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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Iran Intelligence "Scandalous"?

Today's NY Times has a story by Douglas Jehl and Eric Schmitt on the horrible state of America's Iran intelligence:
A commission due to report to President Bush this month will describe American intelligence on Iran as inadequate to allow firm judgments about Iran's weapons programs, according to people who have been briefed on the panel's work.
This report is from the "nine-member bipartisan presidential panel, led by Laurence Silberman, a retired federal judge, and Charles S. Robb, a former governor and senator from Virginia," who "had unrestricted access to the most senior people and the most sensitive documents of the intelligence agencies."
One person who described the panel's deliberations and conclusions characterized American intelligence on Iran as "scandalous," given the importance and relative openness of the country, compared with such an extreme case as North Korea.
Straight-talking Senator John McCain is also on that panel, but he is not quoted directly by the reporters.

The panel's classified report is due to President Bush by March 31. Indeed, this could be a key time for assessing the alleged Iranian threat. According to the Times story, the last National Intelligence Estimate on Iran dates to 2001, but a classified update is expect this spring from the National Intelligence Council.

In 2002, VP Dick Cheney, President Bush and then-National Security Advisor Condi Rice started making very hawkish remarks about Iraq before a new NIE had even been commissioned.
The most complete recent statement by American agencies about Iran and its weapons, in an unclassified report sent to Congress in November by Porter J. Goss, director of central intelligence, said Iran continued "to vigorously pursue indigenous programs to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons."
As I've blogged before, the IAEA is more skeptical and hasn't found any evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran.

If Iran thinks a war is imminent, I think there's a good chance they might emulate North Korea and announce that they have a bomb -- to deter the attack.

Note: Sorry about the lack of a blog post yesterday. The high speed internet connection was down for at least 16 hours...and still wasn't working this morning.

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