White House Flounders on Flynt Leverett Charge

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Today, while Flynt Leverett was speaking at a program I was chairing at the New America Foundation, White House spokesman Tony Snow was fielding a question on Flynt Leverett’s charge that the White House was politicizing the “secrets clearing” process and punishing policy critics who had previously worked with classified policy material.
Snow’s response was hilarious. As Think Progress points out, Tony Snow denied that the White House censored Leverett after saying he knew nothing about the matter.
You can watch Tony Snow’s response at the Think Progress site.
Flynt Leverett’s speech today is airing repeatedly on C-Span and a digital video link is available here.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

31 comments on “White House Flounders on Flynt Leverett Charge

  1. liz says:

    Tony Snow has unfortunately chosen to be a poor liar. He either doesn’t know or lies. I kinda feel sorry for Tony the Snowman but then again, he sold himself out for these bucks……

    Reply

  2. Pissed Off American says:

    60 Minutes: CIA Official Reveals Bush, Cheney, Rice Were Personally Told Iraq Had No WMD in Fall 2002
    Tonight on 60 Minutes, Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of the CIA’s Europe division, revealed that in the fall of 2002, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and others were told by CIA Director George Tenet that Iraq’s foreign minister — who agreed to act as a spy for the United States — had reported that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction program.
    BRADLEY: According to Drumheller, CIA Director George Tenet delivered the news about the Iraqi foreign minister at a high level meeting at the White House.
    DRUMHELLER: The President, the Vice President, Dr. Rice…
    BRADLEY: And at that meeting…?
    DRUMHELLER: They were enthusiastic because they said they were excited that we had a high-level penetration of Iraqis.
    BRADLEY: And what did this high level source tell you?
    DRUMHELLER: He told us that they had no active weapons of mass destruction program.
    BRADLEY: So, in the fall of 2002, before going to war, we had it on good authority from a source within Saddam’s inner circle that he didn’t have an active program for weapons of mass destruction?
    DRUMHELLER: Yes.
    BRADLEY: There’s no doubt in your mind about that?
    DRUMHELLER: No doubt in my mind at all.
    BRADLEY: It directly contradicts, though, what the President and his staff were telling us.
    DRUMHELLER: The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming, and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy.
    continues at………
    http://tinyurl.com/r5tgo

    Reply

  3. DonS says:

    Yes, Noziglia, I see your point.
    I suppose it’s all in whose ox is being gored to some extent but, in the end it is the right of the people (to be informed) that is taking it in the ear.
    Nice, isn’t it, that Mr. Leverett seems to be familiar with hardball. I hope he has an arsenal of pitches.

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  4. Noziglia says:

    Don:
    “Surely Senators and Representatives ought to be disturbed that the WH is using coercion and censorship, at a minimum, to avoid embarrassment (the national security argument is laughable), at a minimum. Wouldn’t concern about that be apolitical and bipartisan?”
    Well, we know from this that you aren’t that familiar with the way Washington works.
    Misusing the classification system for CYA rather than national security is standard proceedure, and the reason politicians are not interested in investigating this is that they look forward to the day they can do it too (or back to the days when they did).
    My wife always tries to get my goat by saying that the Bush administration isn’t doing anything that other admins have also done before. To a certain extent, that’s both correct and the real scandal. It is also true that other administrations and politicians have at least kept their attempts to control information within the bounds of reason, doing their job, and the law.
    That the BushCo regime has not, that it has taken the common practices of information control to the extreme of violating the law, the Constitution, and the standards of reason and reality, does not seem to have given other politicians enough excuse to reign in their fascist hijacking of the government and the country.
    Which is why we have to keep reminding our representatives that we are watching them, and if they can’t uphold the law, we will find someone else willing to do it.

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  5. p.lukasiak says:

    “For the history books: “[NSC spokesman Gordon] Johndroe and CIA spokesman Mike Mansfield said that, in a lapse, the CIA did not circulate [Flynt Leverett’s previously CIA-approved] Century Foundation paper to the White House. Johndroe said sections of that paper probably would have been deemed classified. ‘It was an oversight,’ Mansfield said. ‘It should have been shared with them.'””
    And I think that the part that would have remained classified was about Bush administration official’s monthly meetings with Iranian officials about Afghanistan… (and the good Mr. Nashton has failed to provide a link to a story about the existence of monthly meetings between US and Iranian diplomats.) It is the existence of direct contact with Iranians, and these regularly scheduled “face to face” meetings that appear to be “new information”.
    All other reporting skirts the issue of direct contact with Iran. For instance, Ken Pollack, in his Times piece, says:
    “Before and during the war in Afghanistan, the Iranians were quite helpful to the United States. They shared our hatred of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and they provided us with extensive assistance on intelligence, logistics, diplomacy and Afghan internal politics. After we turned our sights on Saddam Hussein, the Iranians suggested that they would be willing to cooperate on that too. Unfortunately, the Bush administration declined the offer, preferring to lump Tehran with Baghdad and Pyongyang in the ‘axis of evil.’ ”
    Note that Pollock says only that Iran was “very helpful” — and does not say that this help came through direct contact between US and Iranian officials.
    The story suggests that the foreign policy realists (Powell, Tenet) took advantage of Iranian overtures offered through a third party in the wake of 9-11, and engaged in direct talks with Iranians. The AIPAC related and/or “faith based foreign policy” types didn’t want anyone pursuing diplomatic openngs with Iran…thus “axis of evil.” Powell apparently worked to keep the channel open as long as he could, but it was eventually shut down.

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  6. Edward Nashton says:

    Gents,
    Please spare me the hyperbole. The fact of the matter is that the folks on the extreme left…Folks like Mr. Lukasiak…are no better than the neocons. Do yourselves (and me) a favor. Take a deep breath and begin using your brain rather than heart to approach the ills of this administration.
    RatherGate–No evidence. Rather than pursuing your White Whale, you should have spent more time enlightening Mr. Kerry about the reality that no one believed that he was a war hero. That would have given him a much better chance than attempting to ruin Mr. Bush’s shoddy career with something so incredibly dubious.
    As to the pre-war intelligence. I’m not a part of that community, so I can’t be sure what was there and what wasn’t there. The people that I know (and trust) assure me that this was not an open and shut case–I have absolutely no reason to doubt them. Obviously in hindsight this is an easy call.
    Finally, those links regarding knowledge that we cooperated with Iran in Afghanistan:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A52673-2004Oct21.html
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2005-06-09-iran-taliban_x.htm
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0504/p06s02-wosc.html
    I would also point out that Iran was a major funder of the Northern Alliance. Similar to their presence in Lebanon, they probably maintained a number of “consultants” in Afghanistan. Considering the efforts of the CIA pre-war (Afghanistan), I would imagine that both sides ran into one another, especially since they both had similar interests.
    But then again, there’s a bunch of people out there researching this complex issue –therefore everyone’s opinion (except mine apparently) is valid. Perhaps I should just take my information and “shove it” so not to intrude upon the genius that is taking place here.
    Apologies to Steve for the rant.

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  7. Carroll says:

    Totally off subject but dedicated to …hypocritics around the world.
    I am sure Bush will get right on this beating up of a woman in Israel by a goverment protected religious sect. Probably attack Israel over “women’s rights.”
    http://haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=801449&contrassID=19

    Reply

  8. Carroll says:

    Haw,Haw….
    “For the history books: “[NSC spokesman Gordon] Johndroe and CIA spokesman Mike Mansfield said that, in a lapse, the CIA did not circulate [Flynt Leverett’s previously CIA-approved] Century Foundation paper to the White House. Johndroe said sections of that paper probably would have been deemed classified. ‘It was an oversight,’ Mansfield said. ‘It should have been shared with them.'” Will the report be retroactively deemed “probably” classified, due to the bureaucratic knots the CIA and White House have tied themselves in over this episode of alleged censorship? Background here and here.
    Posted by Laura at 12:28 AM
    >>>>>>>
    The CIA had a lapse? Trying to figure out the truth has become impossible these days..did the CIA lapse “on purpose” because they wanted Leverett’s paper on the record or are they playing cover up for the WH?…

    Reply

  9. Carroll says:

    Finally saw the c-span re-airing of Steve and Leverett last night. And about the arguement of whether or not this was public “knowledge”..our talking to Iran was a “blip” in the newspapers but that’s all it was, a blip. So I doubt many Americans who aren’t issues and new hounds are aware of it. If Leverett can expose what has happen regarding Iran behind the scenes re Iraq, so much the better. People need to be aware of our double speak regarding Iran as the neos continue to beat the war drums on Iran.

    Reply

  10. DonS says:

    The NYT has a story up.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/19/washington/19secret.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
    Money quote:“They don’t want us to say how many opportunities this administration has missed to put relations with Iran on a better track,” Mr. Leverett said.
    Has anyone seen a prominent politician express any interest in this WH fraudulent control of the message and threats against the messenger? Should this not be of interest? It’s true that this brewing scandal is still way below the radar of public awareness but shouldn’t our elected representatives be better informed?
    Does their silence, despite several Senators taking junkets to Syria, reflect their discomfort in the foreign policy arena when the subject is Iran? Not quite sure which way the political winds are blowing (or what their influential lobby client’s might say)? If I’m not mistaken, even the ISG report legitimized the notion of talking with Iran more, anathema though such a public posture is to the Bush “policy” team.
    Surely Senators and Representatives ought to be disturbed that the WH is using coercion and censorship, at a minimum, to avoid embarrassment (the national security argument is laughable), at a minimum. Wouldn’t concern about that be apolitical and bipartisan?
    This issue needs to gain traction. The WH has created far more of a problem by their thuggishness than they may have anticipated. Not that examples don’t abound, but the squeamish establishment has been complicit by turning a blind eye.

    Reply

  11. PUBLIUS says:

    Flynt Leverett is a courageous patriot to have called this Bush-Cheney scheme what it is: fraudulent. Since September 11, 2001, this administration has relished the use of fraud in its management of intelligence which it has repeatedly and abusively politicized to influence public opinion concerning the most grave issues on the public agenda.
    The exchange above between Nashton and Lukasiak is yet another reminder that the Establishment Media are guilty of creating a national crisis in the provision of Truth in the marketplace of ideas.
    This important conference seeks to remedy such deficiencies and merits your attention and support:
    http://www.freepress.net/conference/
    All “analysts” who looked outside the sources referenced above knew before the invasion of Iraq from publicly available sources that there was no WMD in Iraq. The general public does not have the time and should not be expected to function as “analysts”. The domestic Establishment Media failed in their duty to report that critical fact. And we find ourselves where we are as a direct result of the tainted well of public knowledge.

    Reply

  12. Pissed Off American says:

    “Your limited involvement in RatherGate probably did more to hand Mr. Bush the election than it did to take it away from him.”
    RatherGate??? You mean when this Administration destroyed the career of a man that reported the truth with dubious documents??? Its a damned shame when a journalist getting sucked in on a frame-up trumps the FACT that our President is an AWOL criminal?

    Reply

  13. Edward Nashton says:

    Mr. Lukasiak,
    With regard to the nuclear deal, this article in the Washington Post details it…If I had more time I would get the article that the FT did on it originally in 2004…In other words, the Post resurrected a 2 year old story.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/17/AR2006061700727_pf.html
    I’ll grab the other story when I have a moment.
    BTW, with regard to your quest to destroy the Bush administration…From a conservative who despises this neocon administration to you: Thanks but no thanks…Your limited involvement in RatherGate probably did more to hand Mr. Bush the election than it did to take it away from him.
    Solid job!

    Reply

  14. p.lukasiak says:

    With all due respect, I also follow this issue very closely and all of this stuff was available to any analyst that was able and willing to connect the dots.
    Mr. Nashton.
    If you need to be an “analyst” who “connects the dots”, rather than a citizen who can read the truth in a newspaper, then the information is not “public knowledge” even if it is in the “public domain.”
    I DID NOT KNOW that the US was holding monthly meetings with Iran, that Iran cancelled one meeting as a protest to the “axis of evil” speech, but attended the next scheduled monthly meeting….
    Was that widely reported in the New York Times? The Washington Post? Time? Newsweek? CNN? MSNBC?
    If so, please provide the appropriate links. Otherwise, take your holier-than-thou attitude, and shove it. There were DETAILS in Leveretts piece that were not “public knowledge”…. and that is what I was talking about.

    Reply

  15. Edward Nashton says:

    Dear Lukasiak,
    Apparently you don’t follow this issue that closely if you are incapable of finding those facts in the “public domain.”
    With all due respect, I also follow this issue very closely and all of this stuff was available to any analyst that was able and willing to connect the dots.
    As to talking to Iran. We all know that there were contacts between our elements on the ground and the Iranians…Trying to sell that as, “see, we talk to Iran!” is a joke. We don’t talk to Iran in any serious manner, which is just one of the many reasons why we’re in the predicament we’re in.
    If you would like to see some additional analysis along these lines, feel free to check out the Iran section on my blog. Perhaps it will give you some insight as to what is going to happen next in this sorry affair.

    Reply

  16. PrahaPartizan says:

    Since the information in question is in the public domain and has even been used by apologists for Dubya’s posse’s policy, perhaps Mr. Leverett might consider bringing counter-charges on civil grounds against all and sundry in Dubya’s administration for denial of income. That would be the sort of free market approach I am sure Dubya and Cheney and their supporters would approve of. Make it a class action suit too based on the info above and nail their hides to the wall. Go after THEIR MONEY and we’ll see how long they play these stupid games illegally.

    Reply

  17. sysprog says:

    Financial Times :
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/f357c9d0-8eea-11db-a7b2-0000779e2340.html
    …Analysts said Mr Leverett was not the only critic to have attracted the administration’s disapproval and that the CIA had tightened up its pre-publication review procedures and threatened other former officials with PUNISHMENT FOR STATING WHAT WAS ALREADY ON PUBLIC RECORD.”
    [emphasis added]

    Reply

  18. shaketheworld says:

    I saw this on cspan main concern is
    israel bombing iran and the US doing a me-too to guard the strait of hormuz with boots on the ground in iran afterwards, what a cluster-F that would be, hey guard the radioactive waste of a country, surprise they aren’t greeting us with american flags and chocolates… Iran could block the strait of hormuz with a few low tech missiles, and we’d be stuck wandering around, trying to make sure noone can make the strait dangerous, a fools erand. Then venezuela would shut it’s oil up tight and we’d have to adjust they’re policy. what fun. get out of the dollar if you’re sane. Cheney has.
    If you dare to hope, Raise awareness against the folly.
    shaketheworld
    PS on cspan a while back there was a man who wrote a book on the excesses of the executive presidency. he had some trouble with crazy censorship coming out of the white house, he threatened to sue, they backed down. Executive Secrets: Covert Action and the Presidency
    from October 22, 2006 cspan book stuff video it was mentioned.
    William Daugherty, author

    Reply

  19. Easy E says:

    A little off-topic, but not necessarily since IRAN POLICY is at issue. As Persian Gulf sees continued increase of U.S. Navy warships, the following is not being picked up by U.S. Press:
    * Iran to use euro instead of US dollar in next year’s budget
    http://rawstory.com/news/2006/Iran_to_use_euro_instead_of_US_doll_12182006.html
    * Iran to replace dollar with euro in foreign deals
    http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/12/18/061218095123.sn4s0vlu.html
    Why is this important?
    “THE REAL REASONS WHY IRAN IS THE NEXT TARGET: The Emerging Euro-denominated International Oil Marker”
    by William Clark
    The Iranians are about to commit an “offense” far greater than Saddam Hussein’s conversion to the euro of Iraq’s oil exports in the fall of 2000. Numerous articles have revealed Pentagon planning for operations against Iran. While the publicly stated reasons will be over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, there are unspoken macroeconomic drivers explaining the Real Reasons regarding the 2nd stage of petrodollar warfare – Iran’s upcoming euro-based oil Bourse……
    [For entire article, click to http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CLA410A.html
    Reality: It’s all about PETROL, not nukes [ if only somebody would leak Cheney’s Energy docs ]

    Reply

  20. jsd says:

    Steve,
    Can you post the blacked out op-ed?
    Thanks!
    JSD

    Reply

  21. Pissed Off American says:

    Sibel Edmonds testimony before the embarrassment called the “9/11 Commission” was classified after the fact. A true patriot, she has fought this administration ever since, both in the courts, and in the media.
    And, as far as Leverett’s “revelations” about this Administration’s disdain for diplomatic olive branches…have we already forgotten Saddam’s 11th hour capitulation to allow the UN investigators back in, (with CIA observers), yet Bush ignored the overture, because he was gonna invade Iraq no matter WHAT the truth was in regards to Iraq’s alleged possession of WMDs.

    Reply

  22. rosa says:

    The real offenders
    Having read the chilling but compelling details of the human rights abuses in US military prisons, I found it hard to fathom why David Hicks is still there after five years of illegal incarceration (“Limp platitudes in the lair of the beasts”, December 16-17).
    The explanation, of course, was all in the first paragraph: “A greater pair of ministerial impostors representing Australia is hard to imagine.” Add to the Alexander Downer-Brendan Nelson mix John Howard and Philip Ruddock, with their fatuous adoration of all things American, and the poor man is utterly doomed.
    Whether Hicks is released from prison tomorrow or at any time in his life, he will be forever afflicted by this barbaric treatment at the hands of “our allies” and his own Government, both of which deserve to take his place in the hellhole that is Guantanamo Bay.
    Rosalind Haining Bondi Junction

    Reply

  23. Marky says:

    serious question: did the US render any terrorism suspects to Iran for torture?
    I don’t recall reading so, but I do know that Syria’s “expertise” was used several times.
    Maybe Iran just doesn’t torture enough, which is why Bush is angry at the Iranians.

    Reply

  24. p.lukasiak says:

    “Trying to censor what has been public knowledge for nearly three years is disgraceful.”
    while what Leverett had to say may have been available to the public, that doesn’t make it “public knowledge”.
    Now, I don’t know what his Op-Ed had to say, but the full paper made it abundantly clear that Iran was a willing partner in the “War on Terror” in the aftermath of 9/11….and that the Bush regime went out of its way to make Iran an enemy (just as it had with North Korea.)
    It also makes it abundantly clear that “talking to Iran” is somehting that the Bush Administration did for over two years — not something that was, and always has been, out of the question.
    That isn’t “public knowledge”…. maybe it was in the public domain, but I learned something from Leverett’s paper, and I follow the issue…

    Reply

  25. ucfjoustudent says:

    Flounder or founder? The copy editor in me thinks it must be the latter…

    Reply

  26. Edward Nashton says:

    Trying to censor what has been public knowledge for nearly three years is disgraceful. No matter how hard they try, we all realize that they could have done a deal with the Iranians in 2003 had it not been for the Vice President’s office.
    Along those lines, the administration was approached by members of the German government in 2005 regarding a deal that Syria was trying to cut to get back into the good graces of the U.S. (as well as bury the hatchet with Israel). Much the same happened in that one. Indeed the German politician that I spoke to was beside himself about the way in which we (the U.S.) rejected the notion.

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  27. Linda says:

    C-Span2 has it scheduled to rerun at 10:13 p.m. tonight.

    Reply

  28. Marcia says:

    The swamp into which this administration is sinking and carrying the country down with it is turning into a criminal adventure.
    Each abolition of civil rights and gags on free speech such as the one on Mr. Leverett is another stone on the road to slavery.
    I think Mr Leverett is right to resist the provocation. They are constantly changing the subject or re-framing. Now he can speak out, embroiled in a court procedure or in prison it would be an entirely different story.
    He is voicing his views without giving leverage to the administration.

    Reply

  29. mainsailset says:

    EmptyWheel over at TheNextHurrah has pieced together Leverett’s OpEd (her best guesstimate at what it would be) based on the original longer version piece that was vetted by CIA and allowed into the public domain. It’s a great piece of work and as usual a demonstration that good old fashioned American ingenuity is pretty hard to tamp down.
    http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2006/12/flynt_leveretts.html#more

    Reply

  30. us military personel says:

    For the first time since Vietnam, an organized, robust movement of active-duty US military personnel has publicly surfaced to oppose a war in which they are serving. Those involved plan to petition Congress to withdraw American troops from Iraq. (Note: A complete version of this report will appear Thursday in the print and online editions of The Nation.)
    After appearing only seven weeks ago on the Internet, the Appeal for Redress, brainchild of 29-year-old Navy seaman Jonathan Hutto, has already been signed by nearly 1,000 US soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen, including dozens of officers–most of whom are on active duty. Not since 1969, when some 1,300 active-duty military personnel signed an open letter in the New York Times opposing the war in Vietnam, has there been such a dramatic barometer of rising military dissent.
    Interviews with two dozen signers of the Appeal reveal a mix of motives for opposing the war: ideological, practical, strategic and moral. But all those interviewed agree that it is time to start withdrawing the troops. Coming from an all-volunteer military, the Appeal was called “unprecedented” by Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice.

    Reply

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