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Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Diplomacy in Iran?
Flynt Leverett, a fellow at the centrist New America Foundation, gave a talk in Washington last week at the Center for American Progress. It was a speech laying out America's diplomatic alternatives for dealing with Iran. Important, but hardly earth-shaking stuff. But in the talk Leverett revealed that before sending an Op-Ed to the New York Times that week he had submitted the article to the CIA for clearance -- a standard procedure for him because he served on President Bush's National Security Council, and a procedure that had always gone through without a hitch.
This time, though, the CIA forwarded the Op-Ed to the White House, which promptly quashed it. Leverett: "I have been extremely pessimistic that this administration is inclined or capable of genuinely rethinking its approach to Iran in the way that we need it to at this point,and [this] has only confirmed that for me."
The irony of it all is that the Op-ed was merely an 800-word condensation, with nothing new added, of a report he already wrote, drawing on his significant Iran experience, for the Century Foundation (home to Ideas contributor Patrick Keefe, who tipped off Brainiac). It would seem that the Century Foundation has published classified information -- only the CIA didn't think so when it approved that very report earlier this month. I can't think of another episode that has demonstrated that either the process of classification is tremendously flawed and silly or the government is using it arbitrarily and even politically. Or both.