Flynt Leverett Blasts White House National Security Council Censorship of Former White House Officials Critical of Bush Policies

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leverett.jpg
(New America Foundation Middle East and Energy Policy expert Flynt Leverett; photo credit: The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer)
John Bolton when he served as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security was famous for pounding intelligence officials hard until they coughed up intel reports and “frames” that fit the political objectives he had in mind.
The practice of politicizing intelligence in the Bush White House seems to be continuing with “friends lists” and “enemies lists” determining who should be rewarded or punished in the “secrets-clearing process” in cases where former goverment officials publish materials on U.S. foreign policy debates.
In an unprecedented case, the White House National Security Council staff has insinuated itself into a “secrets-clearing” process normally overseen by the CIA Publications Review Board which screens the written work of former government officials to make sure that state secrets don’t find their way into the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, or in other of the nation’s leading papers, journals, and books.
Flynt Leverett, a former government official who worked at the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of State, and on the National Security Council staff of the George W. Bush administration, is now a senior fellow and Director of the Geopolitics of Energy Initiative at the New America Foundation.
He has written numerous books, manuscripts, working papers, and many dozens upon dozens of some of the most important public policy op-ed commentary on American engagement in the Middle East and has always dutifully submitted his materials to the CIA’s review process. Never — not even once — has been a word or item changed in anything submitted.
The White House has now forced the CIA to heavily censor a 1000 word op-ed draft planned for the New York Times that is based on a much larger product he produced under the sponsorship of the Century Foundation titled “Dealing with Tehran: Assessing US Diplomatic Options Toward Iran.” (A pdf of the article can be downloaded here.)
Leverett believes that the White House is now politicizing the “secrets review” process and is rewarding those who support Bush’s policies and punishing those don’t.
Flynt Leverett’s official statement — sent to this blogger tonight — follows:

Since leaving government service in 2003, I have been publicly critical of the Bush administration’s mishandling of America’s Iran policy — in two op-eds published in the New York Times, another published in the Los Angeles Times, an article published earlier this year in The American Prospect, and a monograph just published by The Century Foundation, as well as in numerous public statements, television appearances, and press interviews.
All of my publications on Iran — and, indeed, on any other policy matter on which I have written since leaving government — were cleared beforehand by the CIA’s Publication Review Board to confirm that I would not be disclosing classified information.
Until last week, the Publication Review Board had never sought to remove or change a single word in any of my drafts, including in all of my publications about the Bush administration’s handling of Iran policy. However, last week, the White House inserted itself into the prepublication review process for an op-ed on the administration’s bungling of the Iran portfolio that I had prepared for the New York Times, blocking publication of the piece on the grounds that it would reveal classified information.
This claim is false and, I have come to believe, fabricated by White House officials to silence an established critic of the administration’s foreign policy incompetence at a moment when the White House is working hard to fend off political pressure to take a different approach to Iran and the Middle East more generally.
The op-ed is based on the longer paper I just published with The Century Foundation — which was cleared by the CIA without modifying a single word of the draft. Officials with the CIA’s Publication Review Board have told me that, in their judgment, the draft op-ed does not contain classified material, but that they must bow to the preferences of the White House.
The White House is demanding, before it will consider clearing the op-ed for publication, that I excise entire paragraphs dealing with matters that I have written about (and received clearance from the CIA to do so) in several other pieces, that have been publicly acknowledged by Secretary Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and that have been extensively covered in the media.
These matters include Iran’s dialogue and cooperation with the United States concerning Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and Iran’s offer to negotiate a comprehensive “grand bargain” with the United States in the spring of 2003.
There is no basis for claiming that these issues are classified and not already in the public domain.
For the White House to make this claim, with regard to my op-ed and at this particular moment, is nothing more than a crass effort to politicize a prepublication review process — a process that is supposed to be about the protection of classified information, and nothing else — to limit the dissemination of views critical of administration policy.
Within the last two week, the CIA found the wherewithal to approve an op-ed — published in the New York Times on December 8, 2006 — by Kenneth Pollack, another former CIA employee. This op-ed includes the statement that “Iran provided us with extensive assistance on intelligence, logistics, diplomacy, and Afghan internal politics.”
Similar statements by me have been deleted from my draft op-ed by the White House. But Kenneth Pollack is someone who presented unfounded assessments of the Iraqi WMD threat — the same assessments expounded by the Bush White House — to make a high-profile public case for going to war in Iraq.
Mr. Pollack also supports the administration’s reluctance to engage with Iran, in contrast to my consistent and sharp criticism of that position. It would seem that, if one is expounding views congenial to the White House, it does not intervene in prepublication censorship, but, if one is a critic, White House officials will use fraudulent charges of revealing classified information to keep critical views from being heard.
My understanding is that the White House staffers who have injected themselves into this process are working for Elliott Abrams and Megan O’Sullivan, both politically appointed deputies to President Bush’s National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley.
Their conduct in this matter is despicable and un-American in the profoundest sense of that term. I am also deeply disappointed that former colleagues at the Central Intelligence Agency have proven so supine in the face of tawdry political pressure. Intelligence officers are supposed to act better than that.

Flynt Leverett will also be speaking at the New America Foundation on Monday, 18 December, 12:15 pm EST on the subject of “Dealing with Tehran.” I will be moderating the meeting and also offering comments.
This event will air live on C-Span at the same time.
I am positive that Leverett will comment extensively on this unprecedented and disturbing policy of punitively censoring former government officials of the Bush administration engaged in constructive policy debate.
— Steve Clemons
Update: Larisa Alexandrovna and Juan Cole weigh in.

Comments

50 comments on “Flynt Leverett Blasts White House National Security Council Censorship of Former White House Officials Critical of Bush Policies

  1. Howard Hughes / Gerald Carroll - Estate Interests says:

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    Full and Complete Criminal Evidence in LOCKDOWN at Britain’s Scotland Yard – Sir Paul Stephenson Commissioner Metropolitan Police New Scotland Yard London UK – US State Department – FBI – within a major Cross-Border International Criminal Conspiracy and Corruption Case.
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    Reply

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    The Global Website http://www.carrollfoundationrtrust.org

    Reply

  3. OCPatrriot says:

    I have said it before. The White only understands a whack on the side of the head with a 2×4, and until an impeachment charge is filed aginst them for falsely hiding information, or an expensive and prolonged law suit is instituted, or a smart PR campaign shows how they are betraying our country, they will continue to perpetrate these despicable acts. To expect otherwise is to continue to play the victim. Victims complain as they are hurt and disabled, to no avail.

    Reply

  4. Bill says:

    I’ve posted about Abrams and his long history of supporting terrorism. Let’s get the hearings started in January.

    Reply

  5. Frank says:

    Is there a law prohibiting dual citizenship holdings by any federal employees or political appointees in government?

    Reply

  6. born american says:

    Bush and the Policies of Failure
    Bush’s policy fails because he has never had to learn from failure. There has never been a time in his rich spoiled life that someone has not fixed things for him. Whether it is getting rich foreign investors to pour tons of money into a business venture he’s running (into the ground) and rightly not expecting to get any of it back but rather gaining influence for their expense or to have someone with influence secure a deal for him where he can do his wartime tour of duty in the Texas national guard.
    With this background, Bush doesn’t do any work to make sure that someone gets it right before risking our troops, resources, and Constitution to any venture that takes his fancy. Why worry? Someone always comes along to clean up the mess for him. I’ll bet he’s been thinking lately “That cleaning staff is sure dropping the ball, just can’t trust the help anymore.”
    I use a fictional quip to define my view of Bush’s attitude because there are many examples of this as displayed by him. I think of it as “trying to be funny or cute” but in reality it is more of an uncomfortable attempt at disarming or distraction. Sometimes it trends to the downright outrageous (joking about not finding the WMD).
    My biggest concern is that he tries to dumb down the conversation not because he is trying to explain a complex issue to the nation who likes their information pre-chewed but rather it’s that he can’t follow a complex issue himself. He really needs to have it in terms of black and white, right and wrong, stay or run, with us or against us. You get the point.
    Moreover this is not even a real example of policy. Calling it “slogans” is exactly correct. There are many examples of facets of this administration that now that some time has passed we can see are really only that, slogans, words, campaign promises, whatever you want to call them. The underlying characteristic is the same. They are just words, hollow, empty words. To say something like “nothing is more important than our children and their education, so we are introducing no child left behind.” Only to turn around and then not fund is adequately so that it can be implemented.
    Another example is the war itself. We are at war, we are told. We have to think in terms of being at war. Maybe that would be easier if we actually had this so-called war affect our lives in some real tangible way. I’m not advocating that we get attacked again ala 9/11 but rather that we actually have to make some sacrifices. Work some longer hours, stop building consumer goods but maybe more armored vehicles for our troops.
    In WWII we by this time had built, as a nation thousands of bombers, fighters, ships, weapons, body armor, you name it. We also planted gardens and rationed gasoline and volunteered services to make up in some small or large way for the real sacrifices the troops are making. The concept that “fighting the terrorists at home means buying stuff” is either the result of not being capable of thinking of a lofty goal when on is truly needed or that the speaker believes that the economy only works on the simple equation of citizens only being useful or necessary as consumers of corporate merchandise.

    Reply

  7. born american says:

    Bush and the Policies of Failure
    Bush�s policy fails because he has never had to learn from failure. There has never been a time in his rich spoiled life that someone has not fixed things for him. Whether it is getting rich foreign investors to pour tons of money into a business venture he�s running (into the ground) and rightly not expecting to get any of it back but rather gaining influence for their expense or to have someone with influence secure a deal for him where he can do his wartime tour of duty in the Texas national guard.
    With this background, Bush doesn�t do any work to make sure that someone gets it right before risking our troops, resources, and Constitution to any venture that takes his fancy. Why worry? Someone always comes along to clean up the mess for him. I�ll bet he�s been thinking lately �That cleaning staff is sure dropping the ball, just can�t trust the help anymore.�
    I use a fictional quip to define my view of Bush�s attitude because there are many examples of this as displayed by him. I think of it as �trying to be funny or cute� but in reality it is more of an uncomfortable attempt at disarming or distraction. Sometimes it trends to the downright outrageous (joking about not finding the WMD).
    My biggest concern is that he tries to dumb down the conversation not because he is trying to explain a complex issue to the nation who likes their information pre-chewed but rather it�s that he can�t follow a complex issue himself. He really needs to have it in terms of black and white, right and wrong, stay or run, with us or against us. You get the point.
    Moreover this is not even a real example of policy. Calling it �slogans� is exactly correct. There are many examples of facets of this administration that now that some time has passed we can see are really only that, slogans, words, campaign promises, whatever you want to call them. The underlying characteristic is the same. They are just words, hollow, empty words. To say something like �nothing is more important than our children and their education, so we are introducing no child left behind.� Only to turn around and then not fund is adequately so that it can be implemented.
    Another example is the war itself. We are at war, we are told. We have to think in terms of being at war. Maybe that would be easier if we actually had this so-called war affect our lives in some real tangible way. I�m not advocating that we get attacked again ala 9/11 but rather that we actually have to make some sacrifices. Work some longer hours, stop building consumer goods but maybe more armored vehicles for our troops.
    In WWII we by this time had built, as a nation thousands of bombers, fighters, ships, weapons, body armor, you name it. We also planted gardens and rationed gasoline and volunteered services to make up in some small or large way for the real sacrifices the troops are making. The concept that �fighting the terrorists at home means buying stuff� is either the result of not being capable of thinking of a lofty goal when on is truly needed or that the speaker believes that the economy only works on the simple equation of citizens only being useful or necessary as consumers of corporate merchandise.

    Reply

  8. mark says:

    Steve,
    You run an excellent site and are much smarter than I but how do we know that the Bush administration ordered the move and it wasn’t just part of normal CIA procedure?

    Reply

  9. tripletma says:

    I believe that Flynt will be on the Diane Rehm show either tomorrow or Wed.

    Reply

  10. Ex-DoJ Employee says:

    Dept. of Justice refuses to prosecute violations of federal laws by Dept. of Justice Personnel.
    The Dept. of Justice has consistently refused to investigate and prosecute Immigration Judges for violation of federal laws prohibiting the possession of contraband on the grounds of and inside facilities that house Bureau of Prisons inmates and Dept. of Homeland Security Detainees.
    I blew the whistle on three Immigration Judges who violated federal law by bringing booze onto the grounds of and into a facility that houses Federal Bureau of Prisons inmates and Dept. of Homeland Security detainees.
    Those same Immigration Judges (Sean Keenan, Thomas O’Leary and John Davis) also ordered staff to falisfy computer records of hearings.
    The Supervisory Legal Assistant attempted to influence my testimony in the discrimination matter filed by a former co-worker (DoJ docket number B-00-2377)
    The officials I testified against in that matter proposed and effected my removal based on coduct that never occured.
    I had two other Immigration Judges testify on my behalf.
    Yet, due to the mockery of Justice called the Merit Systems Protection Board I was removed.
    The MSPB judge went so far as to rule that I could not have a reasonable belief that bringing booze into a federal prison in violation of federal law was illegal.
    I even submitted the DoJ standard schedule of offenses and penalties that listed possession of intoxicants as a removable offense.
    These Judges and the management personnel that looked the other way are still employed.
    The Phoenix Office of the FBI did not even give me the courtesy of a response when I requested a criminal investigation in May 2004.
    I recently sent a Citizen’s Complaint form to the U.S. Attorneys office in Phoenix hoping that someone in Government will investigate this matter and charge those immigration Judges with the federal offense of bringing booze onto the grounds of and into a facility that houses federal inmates.
    28 CFR 511.12(a) mandates that a notice be posted outside the secure perimeter of such an institution expressly informing persons entering the grounds that
    possession of booze is a federal crime.
    Thank you for the time you have devoted to reading this

    Reply

  11. Tha Voice says:

    The entire U.S. legal and political systems and infrastructures are over run with corruption, personal intent and greed. The entire country needs to be dissolved and rebuilt with the integrity, committment, ethics and morals we all wish we possessed.

    Reply

  12. fatbear says:

    Steve – I can’t watch C-SPAN in the office – do you know if the piece will repeat overnight?

    Reply

  13. drinkof says:

    “The op-ed is based on the longer paper I just published with The Century Foundation — which was cleared by the CIA without modifying a single word of the draft. Officials with the CIA’s Publication Review Board have told me that, in their judgment, the draft op-ed does not contain classified material, but that they must bow to the preferences of the White House.”
    Why doesn’t the NYT simply print the longer paper verbatim, and then comment editorially on the substance of the paper.

    Reply

  14. Tom Betz says:

    Pollack’s Times piece may be found on Brookings’ web site:
    http://brookings.edu/views/op-ed/pollack/20061208.htm

    Reply

  15. Marky says:

    I’d like to know if Pollack is on the take for his warmongering public appearances and articles, and if so, from whom.
    That man deserves no place at the discussion table, after Iraq, and yet he continues to be a major presence.

    Reply

  16. Easy E says:

    Looks like Philip Zelikow was “eased out” after all.
    http://thinkprogress.org/2006/12/18/philip-zelikow/

    Reply

  17. Easy E says:

    SIX BRUTAL TRUTHS ABOUT IRAQSix brutal truths ab
    By General William E. Odom, Ret.
    Mythologies about the war in Iraq are endangering our republic, our rights, and our responsibilities before the world.
    The longer we fail to dispel them, the higher price we will pay. The following six truths, while perhaps not self-evident to the American public, are nevertheless conspicuously obvious to much the rest of the world.
    Truth No. 1: No “deal” of any kind can be made among the warring parties in Iraq that will bring stability and order, even temporarily.
    Ever since the war began to go badly in the summer of 2003, a mythology has arisen that a deal among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds could bring peace and stability to Iraq. First, the parliamentary elections were expected to be such a breakthrough. When peace and stability did not follow, the referendum on a constitution was proclaimed the panacea. When that failed, it was asserted that we just had not yet found the proper prime minister. Even today, the Iraq Study Group is searching for this holy grail. It doesn’t exist.
    Truth No. 2: There was no way to have “done it right” in Iraq so that U.S. war aims could have been achieved.
    Virtually every new book published on the war, especially Cobra II, Fiasco, and State of Denial, reinforce the myth – the illusion – that we could have won the war; we just did not plan properly and fight the war the right way. The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and most other major newspapers have consistently filled their opinion pages with arguments and testimonials to support that myth. (Professor Eliot Cohen of Johns Hopkins University offers the most recent conspicuous reinforcement of this myth in the Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2006.)
    The fragmentation of the country, civil war, and the rise of outside influence from Iran, Syria, and other countries – all of these things might have been postponed for a time by different war plans and occupation polices. But failure would have eventually raised its ugly head. Possibly, some of the variables would be a bit different. For example, if the Iraqi military had not been dissolved and if most of the Baathist Party cadres not been disenfranchised, the Sunni factions, instead of the Shiites, probably would have owned the ministry of interior, the police, and several unofficial militias. The Shiites, in that event, would have been the insurgents, abundantly supplied by Iran, indiscriminately killing Sunni civilians, fighting the U.S. military forces, blowing up the power grid, and so on.
    A different U.S. occupation plan might have changed the course Iraq has taken to civil war and fragmentation, but it could have not prevented that outcome.
    Truth No. 3: The theory that “we broke it and therefore we own it,” with all the moral baggage it implies, is simply untrue because it is not within U.S. power to “fix it.”
    The president’s cheerleaders in the run-up to the war now use this theory to rationalize our continued presence in Iraq, and in that way avoid admitting that they share the guilt for the crime of breaking Iraq in the first place.
    Truth No. 4: The demand that the administration engage Iran and Syria directly, asking them to help stabilize Iraq, is patently naïve or cynically irresponsible until American forces begin withdrawing – and rapidly – so that there is no ambiguity about their complete and total departure.
    Effective negotiations will be possible, even with Iran, but only after the U.S. withdraws. And such negotiations must be based on a candid recognition that Iran will come out of this war with a much enhanced position in the Middle East. Until these realities are acknowledged, the planning staffs in the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department will not begin addressing the most important tasks awaiting them in confronting the post-Iraq War world.
    First among them is how to help the Arab Gulf states cope with a stronger Iran, one that has territorial claims on the Arab side of the Gulf. Second is dealing with the increased threat to Israel that comes from the U.S. defeat in Iraq, its own recent misguided war against Hezbollah, looming instability in Lebanon, and the large number of experienced al Qaeda cadres produced by the war in Iraq. Moreover, as the Sunni-Shiite split in the Arab world spreads from Iraq into neighboring Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, not to mention Lebanon, the United States will be facing a dynamic it has little power to limit.
    These new challenges will not be manageable by the United States alone. Europe will have to join with the United States in meeting them. American neocons who have sought to split the United States from Europe, as well as Europeans who tilt excessively in favor the Palestinians, will have to change their tunes if Israel is to survive the upheaval that the U.S. and the Israeli governments so eagerly perpetrated.
    The media have not begun to recognize and explain the dramatic changes catalyzed in the Middle East by the war in Iraq. Most editors are not even willing to contemplate them, preferring to pretend they do not exist, probably because they bear some responsibility for creating them.
    Truth No. 5: The United States cannot prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
    The only sure way to stop Iran’s program is to invade with ground troops and occupy the country indefinitely. Both Iran and North Korea learned from Israel’s bombing of the Iraqi nuclear facilities and have hardened their own to make bombing only marginally effective at best. Having squandered ground force capabilities in Iraq, the U.S. does not have sufficient forces to invade Iran, even if that made sense. And bombing would produce all the undesirable consequences of that action but not the most desirable one. Yet the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and other newspapers editorialize as if this is not so.
    Truth No. 6: It is simply not possible to prevent more tragic Iraqi deaths in Iraq.
    Many pundits and politicians – particularly those who howled for the invasion of Iraq in 2002 and 2003 — posture about human rights abuses that will occur if U.S. troops are withdrawn rapidly. The way to have avoided moral responsibility for these abuses was not to invade in the first place. At present, U. S. military forces in Iraq merely facilitate arrests and executions by Shiite officials in the police and some army units. These, of course, are mainly in reaction to the Baathist-led insurgency. This struggle will continue, with or without U.S. forces present, although the forms and tactics of the struggle will change after U.S. forces withdraw. An earlier withdrawal, one or two years ago, would probably have allowed this struggle to be fought to a conclusion by now. Our well-meaning efforts to prevent blood baths are more likely causing them to be bigger, not smaller.
    The Iraq Study Group’s recommendations could be used to dispel these myths and prompt a rapid withdrawal, but it remains to be seen if either the president and his aides or the Congress can or will use them for that purpose. The “one last big try” aspect of the recommendations, if pursued vigorously, will just make the final price the catastrophe higher. The media, by dispelling the foregoing list of myths, could make that less likely.
    Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. He was Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army’s senior intelligence officer. From 1977 to 1981, he was Military Assistant to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

    Reply

  18. Linda says:

    Steve,
    Leverett and you just made front page news tomorrow. You both get kudos, thanks, and congratulations for what you just did for this country and telling truth to power. Please let people know when C-Span will rebroadcast the New America program tonight, I hope.

    Reply

  19. Batocchio says:

    Sadly, this move is hardly surprising, but it adds to a growing mountain of evidence on how the Bush administration actively seeks to squelch honest discussion, especially in the public sphere. That’s not to mention their war against oversight and empirical evidence in virtually every section of the government. Hey, I guess you can at least give them points for consistency! (I’m reminded of the campaign slogan of Doonesbury’s Duke: “Compassionate Facism.”)

    Reply

  20. karenk says:

    Naive question: Are you saying they’re manipulating the information that the public receives in order to eventually attack Iran? Tell me it ain’t so…This would be such a huge error, far worse than Iraq. And we have other real options in dealing with Tehran, which could benefit us (Americans, not the Bush Admin) more than another war would.(Steve thanks for that Leverett download-and the “inside scoop e-mail”-that’s why I read this blog) From all I’ve been reading this Admin. manipulated intelligence to convince the public to go to war in Iraq. Can they get away with this twice?(they only have 2 years left running the show). I’d say impeach Bush but not if it means Cheney as Pres.-can we get a 2 for one deal and just put Pelosi in as Pres?(sorry to be glib but I can dream can’t I?)

    Reply

  21. AngryOne says:

    The same George W. Bush who so proudly declared himself a “war president” is leading the United States to strategic bankruptcy and geopolitical disaster. As Commander-in-Chief, President Bush displays all the hallmarks of the failed executive. With a nod to Stephen Covey, call them the “Seven Habits of Highly Defective Presidents.”
    1. Name Names and Outsource Responsibility
    2. Focus on the Process, Not the Plan
    3. Set Dates to Turn Corners
    4. Use New Slogans for An Old, Failed Product
    5. Find New Uses for An Old, Failed Product
    6. Announce Your New Product Before It’s Ready
    7. Don’t Do The Market Research
    For the analysis, see:
    “Iraq and the 7 Habits of Highly Defective Presidents.”

    Reply

  22. Matthew says:

    Steve: Did you see that slap Ahmadnejad got in the elections? Two immediate problems arise: (1) I guess those Diebold machines we sold them actually count the votes; (2) Iranians, who live in a “dictatorship” are voting against their sitting president, which means that they need Neo-Conservative help to understand democracy. (Democracy, you see, is voting for foreign control of your assets.)
    So what do the Neo-Cons do if Iran reforms its system AND develops nuclear weapons? We can’t allow those oil reserves to suffer under liberalizing clerical rule!

    Reply

  23. USNewsLink says:

    Thank you Steve Clemons and Flynt Leverett for your combined ethics in taking action to reveal Bush et al’s abuse of power via censorship.
    The nation, and future generations, owes you both a debt of gratitude.
    Judith Haney
    Editor, USNewsLink

    Reply

  24. sdemetri says:

    Thanks, Steve, for the pdf of Leverett’s excellent paper. It’s the most reasoned thing I’ve read about Iran and what our response should be to date. My senators will be receiving a copy.

    Reply

  25. rich says:

    Steve Clemons wrote:
    **– “I am positive that Leverett will comment extensively on this unprecedented and disturbing policy of punitively censoring former government officials of the Bush administration engaged in constructive policy debate.” –**
    Not to quibble . . but Bush’s policy to censor government officials is a longstanding one.
    It’s not unprecedented. (Agreed there are unique specifics.)
    James Hanson and scientists at EPA & NOAA have been assigned Government Minders to ensure ideological obedience. Punitive actions have been taken against those who speak out. EPA websites have beem scrubbed of basic public info.
    The EPA library is being deleted and sent to the dumpster, literally, as I understand it, and there IS NO other data set like it.
    First they burn the libraries.
    What bugs me here is that political types or foreign policy specialists CAN apparently TAKE NO NOTICE of such violations of law and public trust just because they happen to scientists.
    It’s bad enough to ignore, in the political/foreign policy arena, the near-Stalinist unresponsiveness of the Bush admin–and do nothing.
    But obliviousness to and lack of outrage about the larger, longstanding trend affecting federal scientists and ordinary citizens every other as
    This has been going on for YEARS. Flynt Leverett’s right to free expression isn’t the first nor the most important voice to be illegally shut down, screwed with, forcibly intimidated.
    Those other citizens deserve your outrage in equal measure. Why wait? Because Flynt LEVERETT is today PAYING THE PRICE for every pundit’s and policy wonk’s failure to take a stand EARLIER. Get it? Appeasing censorship of the little guy inevitably results in censorship of the guy you like. (See: ejection of citizens from Bush’s campaign/state speeches.) ‘First they came for the 4th(or 2nd) Amendment, and I said nothing…’

    Reply

  26. Marky says:

    Laura Bush should go back to the bunker and prepare for the end.
    Leni Reifenstahl had more credibility than LB.

    Reply

  27. Pissed Off American says:

    I guess Monkey Boy isn’t the only Bush that is completely detached from reality. His wife would like the media to report on more of the “positive” stuff in Iraq, like the rebuilding of schools. 600,000 dead Iraqis, a large portion of them children, and this loony crone wants to wave Haliburton prefabs in our faces as a measure of success?
    Good God.
    But hey, whats the problem Laura? Just have your lying scheming bastard of a husband dig out OUR checkbook, and PAY someone to give us “positive” news about Iraq. Heck, I hear Gannon is looking for work.
    http://tinyurl.com/yfqzua
    Laura Bush Pleads for Positive Media Coverage from Iraq — But ‘L.A. Times’ Finds More Bad
    By E&P Staff
    Published: December 16, 2006 1:10 PM ET
    NEW YORK In a TV interview this week, Laura Bush, the First Lady, complained about one-sided media coverage in Iraq and, like many others before her, asked for more of a focus on the positive, including “schools opening.”
    The Los Angeles Times today, no doubt coincidentally, presented a major story on schooling in Iraq today, by Baghdad correspondent Solomon Moore. It’s called “Battlefield School.”
    It opens this way:
    “Iraq’s schools, long touted by American officials as a success story in a land short on successes, increasingly are being caught in the crossfire of the country’s escalating civil war.
    “President Bush has routinely talked about the refurbishment and construction of schools as a neglected story of progress in Iraq. The U.S. Agency for International Development has spent about $100 million on Iraq’s education system and cites the rehabilitation of 2,962 school buildings as a signal accomplishment.
    “But today, across the country, campuses are being shuttered, students and teachers driven from their classrooms and parents left to worry that a generation of traumatized children will go without education.
    “Teachers tell of students kidnapped on their way to school, mortar rounds landing on or near campuses and educators shot in front of children.
    “This month insurgents distributed pamphlets at campuses, some sealed inside an envelope with an AK-47 bullet.”
    The entire article can be found at http://www.latimes.com.

    Reply

  28. Jay Diamond says:

    It is as if sean hannity were president of the United States.
    I’m not being glib here.
    The equivalent of sean hannity is the “commander in chief”.
    What a Farce !

    Reply

  29. Jaded says:

    POA says “…And how the fuck did Bush avoid the stockade for being a fucking cowardly AWOL shirker?”
    We all know these kinds of things don’t happen in normal life, especially not to someone so high-profile. Your question is absolute evidence that its not Bush who’s running this show.

    Reply

  30. tucker's bow tie says:

    There simple aren’t any more wheels to come off the cart that is the Bush White House. I think the operative terminology would be ‘batshit insane’.
    You know, it’s one thing for Pelosi to ‘rule out divisive impeachment proceedings’ and it is another thing entirely to just watch this gang blow us all up. I suppose the question at hand is – whatta ya do if the grown-ups come in, present you with this **huge** face-saving and hide-behind-elite-consensus opportunity, and the goons slap it out of your hand, raging and spitting and rolling on the floor with ideological rapture?
    Two (2) more years of this?

    Reply

  31. Carroll says:

    BTW…Mort Zuckerman thinks the World Wide Web (along with Muslims of course) should be abolished…according to his latest column.
    He and Newt must be drinking the same stuff.
    How many net user are there in this country alone..hundreds of millions?…we may get our revolution after all if they try tampering with the web..
    Meanwhile Time Mag has just named YOU, the internet public and bloggers, as the Person(s) of the Year and put a mirror on their cover.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061217/wr_nm/time_dc
    Take a bow Steve and fellow web warriors world wide.

    Reply

  32. Carroll says:

    What is up with all the Syria trips….first Bill Nelson (D-Fla)..now Arlan Specter is headed to Syria…and Sen Dodd just announced he going also going to Syria. Next McCain and Lieberman will be on their honeymoon trip to Syria.
    If this isn’t the biggest dog and pony show I have ever seen I don’t know what is..I have a feeling all this skittering to Syria by the uber AIPAC politicans has more to do with Israel’s position than Iraq..
    Evidently the centerpiece of Nelson’s visit was Lebanon (Hezbollah)…but it didn’t go too well..
    Dec. 16, 2006 17:02
    Report: US senator’s remarks on Assad are ‘lies’
    By ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A state-run Syrian newspaper on Saturday criticized remarks made recently by US Senator Bill Nelson after visiting Syria, accusing him of spreading “a series of lies” about his meeting with the Syrian leader.
    Nelson told reporters in neighboring Lebanon Thursday following a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora that he and Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom he met Wednesday in Damascus, did not see eye to eye on Lebanon.
    “He, Assad, did not support the Saniora government and on that we had a very sharp exchange of words,” said Nelson, a Florida Democrat and member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees.
    Tishrin government newspaper said in a front-page editorial Saturday that Nelson’s remarks “have exceeded all limits … He has released a series of lies which he claimed happened during the meeting with Assad. All these allegations are baseless and did not occur at all.”

    Reply

  33. Pissed Off American says:

    Along a similiar vein, who here has forgotten this Administration’s despicable fabrications and cover-ups in regards to the Lynch and Tillman affairs? To this day, these lying pieces of shit continue to cover up the truth behind the Tillmam death, while chantiong a steady mantra of “support our troops”. Anyone that joins the service, under this Administration, is a God damned idiot. Who the hell, with only a cursury knowledge of these bastards treatment of our active service members and out of service veterans, can possibly trust that this Administration will act in the best interests of the grunts on the ground, before or after their service? Lying them into this mess, scapegoating them for Abu Ghraib, fabricating media fantasies about their experiences, covering up the details of their deaths, depriving them of life saving equipment, denying health effects of DU, cutting veteran’s benefits….
    I wonder, what are the twins doing today?
    And how the fuck did Bush avoid the stockade for being a fucking cowardly AWOL shirker?

    Reply

  34. DonS says:

    First, let me apologize for my misspellings in my upthread post. That does nothing to enhance my outrage.
    Then, along the lines of government suppression of information, here is a link related to suppressed data on attack levels in Iraq:
    http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/002169.php (via Crooks and Liars)
    Finally, I want to reiterate the view that national politicians (including those who read this blog) need to seriously consider what it means that they fail to take on the Bush administration’s apparent institutionalization of a bunker mentality, with threats and punitive action to stifle expression, much less dissent.
    Admittedly, politicians, particularly in Congress, seem ever behind the curve when it comes to recognizing and acting (versus just speech making, though that would be a start) when execution of executive authority –- on which they are explicitly supposed to represent a check — has stepped over the line. The moreso when the retort from the WH would be unmerciful (with a hypocritical nod to “freedom of speech” . . . on their terms, i.e., terra, terra, terra). I have no doubt that virtually each politician would rather have the next stick his/her neck out first when it comes to speaking forthrightly about the emperor’s nakedness and abuses (or label the lone wolf a radical, out of the mainstream, or whatever). And this after an election in which the rulers and their policy have been rejected in historic proportions.
    Shall we just say that “the terrorists” have just won? That the US political system has been ground into a parody of the democracy that supposedly was the true spiritual wealth of our body politic?
    Are politicians so out of touch and in love with their jobs, afraid of being vilified by the WH and the pundits, uncertain of what any thinking person’s eyes and ears sense, unsure of their own logical processes, wedded to conventional expectations of what a “serious” politican says, that they will continue to disgrace the immense trust bestowed by the electorate? For shame.

    Reply

  35. p.lukasiak says:

    Interesting piece in the Times Week in Review section on Iran…..
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/17/weekinreview/17MacFARQUHAR.html

    Reply

  36. Pissed Off American says:

    Also, BTW, watch as the Bush Administration seeks to limit the impact of the upcoming “Seton Hall report”, that exposes the criminal actions of this Administration in regards to its so-called “hearings” held at Gitmo. This report underscores our moral obligation to indict Bush for war crimes. It will be interesting to see the so called “liberal media” minimize, or ignore, the conclusions of the report.
    Our standing in the world community, if it is not already fatally damaged, hinges on our willingness to hold our leaders accountable under both international and domestic law. If we fail to hold them accountable than we will be showing the entire world that everything we purport ourselves to be is fraudulent posturing and meaningless rhetoric.
    Of course this Administration does not want those such as Leverett speaking out. Not because unpopular policy may be disclosed, but because actual CRIMES will be exposed. And if Bush’s illusionary House of Cards falls, the crimes will expose themselves like falling dominoes, leading all the way back to 9/11. Whether you believe as I do, that there was neo-con complicity in the destruction of the towers, or simply that this Administration ignored clear warning signs, it is high time the TRUTH was sought about 9/11 by an investigative body that is not comprised of the criminals that that were directly involved.

    Reply

  37. Pissed Off American says:

    BTW, where was Leverett’s “voice” when Sibel Edmonds was being silenced? Or when these fuckers were buying hard news, like that Armstrong bullshit? This is nothing new from this Administration, they have been blatantly and openly censoring news and feeding us shit now for over six years. Just look at the Novak/Miller/NYT’s complicity in leading this nation to war and their parts in the Plame affair. Censorship, paying “journalists” to feed us horseshit disguised as news, threatening criminal prosecution of members the Fourth Estate for reporting on so-called “leaks” that are critical of this Administration, the list goes on and on…..
    Along the same lines….
    Published on Friday, December 15, 2006 by the Associated Press
    ACLU: Grand-jury Subpoena “Chilling”
    by Larry Neumeister
    The American Civil Liberties Union says there’s nothing particularly remarkable about a classified document it received this fall — nothing except the government’s efforts to get it back.
    The civil-rights group said this week that it was handed a grand-jury subpoena from the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan on Nov. 20, nearly a month after the ACLU received the document unsolicited and soon after it refused to comply with a prosecutor’s demands to turn it over.
    The ACLU filed papers under seal in U.S. District Court seeking a judicial order letting it keep the 3 ½-page document, which it said pertains to anti-terrorism efforts. The group called the government’s move an attempt to discourage scrutiny.
    “The government’s attempt to suppress information using the grand-jury process is truly chilling and is unprecedented in law and in the ACLU’s history,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero. “We recognize this maneuver for what it is: a patent attempt to intimidate and impede the work of human-rights advocates like the ACLU who seek to expose government wrongdoing.”
    The U.S. Attorney’s Office had no immediate comment, spokeswoman Yusill Scribner said.
    Content not revealed
    The ACLU did not reveal the content of the document but said it “provides a set of general policy guidelines on a matter of long-standing concern to the ACLU.”
    The group noted that its issues of long-standing concern include the government’s execution of its “war on terror” and attempts to get documents related to government policies and practices regarding torture and the government’s compliance with the Geneva Conventions.
    The ACLU said it also has pressed the government to renounce torture and other forms of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and to hold accountable senior officials who authorized or condoned such activities.
    “Mildly embarrassing”
    In court papers unsealed Wednesday, the group said the document might be “mildly embarrassing” to the government but could not threaten national security and did not concern troop movements, communications methods, intelligence sources or the like.
    Romero said the subpoena served no legitimate investigative purpose and trampled on fundamental First Amendment rights, adding that it was the “first time in our 86-year history we’ve been asked to make a document disappear from our files.”
    ACLU Legal Director Steven Shapiro said the most significant thing about the case was not the content of the document, “but the government’s unprecedented effort to suppress it.”
    The ACLU said the subpoena refers to the Espionage Act, but the group has been told that it is not a target of the investigation.
    In court documents, the ACLU said its lawyers could not find a reported judicial ruling that even mentions, much less enforces, a subpoena like the one it received.
    “The grand jury cannot be used, as it is being used here, for the purpose of suppressing information,” the ACLU said.
    © 2006 Associated Press

    Reply

  38. liz says:

    We no longer have representative government. We have a government of , by and for George Bush. I have not been an impeachment advocate verbally but now it;s time. When the White House decides to stifle my information and other American’s opinions, it’s time to close this dog and pony show down. I do not believe arabs crashed planes into America any more than I believe Bush is a Christian. I think we are already in a dictatorship and it’s time for Americans to show Bush what America is made of… people much more decent and honest than he and his government of men. This is about the lowest they have stooped. What is Bush scared of? The truth>

    Reply

  39. Easy E says:

    OFF-TOPIC A BIT, BUT STILL RELEVANT……..
    Murtha: Investigate who has been responsible for these mistakes:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/15/AR2006121501680.html
    Anyone ever think that this catastrophy Bushco has gotten us into may not be a “mistake”. Just look who benefits.
    Carter nixes debate with Dershowitz:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061215/ap_on_re_us/carter_book
    Yep. Isr/Pal is at the core of everything. Until it gets resolved, ALL bets are off.
    Wake up folks. Things are becoming clearer.

    Reply

  40. Carroll says:

    Posted by daCascadian at December 17, 2006 12:25 AM
    >>>>>>>>>
    Well of course, my suggestion would be implemented only after we….. BURN WASHINGTON TO THE GROUND AND START OVER…naturally.
    Obviously until that is done nothing will be accomplished by the WH or congress.

    Reply

  41. Carroll says:

    Posted by daCascadian at December 17, 2006 12:25 AM
    >>>>>>>>>
    Well of course, my suggestion would be implemented only after we….. BURN WASHINGTON TO THE GROUND AND START OVER…naturally.
    Obviously until that is done nothing will be accomplished by the WH or congress.

    Reply

  42. daCascadian says:

    Carroll >”…If we are such a hot shot super power why can’t we sit them all down and make them sign treaties with each other and guarentee all them US protection….or have the big five guarentee them all protection from any agressive neighbors…”
    You are kidding right ? Have Bush Handlers, Inc. actually do somethign that would cut into the cash flow of Carlyle Group, Halliburton et al ?
    You are not paying attention. Wakie wakie !
    Time for a fresh dose of reality. THEY ARE ALL SCUM & could not care less about you and yours.
    Sheesh, such blind ignorance.
    maybe you need a new “religion”.
    “…It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins…” – Benjamin Franklin

    Reply

  43. Carroll says:

    Leverett needs to be a interview c-span about this…mail c-span and suggest it.

    Reply

  44. Carroll says:

    The only two reasons I can see that the US won’t talk to Iran is Saudi and Israel.
    If we are such a hot shot super power why can’t we sit them all down and make them sign treaties with each other and guarentee all them US protection….or have the big five guarentee them all protection from any agressive neighbors.
    We need a little Mother Superior here..let the children know if they don’t get along and cut out the fighting and snatching each other’s toys they will each have to deal with mommy dearest.

    Reply

  45. ... says:

    http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20D17FA3C550C7B8CDDAB0994DE404482 the article at a cost… perhaps you can get it for free if you sleuth around a bit..

    Reply

  46. p.lukasiak says:

    Steve… do you have a link for the Pollack piece mentioned by Leverett? (I think it would be interesting to compare Pollack’s narrative of Iran’s engagement with Leveretts.)
    I really don’t think the American people have the first clue about the extent to which Iran had been reaching out to the US…. and how helpful it had been in the post 9-11 period. I have the feeling that Pollack minimizes that support in order to advance his own agenda.
    Personally, I think we have two choices…. eventually get forced out of Iraq, with the Iranian (and Syrian, in the West) “coming to the rescue” to kick ass, take names, and restore order….. OR co-ordinate our withdraw with Iran and Syria in a manner that minimizes chaos.

    Reply

  47. Pissed Off American says:

    A bit off topic here, but I see this lying piece of shit in the Oval Office is probably going to commit a significant number of additional troops to Iraq, in an attempt to curtail the violence. I am a bit amazed that no one in a leadershop position has bothered to ask these fucking maniacs in the Bush Administration exactly who these additional troops will target. I mean, who the fuck IS the “enemy” in Iraq? (Prepare yourselves for a bloodbath that surpasses the sea of blood that Bush has already bathed Iraq in.)
    Of course, maybe Reyes can clue Monkey Boy in as to which Iraqis need to be slaughtered in the pursuit of peace. After all, I understand Reyes is taking a crash course called “Who’s who in Iraq 101”. Bush musta missed this course. (God knows, he was probably behind the bleachers snortin’ coke.)
    December was an especially deadly month for our soldiers. I wonder what the twins are up to tonight?

    Reply

  48. Nell says:

    Ah, Elliott Abrams, the poisonous hardy perennial in the halls of power, always doing his bit to strike at his bosses’ “enemies”.
    No policy failure, no matter how huge or horrific, can shame him. No hypocrisy is beyond him — he’s ready to scold any government in the world but the U.S. and Israel for suppressing free debate and honest criticism of the ruling regime.
    During the November 1989 FMLN offensive in El Salvador, when the military had just massacred priests at the University of Central America and the rebels held territory in several parts of the capital, Abrams, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights (!), went on Nightline opposite a representative of the solidarity organization I worked with. The host said to Abrams, “Don’t the events of this week pretty much demonstrate that the administration’s whole policy in El Salvador has failed?”
    Silly me, I savored the moment, believing I was seeing that snake in his last appearance in a position of power.

    Reply

  49. Pissed Off American says:

    “Their conduct in this matter is despicable and un-American in the profoundest sense of that term.”
    In “this” matter???? Their conduct “is despicable and un-American in the profoundest sense of that term” in just about EVERY matter that one can imagine. Environmentally, in foreign policy, lying this nation to war, in their treatment of our Constitution, in human rights abuses through torture and rendition, in their complicity in Israel’s attempted mass murder of Lebanese civilians, in their bribery of the Fourth Estate….the list goes on and on. How outspoken was Flynt when he was working for these lying bastards? Now that their “despicable and un-American” policies are targeting him, he finally calls a spade a spade? It amazes me how many former Bush/Cheney lackeys are coming forth with too little too late.

    Reply

  50. DonS says:

    It really doesn’t matter very much if George Bush is:
    — well-intentioned
    — poorly intentioned
    His actions (and those of his fuctionaries) are every bit those of a dictator.
    We the people have absorbed “911 changed everything” about as much as we can and, whether or not George Bush thinks he is playing to the galleries 50 or 100 years from now in his trumped up “first war of the 21st century”, we are determined to go on with our lives, like all other peopels around the globe — Americans are “just” citizens of the planet too, with all the rights and risks appurtenant thereto.
    Good Luck Flynt, in the line of Wilson/Plame, scapegoats on the altar of the corporate owners of this country.
    Politicans, wake up before you are [permantently]relegated to the dustbin of the irrelevant toadies.

    Reply

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