Thursday, December 28, 2006

CIA Still Censoring NY Times?

Perhaps The New York Times entered into some sort of secret agreement with the Bush Administration that it hasn't disclosed when it published the redacted Op-Ed written by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann on a news dump Friday just before Christmas when most people wouldn't be reading the news.

Why else would they publish crap like this?

Not that "Iran Is Seeking More Influence in Afghanistan" written by David Rohde, with contributions by Michael Slackman and Michael Moss, is that bad of an article. It's just that it completely ignores much of the unretracted information in the op-ed printed a few days ago, along with the citations which led to all that was censored, which would have added a whole other level to this story.

Has the Times agreed to ignore all evidence that the Bush Administration ignored all Iranian GWOT efforts and pushed them away, helping to create the mess that was once considered a success but most everyone ignores (starts with an "A" and a big reason for the "mess" starts with a "P") these days?

Simply speaking, as bad as it is in Iraq, the problems are mostly internal (at least after you subtract oil from the equation...which no one in power speaks realistically about anyway), and it is not the threat to the world that the re-Talibanization of Afghanistan may one day become (special thanks to our "allies" in Pakistan who need to do a helluva lot more than build a fence).

(I would like to interject that I am one of those rare animals who do not believe the invasion of Afghanistan was any more warranted than Iraq. I firmly believe that more "justice" could have been achieved by working longer on the diplomatic ends. But while the pre-2001 Taliban had aims only on Afghanistan, I fear that the present and seemingly future version has become something far worse now.

I believe that withdrawing our troops from Iraq has at least a fighting (or non-fighting) chance of easing the violence (at least of the non-sectarian kind), and I can't think of any reason other than oil which makes the problems over there more important that they are in, say, Somalia (there's oil there, too, but it's the entire Middle East oil supply which keeps our troops in Iraq).

But the problems in Afghanistan are more important than any other place in the world, primarily because neighboring Pakistan not only has nuclear weapons, it has also sold them to who-knows-how-many rogue nations and/or terror groups.)

The new Times article even includes a quote from someone whose public words the retracted words only echoed. As Leverett and Mann noted in their preface, "These passages go into aspects of American-Iranian relations during the Bush administration’s first term that have been publicly discussed by....and a former special envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbins."

This is all there is in the new Times article that relates to the redacted op-ed:

When the Taliban were ousted in 2001, Iran promised to help stabilize Afghanistan. In Germany that December, it was Iranian diplomats who stepped in to save foundering talks to form a new Afghan government, persuading the Northern Alliance to accept the agreement. Soon after, Iran pledged $560 million in aid and loans to Afghanistan over five years, a “startling” amount for a nonindustrialized nation, according to James Dobbins, the senior American envoy to Afghanistan at the time.

A week later, President Bush situated Iran on the “axis of evil.” But even as they assailed that characterization, Mr. Dobbins said, Iranian officials privately offered to train Afghan soldiers. The Bush administration rejected the offer.

Poor Rohde, Slackman and Moss might have had to ignore stuff that Dobbins wrote in the 2004 Washinton Post Op-Ed cited as a source by Leverett and Mann called "Time to deal with Iran" like this:

...Secretary of State Colin L. Powell sent personal letters of thanks to every foreign minister represented at the Bonn conference except the one whose envoy may have been the most helpful, the Iranian. Dialogue with Iranian representatives was confined over the next year to infrequent, low-level and inconclusive exchanges, which, shortly after U.S. forces entered Baghdad, were suspended altogether.

Of course, even as Iranian diplomats and military officers were supporting U.S. efforts to install and sustain a successor government to the Taliban, other Iranians with official connections were, and are, rendering support to radical Palestinian groups such as the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). It was this Iranian support of terrorism directed against Israel, along with the Iranian nuclear program and the refusal of Iran to turn over senior al Qaeda operatives in its custody, that caused Washington to limit and eventually curtail dialogue with Tehran on Afghanistan and Iraq.

I included the second Dobbins paragraph to show how weird it is that the Times ignored that, as well. I guess the Times didn't want to touch the "refusal" part, because the record shows that much of that was just propaganda. The Bush Administration fouled up, no doubt. There seemed to be more offers of cooperation than harboring, and, in the end, "our leaders" allowed some very fucking dangerous people to return to their first "successful" GWOT project, Afghanistan.

(Juan Cole has an interesting theory regarding how neocons derailed Iranian attempts at reconcilitation, but no American mainstream journalist would dare to follow-up since....well, you'll see if you take a peek....hat tip to reader Tom at Brad DeLong's crib)

Reading Rohde, Slackman and Moss is like pretending Leverett and Mann never happened. Speaking of which...

How much do you want to bet that Leverett was probably not able to help contribute to this article in any way whatsoever by the censors?

But why did that stop Rohde, Slackman and Moss?

Why did this article strangely ignore the circumstances of the editorial that they fought to publish but then dumped on the Friday before Christmas?

And why the hell couldn't the Times even add Leverett and Mann as a related link on the bottom of the page?

Courageous stand, my ass. This smells. Somebody call the public editor and get us some answers.


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