About that Iran NIE report

The Usual Suspects are jumping all over a report about Iran released by the NIE that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003, contrary to prior intelligence reports. This, according to the predictable far left, is ‘evidence’ that Bush and Cheney have been “lying” all this time about Iran.

Contrary to their knee-jerk reactions, that’s not the case, as we learn from the Washington Post:

While concluding that Iran’s weapons program is now halted, the NIE presents a mixed view of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. It portrays Iran’s ruling clerics as susceptible to international pressure, having abandoned an extensive and costly covert nuclear program in the face of threatened economic sanctions and global censure.

But the report also depicts Iran as cleverly preserving its options, by making steady strides toward a civilian nuclear energy capability that both complies with international law and puts the country on a course that will allow it to easily develop nuclear arms if it so chooses.

The report also states more confidently than in previous assessments that Iran’s military had been actively seeking to build a bomb. Iranian armed forces were “working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons” until the fall of 2003, it says.

The assessment, under preparation for more than 18 months, was completed on Tuesday and President Bush and Vice President Cheney were briefed on Wednesday, intelligence officials said. Hadley said Bush first learned in August or September about intelligence indicating Iran had halted its weapons program and was advised it would take time to evaluate.

Captain Ed explains:

Of course, the Washington Post manages to report this below the jump, well into the final half of the article. In the last paragraph, readers discover that DNI Mike McConnell decided to declassify this NIE because of its significant change from previous assessments, not in spite of it. None of this makes it into the lead for the article, where Dafna Linzer and Joby Warrick talk about Bush’s “continuing campaign” against Iran.

In effect, the President and his team got confirmation of this information less than five days before it hit the papers. The conspiracy theorists who insisted yesterday that the White House kept it secret have to now explain why the administration so quickly published the findings. Is this a conspiracy to discredit conspiracy theorists?

The new information came from high-level intercepts, specifically communications between Revolutionary Guard commanders. One in particular complained openly about the shutdown of the nuclear weapons program — a violation of OPSEC that sounds a little convenient. However, the classified report references over a thousand pieces of information gathered by the intel community to support this conclusion.

So why did it take from August to the end of November to finalize the NIE? The data seemed so at odds with the conclusion of previous NIEs — all of which insisted that Iran continued to pursue nuclear weapons — that the DNI assigned a “red team” to punch holes in the new information. While that process continued, the White House continued its pursuit of sanctions against Iran, but began lowering the profile of the effort while the EU attempted talks. As soon as the red team finished its work, the NIE was completed and presented on Wednesday to the administration.

What else will the Usual Suspects ignore in their quest to paint the administration as nothing but bald-faced liars on Iran? The fact that the NIE report credited the pressure from the US and the international community for the Iran’s (supposed) halting of its nuclear programs. In other words, it suggested that the Bush policy of putting pressure on Iran, in concert with other nations, worked. It’s a point that is going to be hotly debated amongst those serious about finding out the true nature of Iran’s nuke ambitions, but keep in mind this is a policy that has been routinely criticized and ridiculed by prominent Democrats, who claimed that the admin’s putting pressure on Iran and refusal to speak directly to them would only hurt matters, not help them.

And let’s remember: if Bush and Cheney “lied” about what they knew about Iran’s nuclear capabilities and ambitions, so did many others – including the left’s favorite international groups: the IAEA and the UN:

Keep in mind, too, that while the report concludes that Iran has stopped its nuclear weapons program, it also concludes that Iran has not lost its desire to build a nuke, asserts confidently that Iran is still enriching uranium, and notes that Ahmadinejad could have a nuke as early as 2010.

The far left – with help from their pals in the press – have done their best to try and spin the Bush administration’s claims on Iran as they did the admin’s claims on Iraq, by doing now what they did then: ignorning the fact that many others believed as the admin did, too. Democrats have seized on this report as the “smoking gun” that supposedly proves the administration willfully overstated its case against Iraq, but just as they did with the report from the Iraq Study Group’s findings on our policy in Iraq, the left have cherry-picked examples of what they think proves their assertions about the administration, proving again that instead of being willing to read a report in context, that they still never let the facts get in the way of a good ol’ fashioned anti-Bush rant.

Once again, politics wins out over our national security, as far as Democrats are concerned. They have – again – lived down to expectations.

Update: The mediots are in celebration mode: We helped stop Bush’s next illegal war!!!

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