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Old 09-06-2006, 08:32 AM   #1
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Governor Of MA Bars State Security For Former Iranian President's Visit

So should the state provide security for his visit? And the larger question-should be be invited to speak? Some people, including Romney, don't think so.

By Farah Stockman and Scott Helman, Boston Globe Staff | September 6, 2006

Governor Mitt Romney declared yesterday he would not allow any state resources to be used to protect a former Iranian president during his visit to the Boston area this weekend, and he sharply criticized Harvard University for inviting Mohammed Khatami to speak on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

``There are people in this state who have suffered from terrorism, and taking even a dollar of their money to support a terrorist is unacceptable," Romney, a potential candidate for the Republican Party's 2008 presidential nomination, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Romney said that he expected the State Department at a meeting scheduled for today to request a State Police escort and other traffic services, but that he had called yesterday to inform them that no such services would be provided.

Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, which invited Khatami to speak on Sunday, issued a statement yesterday saying it was ``surprised and disappointed" by Romney's stance.

``We can understand and often share his disagreement with the positions of Khatami, the school nonetheless believes that active and open dialogue are a critical part of effective education and policy," the statement read.

But after Romney issued a statement yesterday outlining his position -- in which he called Harvard's invitation ``a disgrace to the memory of all Americans who have lost their lives at the hands of extremists" -- the Boston Police Department said it would step in.

``We were asked by the State Department to assist in protecting a guest of the United States, and the Police Department plans to oblige," spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said.

Khatami's tour of the United States is the most high-profile US visit of an Iranian leader since the 1979 seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran, which led the two countries to cut ties. He has already traveled without incident to Illinois and New York.

As president of Iran from 1997-2005, Khatami was originally seen as a reformer who opened up ties to the West and allowed more freedom of expression in Iran. But he remained in office during a major crackdown on student protest, in which thousands were arrested, including some who are still in prison. He was replaced by hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has defied international demands to curb Iran's nuclear program and has called for Israel to be ``wiped off" the map.

Even before the Kennedy School formally announced the visit yesterday, newspapers including the New York Sun and the Boston Herald published editorials criticizing Harvard for inviting Khatami. They were especially critical of the timing of the speech.

Romney said yesterday that he became aware of Khatami's visit during a meeting planning the security for the Sept. 11 commemoration on Monday.

``The shock of the commemoration of a great tragedy coinciding with the visit of a terrorist to our state was too great to go unnoticed," Romney said. ``For that reason, I have directed state resources not to be used to ease or encourage his visit."

US officials say Iran played no part in the Sept. 11 attacks, but they still consider it one of the world's leading state sponsors of terrorism because of its funding of the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas .

The State Department issued Khatami a visa for a rare visit by an Iranian dignitary to the United States outside the United Nations headquarters, but US officials say that he is here as a private citizen and that he will be given no special treatment.

``President Khatami is here on a private visit. He is not here at the invitation of the United States Government," State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said yesterday. ``Private US citizens wanted to have this interaction with him."

Still, the State Department's bureau of diplomatic security is responsible for ensuring Khatami's safety. Such security is almost always provided in cooperation with local police, State Department officials said yesterday.

At least one Democrat was critical of Romney's decision. US Representative Stephen F. Lynch of South Boston, said that while Khatami should not have been invited to speak at Harvard, the state should provide him with security, if for no other reason than to avoid the potentially grave consequences if he were hurt or killed on US soil.

``It sets a very troublesome precedent to deny state protection," Lynch said by e-mail. ``He is here. While there may be no benefit to us from his visit, we should see that he leaves safely and as soon as possible."

Khatami's visit to other states has so far generated little notice from local authorities.

This past weekend, Illinois State Police provided one vehicle to escort Khatami through traffic on his way to the Islamic Society of North America convention in Rosemont, a suburb of Chicago, according to Lincoln Hampton, a spokesman for the Illinois State Police.

In New York, UN officials said they were providing for Khatami's security while he is on UN premises, but elsewhere in the city, the State Department has arranged for his security.

Khatami is scheduled to speak at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., as well as at Columbia University, Georgetown University, and the University of Virginia, according to Harvard's statement.

``Given this critical moment in the Middle East, and the attempt by the US and other nations to find a peaceful accommodation with Iran, a visit by Khatami seemed very much in the tradition of the free exchange of ideas that is a central part to the life of the University," it said in a statement. Khatami will give a lecture titled ``Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence."

But Romney said some figures should not be granted an audience. ``There are some people who we can all imagine who by virtue of their acts would not be welcome at a campus, and this is one of them," he said.

``The development of nuclear technology, the jailing of students, and religious oppression . . . suggest that his lecture on tolerance would be a farce."

Romney said that if the State Department was worried about Khatami's security in Massachusetts, ``they could consider canceling his visit."
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Old 09-06-2006, 04:08 PM   #2
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Mitt Romney.
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Old 09-06-2006, 04:55 PM   #3
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Originally posted by INDY500
Mitt Romney.
I don't get it, why the applause. Are you going to applaud when there is assination on US soil?
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Old 09-06-2006, 05:30 PM   #4
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar

I don't get it, why the applause. Are you going to applaud when there is assination on US soil?


Mohammad Khatami was the president of Iran between the years of 1997 and 2004. During those years the State Department listed Iran as the number-one state sponsor of terrorism (one of the axis of evil). He refused to hand over to the United States the Iranian intelligence officials who supervised the attack on the Khobar towers, he presided over the creation of Hezbollah which carried out that attack, supports Hamas, and has called for the destruction of the state of Israel.

Why was he even issued a visa?
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Old 09-06-2006, 05:36 PM   #5
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Why was he even issued a visa?
I don't know.

Yes, I realize his history. But we live in a country that supports freedom of speech, even when it's fucking stupid. We also live in a country where we provide security for criminals in transport.

I think an assianation on our soil, regardless of how evil the man may be considered, would be horrible for our already failing relations with the rest of the world.
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Old 09-06-2006, 05:55 PM   #6
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


I think an assianation on our soil, regardless of how evil the man may be considered, would be horrible for our already failing relations with the rest of the world.

Yeah, we wouldn't want anybody pissed off at us.
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Old 09-06-2006, 05:57 PM   #7
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Yeah, we wouldn't want anybody pissed off at us.
Well you've fallen for this administration hook, line, and sinker...
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Old 09-06-2006, 06:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by INDY500
Mohammad Khatami was the president of Iran between the years of 1997 and 2004. During those years the State Department listed Iran as the number-one state sponsor of terrorism (one of the axis of evil). He refused to hand over to the United States the Iranian intelligence officials who supervised the attack on the Khobar towers, he presided over the creation of Hezbollah which carried out that attack, supports Hamas, and has called for the destruction of the state of Israel.
But, as you should know, the President of Iran has no power. He is merely a front for the only real power in Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini.

Quote:
Why was he even issued a visa?
Because, as the Bush Administration properly recognizes, Khatami was a reformist who tried to change the system in Iran, even if, ultimately, he had no power to do so during his presidency.

Mitt Romney is just an opportunistic moron who doesn't recognize the virtue of nuance, and it's pretty funny when the State Department has to sidestep him and request police protection itself, mainly because, due to the nature of Massachusetts politics, he's probably the most useless governor in the nation.

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Old 09-06-2006, 06:35 PM   #9
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After Mike Wallace's hardball interview with President A, President Khatami's college tour, and the Israel/Hezbollah ceasefire......if I'm Iran I'm not too worried about American saber-rattling.
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Old 09-06-2006, 07:31 PM   #10
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Because, as the Bush Administration properly recognizes, Khatami was a reformist who tried to change the system in Iran, even if, ultimately, he had no power to do so during his presidency.

Melon
While calling for a “dialogue of civilizations,” Khatami crushed the peaceful demonstrations of Iranian student reformers in 1999 with beatings, imprisonment, and murder. Khatami was a democratic façade, portrayed as a reformer but in reality completely in step with the long term goals of Ayatollah Khomeini’s radical revolution.
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Old 09-06-2006, 08:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by INDY500
While calling for a “dialogue of civilizations,” Khatami crushed the peaceful demonstrations of Iranian student reformers in 1999 with beatings, imprisonment, and murder. Khatami was a democratic façade, portrayed as a reformer but in reality completely in step with the long term goals of Ayatollah Khomeini’s radical revolution.
I have my doubts as to whether Khatami had anything to do with that 1999 event, merely because of literally how powerless he was. The Revolutionary Guard, who would likely have been the entity doing the crushing, is solely under the command of the hardliners, who control every arm of government, minus the legislature at the time (whose bills passed can be unilaterally overturned by the Guardian Council or the Ayatollah himself), but all of whom are under the command of Ayatollah Khomeini.

I think you give Khatami too much credit for all the ills of Iran, which we both can agree is in bad shape.

If Khatami was a real threat, he would have been placed on the OFAC list and banned from ever entering into the U.S., not to mention being unable to deal with U.S. citizens or corporations of any kind. Apparently, the Bush Administration does not view him as one, so that's why he was allowed to visit.

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Old 09-06-2006, 08:20 PM   #12
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Indy, in addtion to Melon's points, don't overlook what to me if a clear effort on the part of the Bush admin/State Dept. to strengthen Iran's progressives (who badly need it now) and marginalize Prez A.
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Old 09-07-2006, 09:10 AM   #13
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keep in mind, Romney is running for President

By Marcella Bombardieri and Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff | September 7, 2006

CAMBRIDGE -- The dean of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government yesterday defended the decision to invite Mohammad Khatami to speak on the eve of Sept. 11, saying the United States needs dialogue with its enemies.

``Do we listen to those that we disagree with, and vigorously challenge them, or do we close our ears completely?" said David Ellwood, the Kennedy School's dean, in an interview with the Globe.

Ellwood said he was disappointed in Governor Mitt Romney's refusal to give state protection to the former Iranian president during his visit. The dean said he approved the invitation, first proposed by faculty members when they learned that Khatami would be speaking at the United Nations. He said decisions on whether to invite political figures with troubling records are made on a case-by-case basis.

The Kennedy School prides itself on inviting important figures from across the political spectrum, domestic and international. Romney has appeared there, along with other conservatives such as former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Recent speakers on the Middle East have included Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights activist who received the Nobel Peace Prize, and Daniel Ayalon, the Israeli ambassador to the United States.

But the school also found itself under a similar attack several months ago, when a professor coauthored an article criticizing a so-called ``Israel Lobby" for driving foreign policy in Washington to the detriment of US interests. In 2004, Harvard returned a $2.5 million gift to the Divinity School from the president of the United Arab Emirates, after controversy arose over the president's ties to a think tank espousing anti-Semitic ideas.

In deciding to invite Khatami, officials considered that he had been granted a US visa, that he is working with the United Nations, and that he is ``sometimes seen as a reformer," Ellwood said.

Sept. 10 was the only time available, the dean said, and emphasized that Khatami would not be allowed to visit unless he were willing to take unscripted questions. A commemorative event is scheduled for Sept. 11, the fifth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Boston police have said that they would help with security for Khatami. The State Department and Cambridge police are providing security as well, Harvard said.

Controversy over Harvard's invitation continued to mount yesterday as a Boston-area Jewish group condemned his visit, and a talk radio host encouraged listeners to lodge complaints.

``As an alum, I'm personally offended," said Nancy K. Kaufman, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, who has a master's degree from the Kennedy School. ``We believe in freedom of speech, but I really question the judgment of Harvard giving him a platform."

Meanwhile, Romney stepped up his criticism of Harvard yesterday, tying a lack of campus outrage against Khatami to what he called a politically-correct attack by some faculty members against former Harvard president Lawrence H. Summers.

``It's a `blame America,' it's a `hate America' attitude on the part of some liberals that I think many people find very offensive, myself included," Romney said on WRKO radio yesterday.

He also said Harvard ``effectively disinvited" Ronald Reagan from speaking on the university's 350th anniversary in 1986. There was an outcry on campus over rumors that Reagan would be granted an honorary degree. After Harvard decided not to give out any honorary degrees, Reagan declined the invitation.

Graham T. Allison, director of the Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said he endorsed a staffer's idea of inviting Khatami. Allison noted the grave importance of engaging Iran on its nuclear program.

Allison compared engaging Khatami to Reagan meeting with the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. And he said the Kennedy School Forum allows for tough questioning of visitors. In 1995, for example, the widow of a soldier who died in Vietnam confronted former Defense secretary Robert S. McNamara.

``Will someone get up at the forum and ask, `Mr. Khatami, your successor has called for wiping Israel off the map. Do you agree or disagree?' " Allison said. ``If they don't, I will certainly ask a question."

Rebecca Rohr, a junior and president of Harvard Students for Israel, said she felt Khatami does not appear to be a genuine partner for dialogue.

``I don't think he's earned the right to come speak to us and [have us] hear what he has to say about `the ethics of tolerance,' " she said, referring to the title of Khatami's talk, ``Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence."

Rohr said she was speaking only for herself, although her group also condemned the visit.

Several Harvard students on campus yesterday, however, were upset with Romney's stance, not their university's invitation. They said the role of the university is to promote the free exchange of ideas.

Nicholas F. Zimmerman, 25, a graduate student in public policy at the Kennedy School, applied for a lottery ticket to attend Khatami's talk, and will learn today if he got in. Zimmerman, a New Yorker who said he knew people who died on Sept. 11, 2001, rejected Romney's assertion that the timing of Khatami's visit is insensitive.

``One thing has nothing to do with the other," he said, emphasizing that there is not a connection between Iran and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

``I believe in free speech," Zimmerman said.

Kathryn Levasseur, 25, a biomedical graduate student, said Khatami is ``not where I would be standing" on the issues, but she said he should be allowed to speak. ``It's just kind of petty, Romney drumming up support," she said, referring to Romney's possible plans to run for president in 2008.
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Old 09-07-2006, 09:25 AM   #14
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Boston Globe editorial 9/7

"Politicians strike foolish poses when overcome by an ambition to run for president, but Governor Mitt Romney staked out a new frontier when he denied Iran's former reformist president Mohammed Khatami security assistance from the state this weekend, when Khatami is scheduled to speak at Harvard's Kennedy School.

It is bad enough that Romney did not distinguish between Khatami, the well-known partisan of a dialogue of civilizations, with Iran's current president, the belligerent Holocaust denier, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Some reactionaries in this country may want to obscure the stark differences between Khatami and Ahmadinejad, and Romney, who has been courting the far right of the Republican Party, may have fallen under the influence of those deliberate simplifiers.

But Romney hardly looks presidential when he castigates Harvard for its decision to invite Khatami to address a Kennedy School forum. Few things are more essential to a university than the exercise of free inquiry. Like other American colleges and universities, Harvard has a long history of hosting figures who have been controversial or who exercised power in abusive regimes. Fidel Castro, Malcolm X, Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia, and Jiang Zemin, former president of China: They all came to Harvard and had their say before students, faculty, and the general public.

Yet Romney saw fit to declare that the Kennedy School's invitation to Khatami is ``a disgrace to the memory of all Americans who have lost their lives at the hands of extremists." The kindest thing to say about this denunciation of Harvard's devotion to active and open dialogue is that it illustrates the crucial difference between political thinking and the real thing.

Romney's briefers may not have told him that Khatami was one of the first leaders of a Muslim country to express sympathy with Americans after Sept. 11, denouncing the attack by Sunni Arab fanatics of Al Qaeda as barbaric. While president of Iran, Khatami tried to open up possibilities for freedom of speech, and he sought improved relations with the West. He was severely constrained in what he was able to accomplish by a political system that vested true power not in the elected president but in the unelected cleric known as Supreme Leader, in Iran's repressive security services, and in a hard-line judiciary in thrall to the religious authorities.

Khatami deserves the criticism he has received from Iranians disillusioned at his failure to reform Iran's theocratic dictatorship. But though he was an ineffectual reformer, he is hardly a terrorist. Romney's muddle-headed characterizations of Khatami and Harvard suggest that he has been prepping at the Dick Cheney school of statecraft."
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Old 09-12-2006, 09:32 AM   #15
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hahahaha

Opportunism knocking

By Brian McGrory, Globe Columnist | September 12, 2006

One day it's Matt Amorello; the next day it's former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. Who's the ever-valorous Mitt Romney going to go after next on behalf of the citizens of Massachusetts?

He was outraged -- outraged! -- that a world-class tyrant like Khatami would be invited to speak at a terrorist-sympathizing institution like Harvard University and announced with great fanfare that no state resources would be devoted to his visit. Never mind that Khatami is considered by many in the human rights field to be a reformer or that the State Department gave him a visa to travel in the United States or that his speech on Sunday urged restraint on the part of all religions and nations.

Romney raged to the Globe about how someone like Khatami should not be welcomed on any campus. ``The development of nuclear technology, the jailing of students, and religious oppression . . . suggest that his lecture on tolerance would be a farce." And then he made a beeline to the Fox News studio to beam his views the nation over.

You go, Mitt. You go.

Seeing him in full outrage, I had this vague recollection of the prime minister of Vietnam trying to come to Boston last year -- you know, the same prime minister who presides over a government that blocks Internet sites from citizens, restricts religious freedoms, heavily regulates citizen expression, and bans privately owned media companies.

Human Rights Watch wrote of Vietnam earlier this summer: ``There is compelling evidence of torture and other mistreatment of detainees. Police officers routinely arrest and detain suspects without written warrants. The judicial system is vulnerable to government or party interference and pressure."

Mitt must have just about sprawled across the runway at Logan Airport trying to prevent that madman, Phan Van Khai, from even touching down, right?

But wait a minute. According to the Globe story at the time, Khai somehow sneaked through the Romney roadblock, because there he was, visiting Harvard and pausing for a Back Bay lunch featuring sugar-cured beef and champagne.

And whoa, there's Mitt, not just sitting at the lunch, but actually addressing the crowd, speaking of the ``bounteous future and mutual benefit between Vietnam and our people here in Massachusetts." And not a word about Vietnam's miserable record. Ted Kennedy got up and chided Khai on human rights.

So let's go back to 2003, when Premier Wen Jiabao of China came to Boston. Name a human rights violation; China offers it in spades. Surely Romney would have had something tough to say then.

A few years before that, I stood on Tiananmen Square, where hundreds of student protesters were massacred by Chinese troops, and listened to Bill Clinton chide President Jiang Zemin on China's miserable human rights record. If Clinton could be strong, Romney must have just about detonated a bomb.

But wait another minute. According to the Globe account, state troopers shut down the Ted Williams Tunnel and the turnpike to all other traffic but Wen. Romney accompanied Wen to lunch and made only what the story described as a veiled reference to human rights, speaking of the ``brisk exchange of goods and ideas" between the nations. That's not veiled, that's encased in lead.

I asked Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom about his boss's selective outrage.

``The US State Department listed Mr. Khatami's Iran as the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world," Fehrnstrom replied via e-mail. ``His support for violent jihadist activities and his tirades against the United States and Israel represent a threat to all Americans."

That's one possible explanation, though it seems like a stretch. More likely, it is this: On Wen's visit in 2003 and on Khai's trip in 2005, Romney wasn't yet in full presidential campaign mode. He wasn't yet playing to the right-wing crowd, trying to land on Fox News.

This kind of absurdly selective outrage makes me wonder: Is bright-eyed Mitt Romney the biggest cynic on Beacon Hill?
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