind them in the face of "the great satan." You'd also have to look at the US Neocons, many of whom would like to remove any sympathy for Iran or Iranians that gets in the way of their long-disgraced axis-of-evil BS. And then there is Israel. At least some in Israel are on the same page as the neocons, though I wouldn't want to suggest that their position is universally held.

    Anyway, I'm suspicious of the motives of anyone who wants to use this as anything but a reason to get the cops and/or FBI on the case.

  • just goes to show (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kuciwalker (891651) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:21PM (#28395977)
    Google et. al. can support pro-democracy movements... when they aren't in important emerging markets like China.
  • by bitt3n (941736) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:28PM (#28396053)
    I bet all those people who blithely sat on their hands while Iran developed rock-throwing technology must be feeling pretty foolish.
  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:44PM (#28396259) Homepage Journal

    By George Friedman
    Related Link

    * The Geopolitics of Iran: Holding the Center of a Mountain Fortress

    Related Special Topic Page

    * The Iranian Presidential Elections

    In 1979, when we were still young and starry-eyed, a revolution took place in Iran. When I asked experts what would happen, they divided into two camps.

    The first group of Iran experts argued that the Shah of Iran would certainly survive, that the unrest was simply a cyclical event readily manageable by his security, and that the Iranian people were united behind the Iranian monarch's modernization program. These experts developed this view by talking to the same Iranian officials and businessmen they had been talking to for years -- Iranians who had grown wealthy and powerful under the shah and who spoke English, since Iran experts frequently didn't speak Farsi all that well.

    The second group of Iran experts regarded the shah as a repressive brute, and saw the revolution as aimed at liberalizing the country. Their sources were the professionals and academics who supported the uprising -- Iranians who knew what former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini believed, but didn't think he had much popular support. They thought the revolution would result in an increase in human rights and liberty. The experts in this group spoke even less Farsi than the those in the first group.
    Misreading Sentiment in Iran

    Limited to information on Iran from English-speaking opponents of the regime, both groups of Iran experts got a very misleading vision of where the revolution was heading -- because the Iranian revolution was not brought about by the people who spoke English. It was made by merchants in city bazaars, by rural peasants, by the clergy -- people Americans didn't speak to because they couldn't. This demographic was unsure of the virtues of modernization and not at all clear on the virtues of liberalism. From the time they were born, its members knew the virtue of Islam, and that the Iranian state must be an Islamic state.

    Americans and Europeans have been misreading Iran for 30 years. Even after the shah fell, the myth has survived that a mass movement of people exists demanding liberalization -- a movement that if encouraged by the West eventually would form a majority and rule the country. We call this outlook "iPod liberalism," the idea that anyone who listens to rock 'n' roll on an iPod, writes blogs and knows what it means to Twitter must be an enthusiastic supporter of Western liberalism. Even more significantly, this outlook fails to recognize that iPod owners represent a small minority in Iran -- a country that is poor, pious and content on the whole with the revolution forged 30 years ago.

    There are undoubtedly people who want to liberalize the Iranian regime. They are to be found among the professional classes in Tehran, as well as among students. Many speak English, making them accessible to the touring journalists, diplomats and intelligence people who pass through. They are the ones who can speak to Westerners, and they are the ones willing to speak to Westerners. And these people give Westerners a wildly distorted view of Iran. They can create the impression that a fantastic liberalization is at hand -- but not when you realize that iPod-owning Anglophones are not exactly the majority in Iran.

    Last Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected with about two-thirds of the vote. Supporters of his opponent, both inside and outside Iran, were stunned. A poll revealed that former Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi was beating Ahmadinejad. It is, of course, interesting to meditate on how you could conduct a poll in a country where phones are not universal, and making a call once you have found a phone can be a trial. A poll therefore would probably reach people who had phones and lived in Tehran and other urban areas. Among those, Mousavi probably did win. But outside Tehran, and beyond persons easy to p

  • I advise caution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Snowspinner (627098) * <philsandNO@SPAMufl.edu> on Friday June 19, 2009 @06:04PM (#28397187) Homepage

    I advise caution in believing this story. ProtesterHelp, earlier today, was spreading false information that Mousavi had been arrested on Twitter. The combination makes me suspect attention whoring in lieu of truth.

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