December 04, 2007

Podhoretz on the NIE Flip-Flop Regarding Iran's Nukes

Maybe the folks at the NIE aren't just on crack, as one might suppose from the wild fluctuations in their assessments:

a full two years after Iran supposedly called a halt to its nuclear program, the intelligence community was still as sure as it ever is about anything that Iran was determined to build a nuclear arsenal. Why then should we believe it when it now tells us, and with the same “high confidence,” that Iran had already called a halt to its nuclear-weapons program in 2003? Similarly with the intelligence community’s reversal on the effectiveness of international pressure. In 2005, the NIE was highly confident that international pressure had not lessened Iran’s determination to develop nuclear weapons, and yet now, in 2007, the intelligence community is just as confident that international pressure had already done the trick by 2003.

It is worth remembering that in 2002, one of the conclusions offered by the NIE, also with “high confidence,” was that “Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear, and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions.” And another conclusion, offered with high confidence too, was that “Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material.”

I 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 (including as is evident from the 2005 NIE, within the intelligence community itself) that Iran is hell-bent on developing nuclear weapons. I also suspect that, having been excoriated as well for minimizing the time it would take Saddam to add nuclear weapons to his arsenal, the intelligence community is now bending over backward to maximize the time it will take Iran to reach the same goal.

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. This time the purpose is to head off the possibility that the President may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations. As the intelligence community must know, if he were to do so, it would be as a last resort, only after it had become undeniable that neither negotiations nor sanctions could prevent Iran from getting the bomb, and only after being convinced that it was very close to succeeding. How better, then, to stop Bush in his tracks than by telling him and the world that such pressures have already been effective and that keeping them up could well bring about “a halt to Iran’s entire nuclear weapons program”—especially if the negotiations and sanctions were combined with a goodly dose of appeasement or, in the NIE’s own euphemistic formulation, “with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security, prestige, and goals for regional influence in other ways.”

Posted by Attila Girl at December 4, 2007 11:43 AM | TrackBack
Comments

There is a big problem with Podhoretz's analysis.

By their own testimony, the newspaper asked Bush if it would be all right to print this story -- and he said "sure, go ahead." I'll grant that George is not Vannevar, but he isn't nearly stupid enough to allow something damaging to get out that easily unless there were some other advantage accruing. It might be worth while to try to imagine what that might be.

Regards,
Ric

Posted by: Ric Locke at December 4, 2007 12:33 PM


But Bush granting his permission doesn't negate the possibility that there was an agenda behind the original analysis that make it so starkly different from what they've said in the past.

Posted by: Attila Girl at December 4, 2007 12:45 PM


Bush saying "Don't publish this, please" makes it a "Special Report" doesn't it? I am so confused!

Posted by: Darrell at December 4, 2007 03:41 PM


Glad the CIA and the intelligence community hasn't wound up with excrement on their faces, having been wrong just about every time since WWII. Glad Bush can be wrong no matter which of the two possible, mutually exclusive, eventualities is reached. Glad the Left is in charge of history. Or is that hystery? I always forget.

Posted by: Darrell at December 4, 2007 08:33 PM




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