What the White House doesn’t want you to know about Iran

The administration is blocking the publication of a New York Times op-ed written by two former government employees, saying that it contains classified information. But Flynt Leverett, one of the coauthors, claims the real reason the article is being blocked is because it criticizes U.S. policy toward Iran. According to an official statement by Leverett, ...

605383_leverett5.jpg
605383_leverett5.jpg

The administration is blocking the publication of a New York Times op-ed written by two former government employees, saying that it contains classified information. But Flynt Leverett, one of the coauthors, claims the real reason the article is being blocked is because it criticizes U.S. policy toward Iran. According to an official statement by Leverett, the CIA had already cleared the contents of the Century Foundation white paper "Dealing with Tehran: Assessing U.S. Diplomatic Options toward Iran" that he used as the basis for his op-ed. What was in there? 

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,” Leverett’s official statement said. 

About the above issues, the Century Foundation paper says the following:

The administration is blocking the publication of a New York Times op-ed written by two former government employees, saying that it contains classified information. But Flynt Leverett, one of the coauthors, claims the real reason the article is being blocked is because it criticizes U.S. policy toward Iran. According to an official statement by Leverett, the CIA had already cleared the contents of the Century Foundation white paper “Dealing with Tehran: Assessing U.S. Diplomatic Options toward Iran” that he used as the basis for his op-ed. What was in there? 

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,” Leverett’s official statement said. 

About the above issues, the Century Foundation paper says the following:

  • After 9/11 the Bush administration used the cover of the U.N.’s “6+2” framework for Afghanistan to conduct practically monthly bilateral diplomatic contacts with Iranian officials, whose experience and connections were vital to defeating the Taliban and installing the Afghan Interim Authority. These contacts continued until May 2003, with only a one-month break following President Bush’s January 2002 “axis of evil” speech.
  • In 2003, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq and before the start of the insurgency, the Iranian Foreign Ministry sent a letter to the U.S. government (available here via ArmsControlWonk) proposing a framework for settling the disputes between Tehran and Washington. The administration turned the offer down.

While it may be classified, none of this is news. I mentioned Iran’s dislike for and help in toppling the Taliban here. In this article, Patrick Clawson, deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy notes regular meetings between U.S. and Iranian officials from “the Taliban days” until May 2003 that, although held with a third party present, were essentially bilateral. And the Financial Times broke the story on Iran’s offer to discuss its nuclear program in July of 2003.

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