Sunday, December 23, 2007

What The NIE Report Really Signals

One of the most dramatic pieces of news in the past several months was the NIE report that said Iran had given up on developing nuclear weaponry several years ago. The report pretty much shot down any excuse for starting yet another war by the Bush administration. The publication of the report (which was prepared over a year ago), however, raised a lot of questions, most of which have not been adequately answered. Why the sudden turnaround in the analysis of the intelligence community? Why was the report leaked now? Did President Bush know about the report when he made all those speeches condemning and threatening Iran?

A fascinating article in France's Le Figaro suggests several possibilities, all of which depend on the thesis that American's intelligence community has been deeply politicized by the current administration.

It’s true. This first assumption is to be taken into account. However, this means that the previous NIE of 2005, which affirmed that Iran was continuing its military nuclear research, is wrong. ...

It is an analytical error. The U.S. intelligence officials now are mistaken in asserting that the military program is stopped ...

It is an Iranian [fabrication]. The authorities in Tehran know they are listened to permanently by American, British and Israeli interception. They could have engaged in these false discussions to mislead their opponents, or use a false defector. ...

It is a fake. Iran continues with the development of its military nuclear capacity, but the Americans have decided to backtrack to save face. ...

It is deliberate American disinformation. Iran develops its nuclear military, but Washington wants to lead Tehran to become less vigilant before launching a military operation. ...

It is a political maneuver. With less than one year of the current presidency, it may be driven by the Congress or the putative successor of President Bush, to prevent the triggering of a new conflict whose consequences he would have to bear.
[Emphasis added]

While I think it highly unlikely that the intelligence community has become a hot bed of liberal Democrats eager to make the next president's life a little less complicated, it certainly is possible that the spooks are tired of being forced to manipulate their analyses to satisfy the needs of the White House and its attendant neocons and have decided to push back.

If that is the case, I admit to being grateful. The chances of a military strike against Iran have been greatly diminished. At the same time, however, I also admit to being more than a little nervous. US administrations need accurate analyses of what is going on in the world around us in order to make wise policy decisions. Those policy decisions should not be made by unelected parties working in secrecy behind the scenes who tailor their reports to fit their own agendas.

In this instance, the NIE worked in the favor of those of us who are tired of warmaking as foreign policy. That might not be the case in the future.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soon after the story became public, I read that the forged document about the attempted procurement of yellow-cake from Niger was intentially forged in such a crude manner by someone at the CIA in order to expose the admin. for the crude liers they are. I think it was a Madsen article, for what it's worth. But with the 5th fleet crammed into the Persian Gulf, I wouldn't remove the possibility of armed conflict with Iran. The spoiled shit-head in chief likes to get his way.

8:57 AM  

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