Friday, December 22, 2006

Flynt Leverett in the New York Times

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Flynt Leverett's heavily censored draft of his op-ed advocating talks with Iran appears in the New York Times today. The backstory on this, if you haven't been following it, is that Leverett, a former CIA official who now is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, wrote this piece and submitted it to his CIA superiors for vetting; they determined that it contained no classified information, and returned it to him. At that point, the White House stepped in and barred Leverett from publishing the op-ed, citing national security concerns. It's highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for the White House to second-guess the CIA vetting process in this way -- so naturally their doing so now created a lot of attention and outrage.

Raw Story wrote about it on Monday, and Rep. Louise Slaughter, in a letter dated December 19, asked the White House why Leverett's piece was being censored when the CIA had determined it contained no classified information.

Steve Clemons, who knows Leverett very well and has worked with him, pointed out last week that the NYT essay is actually based on a much longer article that was already published by the Century Foundation.

On Monday, Clemons followed up with a post about Tony Snow's clubfooted response to questions about why the White House was politicizing the process for determining classification status.

Getting back to today's New York Times, Leverett and his wife, Hillary Mann (who co-authored the censored draft article), have an op-ed titled "What We Wanted To Tell You About Iran," which includes a link to that censored draft, after the White House redacted it. To the left of the text, they list (and link to) the published citations where the information contained in those blacked-out passages can be found.

Here is the redacted version of a draft Op-Ed article we wrote for The Times, as blacked out by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Publication Review Board after the White House intervened in the normal prepublication review process and demanded substantial deletions. Agency officials told us that they had concluded on their own that the original draft included no classified material, but that they had to bow to the White House.

Indeed, the deleted portions of the original draft reveal no classified material. These passages go into aspects of American-Iranian relations during the Bush administration’s first term that have been publicly discussed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; former Secretary of State Colin Powell; former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; a former State Department policy planning director, Richard Haass; and a former special envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbins.

These aspects have been extensively reported in the news media, and one of us, Mr. Leverett, has written about them in The Times and other publications with the explicit permission of the review board. We provided the following citations to the board to demonstrate that all of the material the White House objected to is already in the public domain. Unfortunately, to make sense of much of our Op-Ed article, readers will have to read the citations for themselves. (See links at left.)

I don't know about you, but I kind of felt like I was in the Soviet Union, reading samizdat.

No comments: