Obsessed with navel gazing and fighting the last Iraqi intelligence war, the American intelligence agencies under the “courageous leadership” of a group of mid level intelligence bureaucrats clearly overreached. They decided to force the Bush administration to adopt the Barak Obama policy even Hillary Clinton characterized as naive, i.e., take the military option off the table by producing an new NIE report asserting that Iran stopped developing nuclear weapons in 2003 (if so, the Iraq war, not sanctions, caused the Iranian change of heart) and that it is “moderately certain” that it has not restarted it.
After completing an early victory lap, even the NYT editors are beginning to face the disastrous results of the exercise. The most serious of which is that it has enabled Iranian hard liners led by Ahmadinejad to declare victory while at the same time undercut the argument not only for tightening the international sanctions against Iran but even implementing the ones in effect.
This is the reason the “an official close to the inspection agency (IAEA) told the Times yesterday that the new American assessment might be too generous to Iran.”
It is not only too generous but too dangerous. Iran is bound to overreach. Victors are always tempted and tyrants always do. The 2007 NIE has made military action more, rather than less, probable.
As the NYT editors note, it is “one of those ironies that would be delicious if it didn’t involve nuclear weapons” or, I would add, the continued misery of the Iranian people.
Unfortunately, as we do need a capable intelligence service, this dubious report will most deservedly undermine further the credibility of the on the current intelligence community leadership. Luckily, bitter experience has taught this president NOT to trust it.
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