The Paper Of (Mostly On The) Record: NYT Runs "Classified" Op-Ed Covered With Blacked-Out Redactions

Today the New York Times runs a very unusual op-ed: Censored. An essay by former CIA official Flynt Leverett has been thoroughly redacted by the White House. The censored essay — titled "Redacted Version of Original Op-Ed" in case you missed the chunks of blacked-out text throughout — is what remains of an essay criticizing Bush's policies toward Iran. According to the Times, it elected to run the redacted version after the White House claimed that portions were classified (this, please note, is after the CIA, which has cleared over 20 other pieces by Leverett, cleared the entire piece). Wednesday, Rep. Louise Slaughter sent a letter to Bush asking whether the redactions were politically motivated.

The Times delayed the essay's publication last week but apparently decided that this redaction attempt deserved a public challenge; meanwhile, Leverett and co-writer Hillary Mann have promised to fight for the publication of the redacted parts. Next to the op-ed the Times has taken the unusual step of listing a number of specific news stories online, guiding readers to the redacted info: "The deleted portions of the original draft reveal no classified material." TPM Muckraker, which had the details yesterday, in turn got it from an item published on the Washington Note by blogger Steve Clemons, but noted that item had been taken down and replaced with a version missing some of the original info.

Meanwhile, former CIA director George Tenet's book is due out in February; should be interesting to note what gets through ("July 10, 2001: Dum-de-dum, not much happened today...").