Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Questions for Ahmadinejad (That Mike Wallace Didn't Ask)

Bret Stephens, The Wall Street Journal: The questions that 60 Minutes should have asked Ahmadinejad.
The time of the bomb is in the past. Today is the era of thoughts, dialogue and cultural exchanges. -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on "60 Minutes" with Mike Wallace, Aug. 13, 2006

Q: A follow-up to that, Mr. President: Are you aware of a man named Mansour Ossanloo? He is the leader of the independent trade union representing the workers of the Vahed Bus Company in Tehran. A year ago, your security forces raided one of their meetings and cut out a piece of Mr. Ossanloo's tongue. Now he speaks with a lisp. Is this how "dialogue" is conducted in the Islamic Republic of Iran? A: READ MORE

Q: Let's talk a bit about your government's relationship to Iranian political dissidents. A few weeks ago, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a member of the Guardian Council who is reportedly close to your boss, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned in his Friday sermon that Iran will execute en masse all dissidents if the U.N. Security Council votes to sanction Iran for your refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. The sermon was broadcast on Iranian state radio. Does Ayatollah Jannati speak for you, Mr. President? A:

Q: Please be specific about the fate of one man: Ahmad Batebi. Mr. Batebi became the face of Iranian dissent when he appeared on the cover of the Economist during the brutally suppressed Tehran University student uprisings in July 1999. After serving six years of a 15-year sentence, Mr. Batebi was furloughed last year and rearrested on July 29; his whereabouts are unknown, which is of special concern because your government recently tortured to death student leader Akbar Mohammadi (www.iranpressnews.com). Can you tell us where Mr. Batebi is and give us assurances for his safety? A:

Q: More on thoughts, dialogue and cultural exchanges, Mr. President. You are possibly the first head of government to write your own blog: www.ahmadinejad.ir. Yet your government has shut down hundreds of Web sites and Web logs, including the BBC's Farsi service, and harassed the lawyers who represent them. An Iranian blogger who goes by the name Iron Shadow accuses you of "pursuing policies that are reminiscent of some of the darkest days of the Islamic Republic."

Your government also recently arrested and tortured blogger Abed Tavancheh, 23, who reportedly sustained permanent damage to his kidneys. Is this just your idea of beating the competition? A:

Q: Turn to the past. Kevin Hermening, a Marine sergeant at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the hostage crisis, tells this newspaper that you interrogated him personally on Nov. 4, 1979, while brandishing a pistol. For the record, he remembers you as a "very mean SOB" and described a sense of "déjà vu" while watching your performance on "60 Minutes." The U.S. State Department also believes that you were one of a group of five who planned the embassy takeover. Do you deny these charges? A:

Q: Numerous Iranian sources allege that in the 1980s you worked as an interrogator and executioner in Evin Prison in Tehran. They say you earned the nickname Tir Khalas Zan, or "The Terminator," for your methods there. You are also suspected of involvement in the assassination of Abdurrahman Qassemlou, a leader of Iran's Kurdish minority, in Vienna in 1989. Do you deny these charges, too? A:

Q: An American federal grand jury has indicted Ahmed Ibrahim al-Mughassil and Abdel Hussein Mohamed al-Nasser as two of the ringleaders in the 1996 attack on the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in which 19 U.S. servicemen were killed. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh believes the two are "living comfortably in Iran." Will you hand over for trial the two to the U.S. or some other international authority, as Moammar Gadhafi did with the planners of the Lockerbie bombing? A:

Q: You are known to be a religious disciple of Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi. Among the Ayatollah's teachings is the view that slavery is justified. Do you agree with your mentor? A:

Q: Your views about Israel are categorical and well known; your views about whether the Holocaust took place have been ambiguous at best. How about the Jews? Do you agree with the December 2004 statement of Iranian academic Heshmatollah Qanbari on Iranian TV, as quoted by Memri, that "all corrupt traits in humanity originated in this group [i.e., the Jews]"? A:

Q: Another of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi's disciples, Mohsen Ghorouian, has said it is "only natural" for Iran to have nuclear weapons as a "countermeasure" to the U.S. and Israel. And one of your regime's hardliners, Hojjat-ol-Islam Baqer Kharraz, was recently quoted as saying that "we are able to produce atomic bombs and we will do that." Do you disavow these statements, given your repeated insistence that Iran's nuclear programs are for peaceful purposes only? A:

Q: In your May letter to President Bush, you ask whether the attacks of Sept. 11 could have been "planned and executed without coordination with intelligence and security services." Is it your belief that those attacks were orchestrated by the CIA, the Mossad or another Western intelligence service? A:

Q: In the same letter, you discuss the "shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the Liberal democratic systems." Is this a historical inevitability, and do you intend to hasten that fall? A:

Q: The scholar Bernard Lewis recently made note of your repeated references to the 27th day of Rajab in the Islamic year of 1427. That date corresponds to Aug. 22 -- a week from today. Anything special planned for the occasion? Or is it a surprise? A:
A must read.