"The Lies of Amir Taheri"


by Mehdi-Palang

(Even if you are "shahi" yourself, you cannot deny that a US attack on Iran will have devastating consequences for the future of Iran and its people. Just look at Iraq, that country has become even more religious and conservative, and countless of innocents have died. If the US does attack Iran they will be polluting Iran's countryside with depleted uranium, in the form of anti-armor piercing bullets. They have already been doing that in Iraq and there are huge increases of rare cancers being reported in Iraq now.)

We as Iranian-Americans need to be pushing for diplomacy between both countries so that there will not be a specter of war arising in the near future.

Scholar Shaul Bakhash recently discovered that a quote used by radical neoconservative Norman Podhoretz to claim that Iran is “undeterrable” (a variation of the “mad mullah” theory) came from known fabricator Amir Taheri. Mother Jones’ Jonathan Schwarz has compiled a short summary of some of Taheri’s other fabrications:

The Amir Taheri Story

Amir Taheri is one of the strangest ingredients in America’s media soup. There may not be anyone else who simply makes things up as regularly as he does, with so few consequences.

If you’re already familiar with Taheri’s accomplishments, you might want to skip to #5 below, which details his latest misdeeds. Otherwise, start at the beginning.

1. Taheri, who was once editor of a strongly pro-Shah Iranian newspaper during the seventies, left the country after the revolution. Strongly opposed to Iran’s current government, he wrote a 1989 book called Nest of Spies: America’s Journey to Disaster in Iran. Shaul Bakhash, a specialist in mideast history at George Mason University, reviewed the book for the New Republic and discovered important sections had been fabricated.

2. In 2006, Taheri claimed the Iranian parliament had passed a law requiring Jews and other minorities to wear special badges in public. The story was picked up all over the world, most prominently by the New York Post, the Drudge Report, and Canada’s National Post. It turned out to be false.

3. Elena Benador, PR agent for Taheri (as well as Victor Davis Hanson, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Ledeen, Laurie Mylroie, Richard Perle, and James Woolsey) defended Taheri. Benador explained that, when it comes to Iran, accuracy is “a luxury…As much as being accurate is important, in the end it’s important to side with what’s right. What’s wrong is siding with the terrorists.”

4. Six days after the Iran story was retracted, Taheri met with George Bush at the White House as part of a group of “Iraq experts.”

5. Norman Podhoretz, soon to become a senior foreign policy adviser to Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign, wrote an article earlier this year called “The Case for Bombing Iran.” To argue a nuclear-armed Iran could not be deterred, Podhoretz quoted the Ayatollah Khomeini:

We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.

Podhoretz later used the quote on the Lehrer Newshour, as did Michael Ledeen in National Review.

6. Shaul Bakhash (see #1 above) was surprised by the quote, never having encountered it before and finding it out of character for Khomeini. The furthest back the quote could be traced was a book by Amir Taheri.

7. As reported by the Economist, Bakhash recently wrote for a private newsletter that no one can find the book Taheri claimed as his source in the Library of Congress or a search of Farsi works in libraries worldwide. The statement itself can’t be found in databases and published collections of Khomeini statements and speeches.

Will Taheri explain what’s going on? Will Podhoretz, or Ledeen, retract the quote? Will PBS tell their audience one of their guests said something completely bogus? I hope to have more information on all these questions soon.

Irancove @ November 21, 2007


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Darius Kadivar

Taheri and his shortcomings, contradictions and Bravery ...

by Darius Kadivar on

I do not want to defend Taheri on some of his writings and comments in recent years which have also dissapointed me but also surprised me for they seemed unexpected from someone with his professional background as an investigative journalist.

I have followed Taheri and his writings over the years. He was a good journalist and I should say he offered an interesting biography of the Shah which was a very balanced and objective one that contrasted with much of the innaccurate literature that was published at the time on the Pahlavi era both in the Western and Iranian publications of the 80's and 90's. He was also one of the first to write about the treatment of the Bahai's in Iran and even critisize Salman Rushdie at a time when he was being praised by all as a victime of the IRI when in fact he had been one of the most ardent supporters of the Islamic Revolution before writing the book Satanic Verses which led to the Fatwa on his life.

Another ignored fact is that people forget that Amir Taheri was also a subject to a Fatwa himself and on the deathlist of the Islamic Republic.

Does that explain or justify his recent staunch political views regarding the situation in Middle East and the reality of the Iranian nuclear dillemma ? Maybe not, but I very much doubt that many of his critics have displayed as much courage as he did particularly in the 80's when many of his friends and opposition groups were physically targeted and assassinated with the Benediction of the French Socialist government.

There were not so many Iranian or foreign journalists who exposed the reality of the nature of the Islamic Republic and its henchmen at the time and I give Credit to Taheri at least for that at a time when most of us writing here were NOT as outspoken as today thanks to the Iranian.com and the internet.

I was dissapointed by Taheri's misleading articles in later years and for a certain tendancy of defending the neo con agenda at all costs just to Bash the IRI, but I think that one should also put some of his comments in perspective. 

Taheri often fought against odds through his writings whcih probably reflect some of these contradictions.

I think that he was unfortunately not able to draw a line between sensational journalism and investigative journalism. He could most probably have become a very good historian and some of his reflections in regard to the Islamic Revolution and the Pahlavi era continue to be pertinent.

However I think that there comes a time for any known and prolific journalist needs to step out of the spotlight to see the Bigger Picture. I think that in wanting to sincerely expose much of the IRI's negative nature, and the IRI's Art of manipulation, Taheri became hostage of some of neo con rhetoric.  

I should say that the neo Con rhetoric as such had some valid arguments before the War in Iraq. I should also add that it only seemed logical for the Iranian Opposition ( particularly the monarchist since you all seem to want to hold them responsible for EVERYTHING these days forgetting the responsability of the stubborn Iranian republicans and even hard boiled mossadeghi's in refusing any form of alliance or common agenda against the IRI particularly when it came to Human Rights Violations ) to also align itself with such a rhetoric that strongly called for Regime Change and held the Iranian regime accountable for  this new form of Islamic terrorism that rejects the West and all it stands for socially, culturally and economically on the international stage. After all To claim that Iranian regime ( and not its people) were supporting the Hamas, the Hezbollah and indirectly the Al Quaeda in their hatred towards America and Israel was and is not a distortion of the Truth. I personally share this argument, I just don't share the methods suggested by the neo con's in Washington in dealing with this issue because "obliteration" is certainly NOT the solution to conflict management is it ?

September 11th was not a small incident not particularly for the sad human casualties in the Twin Towers ( which one can today cynically claim that it was nothing in comparison to the casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan) but for the geo strategic and psychological impact that this incident had on America's position in the World at the wake of this millenium as both a Super Power and Beacon of Democracy etc ... etc ...

The US had never been challenged so dauntingly on its own territory since the War of Independance. Not even Pearl Harbor can be compared with an Attack of such nature by an invisible and unknown enemy on National Soil which the 9/11 incident proved to be.

We do not live in an entirely innocent world when it comes to international politics and where national interests are not only dependant but subject to all sorts of cynical compromises. It is a sad reality that the Iranian opposition at large ( Secular Republicans and Monarchists ) has alas been an unjust victim of such a compromise between neo con's and Washington advisors who most probably have other interests on their minds than simply helping bring "Democracy and Freedom" to Iran and I am afraid that the Iranian opposition both secular Republicans, Monarchists and Iran's civil society's legitimate demands for support have been the unjust victimes of this manipulation of contradictory interests and unnatural compromises.

I think that much of Taheri's contradictions in recent years has to a great degree been due to being the hostage of this rhetoric imposed by circumstances and not just by a US foreign Policy that proved to be a disaster eversince the US led War in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When you think that the most Anti American British political Party that is the Labors with Tony Blair turned out to be the most staunch supporter of the American Republican President Bush and All the neo con rhetoric that Not Even Margaret Thatcher would have dreamed of becoming, how do you expect the poor Old Amir Taheri not to be confused in his head ...

The monarchists need to take some responsability for their inefficiency and lack of a long term vision but also for not doing enough to show their support for what I think is the ONLY Key to achieving a Democratic Iran and THAT IS: ENFORCING IRANIAN CIVIL SOCIETY.

I am heavily critical of the monarchist camp for not trusting the intelligenstia enough and for not investing in more symbolic genstures in order to at best rally Iranians of the Diaspora. BUT I don't blame them ... Because neither the secular Republicans nor Mossadeghi's who behave like a Moral Majority and political correct lot of stubborn, unimaginative and uncompromising opponents forzen in Time as if we were still in 1953 ( and who still can't decide on what they really want) have done anything in that direction either.  

I think Azar Nafisi best summed it:


"If I want to learn about America or Iran I won't listen respectively to Bush or Ahmadinejad, I will try and read Mark Twain or Hafez ..."

I think that the task for the Iranian opposition has been extremely difficult not just for the above reasons but also because the expectations of Iranians at large have been enormous and also filled with contradictory desires. THIS Has been the Achillees heal of the Iranian democratic mouvement ( to which I include both Secular Republicans and Constitutional Monarchists) and one on which the Islamic Republic has been playing with like a cunning fox and I should say a very good chess player. Its unfortunate but its true ...

What divides us really is not much the perspective of a war with Iran but the Revolution and the reason's why it happened and continue to divide us as a nation so passionately nearly 30 years after.

Was it justified ? Yes. Was it necessary ? No.

Or Maybe the answer is actually  the other way round ... 

What is certain is that we ALL need to take a step to better understanding one another regardless of where we stand ideologically or politically because it is not through extreme solutions that Iran will be Freed or Democratic.

What we need is a clear idea of the Iran we wish to have in the future. Do you all truly think that we will irradicate political differences by simply getting rid of the mullah's ? Whether Iran is a Republic or a Constitutional Monarchy we will have a struggle between progressive forces and conservative ones. That is why in all western Democracies you have a Left Wing and a Right Wing. America has a Democratic and a Republican Party, the British have the Labor and the Conservative party and I am sure you all have your examples to give. Do we all want Democracy ? I think most of us do ! But Democracy is not just social welfare or of having a rich LA Hollywood tailor like Bijan dressing your leaders up to the tilt. Iran with the Islamic Republic is a Mess, this regime has to go and it will I hope one day, but what do we want to give Iran and Iranians in return ?

Democracy is not just about living better but about living together.

Unfotunately Politics is not about who is right and who is wrong, Who is Good or Who is bad ultimately it is about POWER. But to have some credibility and or legitimacy might as well believe in what you say and do.

THAT makes the difference in my book between a politician and an Intellectual in the true sense of the word even if he or she makes a mistake.

As for Taheri I think he should simply Retire cause its Overdue ...

But don't think that he is the ONLY one to blame for the current mess ...

I would also add not in defense of Taheri for as I said I do not share his point of view but That I AM FOR REGIME CHANGE. Unlike many of the comments I read lately ( Not from You Palang Jan so don't feel targeted ) which seem to believe that the regime of Iran should be respected and that it should be maintained and become democratic.

Sorry Folks But you are Still wrong. I am Against War but as a Free Citizen and not a political activist belonging to any party I do call and for Regime Change from the Current Flag to the Current Constitution.  Now if you guys want to see the mullah's as a bunch of peace loving patriots its your right just stop pulling strings about democratic values when it suits you. Iranians want SECULAR DEMOCRACY NOT RELIGIOUS DEMOCRACY for the latter simply doesn't exist nor subscribes to the definition of Democracy.

"Iran Hargez Nakhahad Mord" -Shapour Bakhtiar

My Humble Opinion too.





Taheri reigns Supreme

by observer (not verified) on

The real falsehoods are in your compilation of the so-called "facts" which are good enough to fool such un-initiated characters as Abarmard, et. al. but for those in the know, it is clear that this article of yours is composed and spell-checked by the Ministry of Information in Tehran.

The single most outstanding give-away in your article is using Shaol Bakhash as your backup reference! It reminds me of the famous Farsi saying: az roobah porseedand shahedet kieh, goft domam!

Shaol Bakhash is number one suspect in all conspiratorial theories that exists around Iran and about Iranian affairs. His grudge against Taheri is well known: he was kicked out of Keyhan on the suspicion of spying for the Brits and was replaced by Amir Taheri. Four decades later Bakhash's wife, Haleh Esfandiari is arresetd in Tehran and later released on the charges of spying. Need I say more?

Now this charcter, Bakhash, is a credible source to the writer of this blog!!!!

Your compilation on Taheri is false from the first word. Tehari was an anti-Shah activist during his days as a student in England and France and was one of the loudest leaders of the Confederation of the Iranian students. He was never labelled as a pro-Shah journalist until after the revolution that he became a strong opponent of the current regime. Taheri's style and literary mastership is peerless even by the standards of Western journalism. The many awards he has received are witnesses to this assertion.

I repeat these articles, such as this one written by Mehdi Palang!, are written or should I say, dictated by the special burau of the Ministry of Information in Tehran and are aimed at discrediting the serious voices who are at work against the IRI.


Here is the answer

by Realist (not verified) on

Mehdi_Palang asks, "Will Taheri explain what’s going on."

Nothing. Everybody has to pay rent. Some earn it legitimately and some, well, do it the Taheri way. Selling himself and Iran in small installments.


Taheri has no reputation

by Anonymous-2 (not verified) on

The only reputation Amir Taheri has is one of a blatant, vulgar lier with absolutely no credibility.

The only individuals who are using Taheri to serve their own dishonarable agenda are your typical Ziocons; Norman Podhoretz, Daniel Pipes, Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle etc..



by afshin on



What is the "lie" in this

by Anonymous.,. (not verified) on

What is the "lie" in this article ??
by truth teller (not verified) on Thu May 29, 2008 04:45 PM CDT

What is the lie in this article??
Everything taheri says here is the truth and only uneducated, uninformed, totally biased and IRI apologists can make it up to be a lie without even idenftifying what the lie is?
This article is spot on and those who say that taheri is suggesting the US bombs Iran, they should read it properly and see that he actually says in so many words that the US should find a way to absorb Iran as a nation state and negotiate with it.
Why is he wrong about saying that the revolutionary mentailty should die away?? Why is he wrong in saying that the export of a superstition based, extremely violent and intolerant revolution, believing the 12th imam will come from the bottom of a well to save the world should stop?? Why is he wrong for suggesting that the government in Iran should start making decisions and formulate foriegn policy and negotiations based on the improvement of life for Iranians and not because of their backward, superstitious and revolutionary mentality? Why is he wrong for suggesting the Iranian government should act like a nation state?
Those who leave silly and uninformed comments here show us the backward mentality that has brought Iran so many problems over the past decades.
Shame on the lot of you for being party to propping up oppressors, killers and human rights violators of Iranian people.



by Shahyad on

What the United States & the West need to do is support the Iranian people so that they can get rid of this criminal and corrupt regime  on their own.     


Why don't you confront Amir

by Anonymouskp (not verified) on

Why don't you confront Amir Taheri by emailing him: Here is his email:



Earth to "Afshin"

by Anonymous-today (not verified) on

On another thread you kept insisting that Montazeri's decree on Bahais must be a fake. Well, that great caveat hasn't panned out. Montazeri's son has confirmed it. Here you're saying Bakhash has vested interest in not demonizing the regime. Apparently asking for factual accuracy passes for appeasing the IRI in your book. What is your vested interest in sticking your head in the sand? By the way, your saviour, Bush was just outted by his former press secretary, Scott McCllelan as a fabricator and a out and out liar. I wonder what is McClellan hidden agenda for not demonizing the IRI?



by afshin on



He's a psychopath!

by Mehdi on

These are the true criminals that make deal with the devil and their sickness requires the destruction of countries and the death of people. Obviously Amir Taheri is a sick bastard. We should spread the news about this psychopath who has been welcomed in high places to sponsor and advocate crimes. Thanks for informing us, Mehdi.



by Abarmard on

Good to know