Earlier: Don't miss scoop just posted by the AP on missing American in Iran who...was working for the CIA. And against all protocols. Hired by a rogue element. (Plus here's AP defending why they are publishing now even though it presents some risk to the CIA man, if still alive.)
In an extraordinary breach of the most basic CIA rules, a team of analysts - with no authority to run spy operations - paid Levinson to gather intelligence from some of the world's darkest corners. He vanished while investigating the Iranian government for the U.S.
The CIA was slow to respond to Levinson's disappearance and spent the first several months denying any involvement. When Congress eventually discovered what happened, one of the biggest scandals in recent CIA history erupted.
Behind closed doors, three veteran analysts were forced out of the agency and seven others were disciplined. The CIA paid Levinson's family $2.5 million to pre-empt a revealing lawsuit, and the agency rewrote its rules restricting how analysts can work with outsiders.
But even after the White House, FBI and State Department officials learned of Levinson's CIA ties, the official story remained unchanged. "He's a private citizen involved in private business in Iran," the State Department said in 2007, shortly after Levinson's disappearance.