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Friday, November 19, 2004

Deja vu all over again

Kevin Drum at Political Animal has started to compare the recent revelations about Iranian nuclear programs to the movie "Groundhog Day." I really enjoyed that movie, but am not looking forward to a repeat of the Iraq debate.

As I noted yesterday, Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed this week that Iran is working to make a nuclear-capable missile. Well, according to intelligence sources cited by the Washington Post, this wasn't exactly "top notch" intell:
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell shared information with reporters Wednesday about Iran's nuclear program that was classified and based on an unvetted, single source who provided information that two U.S. officials said yesterday was highly significant if true but has not yet been verified.

Powell and other senior Cabinet members were briefed last week on the sensitive intelligence. The material was stamped "No Foreign," meaning it was not to be shared with allies...
President Bush shared the info with Tony Blair, but I'm not sure why Powell blabbed to the media. The article says the source was a "walk in" who arrived with a big stack of documents purportedly from Iran.

By the way, the Shahab-3 missile under discussion has an 800 mile range, so even if it was nuclear-capable, it couldn't hit Cleveland.

Thanks to Kevin Drum, I can also point readers to the LA Times story about the intell:
One source, however, described the intelligence mentioned by Powell as "weak."

Some administration officials "were surprised he went public on something that was weak and, because it was weak, was not supposed to be used," the source said.
Should anyone believe Powell -- or anyone from this administration, for that matter?
"After crying wolf for so long about Iraq, how are we going to have any credibility on this?" said Rep. Gary L. Ackerman of New York, who recently returned from a trip to the Middle East. "People in the Arab world won't believe it and say we have a bad track record and just want to invade another country in the Middle East."

Ackerman added: "How do we expect anybody to believe us, even if we know it's true? This is the disaster we created for ourselves in lying about Iraq."
Those of us genuinely concerned about American national security policy should be very angry not only about the administration's handling of Iraq, but also about how the current team has played fast and loose with "the facts" garnered from intelligence sources. Powell is certainly not the only guilty party.

My prior blogging about Iran can be found here, here, here, and here. I think those are most recent to oldest.

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