US President Barack Obama speaks to delegates at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

It was startling, though not exactly surprising. Web detectives spotted it fairly easily. I saw it first from M.J. Rosenberg, but perhaps someone else had earlier. The Daily Beast and others referred to the grafs before they were cut. The Boston Globe published it earlier, in picking up The New York Times story, for example, and they still have it online.

This was cut from the Times’s top story of the day, on their site and in print:

Administration officials said the influential pro-Israel lobby group Aipac was already at work pressing for military action against the government of Mr. Assad, fearing that if Syria escapes American retribution for its use of chemical weapons, Iran might be emboldened in the future to attack Israel. In the House, the majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, has long worked to challenge Democrats’ traditional base among Jews.

One administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified discussing White House strategy, called Aipac “the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” and said its allies in Congress had to be saying, “If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line” against the catastrophic use of chemical weapons, “we’re in trouble.”

Updates; All of the many changes in the story tracked here.  Goldberg talks to Politico about it. As he notes, very “strange”—original article was accurate and no space issues on the Web.…Some dialogue with the Times’s Robert Mackey on Twitter, in which he claims “transparency.”  And now: See NYT explanation for cut here (“gorilla” quote had appeared the day before).

Rosenberg comments:

Obviously the White House and/or AIPAC did not want to be caught saying that the reason we are attacking Syria is to show AIPAC, the “800 pound gorilla,” that we are serious about the war the lobby really craves: Iran.

But there it is. Or was.

AIPAC censorship even applies to the Times. Only in America (not Israel, where AIPAC’s power does not extend to Haaretz).

Jeffrey Goldberg in tweet to me just now: “I noted, on Twitter, the AIPAC cut early this morning. Trying to get an answer about why it was cut.”

Brent Sasley at The Daily Beast had commented when he read original story;

One might, then, expect it to take a public position on the biggest issue of the day, U.S. strikes against the regime’s military assets. And after President Obama announced he was going to Congress for authorization for the attack, observers began wondering—with some claiming more confidently—that AIPAC would become much more active. Apparently White House officials even fear what AIPAC will do. If Obama is seen as not enforcing his red line over Syria, how, one hinted, would this “800-pound gorilla in the room” view the Administration’s Iran policy.

Bob Dreyfuss urges Congress to block war on Syria.