Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Political censorship of the news now official

Two former government employees, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann, tried to write an op-ed piece on American-Iranian relations for the NY Times. They submitted their writing to the CIA for "prepublication review" (a lovely euphemism for censorship), which is a required screening of the writings of all government employees who have had access to classified material.

We the public are supposed to tolerate this censorship because it protects classified materials.1 But here is what Leverett and Mann learned—

Agency officials told us that they had concluded on their own that the original draft included no classified material, but that they had to bow to the White House.

Indeed, the deleted portions of the original draft reveal no classified material. These passages go into aspects of American-Iranian relations during the Bush administration’s first term....

These aspects have been extensively reported in the news media, and one of us, Mr. Leverett, has written about them in The Times and other publications with the explicit permission of the review board.

The Times has published the op-ed online with the deletions shown as blacked-out text.



1Of course the use of the classification procedure itself for political purposes has been raised to a high art form by the Bush administration. [back]

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