Flynt Leverett

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Flynt Leverett (born March 6, 1958 in Memphis, Tennessee) is a former senior fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. and a professor at the Pennsylvania State University School of International Affairs. From March 2002 to March 2003, he served as the senior director for Middle East affairs on the National Security Council (NSC).

Prior to serving on the NSC, he was a counterterrorism expert on the Policy Planning Staff of the U.S. State Department, and before that he served as a CIA senior analyst for eight years. Since leaving government service, Leverett served as a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy before becoming the director of the Geopolitics of Energy Initiative in the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation.

Professional life[edit]

Professor Leverett graduated with the degrees of B.A., B.M., from Texas Christian University and went on to earn M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University. His areas of professional expertise include U.S. Middle East and Persian Gulf policy, international energy affairs, and international security. He is a founding faculty member of the School of International Affairs of Pennsylvania State University. He has testified before Congress, and has appeared on numerous major television news-oriented broadcasts.[1]

Views on Iran[edit]

Leverett was heavily criticized for his articles during the 2009 Iranian Green Movement protests. After the government announced official election results, millions of Iranians took on the streets in a peaceful protest against the rigged presidential election. The demonstrations were brutally crushed by the Iranian regime’s security forces that left hundreds dead, and thousands of dissidents were injured, arrested and tortured. In a New York Times Op-Ed co-authored with his wife Mann Leverett, Flynt described the Iranian opposition movement as weak and not representing “anything close to a majority.” The piece then went on to criticize President Obama’s Iran policy as “half-hearted efforts.”[2] The Leveretts’ Op-Ed was harshly criticized by Abbas Milani. Calling the Leveretts’ Op-Ed “the most infuriating op-ed of the new year,” Milani pointed out how Obama’s extensive efforts to reach out to the Ayatollah had been rejected and ridiculed by the regime.[3] In a 2010 article in the Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg described the Leveretts as “cynical foreign policy realists,” and criticized their reasons for a policy of conciliation between the US and a “regime that rapes and murders its own citizens” as "semi-inexplicable."[4]

Op-ed controversy[edit]

As a former national security official granted a security clearance, Leverett is required to seek prior approval of articles from the CIA's Publication Review Board. Such reviews are conducted as a precaution to prevent leaks of classified information.[5]

On December 16, 2006 Leverett was denied permission to publish a 1,000 word opinion piece, co-written with his wife, Hillary Mann and based on his previously approved 35 page paper "Dealing with Tehran: Assessing U.S. Diplomatic Options Toward Iran." The longer paper and its shorter piece are critical of the George W. Bush administration's refusal to engage in "comprehensive" negotiations with the government of Iran.[6][7]

Leverett had intended to publish the shorter article in The New York Times. In a statement to the online publication Talking Points Memo, he disputed the official justification for the decision.

In the same statement, Leverett places the blame for quashing the op-ed piece on "White House staffers... working for Elliott Abrams and Meghan O'Sullivan, both politically appointed deputies to President Bush's National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley."


Books and reports[edit]


  • Leverett, Flynt; Leverett, Hillary Mann (November 2012). "The mad mullah myth : the dangers of misunderstanding Iran's strategy". Revision. Harper's Magazine. 325 (1950): 53–55. 



  1. ^ Pennsylvania State University School of International Affairs, official website faculty profiles, last accessed 9 May 2013,
  2. ^ Leverett, Flynt; Leverett, Hillary Mann (2010-01-05). "Another Iranian Revolution? Not Likely". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 1 January 2018. 
  3. ^ MILANI, ABBAS (2010-01-08). "The State of the Opposition is Strong". New Republic. Retrieved 2018-01-01. 
  4. ^ Goldberg, Jeffrey (2010-01-12). "Bad News for Hillary Mann Leverett". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-01-01. 
  5. ^ Aftergood, Steven (2006-09-26). "CIA Regulations on Pre-Publication Review Posted". Secrecy News: from the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy. Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 2006-12-18. 
  6. ^ Goldenberg, Suzanne (2006-12-18). "Bush accused of gagging critic of Iran policy". Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2006-12-18. 
  7. ^ "Flynt Leverett Blasts White House National Security Council Censorship of Former White House Officials Critical of Bush Policies". The Washington Note. December 16, 2006. URL accessed December 18, 2006.

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