Patterico's Pontifications


The Agenda Behind the Iranian NIE Report

Filed under: Government,Terrorism — DRJ @ 6:00 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

There is growing criticism of the recent NIE report that claims Iran stopped its nuclear program in 2003. One criticism is that the report may have been based on a single source, a retired Iranian Guard General who may have been part of an Iranian disinformation campaign:

“Recent reports, by Kenneth Timmerman and others, indicate that a single human source may be responsible for the conclusions of the NIE. This would probably be a former aide to the Iranian defense minister and a retired general with long service in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard (recently categorized as a terrorist entity) who disappeared in Europe earlier in the year.

One should recall the notorious Curveball — also a human source — whose “stories” led the CIA to conclude that Iraq had an active WMD program. Curveball lied and our use of him for intelligence has been widely castigated. Are we relying now on an Iranian with a long history of service to the Iran Revolutionary Guard for our intelligence? Could he be a plant to distort our intelligence? Has history repeated itself as a farce and as a tragedy?”

The report has also been criticized because its apparent authors are three former State Department officials who reportedly advocate anti-Bush and anti-war agendas:

“The three main authors of this report are former State Department officials with previous reputations that should lead one to doubt their conclusions. All three are ex-bureaucrats who, as is generally true of State Department types, favor endless rounds of negotiation and “diplomacy” and oppose confrontation. These three officials, according to the Wall Street Journal, have “reputations as hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials”.

They are Tom Fingar, formerly of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Vann Van Diepen, the National Intelligence Officer for WMD; and Kenneth Brill, the former U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Tom Fingar was a State Department employee who was an expert on China and Germany — he has no notable experience, according to his bio in the Middle East and its geopolitics.

Vann Van Diepen is also a career State Department bureaucrat who, according to the New York Sun, is one of the State Department bureaucrats who want “revenge” for having their views regarding Iran ignored by the Bush Administration. He is now seeking to further his own agenda. As the Sun wrote in their editorial yesterday:

Vann Van Diepen, one of the estimate’s main authors, has spent the last five years trying to get America to accept Iran’s right to enrich uranium. Mr. Van Diepen no doubt reckons that in helping push the estimate through the system, he has succeeded in influencing the policy debate in Washington. The bureaucrats may even think they are stopping another war.

Vann Diepen also shares a lack of experience in dealing with Iran or the region.

The third main author comes in for particular criticism in the Wall Street Journal editorial. Kenneth Brill served as the US Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (the IAEA). This is an agency that has served to enable Iranian’s quest for nuclear weapons. The head of the IAEA, Mohammed ElBaradei, has even been called a friend by the Iranian regime. As he should be, for he has been an enabler of its nuclear weapons program and has stiff-armed European Union diplomats who have worked to restrain Iran.

Elbaredei and the IAEA have over-reached and now seek to control diplomatic negotiations with Iran — a function that is beyond its mandate. Brill was apparently unwilling to stop this mission creep and put an end to Elbaradei’s efforts to help Iran. Or, as the Wall Street Journal hints, maybe he was just incompetent. This hint comes from former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton’s (who headed counter-proliferation efforts in the State Department previous to his UN posting) new book:

For a flavor of their political outlook, former Bush Administration antiproliferation official John Bolton recalls in his recent memoir that then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage “described Brill’s efforts in Vienna, or lack thereof, as ‘bull — .'” Mr. Brill was “retired” from the State Department by Colin Powell before being rehired, over considerable internal and public protest, as head of the National Counter-Proliferation Center by then-National Intelligence Director John Negroponte.

Brill also has no previous history of experience dealing with Iran. (He graduated from Business School at Berkeley in 1973!).”

Dafyyd at Big Lizards adds more information and his thoughts in this excellent post that analyzes a recent LA Times’ article on the subject.


30 Responses to “The Agenda Behind the Iranian NIE Report”

  1. The primary authors of this NIE have not brought any glory upon themselves, especially by venturing into policy making instead of intelligence estimate territory.

    I initially thought that Bush may have allowed this report to go public in order to beclown and expose his enemies within the government bureaucracy, but the potential damage is too great.

    Since Imadamnutjob has declared victory with this NIE, now is the time to call his bluff. Open up to inspections without conditions.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  2. Government employed lefties trying to overthrow the American government — they have been playing that game since 1939. First they enabled the communists, now they are enabling the Islamofacists.

    Great pay, great health care and a great retirement program for undermining America. Sweet.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  3. Oh, it’s so sad for the neocons. Someone else wrote they’retains. like puppies whose favorite ball has just rolled under an unreachable couch.

    When it was, say, crap about African yellowcake, questioning how the intel was obtained was tantamount to treason. Now that the excuse for another little crusade has been taken away, a different level of scrutiny obtains.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (3ba21d)

  4. i have no idea who’s telling the truth. the intelligence professionals/iran experts don’t agree; it would be stupid to proclaim more knowledge than they have.

    if i were the iranian president, of course i’d be trying to build a bomb, not to use it, just to have it. israel’s got one, even pakistan, which seems like a more violent, uncivilized place than iran, has one.

    there’s a disturbing undertone to the attacks on the recent report and its authors: the intelligence which led us to attack iraq was wrong, consequently degrading the credibility of future intelligence reports like this one, meaning that the new estimate ought not to preclude us from attacking yet another country.

    i’d prefer not to attack any more countries for quite some time unless they attack us first, thank you, but if i got to pick, i’d pick saudi arabia. if i were the american president in 2001, after 12 hours notice to evacuate, i would have blown up mecca a week after 9/11. patterico once called this idea “stupid” but i stand by it. relatively minimal human casualties, perhaps no u.s. casualties whatsoever, relatively inexpensive, no protracted quagmire engagement, but still a strong statement proportionate to the attack on new york city.

    one war at a time!

    assistant devil's advocate (bf0640)

  5. When the IAEA says they are suspicious of our intelligence report, it’s time to worry. This is another “Shadow Warrior” operation. They see Bush as the enemy, not Iran.

    Mike K (693378)

  6. Andrew, no one said that there was anything wrong in principle with questioning the correctness of any intelligence analysis, much less that it was “tantamount to treason”. There were lots of debates on the intelligence, but no one –and I mean no one– said that it was somehow unpatriotic merely to question the intelligence.

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  7. Colonel Flag might have.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  8. It has become clear to me, and probably many others, that the three Amigos attempt to push their main point has made the US intelligence community into a laughing stock, not just in the US but, around the world.

    The only exceptions being the shrieking moonbats and Democrats here in the USA and the Iranians.

    Talk about unintended consequences.

    One has to hope that El Negroponte is so embarassed at the antics of his hand picked sycophants that he sacks them. That is after the counter-intelligence people finish going through their backgrounds with a fine sieve (Read Bill Gertz’s “Enemies” if you think CI investigations is over reaching).(Previoulsy posted at Just One Minute)

    davod (5bdbd3)

  9. The lefties enabled Joe Stalin to get the bomb and that worked out so well the lefties are laying the groundwork for Iran to get the bomb. Like 1949, American lefties will be shocked, simply shocked, when Iran announces it has the bomb.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  10. Read Pat Lang

    blah (fb88b3)

  11. Read Pat Lang. There they go again, suggesting that the Neocons are upset. The Germans, French, Israelis do not believe the NIE. At least one of Clinton’s intelligence anyalists is qustioning the findings. I would say this is far more than a few neocons pissed.

    davod (5bdbd3)

  12. Bolton described the NIE as a putsch designed to set the politics of national security usurping the President’s ability to do so.

    Food for thought — a Republican set of intel analysts can do so for Dem Presidents too — politicizing NIEs cannot be “stopped” once started — imagine an NIE under say Hillary estimating that Iran will nuke America. And Analysts “leaking” any effort to sympathetic press about efforts to “muzzle dissent” by Hillary.

    Two can play the revenge game.

    Bottom line — the Israelis and Brits both believe the NIE is the result of disinformation — convenient documents left lying around, a succession of low-level defectors, and convenient telephone/radio conversations (by Iran well versed in US electronic intel). Telling NIE authors what they want to hear.

    What are the consequences for being wrong in the direction of Saddam (i.e he does not have WMD but is bluffing)? Not much since the solution, i.e. removing him, eliminates all uncertainty about getting nuked by deniable terrorist proxies.

    What are the consequences for being wrong in the direction of the NIE, i.e. believing Iran has no nuke program when they do?

    Losing Israel (which Israelis believe is the true agenda of Dems, the Left, State/CIA and some Republicans) but also US cities.

    Iran wants the US Navy out of the Gulf and Med. To get it they plan to nuke US cities until we withrdaw. That’s why they want nukes in the first place.

    Being wrong with the NIE can lose NYC and DC.

    But what they hey. Peace in Our Time!

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  13. “Being wrong with the NIE can lose NYC and DC.”
    Then worry about Pakistan and Al Qaeda, not Iran.

    blah (fb88b3)

  14. blah, as usual, your comment is devoid of content.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  15. Devoid of content?
    Because you were wrong about Iraq? Show me Dittohead commentary on Pakistan or Saudi Arabia over the past 5 years.
    Saudi Arabia gave is Al Qaeda. Pakistan sold nuclear data and technology left and right. And what’s the response from you?
    But you go apeshit over Iran. You’ve so busy trying to blame the democrats for everything while thanks to the idiots you defend, the country is less and less safe. This is nothing but domestic politics to you.
    Israel has the bomb and has threatened to use it. And this is Israeli justice.
    We have nothing to fear but fear itself. And fear itself is all you stand for.

    blah (fb88b3)

  16. blah,

    In 1993, the Clinton Administration identified Iran and Iranian-backed terrorists as “the greatest threat in a likely increase of terrorism around the world.” Nothing has changed since then, which is why President Bush included Iran in his Axis of Evil.

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  17. “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

    So, blah, you know that Iran will never use its enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon? That’s more than the debatable NIE claims. Even this suspect NIE tells us that Iran was attempting to obtain nuclear weapons, suspending parts of the program but still is enriching uranium, and may or may not still be suspending the rest of the weapon program. Iran has no rational reason to be spending the enormous sums they have been spending to develop enrichment industrial base, and nuclear technology when they sit on enormous petroleum reserves and can’t even supply all the needs for refined petroleum products their economy needs.

    Your rantings are incoherent really. Your rants about Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Israel are just incompetent attempts to divert attention. That people are concerned about Iran does not mean that they are ignoring the problem of Pakistan.

    Your claim “This is nothing but domestic politics to you” is simply a classic example of projection.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  18. “Your rants about Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Israel”
    All 3 are major issues and the first two are major threats to our national security, more than Iran has ever been. You’re right I’m less worried about Iran than the NIE is, or Clinton was. Iran is the only middle eastern country outside Israel where a fully open election would bring in moderates. Everything you idiots are doing is making it worse. Executions in iran? Where’s the coverage on this site of Chip-Chop Square? (that’s what all the western expats in Riyadh call it)
    This was in the WSJ today

    “[T]he ultimate responsibility for this fiasco lies with Mr. Bush. Too often he has appointed, or tolerated, officials who oppose his agenda, and failed to discipline them even when they have worked against his policies.”

    That’s the level you fools have gone to.

    blah (fb88b3)

  19. Here’s the WSJ link for your quote, blah. In context, the WSJ criticized President Bush for failing to previously deal with the intelligence people who authored this NIE. As we all know, they were anti-Bush, anti-war State Department bureaucrats who are apparently liberals. So does this mean you agree with the WSJ that Bush should have sidelined them all years ago? If so, at long last – you and I agree.

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  20. blah, your use of cherry picked quotes from links you obviously never bothered to read or understand is becoming legendary. That was a great example of your cluelessness.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  21. “Too often he has appointed, or tolerated, officials who oppose his agenda,”
    Yeah he has such a long history of that. The FULL context dear is not this NIE it’s the history of the administration.
    As far as cherry picking is concerned this administration has a longer record of mistakes than I do. And every mistake I’ve made here I’ve admitted.

    blah (fb88b3)

  22. Uh, blah, you’ve not even comprehended your many mistakes, much less admitted them. The amusement value of your cluelessness wans quickly.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  23. Start naming them.

    blah (fb88b3)

  24. Yawn,
    Intellugence that support president and his policies good! Intellugence that go against presudent and his policies bad! Librul plot! librul plot!!!!!!

    The comments here are so predictable and the commenter acting like it’s some sort of “victory” if they are “right”. It’s not. It means that the same people who got played and got us into Iraq got played again and are keeping us out of Iran.

    Or it means that the administration is going to go into Iran anyway and they are discrediting the intel so they can have their way as always.

    Either way I don’t see any “win” here, except maybe in the minds of idealogues who desperately need to always be right about their idea that “the libruls did it”.

    EdWood (c2268a)

  25. As we all know, they were anti-Bush, anti-war State Department bureaucrats who are apparently liberals.

    Right. By “we all know”, you mean, “psychologically unbalanced, consistently wrong-headed crackpots with a history of explosive rhetoric and vindictive paranoia” – John Bolton and friends- are leaking rumors to right-wing media outlets with unsourced, unevidenced name-calling that anyone who gets in the way of nationalistic hysteria becomes an “anti-bush, anti-war, liberal plant”.

    You can tell who the professionals are. They don’t go whining to the media to clear their names from character assassination.

    glasnost (c83ef1)

  26. As we all know, they were anti-Bush, anti-war State Department bureaucrats who are apparently liberals.

    I mean, you don’t even *attempt* to demonstrate this in some kind of objective manner. You start with the conclusion “the intel agencies reported something that doesn’t fit my agenda and worldview” and work backwards to reach “they must be out to get me! and president bush! who supports my Freedom Agenda!” They make it up, because it’s convenient. And you swallow it.

    glasnost (c83ef1)

  27. glasnost,

    My biggest problem in blogging is I expect people to actually read the linked material. The American Thinker article I link addresses your concern. In addition, there are multiple links in that article that take you to other supporting sources. Please visit those sites if you have a concern and I’ll be happy to discuss them with you when you return.

    DRJ (09f144)

  28. DRJ…
    Your reliance on the rationality of others is heartwarming; but, in this case foolish.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  29. And what do you think of Obadiah Shoher’s arguments against the peace process ( )?

    Alex (b21f05)

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