Liz Cheney said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference this morning that U.S. intelligence cannot be depended on to accurately track the trajectory of Iran’s nuclear program.
“America’s track record on predicting when nations reach nuclear capability is abysmal,” Cheney said on the first panel of the conference.
She said U.S. intelligence was behind the curve on India’s nuclear tests, Pakistan’s program and Iraq.
Cheney called putting our national security solely in the hands of our intelligence assessments “a very dangerous path to go down.”
Former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) disagreed with the former State Department official and vice president’s daughter, saying that the intelligence community had been significantly reformed since Iraq.
“I think Israel agrees with us that Iran is at least a year away from having a testable weapon,” Harman said. “Then comes the question, what do you do in the meantime?”
The former member of the House Homeland Security Committee and subcommittee on intelligence said that President Obama’s recent statements “made clear” that he is not bluffing and containment is not an option.
“It seems to me we should let a few more months go by to give success a chance,” Harman said, adding she would urge Obama “to make absolutely clear that he will act — act — and use the military component if he has to.”
She said sanctions wouldn’t take full effect until summer, thus more time is needed.
“The red line must come much sooner than that,” Cheney said.
“It is clear that the sanctions are having an impact on the economy of Iran but there is no evidence that sanctions have any effect at all on the nuclear weapons program,” she said.
Cheney called Obama’s interview “interesting, but not a policy,” and accused the administration of spending more time concentrating on “containing Israeli action than containing Iran.”
“I think this administration has done more than any in history to help Israel protect herself,” Harman countered.
The 17-year congresswoman urged AIPAC members to encourage lawmakers to “stay bipartisan on the state of Israel.”
“Israel loses if it becomes a political football in this campaign,” she said.
Cheney said that there has been no president before Obama to undermine and “delegitimize” Israel as he has.