With all due respect to Reid Smith, it does a great disservice to our readers to characterize Hillary Mann Leverett as "President Bush's leading expert on Iran." She and her husband Flynt Leverett left the Bush administration and burned the bridges behind them, claiming there was an Iranian "Grand Bargain" available that the administration should have taken but didn't (the evidence for their claim is dubious at best). They have been professional apologists for the Islamic Republic ever since. Almost alone among Iran experts, they claimed that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the legitimate victor in the 2009 election.
Here's Jeffrey Goldberg on how Hillary Mann, who was a critic of the Iranian regime, became Hillary Mann Leverett, who is anything but. More revealingly, here's Lee Smith's examination of the Leveretts and their relationship with the regime in Tehran.
What the Justice Department accuses the Iranian regime of -- backing a shady figure who tried to hire gangsters from a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington -- is indeed bizarre. But the Quds Force is used to hiring criminal gangs to carry out assassinations in the Middle East; that they might not understand that things work differently in North America is really not such a stretch, and it wouldn't be the first time that a government's black-ops unit wasted money on a harebrained scheme cooked up by an unreliable asset. Is it possible that there's a piece of this story that the government has gotten wrong? Sure. But the fact that Hillary Mann Leverett says the Iranian regime is innocent of a given sin is meaningless. She always says that.
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