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U.S. National Intelligence on Iran: Duped, Duping, or Double-Dealing?

Americans accepting the NIE Estimate is like the Jedi Council clouded by the Dark Side of the Force while the Dark Lord of the Sith was plotting under their noses.

Count Dooku: What if I told you that the Republic was now under the control of a dark lord of the Sith?

Obi-Wan: No, that's not possible. The Jedi would sense it.

Count Dooku: The Dark Side has clouded their vision. Hundreds of senators are now under the influence of a Sith lord called Darth Sidious.

Obi-Wan: I don't believe you.

YID With LID: Iran Nuke Findings Based on Iran Officials Notes.

Melanie Phillips explains that this could be something far more insidious:

So why has America done this? Maybe because it has sold Israel to the devil, in the shape of Iran and Saudi Arabia, in order to save its skin in Iraq.

As we know, it is of overwhelming importance to President Bush that peace comes to Iraq by November’s presidential election. The situation in Iraq over the past few months has dramatically improved. This has been assumed to be because, under the shrewd strategic leadership of General Petraeus, the previously terror-supporting and fratricidal tribal leaders finally turned against al Qaeda and decided to unite to reclaim their country from the endless spiral of mass murder.

But there may be another explanation. The Samson Blinded blog suggests the US did a deal with Iran, in which Iran wound down its support for terror in Iraq — in return for which the US promised not to bomb Iran.

The NIE was published to cloak this decision in the convenient if implausible fiction of the scaling down by the US intelligence community of the Iranian threat.

The major player at Annapolis was Saudi Arabia. It was Saudi’s ‘peace plan’ to destroy Israel which the US was trying to force Israel to accept. My own sources suggest that at the heart of Annapolis was another deal done with Saudi Arabia by the US.

Saudi is absolutely terrified by the power of Iran, which it perceives as a major threat to itself and its role in the entire region. Saudi well understands that for Iran, the destruction of Israel is the core goal of goals which is driving Iran’s nuclear weapons programme — a programme that also directly threatens Saudi itself. So it made a deal with the US. Saudi would tell its terror puppets in Iraq to back off — and as a quid pro quo the US would force Israel to the negotiating table with the Palestinians and set in train a process to force it into concessions that would deal it a mortal blow. Thus two birds would be killed with one stone: Iran’s frenzied impulse to build a nuclear weapon — and Israel itself.

If this analysis is correct, Israel’s existence and the safety of the world have thus been bargained away in exchange for the ability of a US president to declare success in Iraq. On the other hand, as I said in my post below, it may be that Bush has simply been out-manoeuvred by both the spooks and the State Department.

The NIE report is of course being cheered on by all who see America (and Israel) rather than Iran as the major threat to the world. Those who believe the poisonous fiction about the ‘neocon conspiracy’ will once again be unable to grasp what is staring them in the face. Indeed, madness over Iraq is now broadening into madness over Iran. Those whose truncated brain processes tell them that the failure to discover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq proves that they never existed now claim that the Iranian threat is no more than a malevolently constructed fiction. Neocon ‘warmongers’, they say, believe US intelligence when it says there is a threat but not when it says there isn’t.

This ignores the context of that intelligence. All intelligence should be regarded with a degree of circumspection. It has to be assessed in the light of everything else that we know about the given situation. Given what we knew back in the 1990s about Saddam -- his regional ambitions, ties to terror and WMD efforts -- it is reasonable to conclude that US intelligence first failed to assess correctly the threat he posed to the west; then got part of it right; and then devoted the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq to putting out disinformation in order to cover up their own past incompetence. And given what we know about Iran, the NIE’s volte-face simply isn’t credible.

The report states as firmly as it can that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon until 2003. Is it really likely that it would have stopped and not re-started? If so, why is it continuing to defy the international community by enriching weapons grade uranium in 3,000 centrifuges? Why doesn’t it open up all its nuclear sites to IAEA inspectors? Why has it gone to such lengths to scatter and bury its nuclear installations? Why would a country whose president has said: ‘We must get ready to rule the world… the Islamic government in Iran is the pre-requisite for a world wide Islamic state’, which has committed itself publicly to the destruction of Israel and which is responsible for blowing up coalition soldiers in Iraq as part of its three decade-war against the west, want to restrict its nuclear technology to the blameless production of electricity?

Those who bat such questions away would believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden. The west is signing its own death warrant. With its ignorance and stupidity exceeded only by its arrogance, it is unable to see that it is being played for suckers.

Pull yourself together, Mr President. You may score temporarily in Iraq, but at what terrible cost?

She updates: As the Weekly Standard points out for the umpteenth time, the US intelligence community has a lousy record in that part of the world. Ever since the war in Iraq, elements within that intelligence community have been throwing disinformation around both to santise retrospectively their own incompetence and to thwart President Bush’s foreign policy approach towards the ‘axis of evil’. This latest NIE smells like another exercise in political gamesmanship.

No-one knows whether President Bush intends to strike Iran before he leaves office. What this NIE tells me is that some intelligence folk think (with ‘high confidence’) that he may well do so — and they are determined to stop him.

In the Washington Post, John Bolton shows up the NIE report for the rubbish that it is in his typically incisive way. But the thing that really caught my eye was this:
Fifth, many involved in drafting and approving the NIE were not intelligence professionals but refugees from the State Department, brought into the new central bureaucracy of the director of national intelligence. These officials had relatively benign views of Iran's nuclear intentions five and six years ago; now they are writing those views as if they were received wisdom from on high. In fact, these are precisely the policy biases they had before, recycled as ‘intelligence judgments.’
They weren’t even independent intelligence officials at all. No wonder this NIE is such an insult to the intelligence.

She updates on Pearl Harbor Day with references from The Wall St. Journal and the NY Sun:

The NIE is not about intelligence or Iran. It is about the treacherous war that has been waged by the State Department and intelligence world against President Bush ever since 9/11. As the New York Sun went on to observe:

"The proper way to read this report is through the lens of the long struggle the professional intelligence community has been waging against the elected civilian administration in Washington. They have opposed President Bush on nearly every major policy decision. They were against the Iraqi National Congress. They were against elections in Iraq. They were against I. Lewis Libby. They are against a tough line on Iran. One could call all this revenge of the bureaucrats… The bureaucrats may even think they are stopping another war."

It's a dangerous game that may boomerang, making a war with Iran more likely. Our diplomats, after all, hoped to seal this month a deal to pass a third Security Council resolution against Iran. Already on Monday the Chinese delegation at Turtle Bay has started making noises about dropping their tepid support for such a document. Call it the Van Diepen Demarche, since the Chinese camarilla can boast that even America's intelligence estimate concludes the mullahs shuttered their nuclear weapons program more than four years ago."

As a result of the NIE, the world is now an even more dangerous place. What perfidy. Ahmadinejad has every reason to gloat. Unless the US pulls itself together, this is the way the west loses.

'US official: Iran retains nuclear capabilities' - Jpost

The US intelligence report showing Iran froze weapons development in 2003 does not show the full picture, a top US intelligence official told Congress on Thursday.

The deputy director of National Intelligence, Donald Kerr, told a House of Representatives Intelligence subcommittee that Iran retains key nuclear capabilities despite having frozen its weapons development and its ambitions could be considered benign, Reuters reported.
Kerr said there was reason to believe Iran still wanted an ability to make nuclear weapons.

He was responding to a Republican lawmaker who questioned the accuracy of an official National Intelligence Estimate this week that said US agencies did not know whether Iran intended to develop a nuclear weapon.

"We did not in any way suggest that Iran was benign for the future," Kerr told the panel. "What we had to do was address the evidence we had, that at least a part of their program (was) suspended in 2003."

Kerr noted the assessment also concluded with "moderate confidence" that Iran still wants a future weapons capability.

US Rep. Todd Tiahrt, a Kansas Republican, told Kerr he was puzzled by the new intelligence estimate. "We have this sort of dichotomy, the words and actions from Iran seem to be offset by the National Intelligence Estimate," Tiahrt said. He suggested US intelligence agencies had gotten too big at their headquarters and not put enough agents in the field.

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