White House backtracks on calling Ahmadinejad the 'elected leader'

Ethel C. Fenig
As once again  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is inaugurated as the president of Iran, Robert F. Worth and Nazila Fathi of the New York Times  report  on the fate of some of those who opposed him.

The Iranian authorities opened an extraordinary mass trial against more than 100 opposition figures on Saturday, accusing them of conspiring with foreign powers to stage a revolution through terrorism, subversion, and a media campaign to discredit last month's presidential election. (snip)

The accusations read out in the courtroom were a broadside against virtually every major figure associated with reform in Iran, going well beyond those actually arrested. State television broadcast images of the defendants, who included a former vice president and a Newsweek reporter, as well as some of the reform movement's best-known spokesmen, clad in prison uniforms and listening as prosecutors outlined their accusations in a large marble-floored courtroom. Some were shackled.

Opposition leaders angrily disputed the accusations on Saturday and protested that the defendants had had no access to lawyers or to details of the charges against them.

And how did President Barack Obama (D) respond?  According  to ABC News'  Jake Tapper, on Tuesday his press secretary Robert Gibbs referred to Ahmadinejad as "the elected leader" of Iran. You know an elected leader similar to say, oh Chicago where the losing opposition skulks away.  Not quite.  So on Wednesday, Gibbs decided to  

"correct a little bit of what I said yesterday. I denoted that Mr. Ahmadinejad was the elected leader of Iran. I would say it's not for me to pass judgment on. He's been inaugurated, that's a fact. Whether any election was fair, obviously the Iranian people still have questions about that and we'll let them decide that. But I would simply say he's been inaugurated and we know that is simply a fact.: Asked if the White House recognizes Ahmadinehad as the leader, elected fairly or not, Gibbs said it's not "for us to denote his legitimacy, except to acknowledge the fact."

Does the White House think the election was fair?

"That's not for us to pass judgment on," Gibbs said. "I think that's for the Iranian people to decide, and obviously there are many that still have a lot of questions."

But didn't some Iranians decide that the election was a farce so they took to the streets to protest?  And then weren't some killed, many injured, many arrested and tortured and now some are on trial?  Any judgments on that?

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton looked at the situation pragmatically. 

"we don't always get to deal with the government that we want to...We take the reality that the person who was inaugurated today will be considered the president."

As once again  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is inaugurated as the president of Iran, Robert F. Worth and Nazila Fathi of the New York Times  report  on the fate of some of those who opposed him.

The Iranian authorities opened an extraordinary mass trial against more than 100 opposition figures on Saturday, accusing them of conspiring with foreign powers to stage a revolution through terrorism, subversion, and a media campaign to discredit last month's presidential election. (snip)

The accusations read out in the courtroom were a broadside against virtually every major figure associated with reform in Iran, going well beyond those actually arrested. State television broadcast images of the defendants, who included a former vice president and a Newsweek reporter, as well as some of the reform movement's best-known spokesmen, clad in prison uniforms and listening as prosecutors outlined their accusations in a large marble-floored courtroom. Some were shackled.

Opposition leaders angrily disputed the accusations on Saturday and protested that the defendants had had no access to lawyers or to details of the charges against them.

And how did President Barack Obama (D) respond?  According  to ABC News'  Jake Tapper, on Tuesday his press secretary Robert Gibbs referred to Ahmadinejad as "the elected leader" of Iran. You know an elected leader similar to say, oh Chicago where the losing opposition skulks away.  Not quite.  So on Wednesday, Gibbs decided to  

"correct a little bit of what I said yesterday. I denoted that Mr. Ahmadinejad was the elected leader of Iran. I would say it's not for me to pass judgment on. He's been inaugurated, that's a fact. Whether any election was fair, obviously the Iranian people still have questions about that and we'll let them decide that. But I would simply say he's been inaugurated and we know that is simply a fact.: Asked if the White House recognizes Ahmadinehad as the leader, elected fairly or not, Gibbs said it's not "for us to denote his legitimacy, except to acknowledge the fact."

Does the White House think the election was fair?

"That's not for us to pass judgment on," Gibbs said. "I think that's for the Iranian people to decide, and obviously there are many that still have a lot of questions."

But didn't some Iranians decide that the election was a farce so they took to the streets to protest?  And then weren't some killed, many injured, many arrested and tortured and now some are on trial?  Any judgments on that?

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton looked at the situation pragmatically. 

"we don't always get to deal with the government that we want to...We take the reality that the person who was inaugurated today will be considered the president."