Thursday, December 06, 2007

John Bolton Shreds The NIE On Iran

The always superb John Bolton absolutely massacres the new NIE report on Iran in a WAPO piece, The Flaws In the Iran Report:

First, the headline finding -- that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 -- is written in a way that guarantees the totality of the conclusions will be misread. In fact, there is little substantive difference between the conclusions of the 2005 NIE on Iran's nuclear capabilities and the 2007 NIE. Moreover, the distinction between "military" and "civilian" programs is highly artificial, since the enrichment of uranium, which all agree Iran is continuing, is critical to civilian and military uses. Indeed, it has always been Iran's "civilian" program that posed the main risk of a nuclear "breakout."

The real differences between the NIEs are not in the hard data but in the psychological assessment of the mullahs' motives and objectives. The current NIE freely admits to having only moderate confidence that the suspension continues and says that there are significant gaps in our intelligence and that our analysts dissent from their initial judgment on suspension. This alone should give us considerable pause.

Second, the NIE is internally contradictory and insufficiently supported. It implies that Iran is susceptible to diplomatic persuasion and pressure, yet the only event in 2003 that might have affected Iran was our invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, not exactly a diplomatic pas de deux. As undersecretary of state for arms control in 2003, I know we were nowhere near exerting any significant diplomatic pressure on Iran. Nowhere does the NIE explain its logic on this critical point. Moreover, the risks and returns of pursuing a diplomatic strategy are policy calculations, not intelligence judgments. The very public rollout in the NIE of a diplomatic strategy exposes the biases at work behind the Potemkin village of "intelligence."

Third, the risks of disinformation by Iran are real. We have lost many fruitful sources inside Iraq in recent years because of increased security and intelligence tradecraft by Iran. The sudden appearance of new sources should be taken with more than a little skepticism. In a background briefing, intelligence officials said they had concluded it was "possible" but not "likely" that the new information they were relying on was deception. These are hardly hard scientific conclusions. One contrary opinion came from -- of all places -- an unnamed International Atomic Energy Agency official, quoted in the New York Times, saying that "we are more skeptical. We don't buy the American analysis 100 percent. We are not that generous with Iran." When the IAEA is tougher than our analysts, you can bet the farm that someone is pursuing a policy agenda.....

Read the whole thing.


Anonymous said...

John Bolton argues that the NIE is biased and its findings are flawed, but this is the consensus view of our 16 spy agencies which is supported by the UN's own findings. Who do you want to turn to for information and intelligence, if you don't like ours or the UNs -- Israel?

Freedom Fighter said...

Funny you should mention that, Drewski. The IAEA has said that the NIE is `too easy on Iran' and the Israelis disagree with it totally.

I also put forth a few questons of my own on this, which no one supporting the NIE has addressed or been able to provide a logical answer to. You are certainly welcome to attempt it.

The NIE is bogus, hedges its bets in all directions and, as Bolton said, is extrapolating motivation rather than simply reporting facts.

Bush handpicked themen who constructed it and undoubtedly knew, from their history,what they would likely come up with. Either he is deliberately feeding themullahs disinformation or ( more likely) he wanted to have a face saving reason to ride out his term and avoid dealing with the problem, IMO.

He may even be hoping the Israelis do the job for him, so he doesn't have top deal with the political fallout ( pun intended)

Thanks for weighing in..

Anonymous said...


I would trust the Israelis over the UN or the 16 US intellegence agencies. The UN seems to be a virtual subsidiary of Iran. The 16 US intellegence agencies have been biased in favor of Iran from the beginning. They are dominated by the anti-American left. As such, they will be biased in favor of the Iranians. I trust them as far as I can throw them.

In contrast, if Israel is to survive, their intellegence MUST be accurate. Due to its small size and close proximity to its enemies it cannot afford to play politics with its intellegence assessments. As such, I would trust Israeli intellegence assessments even if they said something different from the intellegence agencies of the entire world.

Freedom Fighter

I agree that Bush is probably not feeding the Iranian leadership false information. The bottom line, as I have been saying for a long time, is the US cannot attack Iran. There is no domestic support for such an action. There is no support from "allies" for such an attack. If the US did it, the current disease of anti-Americanism that is sweeping the world would be many times more virulent than it currently is. This would be devestating for American business interests and for the economy. Also, oil prices would likely go significantly higher. This would be even more devestating for American business interests and for the enconomy. To top this off, an operation involving only air strikes would only set the program back a few years.

Only a WWII style invasion of Iran would have any chance of being successful. Another possibility would be something simillar to the bombing of Dresden during WWII. In either case there is the issue of what the Russians and/or the Chinese would do. In summary, there really seems to be no good options for an invasion of Iran. In spite of this, the news media and top government bureacrats have been fretting about to stop a US invasion of Iran that was never going to come. They should be fretting about the coming attack on the US mainland by Iran and/or its terrorist proxies. Part of the fretting should be how to prevent it!! The attack itself is a virtual certainty. They need to be trying to prevent it and determining how we will respond to it.

"Bush handpicked the men who constructed it..." I have no doubt that Bush never intended to attack Iran. It was all a bluff from the start. It is my understanding that Congress must confirm the top individuals to intellegence agencies. Also, they must be people who can work with the agencies in question. Even under ideal circumstances Bush is very limited in who he can actually pick. They must be confirmable and they must be able to work with the other members of the staff. A president is very limited in who they can pick for top officials in a government agency.

In any event, this president is little more than a figure head right now. This may not be too bad seeing Bush reduced to the position of a figure head. At least his ability to further damage the interests of the US is minimized.

If Bush really has decided to simply try to ride out his term until his retirement, he will be unsuccessful. If this is going to be his strategy, he will definitely be impeached by the House and the Senate and his next home will not be his Texas ranch. It will be the inside of a jail cell at a Federal prison. Bush's only chance to avoid this fate will be if he fights the Democrats and the anti-American left. He could do this by working to secure the borders, working to develop more of our own oil and gas reserves, and working to build more refineries. These would be supported by the American people. If he can generate some support among the American people, it may impeachment more problematic for those who would wish to do it.

Ultimately impeachment will come down to not whether a crime was actually committed but it will come down to votes in the House and the Senate. The President is so unpopular right now that his political opponents can make up an excuse to impeach him and allow their allies in the news media to do the rest.

Finally, if the NIE is to believed that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003 and has not restarted it, several questions should be asked. They are as follows. 1.)It was during 2003 that the US invaded Iraq. How did the US invasion of Iran's neighbor Iraq influence Iranian decision making regarding the suspension of the nuclear weapons program? 2.) How has a robust US military presence in Iraq influenced Iran's decision not to restart the nuclear weapons program? 3.)How will Iranian behavior be influenced after the American and coalition forces are completely withdrawn from Iraq?
4.)It could be that American and allied forces in Iraq serve as a check on Iranian ambitions. After American and allied forces are removed from Iraq, there will be nothing to deter Iran from restrating its nuclear weapons program. Will Iran restart the nuclear weapons program after American forces are removed? To the best I can tell, no one in the main stream news media is asking these questions.