"That's good", I replied as I was tapping thoughtfully on my forehead with a pen. "And how do you want to change the behaviour of the regime?" I asked with immense curiosity.
"We have a website" came the sobering reply from another state department official who was sitting across the table.
Hearing his reply, I dropped my pen on the table in shock and said "Vow! That must be some website" and asked for the site's url and visitor stats. I never got the visitor stats but the website was the biggest load of cyber bollocks I had ever come across. It was also no surprise to me that no one I was in touch with had ever heard of it.
Today, I had the misfortune of watching Hilary Clinton talking to a popular VOA presenter and answering the questions Iranians around the world had apparently sent for her. Watching Hilary Clinton's interview reminded me of that farcical conversation with the US state department officials during the IVLP welcoming meeting five years ago.
In answer to one of the questions, Hilary Clinton talks about the effectiveness of the Islamic Republic in filtering the internet and limiting all kinds of information access with the outside world. A huge problem indeed for the pro-democracy movement in Iran whose lifeline is access to information.
Traditionally the VOA presenter asks his guests at the end of his program to look at the camera and say whatever they like to the viewers in under one minute. Hilary Clinton too was asked to do the same and it was in her one minute uninterrupted message, where she unravelled her 'big gift' to Iran's freedom fighters, ANOTHER WEBSITE! A cyber US embassy for the people of Iran! What are the chances of the regime in Iran, not filtering this cyber embassy, now that it has been announced by the US Secretary of the State?
At a time, when the Islamic Republic is shutting down the VPN ports and tightening its internet filtering technology and is said to be six months away from creating the "Clean Internet", the US secretary of state thinks a US Cyber Embassy by the end of this year, is of any use??
What happened to the 'Internet in a Suitcase' plans? Was that all marketing hype too?
But why not take the most effective step? Stop the regime from jamming TV satellite stations which they do with such impunity.