Ron Rosenbaum

Huge Intelligence Scandal: Will All the Pundits Who Relied on the Discredited 2007 NIE on Iran Now...

Will all the pundits who relied on the discredited 2007 NIE on Iran now admit that they were wrong? That they bought into and kept citing, without any serious questioning, the now clearly politically skewed analysis in the so-called National Intelligence Estimate of that year? You remember: the considered consensus wisdom of the entire U.S. intelligence community, which misled the world into believing there was nothing to worry about Iran’s nuclear program, that it had virtually ceased. When, in fact, out of the three components of a nuclear weapons program, at most one might have been suspended, if that.

Will the congressional intelligence committees demand to know how such a deliberately misleading report was being leaked and fed to the public by half-baked pundits even after (we now learn) some part of the “intelligence community” knew — before the the NIE was issued — about the secret nuclear fuel facility we’re now reading about?

What took them so long? Or if there were reasons to keep silent about it, why issue a report that deliberately misled the world into the opposite conclusion? The NIE now appears to be a deliberate LIE — deliberate disinformation, disingenuously written by its authors, who should be hauled before the committees and asked how they could have made such fools of the “intelligence community” and those who took their report seriously.

After all, it was not without consequences. The report essentially bought the Iranians two years of non-interfering in their obvious (to everyone but the “intelligence community”) drive to build nuclear weapons.

Who chose the authors of the LIE? How much did they get paid for distorting intelligence, betraying their trust, our trust (those who had any left after an unbroken record of intelligence community bungling)? Why do we still trust anything that comes out of the “intelligence community” since they are almost always wrong?

Just to review the bidding: there are three components to a nuclear weapons development program. The most difficult is manufacturing the highly enriched uranium (HEU) or plutonium fuel. The second is engineering the warhead itself, now no problem thanks to Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan, who sold the information to North Korea and Iran. And finally there is the delivery system, the missiles which, just yesterday, Iran demonstrated their successful development of.

The media almost universally reported that the 2007 NIE reversed previous estimates that Iran was working on a bomb, and declared that the report proved Iran had ceased its nuclear weapons program. It did no such thing. The report, however, misleadingly focused on dubiously sourced intelligence that Iran had stopped one of the three aspects of their nuclear program in 2003: the weapons design aspect. Dubiously sourced because it seemed to be based on electronic surveillance intercepts of Iranian scientists and the Iranians. No fools (like our “intelligence community”), they could easily have deliberately planted the smoking gun conversation –“Oh, we are so upset we can no longer work on nuclear bomb design.”

And even if they did stop it, it could just as easily have been because they had all the know-how they needed thanks to A.Q. Khan by then. They stopped because they were finished. Now they needed the fuel and the misleading NIE gave them time to escape close surveillance and establish secret uranium enrichment sites (do you really think there was only one?). Two years to move closer to a bomb.

But the disgraceful 2007 NIE minimized the other two aspects of nuclear weapons making.

It should be a major intelligence scandal and despite efforts by the heads of US intelligence to walk it back after the fact, it became the conventional wisdom of all too much of the wonk and pundit community. When are they going to fess up that they were had?

Shouldn’t the journalists who were conned by the 2007 NIE (just about all of them), fooled again so soon after the Iraq intelligence fiasco, be doing everything they can to see who suckered them and why? Or are they afraid it will just further expose their ignorance?

It’s a huge intelligence scandal and we should demand answers because the Iranian preparations for nuclear war were given a free ride and we may never know — until it’s too late — just how terrible the consequences will be.