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It's obvious that the election in Iran was rigged. Yet Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei denies it was rigged and asks an interesting question: How could one rig 11 million votes?

You might also wonder WHY anyone would rig an election by such a large margin when it is so obvious that rigging it for a smaller victory would have been more clever.

I'm here to answer those questions.

But first, let's discuss what I call liar talk. It's a minor hobby of mine to detect lies by the way people choose their words. For example, liars often answer an accusation with a question, as in "What evidence do you have that I killed that drifter?" Innocent people might ask a question too, but it would be more along the lines of "What are you talking about?"

So when Khamenei asks, "How could one rig 11 million votes?" it sounds like a lie from a guy who knows exactly how he did it and hopes you don't. And it's possible that the huge margin of victory was a blunder. Perhaps a smaller victory was intended and some underlings overshot the mark. So a clever lie would involve asking how anyone could believe that a smart guy like the Supreme Leader could make such a mistake.

Allow me to describe how the election could be rigged by 11 million votes. It's a conspiracy theory and it goes like this. Imagine that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, identifies the Iranian who is in charge of their election process. They send him a secret message from someone allegedly speaking for the Supreme Leader: "The Supreme Leader wants you to rig the election for a landslide. But in case anyone finds out, he must have plausible deniability. Don't speak to anyone about this. Just pass the word to each of your local vote counters. Don't disappoint the Supreme Leader."

This conspiracy theory fits all of the data. It's not hard to imagine Mossad getting a fake message to one guy who has the power to rig the election. And it's not hard to believe that one guy would do as he believed he was told and keep the secret. Likewise, his underlings would keep the secret for fear of serious consequences.

Israel has the greatest motive for keeping the crazy-sounding President in office, in case they feel the need to attack Iran. You can bomb a country whose President says your own country should be wiped from the face of the map, but it's politically problematic to bomb a country that has a new president who speaks in a less menacing way.

In conclusion, the vote was rigged, and it was either a huge blunder by the Supreme Leader's minions, or a clever plot by someone who has an interest in destabilizing Iran.

If you are trying to decide which theory is more likely, a good place to start is with the track record of the current Iranian administration. How often have they lied to their own people or to the world? If you give examples of those lies in the comments, include the evidence, not just your gut feeling.
 
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Jun 24, 2009
I do not have example of lies in mind (as I am only 95% sure "we do not produce nuclear fuel for weapon" is a lie), but they are shutting off all journalists. So, they will - at best - lie by omission (and at worst just say some direct lies and having nobody checking if what they are saying is right or wrong).
 
 
Jun 23, 2009
Hmm ... how interesting. I believe this is a test of our ability to pay attention.

In the first part of your article, you make the argument that the Supreme Leader is lying when he says the election wasn't rigged, and that he even knows how it was done. In the second part of your article, you then make the argument that it was Mossad that spoke to a single person, disguised as a follower of Supreme Leader, and convinced that person to sway the vote by 11 Million votes.

If the first part of your article is true, it disproves the second. If the second is true, it disproves the first.

The last part of your article is a classic straw man argument.

Sometimes I wonder if you say the things you say just to provoke a reaction, or if you really believe they are true. I am hoping it's the former, and based on what I read in your book (and what I believe I understand about you're personality) I'm probably right.
 
 
Jun 23, 2009
Regarding this story:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/20/AR2009062000004.html?1

which says that statistical anomalies in the distribution of digits in the vote tallies are evidence of tampering - I'm unimpressed.

Statistical sampling is completely worthless for samples less than 30.

Reputable polling companies normally use samples of around 1000.

The article's complaint is based on a sample size of 116. I wouldn't give a couple of outliers much weight.

I'm not saying the election wasn't rigged. I'm just saying this isn't evidence that it was.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 23, 2009
[How do you know the elections are rigged? I am not convinced]

Don't you people read anything apart from comics?

1 - In 50 cities, more votes were counted then the number of registered voters.
Here is a link: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6553843.ece
2 - The outcome of the elections are way off from the outcome of the polls.
3 - The margin of victory is too big.

Merkel (Germany) demands a recount with international supervisors. That makes sense.

As for the conspiracy theory: that does not explain the liars talk of Khameini.
 
 
Jun 23, 2009
Ahmadinejad - "the holocaust never happened"

anything else he says after that has me convinced he is crazy
 
 
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Jun 23, 2009
Definately Mossad.
1. Why would a leader responsible for 70 million people lie?
2. Democracy is a choice, Iran has chosen otherwise. Authoritarian leaders (aka dictators) are just as compentant and responsible and obligated to their peoples well being and democratically elected leaders.
3. Accountablility? their supreme leader thinks he is accountable to G-d(!), what higher judgement do you want?
 
 
Jun 22, 2009
How do you know the elections were rigged? It is not obvious to me.
On a lot of issues there can be found a very vocal minority and a relatively silent majority.
 
 
Jun 22, 2009
I love how your post never went on to say that you are assuming that the elections are rigged. Its like you think its a clear fact.
 
 
Jun 22, 2009
I'm of the opinion that the simplest explanation is usually the most plausible. Nate Silver has a theory which is both simpler and in my mind more plausible than either of yours Scott, especially if you are willing to accept fraud in the election as a given:
http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/06/ayatollahs-flawed-logic.html

Here's the gist: Unlike in the United States where election results are reported at the local level, in Iran election results are reported all at once by the Interior Ministry. The Iranian election process is opaque enough that the Interior Ministry can essentially make up whatever results it wants with no one being able to definitively dispute them. I think its much more likely the election was manipulated at a high level than at the local level. For one thing its a little easier to just make up ballot totals than to manipulate millions of ballot - even if you are very careful about what numbers you make up. Second you have to include way less people in the conspiracy, only a few at the top, not thousands of bureaucrats across the country.

So where did the eleven million vote margin come from? Well if you're making up election results you want to hit a certain sweet spot. If you make the election too close people will suspect voter fraud and protest. If you make the margin of victory implausibly high (say Saddam Hussein 99% high) than people will dismiss the results on their face. Nate draws a curve of this phenomenon (which share of votes ostensibly received on one axis and risk of political unrest on the other) and suggests the sweet spot is probably somewhere between 55% and 75%of the vote (this sounds reasonable to me.) Ahmadinejad claims to have won 63% of the vote - right in the middle of that range.
 
 
Jun 22, 2009
My thoughts are theres two problems, as you've already stated the Ayatollah doens't need to rig the election he's already chosen the candidates. Personally I think he's already decided the votes that would be announced beforehand.
Now he hasn't updated the votes to reflect public mood (to show a more even race) for 1 of 2 reasons:

A) He's just old and incompetent, supported by the way the establishment is almost surprised that people are protesting

B) For him modifying his actions due to the will of the people is a slippery slope to democracy and although its still rigged, making it less rigged due to the people's votes isn't what a dictator does.


Oh and if the Mossad or outside forces can have that much control why dont they just send an anonomyous message "from the Supreme Leader" to pack all their nuclear scientists in a bus and drive into the deserted desert where theres no radar close to Israel with a GPS transmitter and wait there.
 
 
Jun 22, 2009
The signs are in English because Tehran is an imperial capital. Iranians speak Persian, Lur Persian, some other variants of Persian, Arabic, Kurdish, Baluchi, Armenian, Azerbaijani, and god knows what by some three million or so (very or so) Afghan refugees.
Not counting tourists, diplomatic personel, and businessmen visiting a country of 70 million that controls a significant percentage of the world's oil and a more than significant percentage of the world's natural gas.
Then figure that most people in the world that are interested in foreign affairs and are even watching these western channels (because they are not available in Iran) speak or at least read English. They are the ones the forward the video clips with signs in a language that they can understand.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2009
Reposted because the blog software can not handle an apostrophe. Among other things.

Well, after an exhaustive 5 min search on Google, I am not convinced that the election was rigged. I am not even sure that the rigging or lack thereof is the real issue. Imagine living in a country where the rights of the minority are not protected, and the majority had the right to dictate to you what you wear, eat, who you can associate with etc. It is just like here with the recreational drugs - just slightly expanded. I think that is what they are protesting. Iran is a young country, and for youngsters in particular looking forward to several more years of social oppression is a living night-mare.
 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2009
Well, after an exhaustive 5 min search on Google, I’m not convinced that the election was rigged. I'm not even sure that the rigging or lack thereof is the real issue. Imagine living in a country where the rights of the minority are not protected, and the majority had the right to dictate to you what you wear, eat, who you can associate with etc. It’s just like here with the recreational drugs… just slightly expanded. I think that’s what they are protesting. Iran is a young country, and for youngsters in particular looking forward to several more years of social oppression is a true night-mare.
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2009
It's also possible that those who manipulated the election results (assuming they actually were manipulated; has that been confirmed satisfactorily?) were suffering from the same general derangement that my friends who are politically on the opposite fringes have. Namely they mistake their circle of friends for a representative sample of the rest of the population. Not the self-reinforcing echo chamber that they are. Does anyone remember the NYT columnist who famously remarked that she didn't know how Nixon could have won an election as she didn't know ANYONE who had voted for him?
Again, lots of people protesting in the streets doesn't necessarily mean the results were rigged. It would be much easier logistically to manipulate protests rather than actual votes. Also, with the perceived history of unfair political process in most theocratic regimes was there ever a belief that Iranian election process was fair in the first place?
 
 
-4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2009
Do you think people in other countries were contemplating who rigged W's elections so the US would look like morons to the world?

The problem I have with the Iran election is that the 2 biggest whiners about it being corrupt are; 1. The losing politician, and 2. A bunch of young people. Sounds a lot like our first election of George W. Just with fewer fatalities.
 
 
Jun 22, 2009
Based on past history, the most likely candidate to have rigged the elections is our own government. After all, we're the ones that destroyed their last democratic government.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2009
If Amadinajab (I bet you can't spell it either) was not elected, Israel would have no need to attack Iran, so it was definitely NOT the mossad.
 
 
Jun 22, 2009
I believe they rigged the votes by 11 million to throw suspicion as to it being rigged. They knew if it was close it might look like they did something suspicious, but "11 million? Obviously the people have spoken!" would be the thought process. And they tried to sell it hard, but everyone was looking around and asking did you vote for him? did you? and when no one was answering yes, it became too obvious. Now they are trying to quash the rebellion. We should be blowing on those embers. We are already iin Iraq and Afganistan, SO HELPING THE PEOPLE GAIN THEIR FREEDOM WOULD NOT COST US THAT MUCH MORE!
But we won't since our dictator is friendly with their dictator.
 
 
Jun 22, 2009
Another way of looking at it:

If Mousavi had won by a small margin, there is some doubt as to whether he could have significantly changed anything. But if he wins now, with the current clerical leadership in serious distrust, things might change drastically. Possibly for the better.

But it is a big risk to take, unless you think you are in total control of the outcome. And let's face it: If we were that good, Iraq would be a paradise by now.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2009
I don't have any evidence of the Supreme Leader's lies and secret agents do crazy stuff. But Israeli agents hoping to shore up Ahmadinejad so as to escalate hostilities to the point where Israel can attack is a strategy with so many possible negative outcomes, I can't imagine Mossad investing in it. It isn't a transparently sensible conspiracy theory. The Israelis absolutely depend on advance knowledge of a strike and getting in first, and would not want to bring that forward. If anything they would be seeking to destabilise the regime by shoring up Mousavi, because the anti-Israel rhetoric will continue to flow from the Supreme Leader regardless, but it would be useful in the event of said attack for the parliament to be insecure. Various agencies - and incidentally Saudi and Egypt have just as great an anti-Iranian interest as America, Britain and Israel, neither would want to see a Shia missile travel even half as far - will have worked Iran to their own ends inasmuch as they can, but it still is more probable than anything that given the groundswell of support for Mousavi the present regime decided to manipulate the vote and did not foresee an insurrection.

The question stands as to whether Mousavi will or ever could enact meaningful reforms, and with that in mind the street confrontations, even if protesters win their point, may well amount to a pointless tragedy.
 
 
 
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