New National Intel Estimate on Iran catches White House with pants down

A new US intelligence report sheds significant light on the Bush administration’s duplicity regarding Iran’s alleged nuclear threat.

Iran Halted Nuclear Bomb Program in 2003, U.S. Spy Agencies Say
By Jeff Bliss and Ken Fireman

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) — Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and probably hadn’t restarted it as of mid-2007, according to a new report from the U.S. intelligence community.

The Iranians halted the program “primarily in response to international pressure,” and this decision “suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged previously,” the intelligence agencies said.

If Iran were to restart its program, it probably couldn’t enrich enough uranium for a nuclear weapon until late 2009, and even then is “very unlikely” to produce a bomb until the next decade, according to the National Intelligence Estimate, which is the consensus view of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. (Story.)

Here are the important things to remember as this story begins unfolding.

1: Bush has known about this report, one assumes, for the last four years.

2: Despite this knowledge, he set his noise machine about the task of justifying yet another run-up to yet another unjustified war based on still more falsified information. In the case of Iraq the Bushies have fought hard to convince us that they couldn’t have known all that evidenced was fudged – no, I’m not buying a word of it either – but here we seem to have caught the White House with its proverbial pants down. That’s not a pleasant image, I know, but right now we need some ugly pictures burned into our collective retinas.

3: Bush could have claimed victory, pointing to these developments as proof that his “doctrine” in the Middle East was driving positive results. But he didn’t. He chose to bury the truth so he could clamor for more unwinnable war.

This tells us a lot about George Bush’s real goals. If he wanted what he’s said he wanted (and remember, prior to our invasion of Iraq Saddam Hussein pretty much did everything he could possibly have done to prove he had no WMDs) then the findings of this report would have sufficed. What do we conclude from what he actually did, though?

Right. The real goal is war in the Middle East. I’ll leave you to speculate about what that means ultimately and whose interests are served.

One more thing, as an aside. Check what the AP did with this story:

US: Iran Still Able to Develop Nukes
By PAMELA HESS | Associated Press Writer
1:43 PM EST, December 3, 2007

WASHINGTON – Iran halted its nuclear weapons development program in the fall of 2003 under international pressure but is continuing to enrich uranium, which means it may still be able to develop a weapon between 2010 and 2015, senior intelligence officials said Monday.

That headline tells us that either the AP is hiring monkeys (and not the smart ones, either) or they’ve handed over editorial responsibilities to Karl Rove’s towel boys.

Frankly, I’m about as disgusted with the AP as I am the White House…

18 replies »

  1. Take heart Sam,
    The AP aren’t the only ones giving the story that spin. I’m watching CNN and they are giving it the same they could still do it spin.

  2. The sending-EFPs (Explosive Formed Penetrators)-into-Iraq prextext for war has been taking a beating too.

    Take heart, though. There’s always somebody to bomb. But we need more than the wisp of a pretext.

  3. The cynic in me says this spy report was deliberately released with the OK of the White House as a face-saving gesture.

    The military has made it loud and clear lately that they are under-manned and under-supplied and that they could not respond to another crisis should one erupt. Contrast that against Bush’s noise-making about possible war with Iran.

    Now suddenly we have a very convenient “out” for the administration that lets them stand down on the war talk (since the army says “We can’t fight another one right now”)–yet it still sounds grave enough that the war talk was justified.

  4. Chris:

    I can see this, except that it requires them to admit that they’ve been covering the truth up for some time. If they try and claim they didn’t KNOW about the report I’m going to want to know who precisely is being fired for keeping such important info a secret FROM THE GODDAMNED PRESIDENT.

    I’m glad I’m Dana Perino today. Because I can’t think of an airtight way to spin this one, given the info before me at the moment.

  5. I view the release of the NIE the same way I do Giuliani’s Shag City scandal–someone, somewhere knew that if these particular bombs didn’t get dropped, the worst-case scenarios would come to pass (Bush bombing Iran and Giuliani getting the nod).

    I’m actually not so shocked about the NIE itself, because the idea of the Bush administration deliberately lying about the facts to pursue its agenda is beyond commonplace now. It’s routine. These fuckers lie like a throw rug. It’s all they know how to do, ever.

  6. I have a different take on the whole thing.

    First of all, I don’t think diplomacy had much to do with the Iranians scrapping their nuclear program. I think the military action we took in Iraq gave the Iranians pause to revisit their their programs. Iran didn’t abandon their nuclear program due to economics. Iran’s economy was in decent shape in 2003, interest rates were low, borrowing was at a sustainable rate, and their economic growth was starting to improve. Libya abandoned their nuclear program at roughly the same time, if the NIE is to be believed. Both countries abandoning their programs were a direct consequence of our military action in Iraq. Bush’s policies in the Mideast actually worked in this case. The Iranians didn’t want to suffer the fate of the Iraqis, especially aftered we labeled them part of the “Axis of Evil.”

    As for the NIE, I still have to take it with a grain of salt….Didn’t NIE’s previously say that Saddam still have WMD’s?

    As for the intelligence community, I think that it has systematically released things during Bush’s administration specifically to embarrass him. I find it amazing to see that the left is embracing this NIE which embarrasses the current administration, yet they chose to disbelieve other NIE’s in the past. I guess that the left gets to pick and choose, whatever suits their agenda.

    As for the lying part of the administration, I don’t know if you could call that a lie, as an NIE is still just an estimate. Perhaps they didn’t know that Iran had abandoned their program, as they certainly were adding more high speed centrifuges over the past six months, and they’ve been purchasing hexafluorides on the world market in vast quantities over the past couple of years. Perhaps we need to consider the fact that this NIE could be wrong.


  7. Bush’s policies in the Mideast actually worked in this case.

    I’m actually willing to entertain this thesis – and if you look at my analysis above I explicitly note that Bush COULD have claimed victory on these very grounds.

    However, our ability to believe much of what Bush says here is challenged. For instance, have a look at this. You might not like the source, but they’re pretty much comparing what people said and looking at timelines.

    And if you have a look at the piece I just posted you’ll hopefully conclude that I’m not in the business of letting Dems off the hook, whatever I may think about the GOP at this point in time.

  8. Jeff, I’ve read that the ease with which the US military rolled over Iraq gave Iran pause. Supposedly it was instrumental in prompting them to volunteer to help us in Afghanistan, as well as make major concessions in 2003, to which the administration turned up its nose. (Peace? Perish the thought.)

    No doubt our excellent Iraq venture made them think twice about continuing down the nuclear-weapons route too, as you mentioned.

  9. I saw that Democratic hit piece you linked, and tit-for tat, the Republicans have one of their own with their own spin. As for not liking the source, whatever gave you that idea. I don’t mind talking points and spin jobs: I look at it all, both sides, with skepticism. I don’t have a hate of liberals and Democrats as y’all think, as at the end of the day, we’re all human. We have more in common than you think. Your average conservative isn’t this mind numbed, redneck robot, marching in unison to whatever Limbaugh or Hannity says. We are actually capable of rational and logical thought. There might be a bit of cognitive dissonance between the left and right, but we all have the same desire for a better country.

    I, myself have no problem with that. I prefer to find common ground with what the left and right actually agrees on…that’s a good first step. Everything else can be negotiated, debated, and analyzed at a later date. A consensus can be built that’s acceptable to both sides. We just have to get over the destructive issues of hate, on both sides. I used to get sick of hearing what a lying sack of shit that Clinton was. He was a lying sack of shit, and had character flaws that were too many to mention. He was also an OK president and deserves respect for that.

    History will treat GWB in a more favorable light than the roughshod treatment he’s getting right now.



  10. I agree with most of what you say here, except for the last bit. I don’t have much money, but I’d gleefully bet every penny I do have that history is going to beat George Bush the Younger senseless (although it might be kinder to his dad). We’ve had some bad presidents in my lifetime – from both parties – but Dubya manages to make Carter, Johnson, and Nixon look good in comparison.

    My only hope at this point is that the next few presidents don’t make Dubya look good by comparison.

  11. Russ said, rather tongue in cheek:
    “No doubt our excellent Iraq venture made them think twice about continuing down the nuclear-weapons route too, as you mentioned.”

    From a military standpoint, our Iraq venture has been excellent. While I’m not a fan of any war, this war has been rather painless as far as casualities are concerned. We fought single battles in the Civil War, WW1, amd WW2 that had casualities that far exceeded those in our 5 years in Iraq.

    War is a horrible thing, and I don’t like any war. I’m not especially hawkish, but have enough geopolitical knowledge to understand the why’s and where’s of this conflict.

    Murtha even agrees that the surge is working. He did backtrack from his statement after Pelosi blew a fuse.


  12. Dr. Slammy said:
    “I agree with most of what you say here, except for the last bit. I don’t have much money, but I’d gleefully bet every penny I do have that history is going to beat George Bush the Younger senseless”

    What kind of odds are you willing to lay on that bet?…It would be up to our descendents to pay and collect:)


  13. Dr. Slammy, At least one thing(of many) that I respect you for is that while you disagree with me a lot, you never delete my comments. Thanks.