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This quote comes from an article published online at USA Today, but it strikes me as odd and not correct. Am I right, or do I misunderstand the sentence?

Obama stopped short of saying how high up the Iranian government officials who were aware of the plot or suggesting how the administration might respond.

It seems to me there should be another verb with regards to the Iranian government officials. Is that the issue?

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It's a great example of how not to compose a sentence. The reader (and, I suspect, the author) finds their attention wandering by halfway and gone entirely by the three quarter mark. –  Optimal Cynic Oct 14 '11 at 5:14

1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Yes, there is indeed a missing verb.

We can take just the first half and correct it like so:

Obama stopped short of saying how high up the Iranian government officials who were aware of the plot [were]...

This phrase in general is a bit of a run-on, which is probably why the proof-reader missed it. It could be very well served with a comma, since a comma tells us when a new (dependent) clause begins.

Obama stopped short of saying how high up the Iranian government officials who were aware of the plot were, or suggesting how the administration might respond.

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