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Thursday, February 12, 2009

But is it too late?

The Los Angeles Times reports that senior US intelligence officials are now discounting the infamous National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that claimed in December 2007 that Iran was not seeking to develop nuclear weapons. The NIE was viewed as taking away the military option against Iran from the Bush administration. But the Obama administration is making clear that it does not feel bound by the NIE.
Little more than a year after U.S. spy agencies concluded that Iran had halted work on a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has made it clear that it believes there is no question that Tehran is seeking the bomb.

In his news conference this week, President Obama went so far as to describe Iran's "development of a nuclear weapon" before correcting himself to refer to its "pursuit" of weapons capability.

Obama's nominee to serve as CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, left little doubt about his view last week when he testified on Capitol Hill. "From all the information I've seen," Panetta said, "I think there is no question that they are seeking that capability."

The language reflects the extent to which senior U.S. officials now discount a National Intelligence Estimate issued in November 2007 that was instrumental in derailing U.S. and European efforts to pressure Iran to shut down its nuclear program.

As the administration moves toward talks with Iran, Obama appears to be sending a signal that the United States will not be drawn into a debate over Iran's intent.
Am I the only one who is wondering whether someone tried to sabotage the Bush administration's ability to take action against Iran? Why?

The NIE was criticized from the day it came out. Some speculated that it was issued to facilitate a rapprochement with the Iranians at Israel's expense. Others claimed the CIA had been hoodwinked into issuing the report. Even the US's senior intelligence officers retreated from it. But the retreat had little effect. Despite specific intelligence presented by Israel, the Bush administration no longer had a military option. And it wouldn't let Israel have one either.

Now that there's a new administration in power, whose goal is 'discussions' with Iran and not force, the NIE is being discarded into the dustbins of history. Anyone else smell a rat here?


At 8:49 PM, Blogger Captain.H said...

The explanation for that NIE is "faction".

Bush's first CIA Director was George Tenet, a Democrat appointed by Bill Clinton in 1997. He was by no means the only Democratic-appointee that Bush retained in hopes of bipartisanship (and we know how well that worked or rather didn't-eight years of Democratic backstabbing of the Bush Admin and it's efforts to protect America and her Allies, slimy efforts for the sake of the Democrats getting back into power).

During the Bush Admin, there was a significant number of these senior level Democrat-appointed CIA officials, many of whom did all in their power to undermine the Bush Admin, including this NIE specifically designed to prevent a US military strike to wipe out the Iranian nuclear weapons program, plus to make it impossible for the Bush Admin to support an Israeli strike.

Only when this is understood does the NIE and all these machinations become understandable.

At 10:17 PM, Blogger David said...

Tenet was long gone by the time the NIE came out. To me, this looks like Obama is doing a BETTER job than Bush, who is the one who not only refused to act but also prevented Israel from acting. If Obama's already throwing out the NIE, let's give him a few more months to see if he is really as timid as he sounds.

At 11:20 PM, Blogger Naftali2 said...

I think it's more a matter of agencies trying to make the facts fit what they want or don't want to do. In other words, bureaucrats being bureaucrats.

In this particular case, the war in Iraq was much more uncertain, there was a possibility that the US was going to be horribly embarrassed in Iraq, and opening up another front with Iran seemed out of the question.

Ergo: the danger doesn't exist.

Obama is staring at both history and his desire for eight years. This means that Iran could go nuclear on his watch. What he's going to do is anyone's guess--especially now that the job of Secretary of State has become a Hydra.

At 5:19 AM, Blogger Steven said...

Its clear America is going to do squat, unless Israel threatens to go it alone and the new administration is afraid of the ramifications and therefore opts to do it their way.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I'm not complaining about Obama abandoning the NIE. I'm questioning who was responsible for it in the first place. It's been suspect since it was released, and the fact that Obama is (apparently) so able to throw it by the wayside has to make you wonder who was responsible for it and why.


See the interview with Elliot Abrams that I blogged on Sunday morning. He has an interesting take on why the US never attacked Iran.


I agree.


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