In his article “The Consequentialist” in this week’s New Yorker, Ryan Lizza reported the White House reaction to State Department staffer Jared Cohen, who contacted Twitter during the peak of the Green Revolution in Iran and asked it to delay its planned upgrade. Protesters were using Twitter to provide information to the international media, and the upgrade would have temporarily shut down Twitter. Lizza reported that:
White House officials “were so mad that somebody had actually ‘interfered’ in Iranian politics, because they were doing their damnedest to not interfere,” the former Administration official said. “Now, to be fair to them, it was also the understanding that if we interfered it could look like the Green movement was Western-backed, but that really wasn’t the core of it. The core of it was we were still trying to engage the Iranian government and we did not want to do anything that made us side with the protesters. . . . The official said that Cohen “almost lost his job over it. If it had been up to the White House, they would have fired him.”
Yesterday, in an informative interview on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Lizza added an interesting detail:
HH: I think buried in “The Consequentialist” is one revelation that some of Obama’s White House aides regretted having stood idly by why [sic] the Iranian regime brutally repressed the Green Revolution. And more than standing idly by, they rebuked the State Department young guy for getting involved with the Twitter controversy. It confirms every conservative’s critique of President Obama’s indifference to the smashing of the Green Revolution. I think that’s one of the huge takeaways of your piece.
RL: I agree. . . . I was very surprised to find that this young guy, Jared Cohen, who unilaterally, essentially all by himself, contacted Twitter. . . . It was a very controversial, I mean, inside, someone at the White House referred to it as, when I asked about it, they said oh yeah, you’re talking about Twittergate, right?
Later in the interview, Hewitt tells Lizza “we’re getting standing idly by 2.0 underway right now in Syria.”
Call it leading from far behind, while sipping a slurpee.