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2007 National Intelligence Estimate–You Lie!!!!

I wish I had thought of this myself–blame my catching the flu (yes H1N1) but Thomas Joscelyn of The Weekly Standard made a very keen observation given the announcement today that Iran has been working on a secret underground nuclear facility. http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2009/09/about_that_2007_national_intel.asp

According to senior administration officials, U.S. intelligence has known about this facility for several years, and yet the 2007 National intelligence report stated “We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.”

This shows that the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate was a lie. We were aware that Iran was building this facility for several years. The construction of such a facility would show that Iran’s nuclear program was continuing. As Thomas Joscelyn writes:

There were always good reasons to think that the 2007 NIE was more of a policy-prescription than a rigorous intelligence analysis. It is well-known that its authors have their own views of Iran’s nuclear program and how (not) to deal with it. As the Wall Street Journal wrote at the time, the NIE’s three chief authors were “hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials” with their own distinct policy preferences. In all likelihood, they wanted to make sure that the Iranian nuclear program wasn’t considered a particularly worrisome threat requiring action. There is ample room for public debate about how to deal with Iran’s burgeoning nukes, but the NIE’s authors apparently wanted to short-circuit such discussion. The NIE achieved that goal, by clearly having a “cooling effect” on such talks.


In fact, the Democrats seized upon the NIE to justify their own policy preferences. The leading Democratic presidential candidates at the time were quick to cite the NIE as justification for their pursuit of engagement with Iran.

“It is absolutely clear that this administration and President Bush continues to not let facts get in the way of his ideology,” then Senator Obama said of the NIE. “They need, now, to aggressively move on the diplomatic front.”

At the time, Democrats charged that intelligence reports that lead up to the Iraq war were politically motivated and demanded investigations into how intelligence was gathered. It now appears that the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate was politicially motivated. We need to investigate how the 2007 Estimate got things so wrong.

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