WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama described himself on Tuesday as being “entirely consistent” in his expressions of concern about the disputed Iranian election and the government crackdown that followed street protests. But his language clearly has gotten tougher since his first statement that the suppression of dissent was “of concern to me.”
In Tuesday’s news conference, Obama was asked whether he had soft-pedaled his public reactions to postelection unrest in Iraq. The president correctly recalled that he had initially expressed deep concern about the election. And he has consistently made the point that he would not allow the Iranians to use the American government as a foil to undermine the legitimacy of the protesters.
Obama shifted some of his emphasis to condemnation of the violence. In a June 16 statement, for example, he said suppression of peaceful dissent “is of concern to me.” On Tuesday he was more forceful, saying the U.S. is “appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments” of protesters. And he cited the “searing image” shown on TV of a female Iranian protester “bleeding to death on the streets.”
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