Our Man Flynt
FrontPageMagazine.com |December 22, 2006
Former CIA and National SecurityCouncil staffer Flynt Leverett is on the loose, and the Bushies hadbetter watch out. He is armed and loaded for bear, even if he canonly manage a pea-shooter.
Leverett, who left the NSC in2003 to work for the presidential campaign of Monsieur Jean-FrancoisKerry, believes the Bush White House is full of Evil Creatures suchas Elliot Abrams, who “don’t take the Constitutionseriously.”
Now the Evil Ones are preventing Our Man Flynt from publishing anop-ed in the New York Times, because it calls on the administrationto drop its opposition to talks with the Islamic Republic ofIran.
“The administration has threatened me with criminalprosecution,” Leverett whined to an audience of MSM lefties inWashington on Monday, “to prevent the dissemination of the viewof someone who is very critical of their approach to Iran policy.”
I suppose Flynt didn’t have time to read the Baker-Hamiltonreport, which makes thesame (mistaken) recommendationthat the U.S. negotiate with Iran. If the administration were trulyinterested in silencing its critics, it would have to shut down theentire U.S. media establishment.
The Washington Posties took Flynt’s childish rant seriously,and ran a puffpiece the next day. ReporterGlenn Kessler took pains to repeat Leverett’s unverifiableclaim that he “voted for George W. Bush in 2000,” tosuggest that he was a real live administration dissident. But Kesslerneglected to mention that Leverett more recently worked for the Kerrycampaign. Minor detail.
Leverett’s tirade was hosted by urbane Bush-basher StevenClemons at the New America Foundation. Inhis blog, Clemons hyped Leverettand made available a longer version of his censored anti-Bush screed,which Leverett claims was passed by the CIA’s pre-publicationreview board without a single cut. The Agency has since said that wasan oversight, and that Leverett’s published article containedclassified material and should not have been approved.
The CIA’s position is interesting, because if Leverett has beenspilling classified information – and Leverett has helpfullyidentified those areas the Agency cut from his NY Times op-ed –then the CIA ought to be abolished for incompetence, because most ofthe “information” is false.
Leverett’s main claim is that dialogue with the IslamicRepublic of Iran works, and that the Bush administration’srefusal to talk to the Tehran regime today “is the strategicequivalent of medical malpractice.”
He bases that extravagant (and demonstrably false) claim on two caseswhere he says dialogue brought tangible results.
During the months following the 9/11 attacks, Iran joined the “6+2”talks on Afghanistan that ultimately led up to the Bonn conferenceand the creation of a post-Taliban government. Leverett claims thatthe Bush administration “used the cover of the “6+2”process to stand up what was effectively a freestanding bilateralchannel with Iran, with regular (for the most part, monthly) meetingsbetween U.S. and Iranian diplomats.”
While meetings did indeed take place in Geneva between U.S.ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Iranian government officials, it issimply false to assert that these meetings “providedsignificant and tangible benefits for the American position duringthe early stages of the war on terror,” as Leverett claims.
Instead, those meetings allowed the Iranians to gauge U.S. intentionsin Afghanistan and the level of U.S. anger over Iran’sevacuation of al Qaeda operatives from Bin Laden training camps. Andthey gauged – correctly – that the U.S. was toopreoccupied with securing Kabul and plugging the Pakistani borderwith Afghanistan to do much about Iranian shenanigans on the otherside of the country.
As I and others have reported, Iranset up a “rat line”in Western Afghanistan in October 2001, with convoys of Toyotascarrying top al Qaeda officials and their families who were fleeingAfghanistan for Iran. Some of the al Qaeda terror-masters were flownout on Iranian Army helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, according toU.S. intelligence reports at the time.
But if you believe Leverett, Iran gave the United States “crucialdiplomatic cooperation,” because they could have activelyattacked U.S. troops during Operation enduring Freedom, “eitherby Afghan proxies or by Iranian intelligence and paramilitary assets.”
Frankly, I would have preferred we skipped the jaw-jaw and godirectly to war-war. Had we hit Iranian Revolutionary Guards unitshard in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 as they were evacuating theeldest son of Osama Bin Laden, or al Qaeda military chief Saefal-Adil, we might not be facing the Iranians (or al Qaeda) today inIraq. But Our Man Flynt believes we should have bowed down andthanked the Iranians for not killing more of us.
The second example Leverett uses involves an Iranian “overture”to the United States in early 2003. According to Leverett, this wasIran’s offer of a “grand bargain” with the UnitedStates that would have resolved all outstanding differences betweenthe two countries.
With Iran, any discussion must be “all or nothing,”Leverett said this week, and must include U.S. “securityguarantees” not to use force to overthrow the regime.
“If the US had taken the Iranian offer to negotiate in 2003when Iran was not spinning centrifuges, was not enrichinguranium& the world would be looking better,” he said.
But of course, the Evil Ones in the White House turned down theIranian offer, which according to Our Man Flynt was made in goodfaith out of a desire by Iran’s clerical leaders to put asidetheir terrorist ways.
Sometimes when Leverett mentions the 2003 Iranian overture, he adds atelling detail: that he himself was involved in those talks, andpersonally met with a top Iranian official on the sidelines of aninternational conference in Athens.
I wrote about Leverett’s encounter with a senior Iranianofficial at thetime. The meeting was intended tobe a “discrete back-channel discussion& intended as a forumto allow for quiet communication between the two governments withoutrhetoric or politics.”
But thanks to Leverett, it turned into a public relations fiasco.While Leverett claimed that he told the Iranian he was no longerworking at the White House (he had recently resigned from the BushWhite House and was preparing to join the Kerry campaign), theofficial’s translator spooked and reported the meeting back toTehran, where it was promptly shut down.
The CIA must be relieved that Our Man Flynt is no longer on theroles. While his policy recommendations are just as insane as thoseproposed by the Baker-Hamilton duo, his adolescent pomposity showshim off for what he really is.
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