The Political Dynamics of the
Intelligence Estimate Report on Iran:
Is it intel or is it politics?
Challenges to the NIE Assessment
Flaws in the Iran Report
John R. Bolton Washington Post December 6, 2007;
article below provides critical information to factor
into the NIE assessment.
much of the intelligence community is engaging in policy
formulation rather than "intelligence" analysis, and too many in Congress and the media are happy about it.
President Bush may not be able to repair his Iran policy
(which was not rigorous enough to begin with) in his last
year, but he would leave a lasting legacy by returning
the intelligence world to its proper function.
these flaws in the NIE's "key judgments," which
were made public even though approximately 140 pages of
analysis, and reams of underlying intelligence, remain
classified. … When the IAEA is tougher than
our analysts, you can bet the farm that someone is pursuing
a policy agenda.
word now used by this writer will be put to the task of
demonstrating to my readers that, if anything, this
NIE Report has revealed a major systemic problem with
United States national security analysis; and
that further, America’s ability to understand and detect threats against itself has been compromised.
are talking points to demonstrate
why the message of the report is flawed; how it is being used
against US national security interests; and what the consequences
will be of this derailment in threat analysis.
'hoodwinked' CIA over nuclear plans
Tim Shipman in Washington, Philip Sherwell and Carolynne
U.K. Telegraph 09/12/2007
spy chiefs have grave doubts that Iran has mothballed
its nuclear weapons programme, as a US intelligence report claimed
last week, and believe the CIA has been hoodwinked by
The timing of the CIA report
has also provoked fury in the British Government,
where officials believe it has undermined efforts to impose tough new sanctions on Iran
and made an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities more
security services in London want concrete evidence to
allay concerns that the Islamic state has fed disinformation
to the CIA.
Don't Be Misled by NIE on Iran's Nuclear Efforts
James Phillips The Heritage Foundation December
The Bush Administration should establish a bipartisan fast-track
commission to investigate the classified evidence and
review the judgments of the NIE.
political impact of the NIE could eventually reduce external
pressure on Iran
by undermining the Bush Administration's efforts to mobilize
an international coalition to impose stronger sanctions.
calls report on Iran 'quasi-putsch'
Reuters LA Times December 9, 2007
Spiegel magazine quoted Bolton on Saturday as alleging
that the aim of the National
Intelligence Estimate, which contradicts his and
President Bush's position, was
not to provide the latest intelligence on Iran.
"This is politics disguised as intelligence," Bolton was quoted as saying in an article
appearing in this week's edition.
By Kevin Drum CBS News 12-9-07
Matt Yglesias, former spook Pat Lang provides
his take: The
"jungle telegraph" in Washington is booming
with news of the Iran NIE. I am told that the reason
the conclusions of the NIE were released is that it was
communicated to the White House that "intelligence
career seniors were lined up to go to jail if necessary"
if the document's gist were not given to the public.
Translation' Someone in that group would have gone to
the media "on the record" to disclose its contents.
Views from Israel and Our Other Allies
Jerusalem Post Editorial Dec 5, 2007
We assess that Teheran is determined to develop nuclear weapons
- despite its international obligations and international
pressure. It is continuing to pursue uranium
enrichment and has shown more interest in protracting
negotiations than reaching an acceptable diplomatic solution.
is a grave concern to the other countries in the region
whose security would be threatened by Iranian
nuclear weapons. Any such development could prompt dangerous
and destabilizing countermoves in a volatile region that
is, because of its energy reserves, critical to the global
economy.... - Annual Threat Assessment of the US Director
of National Intelligence, January
assess with moderate confidence Teheran had not restarted
its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but
we do not know whether it currently intends to develop
nuclear weapons. - National
Intelligence Estimate, dated November
2007 (released December 3)
If one were looking for a new definition of
chutzpa, it would be hard to do better than the latest
US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran.
Notes: By David Horowitz Jerusalem Post Dec 6,
fallout has been immense: delight
where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
has been strengthened, his fiery defiance apparently
vindicated; the immediate raising of new
reservations against intensified sanctions on Iran
from some of the already reluctant international players;
an eruption of American criticism
of Bush's perceived exaggerated talk
of the need to stop Iran or face World War III; a flood
of expert analyses concluding that the report kills
off any prospect of the Bush administration resorting
to military intervention against Teheran in its final
months; and open skepticism from Israel, where
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has all but dismissed the
best efforts of America's
intelligence agencies as plain wrong.
after failing to make their case on Iran and influence
the outcome of the United States's National Intelligence
Estimate (NIE) released this week,
Military Intelligence will present its hard core evidence
on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program on Sunday
to the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff during
a rare visit he will be making to Israel.
Intelligence expert who rewrote book on Iran
has torpedoed plans for military action
Ewen MacAskill in Washington The U.K. Guardian December
The intelligence came from an exotic variety of sources: there was the so-called Laptop of Death;
there was the Iranian commander who mysteriously disappeared
in Turkey. Also in the mix was video footage of a nuclear
plant in central Iran and intercepts of Iranian telephone
calls by the British listening station GCHQ. But pivotal
to the US investigation into Iran's suspect nuclear weapons
programme was the work of a little-known intelligence
specialist, Thomas Fingar.
US intelligence finding, France
still pushes for tightened sanctions on Iran
Press International Herald Tribune Dec 7, 2007
pushed for continued negotiations to tighten international
sanctions against Iran, saying Friday that its concerns
about Tehran's nuclear program were not allayed by new
U.S. intelligence...."We cannot at all
conclude that the threat has decreased," said French
President Nicolas Sarkozy's spokesman, David Martinon.
German and French Leaders
Say Iran is Still a Threat
Nick Thompson TotheCenter.com December 9, 2007
a U.S. intelligence report released Monday stating that
Iran dismantled its nuclear weapons program
in 2003, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President
Nicolas Sarkozy say that Iran is still a threat to
build a nuclear bomb. The
statements by the leaders of two of Washington's major
European allies came at a joint news conference in Paris.
a working dinner in Brussels, the alliance's headquarters,
the ministers accepted the Bush administration argument
that Iran remains a threat and needs to be treated as such, Belgian
Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht told reporters.
think we are in a process and that Iran continues to pose a danger," German Chancellor
Angela Merkel said in Paris at a news conference
with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, responding
to the American findings released Monday.
Calls US Intelligence
Report on Iran 'Flawed'
By Robert Berger Voice of America 08 December 2007
parliamentarian and former general Ephraim Sneh …. told
Israel Radio that the report does not give sufficient
weight to Iran's program to enrich uranium. He said
even if Iran suspended its
pursuit of nuclear weapons, enriched uranium would enable
it to restart the program at any time.
America May Cause Double Jeopardy for Israel
Daniel Diker, Director ICA, Jerusalem Center for Public
Affairs Dec 8, 2007
As reported on GatewayPunditBlogspot
scene last Monday of Iranian President Mahmaoud Ahmadinejad
walking "hand in hand" with Saudi leader King Abdullah at the
Gulf Cooperation Council’s annual Summit in Doah, Qatar
is worth a "thousand words"....
the latest signal of how terrified the Sunni Arab establishment-
particularly the Gulf states- are of Iran's rising power.
It is also seems a graphic indication of Saudi and "Gulfie"
nervousness over their perception of America's growing
weakness and loss of political will opposite Tehran.
was little coincidence that the Abdullah
/Ahmadinjad photo op took place virtually in tandem with
the release of the US National Intelligence Estimate
that partially whitewashed Iran's Nuclear Weapons' program.
U.S. Analysts Weighing In
Street Journal December 5, 2007; Page A24
own "confidence" is not heightened by the
fact that the NIE's main authors include three former State Department
officials with previous reputations as "hyper-partisan
anti-Bush officials," according to an
intelligence source. They are Tom Fingar, formerly
of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research;
Vann Van Diepen, the National Intelligence Officer
for WMD; and Kenneth Brill, the former U.S. Ambassador
to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
the course of a decade, our intelligence services badly
underestimated Saddam's nuclear ambitions, then overestimated
them. Now they have done a 180-degree turn on Iran,
and in such a way that will contribute to a complacency
that will make it easier for Iran to build a weapon. Our
intelligence services are supposed to inform the policies
of elected officials, but increasingly their judgments
seem to be setting policy. This is dangerous.
three main authors of this report are former State Department
officials with previous reputations that should lead one
to doubt their conclusions. ... They are Tom Fingar,
formerly of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence
and Research; Vann Van Diepen, the National Intelligence
Officer for WMD; and Kenneth Brill, the former U.S. Ambassador
to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Tom Fingar was
a State Department employee who was an expert on China
and Germany-he has no notable experience, according to his
bio in the Middle East and its geopolitics.
Vann Van Diepen is also a career State Department bureacrat who, according to the New
York Sun…. has spent the last
five years trying to get America to accept Iran's right to enrich uranium.
Kenneth Brill served as the US Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency
(the IAEA). This is an agency
that has served to enable Iranian's quest for nuclear
8, 2007; Page A10
sum, Mr. Bush and his staff have allowed the
intelligence bureaucracy to frame a new judgment in a
way that has undermined four years of U.S. effort to stop
Iran's nuclear ambitions.
In this regard, it's hilarious to see the left
and some in the media accuse Mr. Bush once again of distorting
intelligence. The truth is the opposite. The
White House was presented with this new estimate only
weeks ago, and no doubt concluded it had little choice
but to accept and release it however much its policy
makers disagreed. Had it done otherwise, the finding
would have been leaked and the Administration would
have been assailed for "politicizing" intelligence.
the Iran Intelligence Reversal
Nick Timiraos Wall Street Journal December
8, 2007; Page A9
Iran still develop nuclear weapons? Yes. The estimate didn't revise earlier predictions
that Iran could have a nuclear weapon by around 2015
and concluded with only "moderate confidence"
that Iran hasn't restarted its program.
An Abrupt About-Face
Thomas Joscelyn The Weekly Standard December 5,
many recognize, the latest NIE on Iran's nuclear weapons
program directly contradicts what the U.S. Intelligence
Community was saying just two years previously. And it appears that this about-face was very recent. How
.... Consider that on July 11, 2007...This
paragraph appeared under the subheading: "Iran Assessed
As Determined to Develop Nuclear Weapons." And the
entirety of Fingar's 22-page testimony was labeled "Information
as of July 11, 2007." No part of it is consistent
with the latest NIE.
Bush: Iran Remains
Despite Halt to Nuke Weapons Program
News December 04, 2007
think it is very important for the international community
to recognize the fact that if Iran were to develop the knowledge that they could
transfer to a clandestine program, it would create a danger
for the world," Bush said. "And so
I view this report as a warning signal. ... It's a warning
signal because they could restart it."
about the NIE
Podhoretz Commentary Magazine. com December 03,
must confess to suspecting that the intelligence community,
having been excoriated for supporting the then universal
belief that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, is
now bending over backward to counter what has up to now
been a similarly universal view....But
I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the
intelligence community, which has for some years now been
leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush,
is doing it again.
The Enemy Aided
Iran has sent a formal protest note to Washington
for "spying" on Iran's nuclear activities, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki
said Saturday in the wake of the latest US report on the
alleged Iranian weapons program.