Robert Levinson, gone missing while on a secret American spy mission disguised a business trip, seems to have been abandoned by the U.S. Government. Levinson, who was purportedly traveling as a private citizen investigating cigarette smuggling, disappeared in Iran in March of 2007. The State Department has maintained since then that Robert Levinson had left the FBI 10 years earlier, so he was no longer associated with the government. However, sources in the government reported to CNN that there is absolute proof Levinson was working under contract to the CIA at the time.
Sr. Senator John McCain, who sits on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, says he is disturbed by the apparent lies being told to Congress by various intelligence agencies. The CIA seems to have completely mislead Congress about Levinson, and McCain believes it is time to reexamine the oversight role of Congress concerning American intelligence. However, Senator McCain also said he feels confident that Congress and the State Department are doing everything they can to find and return Levinson.
The family of Robert Levinson has been consistently vocal in their demands to the State Department that it secure his release from Iran. However, that task is rendered that much harder when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insist that the Iranian government has no idea where Levinson might be. They publicly express sympathy for his family and offer their personal assistance in locating his whereabouts, but they have been saying that for almost seven years now.
Secretary of State John Kerry argues that Levinson’s family is wrong about the U.S. government’s efforts to find out what happened. During an interview on ABC television’s This Week, Kerry admitted there hasn’t been any measurable progress, because Levinson is not back yet. But he insists America has not abandoned Robert Levinson, and that implying such is not helpful. Right now, “we’re looking for proof of life,” Kerry said.
It has also been reported that various news agencies have been aware of Robert Levinson’s connection to the CIA from almost the beginning of his purported captivity. The New York Times reports that it has known of Levinson’s CIA ties since late 2007. Evidently, a Levinson family lawyer offered the NYT access to Levinson’s files and emails. The Times says it withheld that information for reasons of Levinson’s safety and eventual freedom. ABC seems to have known about the CIA ties, too. A source inside ABC confirmed to Gawker that ABC reporters became aware of the CIA connection some time in 2007. A recent review of their news articles shows that ABC News lied about what they knew at least seven times, while the New York Times lied at least three.
Some believe it is only responsible for a news organization to withhold critical information if the government requests it for safety or security reasons. Still others believe that withholding this kind of information has only helped the U.S. Government abandon an American businessman/spy named Robert Levinson for almost seven years.
By Ben Gaul