By MARGARET SULLIVAN, NY Times Public Editor
December 21, 2013
“NEW YORK TIMES readers expect, reasonably enough, that their newspaper will publish what it digs up in the way of news, especially news about the clandestine activities of the federal government.
So, for those who are paying close attention, it disturbs and upsets them when they learn that that hasn’t always been the case. The most recent example came when The Associated Press published a story about Robert Levinson, a former F.B.I. agent missing since 2007. After years of withholding the information, The A.P. revealed that he had been working for the C.I.A., sent to Iran as a spy on a mission that went wrong.
Soon after The A.P. published its story, so did The Washington Post. And the next day, so did The Times. It turns out that The Times has known about the situation since 2007.
The flurry of attention, not only to the news about Mr. Levinson but also to the decisions to hold a story, caused some Times readers to wonder why this happened — and what else readers might not know.”
My Take: Further into Ms. Sullivan’s article, she writes, “In 2008, after an internal investigation, several C.I.A. officials were pushed out [3 were fired that we know of] and [7 or more] others disciplined for mishandling the Levinson case. At that point, the situation spilled over into official wrongdoing.” [Emphases mine]
Translation: ‘Government wrongdoing.’ It’s the opinion here that the primary reason the CIA – and possibly the FBI, but it was not their mission – was to keep the story muffled … and did so for six and a half years! It was the CIA’s dirty laundry, not humane concern for Levinson or his life, which appears now to have been secondary. The family and media outlets were fed the official CIA story by the President, FBI Director(s), Senators and Congressmen (those with classified briefings) along with polite sympathetic expressions. And thirdly, of course, to obtain ongoing cooperation and silence. So the 2.5 million family annuity that was allegedly paid, which I do not begrudge in the slightest, was really CIA hush money to prevent further embarrassment to themselves, the CIA. They wanted no spotlight on their own rogue analysts who engineered Bob’s last mission. Ugly!
Sullivan continued, “That could have tipped the balance, but this significant intelligence scandal didn’t make its way into media reports.” Her article details why it did not become more public from a Levinson family point of view, which is very understandable, especially in the beginning. Yet it must still be reconciled that some in the media knew that the CIA was lying through their teeth for years. And the CIA story gave cover for others in the Government to tell untruths from the White House on down until early December, 2013.
The Levinson story is approaching 7 years next March, but it was in the news quite a bit this past November. Bob’s disappearance unfortunately exceeds former record number of days that an American was held against his will overseas: 2455 days! So the lie about him being on a ‘private business trip’ was a known falsehood within the CIA and the highest ranks of Government and a few in media.
I credit the AP and the writers of their original story dated December 12, 2013, Matt Apuzzo, now with NYT, and Adam Goldman, now with Washington Times, for honoring their commitments for over three years before collectively deciding in early-December it was time for the public to know the truth. This seems too rare these days when dealing with the U.S. Government. But I sense it is changing … like a pendulum swinging. Authorities are being questioned again and that is healthy for the country.
Does this affect two other U.S. Citizens held in Iran? Pastor Saeed Abedini (l) and Amir Hekmati (r)? Who knows? I don’t know what the Government is saying behind closed doors to the families and I don’t know whether what the Government is telling them is the truth!
I hope and urge that ‘only truth’ will be told going forward regarding all three of these men, innocent U.S. hostages in Iran. I believe it is implied in Ms. Sullivan’s writing that if the public knew the truth about Bob Levinson’s case earlier, perhaps the media and country would have gotten behind the Levinson family, and demanded not just truth, but action!
America Held Hostage-Again! We need to Free All Three!
Tell Government (the WH, State Dept. and your elected officials) they MUST link the current SIX-MONTH Iran nuclear program talks and any Final Agreement to the release of all three Americans!
[Links to each man’s ‘Story’ can be found in “Recent Posts” dated December 12.]
Official Twitter accounts: @SaveSaeed @FreeAmirHekmati @HelpBobLevinson @FreeAllThree