U.S. President George W. Bush has asked Congress for $75 million for civil-society and human-rights projects in Iran for the coming fiscal year.
But Senator Joe Lieberman (Independent, Connecticut) told Radio Farda that a Senate appropriations subcommittee had reduced that request to $25 million.
for the full interview with Senator Lieberman
Lieberman, the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and a former Democratic vice-presidential candidate, said he, along with colleagues from both political parties, would submit a recommendation to the Senate floor in the next few days to restore the original figure.
"I was extremely upset when the committee came in with $25 million," Lieberman said. "Part of their argument is that money from America is dangerous for Iranian dissidents or civil society groups to accept. But most of this is given through third parties in any case and my argument is, 'Let the Iranian groups themselves decide.'"
"If we had taken [the] position in the Cold War that it could be risky for freedom fighters behind the Iron Curtain to accept funding from us the Iron Curtain might still be up, instead of people rising up to build a better future for themselves," he added.
Lieberman said $75 million was a small amount considering overall spending to defend the United States against what he called "the aggression and fanaticism of the current regime and the suffering of the people of Iran and other victims of that regime."
The $75 million is part of a $109 million request for Iran that includes funding for U.S. broadcasting into the country by the Radio Farda and Voice of America Persian services.