For those up at 3 am when the morning newspapers are uploaded to the web, rush to the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Unless lawyers or other news get in the way, two very important pieces will be up.
The first in the New York Times will be Flynt Leverett’s and Hillary Mann’s CIA-censored op-ed based on his new paper, “Dealing with Tehran: Assessing US Policy Options Towards Iran.” But, op-ed page editor David Shipley will add some “graphic flair” by posting the original op-ed that the CIA reviewed after White House National Security Council staff insinuated themselves into this normally intrigue-free process. The op-ed will run with the blacked out, redacted lines “blacked out.” Very cool.
Then front page Washington Post. Robin Wright will have an important article that digs deeply into the tension between the recently resigned Saudi Ambassador to the United State Prince Turki al-Faisal and the Saudi National Security Advisor Prince Bandar bin Sultan. (Update: This important article by Robin Wright has been delayed by at least one day and perhaps until Sunday.)
According to sources, Wright gets pretty far into the royal family drama and looks at how rival “clusters” of royal brothers have used policy differences over Saudi Arabia’s relations with the US, concern over Iran, and strategic direction in the Middle East as ways to wage combat that is at the same time both about genuine policy debates as well as about future royal succession and advancement to influential government positions.
Robin Wright’s article may also get into the intricacies of Vice President Cheney’s relationship with Prince Bandar — and will delve into which of them is gaming the other. I had been writing that Bandar and his staff, particularly his close aide Rihab Massoud, continued to get status and power in Saudi power circles because of the former Ambassador’s extremely close relationship with the Vice President.
However, others I have spoken to since suggest that I have the situation backward — and that it is Cheney, and others like Colin Powell and George Bush who are pawns in Bandar’s world. A source has intimated that Robin Wright’s big piece tomorrow may touch on this subject.
TODAY (though I think it made the news yesterday), Representative Louise Slaughter has written to the President to ask why specifically Flynt Leverett’s oped for the New York Times was censored.
— Steve Clemons
Update: For those of you traveling today — particularly on United Airlines — I really feel for you. I am a 1K, semi-privileged flyer on United and had my flight out of Reagan National Airport to Las Vegas cancelled this morning with a United staffer telling me that the only thing that they could get me on was three days from now.
I’m now staying in Washington for the holidays — but I strongly empathize with the many out there who are not only dealing with weather challenges but also airlines that don’t know how to deal with the occasional, semi-predictable hiccup. Three days wait for a 1K member? That’s not good United. And it must be even worse for those without travel status.
— Steve Clemons